For July 14

I kept to my plan. Yes, while on vacation I actually got more of the sequel written. As I had explained to our friends’ young daughter, “When you’re writing, you’re never on a holiday really.”

The other day I also had an idea for the already published opening volume. A “Bastille Day” sale for Passports on Kindle was so obvious I was annoyed at myself for nearly having overlooked it:

France's President Jacques Chirac. Bastille Day, 1995. [Photo by me, 1995.]

France’s President Jacques Chirac. Bastille Day, 1995. [Photo by me, 1995.]

After all, in one chapter in that first volume, we find ourselves once again on July 14, 1995:

…On the Champs-Elysées, they managed a spot right along the curbside barrier. The growing crowd pressed all along it as far as they could see. As the parade began, James admitted to Isabelle he was amazed by the French military he saw passing. Even the U.S., which revered its military, did not do martial parades quite like this, he said…

So the Kindle book is 99 cents on Amazon.com until July 15. (Unfortunately, its regular price is apparently too low for a similar sale to be possible on Amazon.co.uk.) I haven’t done a “promo” like this before. It’s new territory for me. :-)

“Do I look cool and intellectual?”

The FT has an excellent, detailed piece on “ebooks v paper”:

Which do our brains prefer?

Now, I’m not saying I got here first. But I did devote a short post back in March to this issue:

Paper Or Kindle?

The answer – according to my “personal finding” – seems to be, well, uh, it kinda depends.

Print vs. E-book. [Photo by me, 2014.] Note: I have no idea how the 3rd book from the top got into that pile. ;-)

Print vs. E-book. [Photo by me, 2014.] Note: I have, uh, no idea how the 3rd book from the top got into that pile. ;-)

I had focused on only the reading experience. The FT does make an additional point that I had not touched upon. It is about the vital question, “How do I look?”:

The book in your hand or on your coffee table is a public statement about who you are. Ereaders are, therefore, useful in getting over concerns with image and providing a kind of licence for us to follow our curiosity and interests more….

….When we sit on a train with a book open in front of us, how much has our choice of reading being influenced by our ideas of what a proper book should be like, and how a proper adult should appear in public?

I write for adults. Generally speaking, of course an ereader cover is an irrelevance in public. However, I do recall that in choosing my paperback cover, I had wanted one that indicated a novel adults would not be self-conscious to be seen reading on a beach, a train, or have on a coffee table. ;-)

“Wow! Congratulations on your film deal!”

We spent much of the Bank Holiday weekend in Bristol with the friend (and his wife) I mentioned in the previous post.

He has been writing a book. The basics in Word are no problem for him; but he is also a self-proclaimed technophobe. So he and his wife (she handles the internet “stuff” in their house) asked me if I could orient him as to where to begin with independent publishing online.

Good friend that I am, I walked him through setting up a Createspace account, pointed and clicked as to how the process generally unfolds from there, and also explained how to get his book up on Kindle. He became so enthusiastic, we ended up getting his cover largely settled in half an hour. I told him if he had any further questions, he need only to drop me an email.

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Then, this morning, it hit me. His novel is “action adventure” – WWII American pilots, Nazi scientists, postwar contract killers, etc. I laughed to myself: yeh, he’ll probably end up selling, uh, like, err, a gazillion copies, and even get optioned for a major Hollywood film….

….and I won’t.

Hmm. You know, I bet she could handle a sword. Suddenly I’m thinking that, in the sequel, I may have to transform Isabelle into, umm, that glamorous vampire from another galaxy after all. ;-)

What We Encounter In “Book World”

I try to avoid negativity here. But now and then you just want to vent politely. And this has been bothering me.

For over a year, I had been up to my eyeballs in my own writing effort. It was really only as I was putting the finishing touches to it last autumn that I had begun poking around on the web to see what some other independent authors were doing. I had been largely ignorant.

Much out there is excellent. Yet, as I searched, I progressed from ignorance to, sometimes, shock at some offerings. If you have worked hard to produce an original and full-length novel, it can be a bit deflating when you discover what others try to flog to potential readers. “Rip offs” may be too strong an expression. Still, many titles seem, uh, to be charitable, rather hurriedly thrown together.

There are also lapsed copyright works merely repackaged with new, brief introductions. Some are also simply republished out of copyright books that don’t even bother with new introductions. However, at least such books themselves are “classics.”

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Separately, “fan fiction.” As a reader myself, personally those sort of works have never much interested me, so I don’t know exactly where I stand on the phenomenon. I do notice author attitudes toward it appear decidedly mixed: some well-known ones are untroubled when their works inspire it; others find it flattering; and others detest it.

