Tuesday, August 07, 2012

What Do You Think?

Here's a couple of thoughts I'm having that I wonder if I might get feedback on.  First, in regards to Killing Trail, my western collection. Killing Trail was my first effort in self-publishing and I didn't do a clickable table of contents for it. Instead, I indicated the "location" for each individual piece in the TOC. I know how to to do a clickable TOC now so I was wondering whether I should go back and update the file with a better TOC. I'm not changing the stories and I don't want anyone who has already bought the collection to buy it again, but I thought it might be something that would help attract new readers. Sales have gone completely flat for it at this point.

Second, I've accumulated several flash fiction stories that are kind of unclassifiable, which is why they didn't appear in any of my three Borgo/Wildside anthologies. I'm considering self publishing an ebook with these in it. However, I'm not going to publish them, even at 99 cents, unless I can get at least several thousand words worth of material.  And I'd like to have more.  Here's the question. In addition to the unpublished micros that I have, I also have alternate ending versions of some of the previously published ones. I've seen where bands have released alternate versions of songs, so I'm wondering if adding a few alternate ending stories to the collection might sound reasonable, or would this seem like trickery. I almost always include a section about the stories in my anthologies so I would include it here too and indicate the differences between the published versions and alternate versions.

What say you?


Travis Cody said...

As to the first question, it couldn't hurt to update newer versions of the story with the chapter links. That seems like a pretty good upgrade.

As to the second question, I don't know about alternate endings. For someone who hadn't read the original material, they would just be the endings, right? So maybe it's a good experiment.

Merisi said...

Alternate endings sounds very interesting to me. Would new readers get both endings?

I don't know anything about TOC.

Can only Kindle owners buy and read those stories?

Charles Gramlich said...

Travis Cody, that's true. but if someone has read the other they might feel like they're buying the same story. If I explain it after, though, maybe that would take care of it. Or maybe I could do a brief intro to each alternate ending tale.

Merisi, I hadn't really thought of that. Maybe that would be better. I'd publish it on Kindle and Barnes and Noble most likely.

nephite blood spartan heart said...

I'm always a sucker for bonus tracks on albums and I also enjoy the narrative bits in your collections, so I say bring them on.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Charles, I think a "clickable TOC" sounds better than indicating where the reader can find a particular story or chapter. But will it really help "attract new readers"? Generally speaking, does a "clickable TOC" make a difference? What if you were to upgrade the KILLING TRAIL collection by adding, say, a couple of new stories, or more, while retaining all the original stories—a revised edition, so to say.

Regarding your second point, I agree with Travis Cody: alternate endings wouldn't make a difference to one who hasn't read the book in its original form.

Both your points indicate there is a lot of scope to increase sales. The add-on efforts will pay off.

Deka Black said...

About the TOC, do it. You don't change the stories, and only make easier the access to the stories..

About the second... The important thing is if the alternate ending is different enough or not to make it worth reading. i mean, if is too similar i don't think is very good idea.

but the decission is yours, of course.

David Cranmer said...

Update the TOC but I'm not sure it will add more readers. But free promotion for a few days (pushes it further in the Amazon stream) and more reviews will help.

G. B. Miller said...

Can't answer the first question, since I've only picked up the original Nook a few weeks ago, but in regards to the second question, an alternate ending would be nice.

And I would definitely like to buy it (and thus break my personal rule about using Nook for pleasure) if it was made available at B&N.

Is "Killing Trails" available at B&N?

the walking man said...

The ToC *shrug* Killing trails really wasn't that long I personally don't think any changes are necessary.

I don't think alternative endings are trickery but rather tricky to pull off. As a reader I want an ending,not a selection that forces me to choose the outcome. I want the story to feel natural from front to finish and every book of yours I have read did have that.

The only upside I can see to alternative endings (as a first thought) is it offers insight to your thinking process.

I would do something entirely different if I wanted a book of flash, I would marry two partners and make it a compilation of work of the three of you by year or decade.

BernardL said...

The clickable TOC update's not a bad idea. I have the Robert E. Howard Omnibus on Kindle and I like having the linked TOC.

I don't think it's a trick to write alternate endings, but as a reader, if I like a story, I want to leave it at that. Interesting questions though, because figuring out what works in this market is like searching for the Holy Grail. :)

Ty said...

Charles, instead of doing a separate e-book with just the alternate endings and your micro fiction, why not do a "special" edition of the e-book(s) in which the stories already appear? You could have all the original content, plus a special section in the back with the alternates, plus one or more of the flash pieces as sort of a bonus.

The only reason I suggest this is because, as a reader, I know I hate when I feel I've only got part of the story or one version of a story when there are others available. Some readers might not be interested in alternates, but I know I am.

You could always add a dollar to the price of the special edition, as well.

