Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Market Research Updated Again

In case anyone thought the last post meant I was going to be months before I posted again, no.  It's only that it's hard to write about D&D if I'm not working on D&D.  But I'll catch my breath in a few days.

Meanwhile regarding the title of my book-in-progress, The Killing Bequest, I'm putting up a little survey - market research.  If the reader is willing, please give me a hand with it.  It is set up to allow more than one answer.


Now that the poll has been in place about 10 hours, let's presume the reader wants to open the book and look at the front page.

Here is the text that appears on the first page of the book:

Would you turn the page?


After a comment from Hodge Dunkin, I went to look at what sort of fonts might be available for a cover idea I have . . . and this is why fonts are both fun and why we should stay the bloody hell away from them.  Otherwise, we'll come up with something like this:


  1. I voted, but the poll results appear to not show the results . . . .

    I don't know if that is a feature or a bug.

  2. I had to look up "bequest" to make sure it meant what I thought it meant.

  3. I put it between intrigued and pretentious.
    Intrigued enough to pick it up and look for anything that says 'I must have this' or 'I'm sure the author thought he was very cool making that title'.

    So you're making me all in or all out.

  4. Doug,

    Sometimes it takes a few minutes for the poll feature to kick in. I've noticed that.


    In picking the title, the word sort of popped into my head; then I double-checked the dictionary to be sure my imagination and the actual definition of the word matched. This is what it is often like when your vocabulary tops 150,000 words; a lot of the ones that aren't in everyday use live in a mental grey area. Turned out I was right about it. But the query is on the poll because of my own experience.


    Because bequest isn't an everyday word, yes, it is of necessity going to sound pretentious. After all, the use of the word 'pretentious' is pretentious, because that's how language is. I've been accused all my life of using 'big words' in order to make myself sound important - where in fact I simply lived in a household where many of those 'big words' were in everyday use because of my father's education, my interest in things, my brother's interest in things and my mother's passion for high-minded black-and-white films from her era, '35 to '62. I have Katherine Hepburn's vocabulary, Spencer Tracy's vocabulary, William Powell's vocabulary, Laurence Olivier's vocabulary and so on, mixed with engineering, science and literature.

    It always seems strange to me that people who claim to read books seem to get upset when all the words in them are not the same as those appearing in Coles' Notes, but this is the world we live in.

    Anyway, yes, I would expect you would be able to crack open the book. That's why for the second day of polling I'm going to add a bit more information. See the post.

    If anyone wants to vote again, they just have to borrow a friend's account - or change their vote (I think that's possible as long as the vote is open).

  5. I will buy this book.

    More to the point, if I were browsing in a bookstore, I would turn the page. The opening reminds me of another book, one of my favorites, and so catches my attention in that way.

  6. I would definitely turn the page. I am curious how one manages to fall backwards and land on your knees... Anyways, I thought that the word "killing" was a little stark when used in conjunction with "bequest". I would probably pick up the book to look at it if the cover had a nicely illustrated scene to catch the eye with an appropriate typeface. A nice woodcut illustration, perhaps? I hope to see the finished product someday.

  7. Well, falling backwards off a wagon gives plenty of time for twisting in the air . . . but I can always adjust that line.

    Not sure yet what to do about the cover. Have some ideas for the font . . .

  8. I will buy this book. I've been sufficiently impressed by everything else to say that you've earned my willingness to give anything you publish a chance.

    That said, there is, to my eye, something haphazard about the writing in the page you posted. I say that in the most respectful way. I have very high expectations for your syntax, grammar, and meter--and I just don't feel this lives up. Aside from the obvious mechanical issue Hodge brought up (the falling backwards and landing on knees confused me as well), there is a comma splice in the first paragraph and six consecutive sentences that begin with "I" between the second and third. Of course, these are all just rules about grammar and style--and, as an artist, you certainly have license to ignore them. But it all feels a little sloppy to me.

    I think the title, however, is fabulous. I don't think there's anything wrong with a bit of pretension in literature. It raises the intellectual cost of entry and keeps the "riffraff" out, so to speak. I think "The Killing Bequest" strikes just the right balance of sophistication and accessibility. There is no shame whatsoever in needing to consult a dictionary while reading. I wish more people were willing to expand their vocabulary through literature, instead of expecting everything to be perfectly simplified for their convenience.

    Despite my criticism, which I offer only constructively, I am intrigued by this outing for you and I eagerly await its availability.

