Thursday, 7 April 2016

Wild Thing Book Launch!

I had planned to organise a book launch for Wild Thing, early in May, 2016. But after some discussion with Elizabeth Allen, the events organiser for Gleebooks, I've altered my plans significantly.

It's now pencilled in for the afternoon of Saturday 9th of July, upstairs at Gleebooks (49, Glebe Pt Rd, Glebe, NSW). So that's half the change. The other half of the change is that instead of being a launch for Wild Thing alone, it's now going to be a launch for the series(The Leeth Dossier), with a double launch for Wild Thing, and the sequel, Shadow Hunt, which will be available at the end of June: barring disasters!

So I thought I'd better update this post with the new information (as of 4pm, April 14th). I will update this again with information about how to RSVP. If 50-80 people can attend, that would be ideal. Books will be available; Wild Thing will be $20 (5"x8" pbk). But by then I should have the 4"x7" edition available, too. I don't know how long Shadow Hunt will be, but both Dave and I are worried that the current 547pp is probably too long! Because I don't yet know the length, I don't yet know how to price vol. 2.

The poll, over on the right here, was to try to estimate how many people might attend if it were held in May. Since that's now been substantially re-scheduled, I'd just like to thank those who voted, but I'll need to take it down, since the RSVPs will have to be directed to Gleebooks so they can estimate food and drink amounts (and advise me of the number of copies they'd wish to have available on the day). I'll update this blog post with information about how to do that, when I have the info.

The idea of the launch is that I'll have some printed copies for sale (enough to go around for those who want to buy one, at A$20 a pop), and sign them if wanted, and to have some sort of little talk, and nibbles like wine and cheese. Just something low key.

The Wild Thing launch was delayed because I'd been concentrating the great majority of my energy on preparing the manuscript for Book 2, Shadow Hunt, to send to my editor Dave at ThEditors in the 2nd week of April. I sent the MS off to in two parts: the 1st half at 9:30am (UK time), and I finished and sent the 2nd half at 4pm, UK time, April 14th. So I claim that means I met my deadline!

I've updated my notes here about what I call the "Oomph analysis" I did along the way. This is my now-being-invented analytical tool to try to distance myself from my own writing, to see if I can see where problems or weaknesses occur, standing back from it a bit. The idea grew from a question my brother Matthew asked me recently, when I mentioned that Dave, in his original critique around this time in 2015, said the pace had slowed in one section (of what was then the second half of a single novel). Matthew asked: "Do you ever graph the pacing of the book?"

That seemed an excellent question, and it instantly made me wonder "Why just pacing? Why not consider how moving a chapter is, or how funny, or how much it advances the plot, or ...?" My idea was to invent a bunch of categories I felt were important for my book, and then give each chapter a score out of five, in each category. Then colour code them and graph them all in parallel, across the entire novel. I discussed the idea with a couple of people, including Dave at ThEditors and Barbara of Amorina Rose and the world of writing, who each thought the idea seemed at least plausible. I'm about halfway through, and it seems to be working.

But how do you use the numbers? Well, I'm still experimenting. It seems like the "oomph" of a passage should drop as it got longer and longer, right; as it keeps going on and on? So therefore you need to reduce the "oomph" rating according to the length. On the other hand, doing that might unfairly weight short passages: if you just divided by the number of pages (N, say), then a 1-page chapter isn't automatically going to have N times the punch. You might even argue that the more beauty, or humour, or whatever, the higher the punch, so it should grow with the length! You see my dilemma. But I can play with different models or formulae once I've done the heavy work of rating it in each category.

Incidentally, for my book, the categories I decided on were: Pace (action), World building, Character development, Plot development, Emotion (moving), Humour, and Tension. I'm also making a one-line summary of each chapter in the spreadsheet I'm tossing all the numbers into. It's partly objective, despite being subjectively-based. Analysing a piece of my own writing to evaluate how funny it is, or how moving, is not that hard. I know there'll be stuff I think is snort-with-laughter funny, but which others won't "get"; and bits that I find terribly sad, but for which others will just shrug; but the fact that I think it varies means there is some variation there to be seen. (I hope!)

The value of the tool obviously depends on how brutally honest you can be with your own writing. A dishonest writer wouldn't gain much from the technique, though, for sure! ("Wow, look at that: 5s across the board, in every category I wanted a 5, for every chapter!")