Charles Gramlich said...

David J., thanks. Me too.

Prashant, I was reading something from amazon that suggested a clickable and searchable TOC made a difference but I'm actually kind of skeptical of that.

Deka, a lot of the alternate endings completely twist the story in a different way. I think they definitely need to be pretty different.

David, I also put Killing trail up on nook so I can't do the Amazon free promotion.

G. B., Killing Trail is available at B & N. So far only Harvest of war is just for the kindle because I wanted to try their free promotion.

Mark, eh, that's a possibility. Keeping up with the financial issues in that could be a pain. I've got to see how much stuff I have without any alternate endings.

Bernard, that's interesting about wanting the story to stay the way you read it. I don't want to read long stories with alternate endings just because you're only getting a little new material, but I kind of like flash fiction with alternate endings.

Ty, that's a good idea. hadn't thought of that. Thanks for the input!

X. Dell said...

I can think that adding a clickable TOC would be a convience to readers. But I'm not sure it would lure new readers.

Forgive me, but I do have a one-track mind. I'm currently reading Harmland. One of your stories, "Mouth Wet with Rain and Leaves," strikes me as especially dramatic. I haven't read Killing Trails yet, but if it has a narrative on that level, perhaps an audiofile of dramatic readings--or even making an audio play of one of the stories, might stir interest in the rest of the book.

Okay, silly idea. Perhaps just a reading of one of the stories by yourself could spark some more interest, though.

Paul R. McNamee said...

I do prefer clickable TOC. Maybe the first straight read-through doesn't matter, but going back to re-read - clicking is easier than inputting search index numbers.

I'm even willing to pay a little more for a public domain e'book if it has a working TOC.

For your second question, I like Ty's idea of special editions.

Golden Eagle said...

A clickable table of contents sounds like it could be useful for readers.

Alternate endings would be interesting. It can be cool to find out what other directions an author might have taken a story.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

No idea on the first one, but as for the alternate endings, I say go for it.

Charles Gramlich said...

X-Dell, I've wondered about that. I should give it a try but I'm not all that sure how to go about it. I can get Lana to help me since she has uploaded videos to you tube before. thanks for the good idea.

Paul, I like that idea too. Definitely something to look into.

Golden Eagle, thanks, definitely worth considering.

Alex, cool, thanks for the input, man.

Ron Scheer said...

Carol Buchanan has been talking about interactive storytelling; that is, making multiple versions of a story that a reader can click around in and follow as their curiosity leads them. I'm not sure yet that I'm crazy about this idea, but the technology is there and someone will figure out how to make it work.

It requires a more active than passive role for the reader, which is where I think I balk. But the brain, as we now know, is amazingly adaptable to new ways of processing input. You may be opening the door a crack to a new way of thinking about your fiction, and what you're talking about may just be tinkering with it rather than taking it to a whole new level.

laughingwolf said...

i'm with mark, on most

was a time when several alternate endings were 'cool', in movies on dvd... hated em!

why make ME work for YOUR story, choosing how I want it to end?

you write it your way, the first time, end it way; the rest is hype, being 'cute', and/or mass confusion - i can't see it as adding to sales

YOU'RE the writer, you do the work... as the reader, I don't want to do any work... i just wanna sit back and be entertained, esp if I paid for it!

FORCE me to work, i'll remember it next time i see your name


aside: i REALLY despise the current fad of EVERYONE writing as if i'm their close friend, i'm not, nor do i wanna be, after reading some of the crap you try to pass off as 'writing'...

get back to professional writing, that's what you're paid to do - pretending to be my friend [in the way you write, turns me off - i'm still capable of choosing whom i want to befriend - you, as the article writer have no business insinuating yourself into my life as 'my buddy'!]

end RANT....

Charles Gramlich said...

Ron, that's true. I've been thinking of that kind of thing for a while, but it will certainly take a considerable amount of time to get it right. I've got to give it more thought.

Laughinwolf, yeah, I don't like the overly familiar approach, particularly in nonfiction.

Rick said...

I'd love the clickable TOC. Great idea. About the alternate endings, though, I'd say scrap them and add more new material. My selfish reason is that I'd love to read more stuff from you.

Charles Gramlich said...

Rick, thanks, man. I appreciate it.

Adventuresfantastic said...

I prefer a clickable ToC. And I think Ty's idea about a special edition is a good one.

Charles Gramlich said...

Keith, thankee, man

Erik Donald France said...

Yes and yes -- approval & approval.

CLickable ToC makes sense, and it's value-added. As are al. endings. DVDs for movies do it fairly often, as well as album alt cuts. And books, for that matter -- so go for it, say I!

Shauna Roberts said...

I agree that you should update the table of contents.