  9. I don't have a problem with pretentious. Probably that's because I knew the word "bequest" even though this is only my second language. I will, however, oppose "killing". Why, you ask? Because of the pervasive " " structure you see on every bookstore, every day, on cheap, fast, ghost-written, summer-reading thick books. Easy to read, easy to forget. You are marking yourself as one of those. Thus, I voted "remove killing", and adding this comment for explanation.

    As always, you can count on a copy bought from me, once it's finished.

  10. I went with pretension only after reading the first page. I could have and maybe should have gone with "meh". Were I to just see the title and nothing else I would assume it was a mystery novel. The delicacy of a word like "bequest" next to "killing" invokes imagines of a clever, polite, English country gentleman or woman gallivanting about and solving pernicious riddles. This seems at odds with the setting and tone so far implied by the writing. Perhaps this is resolved or makes sense later on, I'm only going by what I'm getting.

  11. After seeing only the title I voted that it seemed pretentious, which was my first impression. I would like to note that the title evoked thoughts of a murder mystery/detective romance type of book you see on the shelves at wal-mart. When I revisited the book title and though about it again, in the context of the story being placed in Fallow, it does have the chance to come off as a nuanced subtle title depending on the books content. However, other than the readers of this blog, knowledge of Fallow and your writing style would be limited.

    From a marketing stand point, what I imagine is your target audience would most likely pass it over based on the title, though a lot depends on the cover art.

    Now, knowing how you write from this blog, I would very much like to read the entire book, especially after reading the first page. though that is also being reinforced by having read all of your blog posts here and seeing the attention to the content you put in the wiki. Other people do not have this background reinforcement to make them want to buy the book.

    Hopefully this opinion helps out in some way.

  12. I definitely want to turn the page, however the title fails to grab me in a meaningful way. As Oddbit put it, it seems to say either the author will be terribly clever, or just thinks he is terribly clever. In my experience with most fantasy/science fiction novels in general circulation, it is all too often the latter case, hence my reticence to pick it up based on title alone. However, with an appropriate cover illustration, I could be persuaded that perhaps it isn't the typical pulp dross.

    That said, the tone of the first page seems to indicate the narrator is a grizzled warrior, with many stories to tell of violence and death. I'd be willing to listen to one, and others if the first satisfied. Knowing you are the author would encourage my attitude and willingness to continue reading, so perhaps I am not an ideal "market research" candidate.

  13. I would definitely turn the page. I like a good battle at the beginning of my story.

    I also paused to think about the boy falling back and landing on his knees. Doing so, I visualize the scene to understand: the boy stumbling and turning to instinctively retreat, in a scramble to get to the other side of a wooden wagon. I'm thinking in the scramble, he has a shocked terrified face, but never takes his eyes off the intruder. Maybe his protruding foot or exposed ankle now within reach of the brigand.

    So falling back to the knees sort of forced the scene into my brain.

    As to title, for my inexpert opinion only, I think bequest is strong. Its not entirely uncommon and those that don't know what it means, will see the word quest. Quest is a word that is etched into an RPG player's mind (especially computer game players). And for these people bequest may suggest the book offers something more.

    As for Killing, I am less enthusiastic. It narrows the scope of the book a bit, but that is probably your intention. I would figure that some people would pass by the book due to this narrowing. This is not why I scrutinize the word. Killing is somewhat ambiguous to me since it can be used as a noun, adjective, or verb. The ambiguity offers some mystery surrounding the bequest and who is doing the bequeathing and why. However a more direct "Bequest to Kill" would narrow the scope further and make me ask who are we killing and why.

    That said, at first glance, I would pick up Killing Bequest and give it a once over.

  14. My stance I think is more about whether or not this is another author writing for pre-teens using fancy words to make themselves look more interesting rather than someone who actually can use the term in casual language and intends to write an intelligent book.

    This is distancing myself from the blog of course. Having read the blog I do have a bias towards mysterious and potentially interesting but with a name I don't know on the shelf I would have some pessimism.

    After the first page I am not sold beyond maybe reading the second or at least till the end of the encounter, but I think you may have grabbed a few minutes of my time.

    The font is very round. I might be staring at it too long but in the high contrast black and white it's definitely keeping a touch of playfulness. Might be negated by additional cover art if any or by not thinking about it too much.

  15. Bequest: that which is left to others (a legacy)
    Bequeath: The act of leaving that which is left to others.

  16. And it is in the sense of 'legacy' that I mean the word.

    Would you all feel better if it was the Killing Legacy?


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