Window on a Burning Man – Part 2 of 7

Part 2 of Window on a Burning Man is now online here.

This part includes a filthy sex scene which I was told I had to include because women insist on at least one in a book of this nature. At least one male reader has told me he skipped over it, so far no female reader has told me the same. When I wrote it, I felt like how I imagine pornographers must feel after shooting a scene.

There is also a short discussion on when a man can expect to have sex with someone he’s met online. Is it on the first night? Or must he wait until they’re married? Read it and find out.

There’s also a twist at the end, which I think makes the book in many ways. If it were a film, this would be a pivotal scene. The timing would need to be exquisite, though.

In terms of sales, I’m now up to 84 after 2 weeks and I’m shifting one or two copies per day (90% ebooks, 10% paperbacks). I’m hoping by now this represents people who have come across it independently of this blog, either on Amazon, Facebook, or through word of mouth, and this steady trickle will continue well into the future. Obviously I’m then hoping somebody influential will stumble across it and bring it to a much wider audience, delivering me the fame and fortune I so richly deserve. The Amazon reviews are steadily growing too, which is good. Some are critical, and in all honesty I can’t take issue with what they’re saying. Some are highly flattering, most likely from family members and people who feature in the book itself. I’d best not order a yacht based on their feedback. Over time, I’ll get a better idea how it is being received by the general public.

The best thing I can do now is to keep plugging away and write something else. Once I’ve unclogged my schedule of various things over the next couple of weeks, I will get cracking.

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25 thoughts on “Window on a Burning Man – Part 2 of 7

  1. I skipped the sex scene and didn’t see anything funny about the end of the fourth chapter but laughed at the end of the fifth. Incidentally, you are allowed to write funny sex scenes. Inappropriate flatemates, can’t find an all night store, condoms only available in glow in the dark. Banana flavour. With a feather. Straight sex scenes are pointless in the age of internet porn.

    BTW, having introduced the Burning Man festival I would have said you needed a scene set there. Most readers would have no idea what it was so you needed to draw pictures. It’s not an exact analogy, but it is a narrative principle that if a character has a gun, then somebody is going to get shot. If you introduce something, you have to use it or the reader feels cheated.

    And don’t forget, Assasin Brides.

  2. I skipped the sex scene and didn’t see anything funny about the end of the fourth chapter but laughed at the end of the fifth.

    Good!

    Straight sex scenes are pointless in the age of internet porn.

    Sex scenes are pointless full stop…until you ask a woman her opinion. Honestly, I’d preferred not to have included it but my advisers were most insistent.

    BTW, having introduced the Burning Man festival I would have said you needed a scene set there.

    Yes, but to do that I’d have to have gone in person and it’s notoriously hard to get into. But it’s definitely a weakness in the plot, for sure.

    And don’t forget, Assasin Brides.

    With banana flavoured condoms? It’ll be a hit, guaranteed.

  3. I find your point about the ladies wanting sex scenes intriguing. I really wouldn’t have expected that. Are you seeing any interestingly different responses from male and female readers?

  4. I find your point about the ladies wanting sex scenes intriguing. I really wouldn’t have expected that.

    Women are into pure, unadulterated filth when it comes to the written word, hence the success of Fifty Shades of Grey. But it’s not something they admit to – hence Fifty Shades of Grey took the publishing world entirely by surprise when they discovered upper class wives living in Manhattan were reading it en masse.

    Are you seeing any interestingly different responses from male and female readers?

    I’ve not got a lot of feedback so far, but the women seem keen on getting Katya’s side of the story, not content with only having that of the narrator’s. The men are generally content to believe the narrator’s story is accurate on its own. Surprisingly, both men and women seem to find the “man’s point of view on a subject usually reserved for women” interesting. I’d expected it would be only women who were interested.

  5. Have you tried approaching the people who blog about books?

    Not yet. It’s a good suggestion, but I want to get some sort of success, i.e. sales, reviews, etc. before I approach someone. I think they’d be more open to reviewing a book which has generated *some* interest than one which was released yesterday.

