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Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

I'm not sure if this is the right forum, but as everyone here enjoys reading on their Kindle, and I'm publishing short fiction for you to read, I'm trying something new with my work, and I'd like your opinions. Don't worry, I'm not going to plug anything here. If you're interested in my current Kindle offerings, I have a thread in the Book's Bazaar that discusses all of them. But that said, thus far I've just published short fiction, and since the lowest price Amazon lets me set is eighty cents, I can't help but feel I should offer something extra with my stories. Not that eighty cents for fifteen to thirty pages is a horrible price. That's cheaper than a soda at most fast food places, and probably even more satisfying. Depending on how thirsty you are... Anyways, with my latest publication I thought I'd attempt doing something different and took a hint from my DVD collection. I decided to include some bonus material after the story. Not just a little afterward, but some things to give the reader a lot of insight on the creation and evolution of the story. That included a short essay on why I started work on the story, and another on the main image of the narrator throughout the tale. I also tossed in a mess of random trivia (facts like how each of the character's got their names, moments of my life that inspired moments of the story). There was also a section (met with mixed reviews) that I thought would be fun for discussion between readers or a way to give different insights to the story, and it was more or less a series of "essay" questions. I thought that if I asked the readers the same things I was asking myself while writing the story, it could almost serve as a "commentary track" while still allowing the reader further develop of his own interpretation.

Anyways, the over all idea was to give the reader excuses to read the stories three or four times and stretch out that eighty cent experience. It was also an attempt to see what sorts of new and exciting things I could do on the Kindle that I probably wouldn't in a standard paperback. Not only that, but readers who are just sampling the story will get a slightly longer 10% of the book.

So all of that said, now that I've tossed in these bonuses with one story, I'm thinking that I'd like to make it a regular thing. If possible, I'd want to inspire other writers to try the same. It was a fun experience. But I also want to make sure I include materials that you'd be interested in. The random trivia seemed to have been a hit. Again, the discussion questions were hit and miss. But what do you think? Should I include essays discussing some of the philosophies behind my work? Should I write about how the characters were developed? Over all, my question is, thinking of your favorite books and authors, if they were to include some extra features and such, what are the sorts of things you'd like to see? Or even what would you prefer not to see?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I forgot to mention, one suggestion that was given to me was "alternate endings," which sounded great, but I'm not to sure how to make it work. I mean, I'd want the story's conclusion to be the definitive ending, and although I might have other ideas for an ending, I'd likely only write the one and have my reasons for it. So would I just write several other full length endings, or just toss in a few descriptions of what else I considered to make happen?
 

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I think that's a fun idea and definitely adds value for some readers.  I took a Craft of Fiction course last semester and we read a lot of similar things, especially from Flannery, from authors who had entire books detailing such things about their writing.  I also wonder, too, if with the fledgling technology that DVD-like extras will start popping up in ebooks.  I think it would be great and can think of several authors whose minds I wouldn't mind getting into.  I know a lot of authors end up doing total rewrites or losing material that they loved but just won't work for the story.  It would be fun to have some of these "deleted/alternate scenes" included as well.

Whether most readers would like something like this is hard to say, though.  And I can't say I would always want to read such things as there are so many more books waiting to be read.  But I do think a lot of people hit that after novel depression and some even go so far as to start reading the same book immediately to deal with it.  Maybe having this sort of thing would be a good release for people who reach the end of the story and have an overwhelming need for more.  I see definite potential for this sort of thing.
 

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Neil Gaiman offers "extras" with at least some of his ebooks (additional short stories in Smoke and Mirrors, for example, and illustrations in Coraline not available in the DTB), and I think it's a great idea! I'd love to see more authors do the same. Notes, alternate and/or deleted scenes, essays and trivia like you mentioned... these are all things that I'd like to see offered as supplemental material in Kindle books.

BTW, Keith, welcome to KindleBoards! :)
 

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I have always thought that a "director's cut" might be interesting.
Of course the book would have to merit it.
But you know kinda like watching the Seven Samurai - background of the Japanese actors with the English subtitles below and the director commenting on the whole thing in English.
Just sayin.....
 

