Things are still on track for this book to be completed at the end of the month. I have about four more sections to write in the penultimate chapter, and then one last chapter that will reveal the secrets of the universe (of Tellest). I promise to explain why people are gaining these powers, and what that means to the other powerful beings of the world.
After that, I'll type the final part out, and then put the entire thing in a drawer somewhere for a month. Then, I'll pick it back up, and do a preliminary edit on it before sending it out to someone who knows better, and can better strengthen my voice. After he's done with his red ink, I'll edit it one last time, put the final touches on it, and commission a cover to be made. In May, it will be out and ready to be in your hands (or on your desk).
I'm struggling with a couple of the details for when it is complete. This is going to be my longest book, by far, and because of that, I'm debating what I should do about the cost. When all is said and done, I've put the most work into this, and I would like to think that I should be compensated for it, so I'm thinking about raising the price compared to the last one. This one would be $4.99 as opposed to the $2.99 I've been selling the last ones at. If anyone happens upon this blog, it is most likely because you're already a fan of the books in some way, so I'll leave it to you. What do you think my book will be worth?
One of the reasons that I'm questioning myself is that it's been quite some time since I've received any kind of feedback on the books. Sales have slowed dramatically as well, so I'm getting a much smaller indication of how much people value my writing. Before, when I released As Darkness Falls, I could tell what kind of attach rate I had with my readers. You can tell that I have about a 20% rate. That is, about 1/5 of the people who read The Bindings of Fate liked it enough to purchase the sequel. That may not seem like a huge amount, but, in my view, that's splendid.
You see, I know that my first book has a sinister lull. I've talked about it before in one of my other blogs. There are a variety of people who will pick up my book, but a special niche of the audience will tolerate my journeyman flaws. Once people were able to trudge through one of the weaker moments in The Bindings of Fate (specifically between Chapters Ten and Thirteen, if you're familiar with the work), I believe they were treated to one hell of a ride.
You see, in those 20-some pages, I tried to force character development onto my protagonist. I wanted to give the audience a little more familiarity with him. Yet the whole time, it showed him as infallible and indomitable. Kaos became a man with no weakness (with the exception of spiders, of course), who was able to do in one day what eight men could not do in decades.
Of course, that was a weakness that should reflect on me, not the story. There were plenty of ways that I could have written those passages leading to the Valley of Kathka that would have made Kaos' success seem more appropriate - more realistic.
I didn't do that, of course, and it's hurt my reputation as an author in some regards. It's also helped immensely, because I've been able to identify some of my biggest flaws.
One of my lowest reviews has this to say about The Bindings of Fate:
"Here is another issue that bothered me. The main character enters a tournament. Why? For treasure. In fact, he repeatedly calls it "treasure". Not money, not gold, not anything specific. Just generic "treasure". The treasure he gets? A treasure map to go find... treasure! And he's so excited about it, he goes and finds this lost treasure that a group of eight other men could not find in their combined lifetimes. In. One. Day.
The hero is stabbed through the leg with a spear? Two pages later - he's off saving the world... sprinting and leaping. The main character is perfect at everything, all the time, but he's also perfectly humble, perfectly handsome, etc. etc."
As I've said before, the realistic chances of Kaos finding anything that eight other men could not is a little beyond the realms of ridiculousness. I should have said that no one really bothered to try looking, or that they had just recently come into possession of the map that would have lead to the fabled treasure. The former is actually accurate to the story as well. With the Knights of Virtue recently developing the City of Wonders, who could blame them for not wasting time trying to find a city that may or may not exist?
And again, the main character's flawlessness is brought under the lens as well - something I've not forgotten, despite that review being written a year ago yesterday.
Another reviewer actually threw down his copy on several occasions, and couldn't even make it through the book:
Throwdown 1: Our hero won 4 gladiator battles, found a magic gauntlet in a lost city and then sleeps with the Duke's daughter ALL WITHOUT TAKING A BATH. It wouldn't be such a big deal, but the author mentions how Kaos has blood and sweat all over him and the guy changes clothes, but doesn't even splash water on his face. Ridiculous. Also worth mentioning: all of the above happened within 48-72 hours. Really?
Throwdown 2: Our hero makes a deal with a necromancer that if he defeats his champion, he'll let the Duke's daughter go free. Kaos defeats the champion and now she is free. "Free to watch you die!" (insert evil cackle). This was too much cliche and I liked Twilight for the love of Pete.
Now these complaints I take odds with. I've responded to the "your character never takes a bath" comment on other forums before, and frankly, it always strikes me as a little odd. Why should I ever have to mention that the character uses a washcloth or cleans himself in any regards? It should just be implied when he's clean in the next scene. I don't ever write about any of my characters taking the time to urinate, but is that supposed to imply that they never do it? Fake spoilers ahead: the antagonist of the story actually dies of a bursting bladder.
It's the comment about the cliche that actually makes me realize that I'm not going to please everyone, and I'm alright with that.
All that said, however, let me further explain what is going on in my head as I near the end of these books. As I sat, quietly writing this morning, the creeping, nagging worry that I'm not as good a storyteller as I wish to be would ferment in my mind. The echoes of those comments, specifically the first one, still resonate within me. It has effected my confidence, and in turn has effected the speed in which I've proceeded along this last year. Everyone has doubts about their abilities, and most of mine are fostered from these admitted flaws.
In spite of that, however, I think that my writing has steadily improved since I wrote the previous two novels. In this third book, I wrote a very similar treasure hunting sequence as the ill-fated chapters 10-12 in BoF. It was because of that complaint, however, that I identified that weakness, and for that, I say thank you.
So it boils down to this:
- Bad press has made me second guess myself briefly, but I'm still in the game.
- If anything else, the bad comments have helped to strengthen my resolve.
- This book is going to be a monster in length.
- Help me to price out this new book. Do I keep it at $2.99 or do I ask for $4.99. Do I do a early premium and then drop the price later? The price is in your hands.