  6. Bought a paperback copy and will get stuck in once I have finished the Jordan Peterson book I’m currently digesting. Better hurry that up, or you will have published all the extracts before I start!

    The sex thing with regards to women is unsurprising: they are creatures of the imagination, we galumphing males focus crudely on the visuals. Or so my wife tells me.

  7. Bought a paperback copy and will get stuck in once I have finished the Jordan Peterson book I’m currently digesting.

    Good man! I see the Peterson book is what comes up as “people who bought this also bought that” on Amazon. Now if only I could get sales figures like his: he’s No. 1 on the whole of Amazon right now!

  8. Yes, I find the man’s point of view interesting. It’s sort of chic lit for blokes.

  9. Yes, I find the man’s point of view interesting. It’s sort of chic lit for blokes.

    I’m glad you said that: this was precisely the niche I was aiming for.

  10. Recusant
    I’d be interested to know what you thought of Peterson’s book. I bought it to support the professor but couldn’t finish it. The lobster chapter is interesting but the rest just seems like regular self help stuff to me.

  11. Roue

    I think your point is good. The book is less interesting than his ad libbed speaking, were he tends to be more precise and punchier. Having said that, as a Self Help book he is making points about personal responsibility, courage, the permanent existence of trade-offs, and avoidance of wishful thinking and Blank Slateism, that doesn’t get much of an airing these days. Particularly as it is directed at young men.

  12. Women are into pure, unadulterated filth when it comes to the written word…

    Yep. Men watch porn, women read it.

    Remember this the next time you hear about how men just don’t read books as much as women: it’s hardly because they’re more enlightened or intellectual than us. I used to work in a bookshop and can confirm that most women will read any old crap as long as there’s a few juicy dongs thrown in.

    …it’s not something they admit to – hence Fifty Shades of Grey took the publishing world entirely by surprise…

    Oh, I seriously doubt ir was much of a surprise to publishers. The only thing unusual about 50 Shades was that the pretense that it wasn’t pornography was so flimsy. Most women’s porn masquerades as a romance or a mystery or a thriller, or my favourite, a “paranormal romance”.

  13. MGIMO rather than Moscow State was a nice touch, Tim. Wonder whether it has any relevance to the plot.

    Knew an Estonian bird in London, graduate of MGIMO. Interesting tales about the place. Very elite institution, full to a man of diplomats-to-be, cocky, poshboy, maybe a Russian version of the French Grandes Ecoles. Sounds stifling but they knew how to party, so I was informed.

    She was a super-sharp ethnic Estonian, from Estonia, but got there on Russian state-provided scholarship – think this is back in the early 2000s. Quite a few students invited and paid for by Russia from the Baltic states, ones whose potential had been identified as future movers and shakers on the international level. Soft power or neo-colonial tentacles, call it as you will. The Balts were being treated as honorary Russians, not dissimilar to how the Brits can patronisingly treat the Irish as “one of their own” rather than acknowledge they’ve long since broken away and weren’t really “us” even when they were forcibly attached.

    Anyhow she hadn’t fitted in there, same as your fictional girl. Lived a nomad’s existence afterwards, parked up in London for a bit. Perpetual misfit. You may not be surprised to learn she was very active in the London BDSM “scene”. Your character is drawn from a very real milieu – she’s well observed. Credit to you.

    Only shame is the dialogue. Characters saying what you want them to say, maybe what they would want to say, but not what people would actually say. Too clunky and thought-out and point-making, as if they are having a debate on an internet chat-room with adequate thinking time to compose their prose before their fingers hit the keyboard.

  14. Your character is drawn from a very real milieu – she’s well observed. Credit to you.

    Heh, thanks. I wasn’t sure if I should include Katya’s alma mater, but a Russian (who comments here) once said anyone with diplomat parents who went to MGIMO ought to come with a “proceed with caution” warning. So I put that detail in just to see what would come of it: it seems it was a detail worth including!

    Only shame is the dialogue.

    Interesting. Most people thus far like the dialogue, and one of my editor’s first comments was “How people speak in real life is boring; you need to simplify it and make each word count”.

