Complications, Editing & A Game

COMPLICATIONS-CoverI’m currently waiting for my editor to get back to me with the first round of suggested revisions, questions, & et cetera, for Tooth & Nail. I find this to be kind of a nail-biting experience. He’s told me that he likes it, which is good, but he’s also told me that he’s concerned at the change in tone. Tooth & Nail has parts that are a lot darker than Perishables but I still enjoyed writing it and I think its change in tone reflects the different arenas of life. Withrow has times when he’s cracking wise and times when he’s shoving a pool cue through the brain pan of a foe. I think we can all relate to that. I want specifics, though. I want to get to the blue pencil so I can get that part over with. (He is in no way being unreasonably slow; I’m simply antsy.) I did some reading today about how to cope as an introvert with the extrovert-friendly world of marketing and self-promotion and one of the things noted in it was that introverts are notoriously hyper-sensitive to criticism and particularly to public criticism. I’m not sure I buy the whole introvert/extrovert dichotomy, to be honest, because I think neither humanity as a whole nor the lives of the individuals it comprises are easily lumped together and summarized, but a lot of the features ascribed to introverts apply to me and I will absolutely cop to being a big baby about criticism. Way, way down in my psyche is a hair-trigger that goes off anytime anyone offers me “feedback”. This is the primary reason I’ve turned down the three serious editing offers from offline friends.

An update on the posting of “Complications” for free on Smashwords and for 99c on Kindle: it’s been downloaded once from the Kindle Store and 139 times from Smashwords. In one week it beat Perishables‘ combined sales record. I suspect the lesson here is that people like two things: they like free and they like bite-sized. I’m going to post a different story I wrote for Machine of Death sometime in the next few days and see what it generates.

Another lesson learned is that is totally worth using. I embedded shortcut links to my blog, Twitter, Facebook, Perishables, etc., in the Kindle and Smashwords versions of “Complications” and since have been using that site to track which clicks get used and how often. Here are the number of times readers of that short story have used the embedded links to get to find out more about a specific topic:

  1. My Smashwords profile, to see what else I have listed there (5 times)
  2. The Machine of Death site (5 times)
  3. My WattPad page (4 times)
  4. All other links to more info about me: Google+, Facebook, Twitter, this blog (2 times)

This serves to confirm what I have heard elsewhere and what I suspected myself: the free stuff gets vacuumed up and consumed and its readers move on. I don’t thin people aren’t reading it if they only click through to a couple of things embedded in it. Rather, I think they would simply prefer to go read the next thing. I’m flattered that anyone would click on anything in it – or read it at all – in the first place.

Lastly, on the suggestion of a good friend I’m throwing open the doors on a game to be played with unspecified frequency: The Novel Pitch Game. Give me a one-sentence scenario and I will give you a pitch for the novel. An example from earlier today:

Friend: A purchasing department approving the budget to have itself kneecapped.

Me: I see this working as a complicated scheme by a middle manager to create a knot he can unravel to his own professional benefit. The people below him whom he saves will owe him one; the people above him will see him as capable of discreetly dealing with an issue. As long as the people on the very bottom never talk to the people at the very top he’s all good. Unfortunately, the kneecapper is absent-minded from the stuff they gave him at the rehab clinic (he’s kicking meth, trying to pull himself relatively back together so he can get back in the game) and gets his contracts mixed up. Now there’s a dead purchasing agent and a kneecapped local thug bent on finding out who dared insult him with a mere injury. Hijinks ensue and the “new kid” in the mail room (hired seven years ago, unpromoted and still the most recent permanent hire on his department’s books since they long switched to retaining only contracters) scrapes out a moral victory devoid of public recognition when he solves the puzzle.

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