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I just read a book the other day that had some "extras" at the end (included in the form of an Afterword) and it absolutely ruined the book. If I had been the editor, I would X'ed off the afterword and explained why. Based on that particular experience, I don't think it's a good idea to include in the book. What I would suggest is that if you have a website, put the information there. That way, interested readers can go and find the info. You can even make it a community where people can go and comment and so on. But I think it is a mistake to include with the story itself. My 2 cents.

You can read my review of the book here. I mention in the review that the Afterword was a big mistake, IMHO.

http://speakitsname.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/review-of-awakening-by-terry-oreilly/
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks everybody! This is all great feedback. I'm a little uncertain at the idea of a website, just because I don't have my own domain and I can't promise that the content will ALWAYS be there. But it's good to hear there's some people for it and some against.
 

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Keith Blenman said:
Thanks everybody! This is all great feedback. I'm a little uncertain at the idea of a website, just because I don't have my own domain and I can't promise that the content will ALWAYS be there. But it's good to hear there's some people for it and some against.
It's not too expensive to register and maintain your own domain, and it appears that keithblenman.com is available :)

On topic, I enjoyed the afterword in Serial recently, where the authors "interviewed" each other about how they collaborated to write the book.
 

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Keith Blenman said:
Thanks everybody! This is all great feedback. I'm a little uncertain at the idea of a website, just because I don't have my own domain and I can't promise that the content will ALWAYS be there. But it's good to hear there's some people for it and some against.
Interestingly, the book I am reading now, A Terrible Splendor, doesn't have pictures (the print version does). Because I was curious about what Gottfried Cramm and Don Budge looked like, I googled their names and found a website for the book (created by the author) with lots of pictures and other information. I wrote the author a note and told him I appreciated what he had one.

Here's a link to the website:

http://marshalljonfisher.wordpress.com/about-the-book/photographs/#comments

and the book:

 

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Leslie said:
I just read a book the other day that had some "extras" at the end (included in the form of an Afterword) and it absolutely ruined the book. If I had been the editor, I would X'ed off the afterword and explained why. Based on that particular experience, I don't think it's a good idea to include in the book. What I would suggest is that if you have a website, put the information there. That way, interested readers can go and find the info. You can even make it a community where people can go and comment and so on. But I think it is a mistake to include with the story itself. My 2 cents.

You can read my review of the book here. I mention in the review that the Afterword was a big mistake, IMHO.

http://speakitsname.wordpress.com/2009/05/29/review-of-awakening-by-terry-oreilly/
But couldn't visiting the website "ruin" the book if you don't like the information there, the same way reading the afterword did, Leslie? ??? Assuming you enjoyed the book, and were what you called an "interested reader," you'd check out the website, wouldn't you?

I guess I'm just having a hard time understanding why including extra information with the book (which, to me, adds value to an ebook version over a DTB) is any different than publishing that information on a website. It's still there, and you still have the option to read it if you want to, or to stop reading it the moment you think, "Hey, this is actually detracting from my reading experience." Just because it's there -- whether "there" is in the book itself or on a website -- you don't have to read it.

Let's look at something similar: the extras included with DVDs, specifically deleted scenes. When it comes to the usual supplemental features found on DVDs, I would consider the vast majority of deleted scenes to have been deleted for a good reason (often, they're unnecessary at best and just plain awful at worst), but you have the choice to view them. If you think watching a deleted scene might color your perception of the movie as a whole, you just don't hit "play."

Same thing with ebook extras, at least in my experience. Where these extras are located (at the end of the ebook itself or on a separate website) doesn't make a difference to me, except in that I'd consider the ebook a better deal if it included exclusive material in which I was interested -- and I might be more likely to purchase it. ;)
 

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I'd find alternate ending extremely annoying. I'd rather an author choose the best ending for their characters and be done with it.
 