  15. I am with your editor. Real life dialogue is full of pointless digression, pauses, and incomplete thoughts. And that’s even before you get to the merits of what someone is saying. Stick to stylised dialogue every time.

  16. I haven’t bought it yet, Tim, but I will. I intend to read it on a 23 hour Portsmouth-Santander ferry crossing in early March. And I will certainly review it.

  17. Recusant
    You make an excelent point, as a retiree I am not the target audience of Peterson’s book, young men are. I hope they are reading it.

    Tim
    The dialogue is fine. Although if anything I think Katya was more truthful than a real woman would have been. (Ducks hastily.)

  18. Oh, I seriously doubt ir was much of a surprise to publishers.

    Perhaps not the content, but its popularity certainly was. It was initially launched on a fanfic site and released through a tiny Australian publisher and amassed sales of tens of thousands before any of the big publishers got wind of it.

  19. I haven’t bought it yet, Tim, but I will. I intend to read it on a 23 hour Portsmouth-Santander ferry crossing in early March. And I will certainly review it.

    Thanks! You’ll rattle through it in no time, and if the ferry sinks and you end up adrift on a lifeboat with a bunch of feminists, you’ll have plenty to talk about.

  20. I guess I am an outlier in the female category. I *always* skip the sex scenes, and am getting grumpy that they seem to be becoming obligatory no matter the genre. Bleh.

    Seriously tempted to buy this book, just to read the guy’s point of view for once. And I like your writing style.

  21. Bought the Ebook (despite my ebook reluctantance ) last night, and read it. I do read very fast so it felt quite short (by comparison I read Gaskell’s “Mary Barton” over about two and a half evenings last week).

    I’m with Roué le Journal – no need for the sex scene. It’s also an odd place to put just one – normally a book of the sort to have one works up to one, rather than throwing in all the gory details near the beginning, then implying all the others that follow.

    Generally – it was an interesting read, although my worldview probably wasn’t being challenged a great deal. I felt a little short changed by the ending – it was neither fully tragic or resolved – it just left the characters pretty much where we found them, maybe just sadder and wiser. That’s possibly lifelike, but certainly not a conventional novel.

    I’ll try and get round to doing you an Amazon review at some point!

  22. I guess I am an outlier in the female category. I *always* skip the sex scenes, and am getting grumpy that they seem to be becoming obligatory no matter the genre. Bleh.

    I don’t disagree, but they *are* becoming obligatory – and doubly so in something which passes for a romance. I always skip over them too, tbh.

    Seriously tempted to buy this book, just to read the guy’s point of view for once. And I like your writing style.

    Thanks! 🙂

  23. Bought the Ebook (despite my ebook reluctantance ) last night, and read it.

    Good man!

    I do read very fast so it felt quite short (by comparison I read Gaskell’s “Mary Barton” over about two and a half evenings last week).

    Yes, it is short. I figured it’s best for a first time author to write something light, not ask readers to wade through some mighty tome. And my writing style isn’t heavy, meaning you can rattle through it in no time. All I have to do is make it just long enough so people don’t feel short-changed.

    I’m with Roué le Journal – no need for the sex scene. It’s also an odd place to put just one – normally a book of the sort to have one works up to one, rather than throwing in all the gory details near the beginning, then implying all the others that follow.

    True, and this probably reflects my reluctance to even include one. Although I thought the build up was slow enough: should he have taken her on a few more dates? 😉

    I felt a little short changed by the ending – it was neither fully tragic or resolved – it just left the characters pretty much where we found them, maybe just sadder and wiser. That’s possibly lifelike, but certainly not a conventional novel.

    This is quite correct, and it’s what I meant here:

    The editor highlighted some weaknesses in the story arc, one of which is quite fundamental and would be a principle reason why any traditional publisher would reject it.

    I always had in mind the idea of keeping it in line with real life, rather than forcing a dramatic or fairytale ending where everything comes neatly together. One of the central messages is “life goes on” rather than “everything will work out fine”. In hindsight that may have been a mistake, but I did try to warn everyone in advance. 🙂

    I’ll try and get round to doing you an Amazon review at some point!

    That would be most appreciated, thanks!

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