Let’s Cut to the Chase…

Out now on Amazon Kindle Reader-preference enabled

Hello and Happy Easter to you all!

I haven’t been around the blogiverse since my eye surgery six weeks ago. I’m sort of half-finished in that respect, will be back in hospital for more surgery after the summer. Just got to be careful of the tentative scar in my eyelid I now have until then, with things like washing my face with a flannel, pulling t-shirts over my head, catching my eye with the arm of my glasses – that kind of thing. Not rubbing it, not getting infections in it. Lots of anti-inflammatories at the moment.

I have had a few projects to get on with, though. I finished editing and formatting a client’s new book – her second true-life memoir which takes up the story where the last left off. This one is is a much bigger read, made up of her travel journals at the time. It’s illustrated again, taken from her doodles and photographs. The file is much bigger than before, so while we’re waiting for the print proof copies to arrive to approve the hardback and paperback, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that any edits will actually appear, in the gargantuan document – it’s hit and miss knowing which version will actually be printed now!

I helped out on a few other books published so far this year – Freddie Omm’s cultural thriller Honour (published in the US as Honor), Sophie Neville’s Ride the Wings of Morning, and Adam Sifre’s zombie road-trip I’ve Been Deader, which I’ve been waiting to see in print only for about two years. So I asked to proof-read the ebook file, and also made him a print copy PDF as a big hint. I can’t wait until I get my own paperback now that it’s available on Amazon!

Most recently, I was invited to help out on the proof-reading and formatting of a large non-fiction book, which depended on a lot of references and internal redirections to the reader, and I could see this would be very exciting (er – okay, exciting to a computer geek like me) to bring to life by creating the bookmarks and navigational links within the text – literally hundreds of them – making the book as user-friendly as possible.

It was while doing this that I remembered a chat I had at last year’s London Book Fair with Jason Kingsley, owner of Rebellion/2000AD Comics, after a Transmedia panel discussion.

“Remember the old Livingstone adventure books, where you made choices and had to skip back and forth through the paperbacks? I was always frustrated that you couldn’t read them all the way through, cover to cover as well…” What I wanted to do, was to make an ebook you could skip sections of, if you were a busier person or wanted a shorter read, and the story would still make sense – it would just be more compact. But you could also read all the way through in the usual linear fashion, for the complete story.

Jason thought this was a good idea, and I had a few stories I was in the process of publishing already – so I decided to work on some of my other storylines, with the aim of creating this ‘collapsible story’ – one where you could read through it all at your leisure, or just tap a link to skip longer segments of literary exposition, and cut to the chase.

And then within two months I was editing and formatting freelance as my main job, had to give up my NHS post, and focus on getting established in the self-publishing world.

So the idea stewed until I had done the reference book file, and Easter break began, and things got quiet. I looked at a couple of my sci-fi projects, but they aren’t complete enough to play with. I was making a coffee the other afternoon, and the idea just came to me to try the idea out on Death & The City.

It turned out to be the perfect candidate to test out the idea. The protagonist Lara Leatherstone narrates the plot, and being a psychotic, her mind lapses occasionally into high self-monitoring mode. I could easily enable the ebook for readers wanting to stay in the action, by inserting SKIP hyperlinks at appropriate sections, taking them past Lara’s pattern-matching internal monologues and into the next segment – but leaving it so should they ever be curious as to what else goes on in that mind of hers, they can read through the whole book continuously, in the usual linear style.

In other words, as you might flip through the boring bits in a real paperback, it’s got the electronic shortcuts already in place for you. Interactive multiple-page-flipping 🙂

I had to make sure the story read in the condensed style still made sense – that I wasn’t just basically enabling the hopping-over of everything bar the dialogue. So there is still a lot of book in there – and of course you don’t have to skip every single section – depending on your mood at the time, you can skip or not skip a segment. You’ll get a slightly different read every time, depending on which parts you choose to omit on your journey, or not.

It took me longer to think up what to call the new edition, to identify it from the others already available. I asked DS-10, but she’s more interested in watching the new English dubs of Black Butler. The word ‘Interactive’ sounded more like a game. I may come up with a fully interactive version one day, but this one is something else. ‘Reading-preference enabled edition’ didn’t seem to fit on the cover neatly enough 😉

So anyway, I decided to call it as close as dammit to what it is – DEATH & THE CITY: CUT TO THE CHASE EDITION.

I hope you like the idea – let me know what you think.

L xxx 🙂

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3 thoughts on “Let’s Cut to the Chase…

  1. Het Lisa!!!!
    Had to laugh as began a WordPress blog last week using the same cone on a bollard theme as you 😉 Wondered for a minute how come your FB link was going to my blog!!
    Great what you’re doing – you’re amazing – well done!!
    Interesting that I wrote a lot this morning (am currently averaging an A4 notebookevery 20 days) and came towards the end to a place of seeing that my relationship with the words was kind of starting to break out of the normal linear pattern. Like – how can I write what I’m getting when it’s sort of multi dimensional?? I follow the ideas, but unless I’m very single minded, I start to want to add in the ideas that link to what I have just written like alternative but connected pathways. Or what I write has a kind of double meaning, and both of the meanings are relevant….
    Does this mean I am crazy or just a very bad writer? Lol.
    “How to write this down within the structure of the written line and the one dimensional sense of logic is a conundrum. As if I will need at some point to use an entirely different means of conveying what is always going to be a multi dimentional whole. A word sculpture?
    Is the world, the universe itself, this exact thing?? That which describes every possibility, every thing and its relation to and unity with eveything else? It doesn’t so much ‘make sense’ as it is coherent, orderly, harmonious – without conflict. all embracing, all inclusive, and thus at peace with itself.”
    We may not be on the same page, but we’re definitely attracted to the same themes!
    And probably I just need to learn to let go of the big picture and focus down on small aspects of it and be satisfied, provided I want to make sense to the reader that is! I guess I’m more fascinated with including than with excluding…but, as you are obviously advising me – as the nearest thing I have to an editor – Cut to the Chase!

    • Hi Mari! 🙂

      I’ve realised that’s what’s great about ebooks. Having thought at one point they were slightly frustrating with their screen-by-screen view, non-tactile handling, looking at them in another way – the interactive game dimension of entertainment – they can be brought to life without depriving the reader of all of your ideas.

      You can create a book which can be read in a number of ways: all the way through, start to finish; or with multi-directional navigational links/cross-referenced within the text (including links to online website content and other media, as most e-readers have full internet-access now), as in the self-help reference book I was just working on; or with short-cuts, condensing the book into a shorter, more compact read that can also be read in its fully expanded form.

      You don’t need to throw anything out that still contributes to your original concepts – all you need to do is filter, sifting out the potential ‘bonus material’ from the ‘chase’ and enabling the reader to jump ahead when they don’t have time to absorb, but keeping it linear so that your ideas still flow when read through the traditional way. As I said, the same as when reading an actual print/paper book – fiction or non-fiction – sometimes you read in detail, other times you want to jump to ‘the next bit’ 🙂

      I’m now doing a print version of the edit taken from DEATH & THE CITY: CUT TO THE CHASE EDITION, just because I want one for myself, for the novelty value (plus I like the new cover design I came up with for the ebook!) 😉

      Let me know if you ever want a document of any of your projects formatted as an interactive ebook – I’ll show you how it’s done 🙂 xxxxxx

  2. Pingback: The London Book Fair 2012 – Has Anyone Spoken to the Author? | lisascullard

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