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jesspark said:
But couldn't visiting the website "ruin" the book if you don't like the information there, the same way reading the afterword did, Leslie? ??? Assuming you enjoyed the book, and were what you called an "interested reader," you'd check out the website, wouldn't you?
I think there are a couple of things here. First, A Terrible Splendor is a non-fiction book and I basically know the story, so there is nothing to give away or ruin for me. I specifically was googling pictures of the tennis players and so on, and was really glad when I found the author's website -- especially since the Kindle version doesn't include the pictures.

The other book I mentioned (that I wrote the review about), Awakening -- it had this thing called an "Afterword." No explanation of what it was -- I figured an epilogue, right? Wrong. It was this weird "flash forward" to introduce the author (why couldn't that have just been put on an author bio?), some speculation about what happened to the characters (that was the ruining part), and some rambling prose about a potential sequel. It just wrecked it for me. I suppose I could have stopped reading but I am one of those people that when I get going, I need to finish.

Interestingly, before I finished the book, I was curious about the author so I found his website. He had very minimal personal bio info, so I didn't really expect him to reveal so much about himself in an "Afterword."

I've been hearing a lot of buzz about a new book, Zero at the Bone by Jane Seville. While most of the reviews are positive, there have been a few negative comments about the epilogue she included, saying that it really ruined the ending.

I guess I'm just having a hard time understanding why including extra information with the book (which, to me, adds value to an ebook version over a DTB) is any different than publishing that information on a website. It's still there, and you still have the option to read it if you want to, or to stop reading it the moment you think, "Hey, this is actually detracting from my reading experience." Just because it's there -- whether "there" is in the book itself or on a website -- you don't have to read it.
See above.

Let's look at something similar: the extras included with DVDs, specifically deleted scenes. When it comes to the usual supplemental features found on DVDs, I would consider the vast majority of deleted scenes to have been deleted for a good reason (often, they're unnecessary at best and just plain awful at worst), but you have the choice to view them. If you think watching a deleted scene might color your perception of the movie as a whole, you just don't hit "play."
To get to the special features, you have to "do" something (choose options off menus and so on). It's like going to a website to look something up. On the other hand, reading a book -- all you have to do is turn the page and boom! There is the unfortunate afterword or epilogue or whatever the author chose to stick in there.

Same thing with ebook extras, at least in my experience. Where these extras are located (at the end of the ebook itself or on a separate website) doesn't make a difference to me, except in that I'd consider the ebook a better deal if it included exclusive material in which I was interested -- and I might be more likely to purchase it. ;)
I realize we all probably have different opinions about this. I am just saying, based on some recent experiences, I am not too enthused about the idea of including "extras."

L
 

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An ending or epilogue can damage a book.



The majority of the book was a mild but fun tale about one of the biggest sitcom starts of the '80s. Then, in the epilogue, he ruined it by basically comparing followers of non-Christian religions to being on a boat without a paddle (or some such boneheaded comparison to that effect). It was tacky and narrow-minded.
 

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Leslie said:
To get to the special features, you have to "do" something (choose options off menus and so on). It's like going to a website to look something up. On the other hand, reading a book -- all you have to do is turn the page and boom! There is the unfortunate afterword or epilogue or whatever the author chose to stick in there.
So if there's a page in between the end of the book and the extras proclaiming, "Extras ahead: all hope abandon, ye who enter here," that would be fine with you? ;) Because in the books that I've read with extra material -- Neil Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors and Coraline; Gregory Maguire's Mirror, Mirror -- the extras were as separate from the story as is possible with an ebook, including, IIRC, having their own chapter designations. That way, if you don't want to read additional stories, see exclusive illustrations, or find out the inspiration behind the novel, you have every opportunity to virtually close the book before viewing the extras.

[quote author=Leslie]
I realize we all probably have different opinions about this. I am just saying, based on some recent experiences, I am not too enthused about the idea of including "extras."

