Chapter 5 took me a little longer to write than the others. This has something to do with the weekend; I actually took some time off to play Beatles Rock Band (my birthday gift) and to spend time with my wife. It also has something to do with money. F_cking money.
There’s a bit of a story about this story, you see. I’ve been thinking about writing this book for quite some time. At some point, many moons ago, I realized what the story was, and who it was about. I wrote a quick pseudo-outline of the basic story… well, actually I just made some notes about it in the mind-mapping software I’ve been using on my iPhone (Headspace – worth a look; I went from the free version to the paid version, its icon moved to my first page and, this week, to my ‘dock’ – I use it that much), but the character arcs were all there. Then I spent several months reading popular modern zombie fiction, as ‘research’. Now I’m actually writing the thing.
After a few relatively easy-to-write chapters, I started looking forward. Wondering what the next chapter was supposed to encompass. Thinking about length. How long a book did I want, how many chapters (at their current, relatively stable, length) would I need for that, and so on. And it occurred to me this weekend that … the story I have to tell isn’t of traditional “book length.” Not without a lot of padding and filler and … and I don’t know what. Actually, going by my outline, my mind map, my initial notes, if I’d just written the rest of it without thinking about structure at all, it’d probably be over in twenty thousand words. And I’d probably have missed some of the story. And it would be almost unpublishable as anything but the eBook it already is.
I stressed out, for a while, thinking about money, about what length book people expect, and how writing a shorter book would impact sales. About how if the book were short enough, maybe I could price it at $10 and I could make a lot more impulse sales than I do at $13 and $14. About my current trade discount of 50%, which effectively sets my cover price for me, and is based on the idea of being palatable to book stores. About giving up on the ridiculous idea that book stores will ever stock my books, about reducing the trade discount to 20%-30%, which will keep it listed online at Amazon/bn.com & give me more pricing flexibility (& potentially more profit per copy sold). About rethinking the premises on which I make decisions for my publishing company, looking at what my current realities are, and looking to the future & potential of storytelling in all its forms.
Then, finally, I ended up where I’d started. Which is that I run my own publishing company so that I can write the books I want to write, the way I want to write them. So that I can tell the stories I have in me to tell, in whatever way is best for each story, and then put it out there as though the industry has no business telling me how and how-not to be. Because they don’t. All they know is what’s made money for them recently. Which isn’t the point, for me. Realizing which, I spent some time working on writing a closer-to-proper outline (on paper, but moreso in Headspace) of the story the way it wants to be told and the way I want to present it.
I’m open to following Cheating, Death wherever it takes me, so if things here or there go longer along the way, so be it. But with the basic structure of the story laid out, it looks like 13 chapters total. With the average chapter length I’ve been finding so far, it looks like about 33k words total. The paper book for a story that long will probably be around 124pp, which I can sell for $10. (I have 2 poetry collections available that are this size, already.) Which makes the final (estimated) eBook price $4.99, the current eBook price $0.99, with an expected $0.50 increase with each additional chapter. So go get Cheating, Death now for $0.99 and read it as I write it. Or wait until it’s done, pay $4.99 for the eBook or $10 for the paperback.
Hmm… I think it’s early enough yet that I’ll try to write Chapter 6 before I go to bed. I’m right in the heart of the emotional center of the book, right now. This is Act II, chapters 5-8, where Melvin is confronted by his wife about his cheating, before things really start to go downhill.
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