I doubt people who own it will have to buy the book again. Amazon offers me free upgrades when someone whose book I own makes minor changes such as removing bad formatting, correcting mistakes, or adding a new cover.

Since your sales are flat, you might offer it as free when your next book comes out to draw attention to both. Be careful, though, to market the free book as a temporary means to highlight your new book, by such means as including a chapter or story from the new book at the end of the free book to hook people and announcing the new book first in anything you post and announcing the freebie at the end.

If your next book is self-published, you could put at the end a blurb about the books whose sales are flat and include a story from it.

Greg said...

I think the clickable TOC is a good idea. Anything that makes it more convenient for readers is probably a good thing.

I think the alternate endings would be cool, also. It gives readers the chance to go back to worlds and characters that they liked, and see things differently. I know I like reading alternate endings (as long as I still have the option of reading the original too).

sage said...

as we move away from paper, I wonder if the trend will be for multi-endings to stories and books? You have been keeping yourself busy.

Charles Gramlich said...

Erik, I do occassionally watch those alternate endings for DVDs. I think it's cool anyway.

Shauna, yeah, once I have another western ready to go, I figured to make Killing Trail free for a promotional effort. I'm definitely gonna try the "here's a piece of the next work" too in the future.

Greg, I've got a plan for an article that will feature three different versions of the same flash fiction story, and how that came about

Sage, very buys. Unfortunately, only a small amount of that has been writing.

Jessica Ferguson said...

I just looked at my copy of Killing Trail and yes, I prefer a clickable TOC.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Chapter links help so much. If it's not too much trouble, I'd go for it.

Cloudia said...

Your scholarly biographers will appreciate it!

Have a sweet weekend!
Aloha from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral

> < } } ( ° >

> < } } (°>


Charles Gramlich said...

Jess, I will be taking care of that soon. I'm just wondering if it's going to mess with the images I put in there.

Patti, all my other works have chapter links, except Days of Beer, which is kind of a one piece.

cloudia, lol.

eric1313 said...

The clickable table of contents on my PDF's are nice, but they are not deal makers or breakers I think. If you want to add it to Killing Trail, I would do it anyway.

One of the problems with e-publishing is termed piracy (at worst) or "unauthorized sharing" at best. Some people will literally put everything they get in a e-format onto file sharing torrent sites, making the e-pub business dicey. Your friends will certainly buy your work, but people who don't know you but still like to read your type of work have no compunctions about downloading stuff from wherever they can get it. I've been investigating it a little bit and reporting findings to the publishers who are interested (they don't know I have my bloggerland ID so they'll never see this conversation, though the details must remain quiet all the same). It's good to find something to put my education to work with, something I can do from home especially. Still hoping for better and brighter.

If I see your stuff anywhere, I will definitely let you know about it. It may not be much, but it will cut into sales, free stuff folks can get in the privacy of their own home always draws. From there it will be up to you to quash it or let it ride. Sometimes free is simply a way of paying for advertising without opening a checkbook, it's still a mixed up bag as the technology settles and is further controlled (or restricted). We're in a Wild West here on the net, one that is being fenced and railroaded as we speak, but it's still here. If I see something I'll holler. Until then keep up the awesome work when you can and however you can, and keep putting your name out there with the best that you have. You're on your way.

eric1313 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eric1313 said...

Yes, I know you've been on your way for a while now, lol...

Don't mean to sound like a downer regarding epub and file sharing. The impression I am getting is in a few years all of this will be moot, as there will be sophisticated protocols in place that will allow purchased copies of files in any format to only be read by a machine that they are specifically licensed to be stored on, be it kindle, PC, whathaveya. If someone buys it, only their computer will be able to the encryption on it. There will be ways around that system as well, but it will be nothing like it has been since the dawn of the internet and before. People were selling cracked copies of games on BBS boards back in the late 80's and 90's... behavior adapting rather quick to new environs, as my friends and I used to do this same thing on cassette tapes, especially the old metal scene. That's what I meant about the WIld West, it's all been literally free-ranging on the net until recently. The stuff on the way will do a lot to help out people like you, as only the ones who can either code their own way of cracking PDF's and Kindle files will be able to do this, or those whom they share the file with, which will still likely be somewhat considerable, but still much better than the present and recent past when everyone's machines could do anything simply because they had nothing stopping them from doing so.

Snowbrush said...

I wouldn't like it. What's wrong with it in my mind is that it dispels the illusion of reality that promotes the enjoyment of fiction.

Charles Gramlich said...

eric1313, I appreciate you keeping an eye open for me. That's the only way to stop this kind of thing, because the authors can't be everywhere. It's a shame how some folks will pirate something illegally to cut the author out of a 35 cents or so.

Snowbrush, I could see that. I'm probably just gonna wait until I get enough material to publish a collection of all new stuff.