Zombies are like credit card payments. If you keep getting rid of the minimum amount, you’ll never win. (From X-Heroes by Peter Cline.)
Amazon has become like its namesake river; deep, dark, populated by secret tribes of headhunters and cannibals…a mystery uncertainly navigated. A short while back I made the pleasant discovery that Amazon was mining purchaser’s archives for highlights.
That’s right; if you highlight passages in you new Kindle ebook, when you sync with your archives you pass on you highlights, bookmarks, and other bits of reader-activity to the men behind the curtains. While Orwell was obsessing about Big Brother, the Salesmen picked apart our privacy for selling pitches.
So now, on many novels published electronically, if you go down past their Amazon reviews, you will find a section called Popular Highlights. In theory, these are bits of the author’s wit and wisdom, lines that resonated deeply enough for the reader to stop and highlight it. Thus the source of the awesome quote that began this blog-post.
Another one: Neurotics build castles in the sky. Psychotics live in them. Psychotherapists collect the rent. This one is from Sugar and Spice, the British psycho-thriller Kindle bestseller by Saffina Desforges. Fourteen Kindle users underlined that one.
I suppose I could be disturbed by this latest piece of electronic transparency, but as a writer I’m feeling too warm and fuzzy right now. On my Wearing the Cape Amazon page, I found ten selected highlights. Of course one of the highlights was simply Villains Inc., Episode One: Preemption. Apparently nine Kindle users decided to highlight the last-page announcement of the sequel’s opening episode. Three others were highlighted quotes from English authors (Shakespeare, Johnson, etc), and one was a nursery rhyme. But five were mine–including perhaps my favorite line (if a writer can have his own favorites), Mrs. Lori’s acerbic dismissal of higher education.
But this got me thinking. One of the things I’ve really missed, with my fairly small alpha and beta-reader pools, is reader input. I am grateful to the Amazon reviewers who have gone beyond the standard thumbs-up (or thumbs-down), to tell me why they liked it, who they liked, etc. And feedback does make a difference; Bite Me is being written because of readers asking for more Artemis. But, being greedy, I want more.
So, here’s the deal: I’m getting ready to re-release the trade paperback of Wearing the Cape, with minor editorial corrections and a brand new, and truly awesome, cover. And I want to hear from everybody. So everyone who posts a reply, at least five sentences long, telling me their Faves (favorite characters, favorite lines, favorite scenes…), goes in the hat. When I publish the new edition with its new cover, one lucky poster gets a signed copy.
Feedback. Give me feedback. Believe it or not, it does make a difference; who knows what comments might shape the next Astra story.
Warning: WtC and VI spoilers follow; do not continue if you have not yet read the books.