I think someone else using the technique on my work would almost certainly give more objective ratings than I will be able to. But as long as I'm closer to an objective rating than to a just-plain-wrong rating, it should work as an analytical tool.

If anyone's interested, here's what the Oomph Analysis looked like at the end of the 2nd read through and revision:

I should say, by around Chapter 60, I was biting my nails, wondering whether the final chapters would be climaxy enough - but I didn't fudge my scoring system, and it came out looking good. (I basically gave myself a 5 for humour if I had several laugh-out-loud moments in the chapter, or on where I really cracked up; similarly, if I cried a fair bit, I gave that chapter a 5 for emotion; and so on.)

Here's what the graph looked like about half-way through my 1st read-through:

The graph above sets the "Oomph" number to set the sum of the seven category scores, divided by square_root(square_root(4+N)), where N is the number of pages and 4 is a fudge factor to prevent over-weighting short chapters as being more "oomph-y". I'm still wondering things like: should I do something that scales up the scores (to give greater weight to high scores); and the idea that the overall oomph perhaps should not jump if you just arbitrarily split a chapter in two (maybe the Oomph of each half-chapter should drop by half)?

At about the two-thirds point, it seemed very hard to see what was happening. I rather suspect that what's happening is that there's a sort of averaging effect going on, that's obscuring things. (Imagine you had a hundred categories: if you just added them up, it'd sort of blur out into a muddy brown, since only a few categories would likely be strongest, as those categories would presumably capture the essence of what you were trying to achieve in that passage.) I wanted to emphasise the high scores, to make them more visible. I did a mental calculation, considering squaring each score before adding them all together, but if I cubed them, then if say a chapter got a rating of 5 (yippee!) in one category, and a 4 in another, and 3s in the others, then the top two categories would total almost 200, and all the rest combined, just 135. That seemed about the right balance, to me. So I added an Oomph^N and set N to 3, and here's what the graph turned into with the scores now exaggerated:

The pattern is nicely emphasised so it's now quite visible: it's easy to see a difference between a 4-rating and a 5-rating, and an overall pattern stands out. I'm encouraged to see that it's rising and falling, and there are rises and falls in different categories too. I can't tell you what it means, but it somehow looks healthy, to me!

Anyway, stay tuned, if you think you may attend my little book launch in Sydney (hopefully upstairs in Gleebooks, on Sat 9th July, in the afternoon), as I'll update this blog post with information about how to RSVP: there will be a link to the launch on their website, where you will be able to RSVP. It will also be possible to RSVP by email to, but I'd wait a little before trying that, as it's probably not yet been entered into their system

It was a busy day today: as well as completing the 2nd read through and revision of Shadow Hunt, and sending it off to ThEditors at 2am Sydney time, I got a haircut, organised a date for the book launch for the series, did the weekly shopping, and investigated the cover image issues caused by the winding-up of the site where I'd DollarPhotoClub. Which may be an interesting little extra bit of information to share...

I had licensed a further 91 images that I could choose from, to download, and as part of their closing down, the images have been transferred into Adobe Stock. Today (the final day) was the first day I'd had time available to do this. As part of the transfer, they offered a deal for signing up to Adobe Stock for a year, at a reduced rate. Unfortunately, when I checked the license conditions, they clearly state that you while you do have the right to use the image in printed material, you do not have permission to use the images for Print On Demand. Since I am producing the paperbacks through IngramSpark POD, that sounded like it was a deal-breaker as far as my needs. But I contacted Adobe, and a consultant checked. Unfortunately, it's correct: if you wish to use their images for Print On Demand, you need to purchase an Extended License (as it's considered High Volume), and when I had a little poke about, that meant each image's license costs US$99. So, no, not suitable.

Strangely, too, the owner of the images in Adobe Stock didn't seem to link to the copyright holder for the images, the photographer Pindurin Vasily (the images now claim the "author" is "chesterF"), so I may poke about further and see what's going on there.


Barbara Strickland said...

Good to see your idea up and running. Good luck with your launch and thank for the mention of my blog.

Barbara Strickland said...

That should have been thanks and not thank, is there a project you can dream up that sorts out what portion of the brain is working best and how to improve it(:

Luke Kendall said...

Now there's an idea! I wonder if people might pay money for advice on how to improve themselves...? :-)