Sunday, 5 January 2014


After some mucking around with HTML, I've added a very short warning of a self-harm scene to the Amazon product description for MIRA E. That's the novel featured in my first volume of blog collections, REPORT FROM A FUGITIVE.
   Yes, books are named after this blog.
   Amazon's LOOK INSIDE! feature allows potential purchasers to browse e-books. Quite right, too. Readers should be able to do to e-books most of the things they can do to paper books.
   Browse them. Buy them. Read them. Spilling coffee on e-books has a slightly different outcome. Throwing e-books across a room in outrage - likewise.
   My blog report features collected posts at the start of the book. Inside the first ten per cent of volume one, the free sample ends with Darth Biozarre's complaint that painting the DEATH STAR black was, cough, a total giveaway, revealing Darth Sinister's true identity.
   (Cough, splutter. Pardon me while I store this black cloak in a dark cupboard. Cough, cough. Ahem.)
   My point, Young Jedi...
   MIRA E. is the novel bundled with those blog posts. The story starts long after the free sample ends. My blurb mentions the blog posts and then goes into an extended description of the novel.
   An experiment, in product description.
   Knowing the book itself wasn't sampled at the start of the Amazon product-viewing experience, I decided I'd take full advantage of the space available.
   I showcased the novel. A mad experiment. You can tell.
   The other products I sell on Amazon feature blurb sections that run around two to three hundred words. Those descriptions include welcoming phrases that point out roughly what you'll be reading.
   I also list the word-count. And I end with an invocation to use the LOOK INSIDE! feature.
   Dash in, do the job, and rush out. Job done.
   In the MIRA E. blurb, I spend 600 words giving you slices of the book - solely because you can't click LOOK INSIDE! to read any of that text.
   I don't believe in using 600 words for every single piece of book blurb.
   Where's the problem? In the first chapter of the novel, I feature a scene involving discussion of self-harm. Okay, I put a lot of nasty stuff in my stories...
   I am not in the habit of warning people about the nasty things. For, in my world, my world is not your world. You may have a problem dealing with clowns.
   Open spaces. Enclosed spaces. Outer space. The upper reaches of the atmosphere. Foggy days. Dogs. Cats. Lava. I don't know what's going to scare you.
   There's a scene in MIRA E. in which a paedophile faces a peculiar form of revenge. I'm guessing you'd cheer.
   Self-harm is a difficult topic to deal with. I don't want to ambush my readers with it. You know I am going to talk about HTML. I opened this blog post with the term.
   Ambush. I added HTML to my Amazon blurb. HERE'S A BLOG POST ABOUT THAT.
   With HTML, blurb has the power to become blurb. Or blurb. The HTML coding absorbs some of the available space in the Amazon text box. In exchange, bold type appears.
   Normally that's not a problem.
   With 600 words of blurb, it became a problem. I edited the hell out of that description to make it fit. And that wasn't a problem. Until I realised I'd be ambushing readers with description of a self-harm scene.
   Then I knew I had to put in a warning. The longer warning exists on this blog - see the dedicated page for the first chapter of MIRA E. There's your free sample. Just click to read inside. ;)
   The novel itself contains an extended warning in the introductory text. I fought a major battle with HTML to include the briefest warning in the Amazon blurb.
   Gremlin. I was told by the display that I had dozens of characters left. A lie was told there, surely.
   Looked okay when I hit the button to publish. The gremlin choked a sentence off at birth, on publication. No matter. I went back in with a flamethrower.
   That is how I ended up publishing 72 times in 2013. Updating blurb. Adding HTML. Fine-tuning product description - for the products you see in my Amazon carousel.
   Experimenting, as all mad scientists must. They think me mad. For I have exchanged a black cloak for a white coat.


Review your work. Look afresh at covers and blurbs and prices, oh my! Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Follow the digital road.


Update. I scrapped the collected blog posts. The blogs exist on the internet, but not as collected volumes. HERE'S A BLOG POST ABOUT THAT.



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