Inside The Pages: Available Darkness Episode 1
(note: This week’s newsletter is the same as the Author’s Note, so if you prefer to read those in the book, just click the links below to go get the book. Additionally, we’ve got an update on Z 2134 at the end of this letter.)
Hello Fellow Goner,
It’s Dave here with a few words on Available Darkness: Episode 1, (Amazon US link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009CHBQZU Amazon UK link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B009CHBQZU ) a serialization of the Available Darkness book we released in August 2011 as the first part in a trilogy. We wanted to revise the book — our first co-written novel, by the way — to make it a better reading experience before launching the second season.
If you’ve never read Available Darkness, welcome!
If you read the original, there’s a few things you need to know:
If you already read Available Darkness: Book One, then you don’t NEED to read the serialized version. This is REVISED material, but events from the first book have not been altered. The major changes in this edition are: better scene flow, less clunky exposition, and what we hope to be a better written story.
Available Darkness: Season One will run the length of our other serials, six episodes, followed by a fully-revised Season One compilation. A couple weeks after Season One, we’ll return with Available Darkness: Episode 7, the first episode of Season Two.
While Yesterday’s Gone was the serial Sean and I are most associated with, it wasn’t our first serial.
That honor belongs to Available Darkness, which we started writing in 2008 as a serial on the web. While it found a small following, we found the web to be an awkward, non-reader-friendly way to release a serial. We heard from people saying they’d love to read our story, but they’d wait for the paperback.
At the time, e-books hadn’t yet taken off, and most people still preferred paper books.
Problem was, we didn’t know the first thing about self-publishing back then. So the book sat unfinished until summer 2011 when we decided to rewrite the first half we’d already written, finish the rest, and put the completed book out in paperback.
While it sold a small number, profits on self-published print books weren’t gonna cut it unless we had a LOT more readers, or something happened which would make publishing easier and less costly for both authors and readers.
That something seemed so distant a dream. Most people seemed to favor print books, and saw e-books as the death of literature, which they’d be no part of, thank you very much!
But then it happened — the societal shift towards e-books, largely ushered in by Amazon’s Kindle. Suddenly people were not only embracing e-books, but e-books were leading paper book sales at Amazon.
For the first time ever, authors were able to reach a large audience without having to go through the gatekeepers of traditional publishing. Some authors were even starting to make a nice living from their efforts.
For indie writers, and brave readers willing to take a chance on the unknown, digital publishing had become a beautiful thing.
We put Available Darkness: Book One out on Kindle, but didn’t do much to promote it at all.
Because we suddenly had another idea. . .
Just moments after finishing one book that took four years to finish, we were about to get right back to work on the thing which would occupy a majority of our waking minutes for the next year.
Sean and I are huge fans of serials.
We’ve written about them a lot in our other Author’s Notes, so I won’t bore you with the whole origin story. The important part is that we believed that the digital publishing revolution offered us an opportunity to do something we’ve wanted to do for most of our lives — write a serial.
So we got to work on our post-apocalyptic serial, Yesterday’s Gone.
It was a tough sell at first. But in January 2012, we made an important decision — we put our everything into Our Plan.
We’d become the self-titled “Kings of Serialized Fiction” by writing and publishing an episode (or a short story) every week in 2012. We wanted to be the AMC, HBO, or Showtime of the Kindle generation! A new “show” every week.
The plan is crazy, ambitious, and the hours are long.
But the gamble has paid off! We’re now making a living writing serialized fiction! We immediately followed Yesterday’s Gone with more serials — WhiteSpace and ForNevermore, so we’d always have a “show” in production to deliver to our audience.
But we weren’t sure what to do with Available Darkness.
It started as a serial, which it shouldn’t have been — at least not a web serial.
When we were writing AD on the web, we were forced to work within the pacing of the web, delivering artificial cliffhangers at the ends of shorter chapters, where they shouldn’t have been. We fixed all that when we decided to write it as a book, allowing the story to flow naturally.
Since we published AD last summer, I’ve had mixed feelings about it.
It was our first book, and while it has a special place in our heart — as well as some readers’ hearts — it’s not up to par with our other stuff. There’s some clunky exposition, some language which doesn’t work as well as it should, and the story pacing could be better.
We weren’t sure what to do with the book.
We knew we wanted to return to the world. We also knew we wanted to do the second season as a proper serial like our other stuff. But we didn’t know how to handle the first book. To have Part One as a full book and the second as six serialized books would be confusing to readers and would be unevenly presented.
Series should be delivered consistently.
So we were faced with questions:
Do we re-write the whole thing?
Clean it up a bit?
Or just keep going, ignoring the bad stuff in the first book?
The problems with re-writing the whole thing is that we might be tempted to write new content and I don’t want to force people who already read the first book to have to read it again. Also, I didn’t want to change events in the first book, which would be confusing as hell to people who read it. You can’t just say to readers, “Hey, you know how that one thing happened? Ignore it, we changed our minds.”
While the books are fiction, we strive to make our worlds as real as they are to us when we’re in them.
If something happens, it doesn’t un-happen.
We don’t change the “history” in a story.
That’s one of the things I hated most about serialized fiction in comics and soap operas. Continuity is often not respected. Dead people are brought back to life seemingly at will, children are aged for story purposes, and things that happened are often ignored as if they never did.
That’s not how a serial should work.
If it happens — it happened.
So we decided to REVISE the first book of AD, cleaning up the language, dialogue, and maybe changing the order of how events are presented in a few instances, but NOT changing the events.
GETTING BACK TO THE WORLD OF AD!
So here we are — back in the world of Available Darkness.
It’s a story that has been in my head since I was a teenager, and which I’ve tried to perfect a million different ways over the years.
I love the characters.
I love the story.
And I love what next season is going to bring.
But maybe the reason I love this book most is that it was the start of my creative partnership with Sean.
I never thought I’d find a writing partner so creatively in tandem with myself. We compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Sean’s a happy guy who farts rainbows, while I’m a cynical bastard with a permanent storm cloud overhead.
As different as we are, however, our paths cross in all the right places whether it be experiences, stuff we like, or stuff we’ve wanted to create.
And there is zero ego in our relationship — with the story ALWAYS taking the driver’s seat in every decision we make.
Available Darkness isn’t just the first book we created together. It’s the start of our publishing company, Collective Inkwell, and all the serialized series we’re doing. And it’s the first book which readers responded to and demanded we write more of.
A year ago, I wasn’t sure if there would ever be a second book.
And there wouldn’t be, if not for YOU, our reader, who supported our efforts during our first year of publishing.
I speak for both Sean and I when I say, Thank YOU, from the bottom of our hearts. We appreciate your support, feedback, reviews, email, and chatting with us on Facebook.
Z 2134 UPDATE
Thanks to everyone who came out last week for Z 2134. We had to take the book down for a bit. Don’t worry, it’s for a good reason, which we’ll share with you as soon as we’re able. We’ll also let you know the minute it’s available again.
FORNEVERMORE FOR FREE
We’re continuing our six weeks of free ForNevermore with Episode 3, available on Sept. 19 and 20. If you like it, we’d love you to leave a review!
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007JLU65M/
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007JLU65M/
Thank you for reading,