Q: Why does it take so long to write an episode?
A: I can show you part of the reason.
I spent most of my weekend staring at this:
That’s one corner of the storyboard wall where I keep track of characters and conflicts. It’s weird, but sometimes it helps to be able to stand up, pace, and physically move pieces and parts around. And all of this so that no one can say “I totally knew that would happen.” (I can’t show the rest of the storyboard because someone *cough* HUSBAND *cough* wrote something lewd over to the right in black permanent marker.)
Another reason for the lulls between episodes (not to be mistaken for lulz — not at all the same thing, I assure you) is… I mentioned this on the forums last week, but this episode would be done already if it were not for my nemesis, the “Look Inside” feature (or Smashwords’s free sample). Don’t get me wrong — I have no issue with a good portion of the story being visible to readers beforehand. I wouldn’t buy an ebook without a test-drive, either. The issue for a pseudo-serial like Fantasy Heights, what I worry about is anything spoilery that could potentially wreck the whodunnit for readers showing up in that first 10-20% of an episode.
That is not to be coy, but to protect the discovery process which, so far as we can tell, is half the fun of sticking with this storyline. So it’s important, but with up to 5k words of an episode quarantined, that’s a pretty big piece of real estate to work around. Sort of like recording music, only the first minute of a song has to be laid down in mono instead of stereo. (Have I mentioned that I’m learning a lot from working on this series?)
Anyway, protecting that first 10 – 20% from spoilers — for this episode at least — has really contributed to the delay. It’s an interesting problem to have, and by talking about it, I hope I can encourage other writers to plan for this beforehand instead of letting the problem creep up on them like it did me.
Q: When is book 8 coming out?
A: Barring anything unforeseen, All The Queen’s Men will hit in January.
Q: Why can’t we get all the episodes in one file instead of having to buy them all?
A. A lot of things contribute to this. First and foremost, my first storyboard accounted for three episodes focused on Amanda’s progression from jilted to recovered. Then I accidentally met an editor who looked at sales figures and feedback and, in the course of brainstorming other story ideas, said, “Well duh, you’ve got all the pieces for something bigger and more fun, here.” So instead of three episodes that could quickly be bundled, suddenly we had six, and then NINE episodes to contend with. (And now an entire second season in development.)
The second issue is pricing. I don’t know about you all, but when I like something and I pay full price for installments, when the developer or producer suddenly releases a bundle at a discount, I get annoyed. And rather than run into a pricing nightmare with Apple disallowing anything without a .99cent ending, then Amazon price-matching and screwing loyal readers… Yeah, it’s a big pooch screw.
Which leads to…
Q: Why aren’t you charging more per episode?
9 x $.99 (minus HW freebie) = $7.92.
9 x $2.99 (minus HW freebie) = $23.92.
Now, for overseas readers, add in the file transfer fees, and the hour-or-so of fun, light reading suddenly carries a hefty price-tag.
Yes, I have overhead, but I also have a brand-spankin-new pen name, here. It’s asking an awful lot from new and even loyal readers to drop such sums on an unknown.
Q. Will you ever bundle episodes 1-9?
A. Yes. We will eventually bundle episodes 1-9 into a single ebook file, but not for wide release until at least a year after the release of episode 9. In the meantime, it’s possible we’ll use a compiled version for contest prizes, but nothing definite yet. This, again, is to avoid penalizing loyal readers by offering new readers all the episodes at a discounted price.
Print is another story. We will be releasing 1-9 in print. No ETA as yet. I’m still scouting for a formatter.
Q. Why aren’t you on (Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, etc.)?
A. I can barely work Facebook and Twitter. Also, less chatty = more writey.
Q. How many more episodes will there be?
A. Fantasy Heights as we know it ends with nine. We’re working on another “season,” though it’s a bit up-in-the-air as to how many episodes there will be. All the main protags remain in the story, but right now, the plan is to usher in some new blood as main characters.
One currently secondary character will become a much bigger deal in the next season. I will leave you to guess who that might be.