L
[/quote]

Oh, absolutely! I understand not wanting additional material ruining how you feel about something; that's why I refuse to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and I live in a happier world because of it (and, after watching it, my husband now wishes he had my self-control!). =) However, I'd be really saddened to see authors like Keith Blenman leaving out potentially interesting extras from their ebooks for fear that some readers would dislike them, despite the fact that they have the choice to read the extras or ignore them entirely. With obviously-marked extras, that's as close as you're going to get to accessing a separate menu the way you would with a DVD.
 

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I think it's a terrific idea to include extras in your book. One of the things that makes The Lord of the Rings such an enjoyable read is all of the bonus material Professor Tolkien included in his Appendices. In fact, science fiction and fantasy authors have been doing this for years. Naturally a reader will want to stay clear of the bonuses section of a book until they have finished reading the novel. But I can't see how it hurts a book to have a few extras included.
 

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Interesting discussion, this.

I have been to several writing workshops where the pros and cons of including a prologue/epilogue were discussed. The general consensus was always: On the one hand, not a good idea, unless it will draw/hook the reader in (like the first sentence or few words in Chapter 1) and, it has to be a short intro. <-- for the prologue. Unless the author has something to add further, the epilogue is really not a necessity. On the other hand, authors who always include both a prologue and an epilogue in their works would argue that their readers want, expect, or relish the little extras.

Some prologues and epilogues work for me but mostly, I come away thinking 'Was that really necessary? It's the logical next step.' I guess it all comes down to choice, preference, etc.. Just like I don't like to look at the extras (special features) on DVDs unless I am very curious cuz once I see how it's done (special effects, chases etc..), the magic, the mystery and/or enchantment will be gone, and I'd feel a tad betrayed, just like when I found out that Santa Claus was not real eons ago... and in high school, that my first crush was only talking to me cuz he was interested in my best friend and wanted me to help him win her affections. :-(

I do enjoy the teaser chapters for the next book though, but then again, sometimes you wait and wait and wait and the book never get published or the chapter you read and liked undergoes more editing and polishing that when you get the actual book, it's not what you remembered. Disappointing, that.

One thing I won't like or enjoy is an alternate ending. As a reader, that would really be a big turn-off for me and I will NOT be reading that author, ever again, even if s/he gets the Pulitzer.

Any afterword included, especially if I am directed to do more research on the historical aspects or reality of any events in the book, I will welcome BUT, do not spoon feed the information to me as that will make me feel that the synapses in my aging cranium are inefficient! <g>

And I agree, an author's bio, unless it's brief and on the inside of the back cover, should be somewhere else... heh! JMO.

ebc aka AppleHeart, off to sit in the peanut gallery to read, but will gladly share my white wine biscuits and the DomP I was given 5 Christmases ago by a study patient... Wonder if it can be used as an ingredient for a salad dressing by now??? On second thoughts, I need to visit the accessory board -- AH needs spiffier duds, you see. I have caved in, now joining the enabled...
 

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AppleHeart said:
I do enjoy the teaser chapters for the next book though, but then again, sometimes you wait and wait and wait and the book never get published or the chapter you read and liked undergoes more editing and polishing that when you get the actual book, it's not what you remembered. Disappointing, that.
See, and I don't. I have to stop myself from reading them because, invariably, if I do, then when I go to actually buy the next book when it comes out, I can't remember if I already read it or if I only read the first chapter because it was at the end of the last book.
 

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jesspark said:
So if there's a page in between the end of the book and the extras proclaiming, "Extras ahead: all hope abandon, ye who enter here," that would be fine with you? ;)
Well, my problem is, I don't have much willpower. If I see something there, no matter how it was labeled, I want to read it.

Believe it or not, this is probably a drawback to Kindlebooks (eek! don't tar and feather me for saying they aren't perfect!). In a paper book, where I can flip through the pages, if there are "extras," I can look quickly and get the gist of what the extras are and whether or not I want to have anything to do with them. With a Kindlebook, no flipping and I just tend to keep reading along.

L
 
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