Not too long ago, I cleared out a bunch of redundant posts on my main website @ www.jesscscott.com. I recently did the same with this blog (and switched to a template that looks bolder, ha ha).
After a few months of marketing this debut book of mine, I’ve collected some “data” to sift through and analyze, to see if I could use this data to my (and EyeLeash’s) advantage.
On the subject of the blog/IM novel format, I shall borrow the text from one of the first reviews EyeLeash received (back in July 2009, courtesy of Mr. Joseph Grinton):
“…from reading [Franz Kafka's letter to Felice Bauer in 1912], it is clear he would have understood completely everything that Jade Ashton describes in EyeLeash. The feelings are the same; only the media have changed.”
There’s this whole experimental feel to EyeLeash – and not just in terms of the blog/IM writing (I’ll get to that in a bit). I’ve had to spend more time on this debut novel than my second book (on all fronts: writing, editing, formatting, marketing), and I had a hard time categorizing the book in the beginning. Book02 was easier to label (genre = “erotic short stories”).
EyeLeash is young adult fiction, with discussions about sex/uality that are more frank, direct, and in-your-face than most mainstream YA novels (the protaganist’s *private* blog posts and chats with the guy only *with no other friends hovering about* are conducive for ‘uncensored expression’ and authenticity).
There are two defining elements of EyeLeash:
1) It’s an alternative YA novel. I did not start off by marketing EyeLeash as “an alternative YA novel” — I was trying to get it to be accepted as a mainstream novel (guess Freddie Mercury’s THE one and only Great Pretender). I think I’ll focus on its ‘alternative’ value from now on (will write a future blog post on this, asap).
2) The second point is that it’s a book written in new media format. I’ll muse a little bit on this point today.
Early on (back in 2008), one of my friends was apprehensive about writing in a blog format. He said it’s “transient,” and that the format might not be around long enough for it to be an acceptable form of literature.
I’ve heard extreme viewpoints on the concept of “blog fiction” — here are some positive ones I’ve received [these are all comments I've read IRL (in real life) so far, when marketing EyeLeash]:
“Your blog novel sounds interesting and [in] this day and age…I bet it will appeal to a great many.” (17 year old student, female)
“It sounds like it would follow characters I’d love! Especially because, when you’re a teenager, Cyber-Stalking the boy/girl you’re madly in love with is now commonplace.” (21 year old male)
“Your writing reflects something genuine, something real, about our generation that few writers have had the talent or the courage to uncover.” (e-mail from a male reader)
Negative comments I’ve received include:
“All these typos in the chat transcripts send a bad message out to teens.” (27 year old school teacher, female)
“Book of the week: EyeLeash, which the author describes as blog fiction — whatever that is…it’s unclear who the target audience is.” (an e-fiction book club, which went defunct in early 2010 / majority of members/reviewers were female)
“Book review tagged as ‘absolute shit’.” (male reader with the word ‘cowboy’ in his username)
Side note: Personally, I used (n continue 2 use) abbreviatns while chatting/text-messaging (saves time/screen space). It does not affect my grades at school — see below.
New media is a language. Olde English, music, and Egyptian hieroglyphs are types of languages. There are nuances and specific details which are present in all languages (the characters in EyeLeash have various quirks and traits while chatting online — these habits had to be consistent, or the characterization would’ve been poor) — including new media. I can write/speak in Singlish, as well as Standard English, with equal proficiency. The same goes with writing/conversing via a blog/IM format.
I’ve had a college professor say (with a kind smile) to me, “Oh [a blog novel?]…it’s not for me, then.” Another person of a similar age group (60+) wrote, “I read EyeLeash and didn’t know all of the [Internet] chatspeak — but I could still follow what was going on!!”
I suppose I’ll just leave EyeLeash alone (and out on the market, of course) after a while, as I’ve done with 4:Play. I have new (decidedly mainstream, this time) books that I’ll have to market for a bit too.
I suppose EyeLeash’s target audience includes those who are open to the idea that new media IS a valid language (and form of literature, omg-deviant-and-unthinkable as that might be to some folks). It kind of goes in line with what’s at the core of the novel’s plot too — the whole point about what’s inside (a person), versus what’s on the outside.
In terms of gender within the target audience — oh, I really don’t know. I think some characters and stories appeal to the reader/person, regardless of their gender [or orientation -- the about page for (the multiple genre-crossing) 4:Play touches on that subject a little bit]. After all, there’d be no progress if the same old things are shoved down people’s throats. Commercialism is safe, but not long lasting. For better or worse, I’m one of those types who aims for something with both style and substance, more so than (variations of) emo glitz that may be all the rage today, but not tomorrow.
I shall end this post with two writing quotes:
“Literary success of any enduring kind is made by refusing to do what publishers want, by refusing to write what the public wants, by refusing to accept any popular standard, by refusing to write anything to order.”
— Lafcadio Hearn
“It is advantageous to an author that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck at only one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends.”
— Samuel Johnson
Hopefully, I’m doing something right (as recorded by this screenshot).
P.S. There’s been a delay with my last two exams for the Spring 2010 semester — essay questions on Herman Melville’s short novels, and Moby-Dick.