If I were ever lucky that mine were to inspire any, I think I would view it mostly as flattering. I note “mostly” because, by the same token, I don’t know if I’d like to see my characters turned into, for example, sword-wielding vampires. They have become my close companions, and I care deeply about “what happens” to them. If I had wanted, say, Isabelle to be a vampire…. she would have been one. ;-)

Whatever a “fan fiction’s” individual literary merit, the overall enterprise itself strikes me as borderline copyright infringing. True, a huge selling recent book started out as “fan fiction.” Yet as I understand it, that novel apparently also did not take off in its own right until its author had re-crafted it into an original story. Somewhat ironically also, other writers now “borrowing” from that story is not something its now mainstream publishers appear too pleased to see.

To me, honesty and originality are vital. I’m not asserting I’m authoring for the ages. (I wish!) But when I decided to write novels, it never entered my mind to compose anything other than full books, populated by my own created characters, and placed in my own invented realm. I had always thought all of that is fundamentally what novels are supposed to be?

Eh, what one learns, huh? Just thinking out loud here. I hope you’re having a good day…. wherever you happen to be reading this. Cheers. :-)

Paper Or Kindle?

We hear the future belongs to e-books. Paper will vanish. The next generation will look at us oldsters and ask sheepishly, “You really remember what it was like read from paper?”

Although I love e-books, I increasingly doubt that will happen, though. I think about how I read mechanically. I’m sure I’m not unique.

Print vs. E-book. [Photo by me, 2014.] Note: I have no idea how the 3rd book from the top got into that pile. ;-)

Print vs. E-book. [Photo by me, 2014.] Note: I have, uh, no idea how the 3rd book from the top got into that pile. ;-)

Paper allows the ability to flip around easier. That’s more appealing to me for non-fiction, in which I find I am likely to jump between pages and even chapters. “Page flipping” is clumsier on an e-reader.

That said, the Kindle “search” facility is far better for non-fiction than paper. Just type in anything and where it appears pops up on screen. In a paper book, naturally we need to fumble through an index, and indexes are often confusing.

We are less likely to flip pages, or jump around, in a fiction book. But fiction also may have its drawbacks on an e-reader. I discovered that as I focused “microscopically” on my book.

As writers, we compose text on a PC or some other electronic screen (unless we write long-hand, or use a typewriter, or – if a real traditionalist – a quill and parchment). Yes, we may print out pages at times as we proceed. (I do.) But I didn’t read Passports in its entirety on printed pages until I received the printed “proof” copy.

After all, who wants to print out 400 pages if you don’t have to do so? Printers, which appear in two decades barely to have moved on technically in reliability terms, still unexpectedly crunch paper and jam at the drop of a hat like it is indeed still “1994.” And the ink is probably more expensive than blood.

When I compared my book on the two platforms, I found that subconsciously I “scoped” the entire page down, so in that sense print and e-book read pretty much the same. However, when reading the print book’s left hand page, my gaze drifted subtly to the right hand one while I simultaneously read the line I was actually reading. The “eye” cannot manage that with a “one page at a time” e-reader.

I found that impacts how the story seemed “to flow.” The best analogy that jumps to my mind here is with driving. We look at the road directly in front of us, but our mind also “sees” and “prepares us for” what’s in the distance beyond our immediate road focus.

We all know the Kindle stores hoards of books and makes packing for travel ridiculously simple. It is a great device. But, overall, books just seem to read “differently” on a Kindle compared to a print version.

Eh, maybe it’s just me? We all have our own peculiarities and tastes, of course.

Happy Friday! Have a good weekend….

Amazon’s “Sneak Peek”

Amazon informs authors:

KDP takes the first 10% of your content and creates a sample that customers can view before purchasing the Kindle Edition of your title….

When I spotted that pre-publication, I shrugged, “Well, okay, I guess.” The novel is nearly 400 pages, and divided into sixty chapters. Not unreasonable, then, that about the first seven and a quarter chapters are available for free on its Kindle page.

Later, I noticed something else. One may “look inside” at the paperback‘s first six story pages (and back cover). Huh. Given 10 percent of the book is visible as the sample on the Kindle page, I am unclear why there’s such a marked difference between the sizes of the two sneak peeks?

Moreover, considering Amazon simply uses the opening for the sample, luckily (in my case here) there is also, umm, nothing too risqué in that first 10 percent of the book. Sorry to disappoint you with that “spoiler,” but I might as well be honest. After all, no author can throw everything at you at the start! And if you read the lengthy Kindle sample, you will discover that anyway.

Yet there could well have been. Which got me thinking I may have to bear that Kindle reality in mind plot-wise. That because I have been working on opening the sequel rather, shall we say, “romantically”….

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….but, no, I’m not even hinting here regarding who is doing what with whom. You’ll find that out eventually!

Amazon notes on that same KDP info page that you may contact KDP’s support team if you have further questions. I see I may have to. For since Amazon tells us the free Kindle sample is default the first tenth of a book, I’m now not so sure just how much, uh, “romance” near the beginning is a good idea….

….Or, then again, maybe, uh, it is? ;-)