Minigrooves: a status update


In case it wasn’t obvious by the recent lack of new stories published here, with the airing of Minigroove №24 The Missing Origin, the Second Cycle (or ‘Season’) of Minigrooves has come to an end. This means that the work leading to the publication of Volume 2 of Minigrooves has already begun.

With my creative work, I usually proceed with a It’s ready when it’s ready approach, but I’m trying to do my best to have Volume 2 published on the iBookstore around mid to late July. Since this time the stories are 24 instead of the 42 of Volume 1, all the re-reading, editing, and book designing process should be quicker.

I haven’t forgotten the Kindle platform. Last year I often mentioned that I was working on a Kindle version of Volume 1 of Minigrooves, and indeed I was, but my inexperience in preparing a properly formatted and Kindle-friendly text, combined with the lack of a useful, WYSIWYG tool for Mac OS X à la iBooks Author, made me lose a lot of time redesigning and reformatting the book from scratch only to realise (at about 40% of the work done) that I was doing things the wrong way. With all the flaws of iBooks Author as a publishing tool, I wished many times Amazon could offer a similar software. At least iBooks Author produces an exact replica of what one will see on an iPad or Mac. Designing for the Kindle is quite frustrating, more so when you’re preparing your first book.

I have to thank Alex Roddie — who is way more experienced than me in the Kindle platform — for passing many useful tips on how to tackle this non-trivial task. So hopefully, after the summer holidays, I’ll publish both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of Minigrooves in Kindle format. It’s still an idea, but the plan is to launch them both at a special price. I’ll let you know more as the work proceeds.

In a few weeks I’ll progressively remove the stories you can read on this site, save for a few fragments and extras that won’t be included in Volume 2 of Minigrooves. I’m also considering publishing the occasional short story just for the Web and as a way to promote my writing. It’s always a work in progress with these things, isn’t it?

Minigrooves: the feedback so far

In a word: abysmal, but what little feedback I’ve got has been extremely encouraging. For that, once again I have to thank Alex Roddie, who back in March wrote an excellent review (together with a mini-interview with yours truly) on his Pinnacle Editorial blog: Book review and interview: Minigrooves by Riccardo Mori. He writes:

They’re quick stories, but you can’t read them with your brain switched off — and I think that’s a good thing.

The imagery is powerful and the writing is vibrant, immediate, with an intense focus on a character or a situation, sometimes a theme — sometimes all three within a single story. The ‘minigrooves’ are concentrated and efficient. […]

Where appropriate, the language is completely transparent and the story permeates directly into the reader’s mind; but sometimes it prompts slower reading and more thoughtful interpretation. This is always for a reason. Again there’s that sense of meticulously crafted writing, of deliberateness and enormous skill in painting these short sketches of language and narrative.

I’m really thankful for this, because Alex has perfectly understood my intentions and the hard work behind the 42 stories plus all the extras provided in Volume 1 of Minigrooves.

I suspect many reasons behind the otherwise disheartening feedback (and book sales). I know that my marketing efforts haven’t been particularly consistent or effective. The truth is, I don’t want to alienate people by constantly sending tweets, posts and reminders about my book. Yet, on a few occasions, judging by other people’s reaction (“Oh, you’ve published a book of short stories? When?” – “Almost two years ago actually!” – “Oh, I didn’t know, why haven’t you advertised it?”), I realised I must have been perhaps a little too subtle with my messages. I’ll try to rectify that, but I have to tell you, it’s not easy. You never know when it’s too much or too little. Recently I’ve stopped reading many blogs because I’ve noticed that their authors, for the past months, have just been basically talking about themselves, what they’re writing or creating or producing, the podcasts they’re preparing or in which they’re showing up as guests, and so on and so forth, and I would really hate to end up doing the same on my sites, voluntarily or involuntarily.

Another reason of the little success and feedback has probably something to do with the ‘limited’ ways to enjoy my stories: the book is only on the iBookstore, and you can read it on an iPad (mini or regular) or on a Mac. I put limited between quotes because, well, I don’t think the iPad is a bad tool for reading books. Or the Mac, for that matter. Many people do a lot on their iPads, for some it’s their sole computer, yet when it comes to reading a book on it, eh, it’s a problem, it’s not ideal, etc. Same with the Mac: people spending an inordinate amount of time reading stuff on the Web, but a book — or the occasional short story, in this case, which by the way may be even shorter than an article you read on the New York Times or on Wired — eh, reading a short story on the computer is not ideal, is problematic, and so forth.

Another reason is perhaps the price. $9.99 (or €8.99) for a digital book sounds expensive nowadays, in a digital market that’s driven by cheaply-priced apps. I think it’s a fair price that reflects the months of hard work behind the book and the quality of the final product. By buying the book you’re also supporting my writing and helping me. Once my primary source of income was my translation work, now times are way harder than before, and every little thing — like selling a few copies of Minigrooves each month — really, really helps. I appreciate the mentions and occasional retweets, don’t get me wrong, but I’d appreciate even more if more people actually purchased and read my stories.