Let me come right out and say it.
I’m pretty much done with implementing interactive fiction books.
I’m switching to writing conventional fiction books instead.
I’m going to start by converting what little I’ve written in The Barista into a standard novel.
Shocking news, right? The world’s largest proponent and cheerleader for commercial interactive fiction books is throwing in the towel Or, perhaps more suitably, his pom-poms?
The artist in me never wants to retire as an Implementor of Interactive Fiction. But the business executive in me overruled my artist’s passion.
A wake up call came to me on June 23. What was so special about June 23, 2014? It was the day I first discovered the Malinche website had been dead since June 4th. The Malinche.Net domain name expired and I didn’t even notice. For nineteen days. Nearly three weeks.
The artist and the executive sat down together for a frank and open discussion with myself. The artist really had nothing to say. The CEO made it clear drastic changes had to be made fast. The hardened businessman that I am made an air-tight compelling case for shutting down interactive fiction production.
Howard A Sherman, CEO presented some solid and sound reasoning:
Unless you’re a big-name author (James Paterson, Stephen King, Lee Child, Brad Thor, etc. ) with a large built-in following of readers you’ve got an uphill battle selling any serious number of books. Now multiply the difficulty of that challenge by a factor of 10 when trying to not just sell books (which everyone immediately understands) but interactive fiction books – which everybody almost never understands without an extended conversation which still leaves most people not quite sure of what you’re talking about.
Executive conclusion: Sales, Marketing and Book Promotion of Interactive Fiction is a nightmare.
With more and more platforms to support (Android Smartphones and Tablets, Windows 8, Windows 7, The Mac line, iPads, iPhones,Nook, Kobo, etc. etc.) there is a unique set of technical requirements to meet, steps to take and hoops to jump through to load my titles for each of them. And too many people have too hard a time following our instructions even with our approach to simplicity coupled by a copious amount of screen shots, instructional videos, etc. etc.
When you factor in a large part of our audience are the blind, those instructions become even more complex as screen-reading software has a separate set of challenges which is made even more complicated as each different type of screen reader system can throw curve balls at you every step of the way. It had gotten to the point that we often ended up performing free remote tech support to log on to the customer’s computer and help them through the install process and get them running. This has become very time consuming and expensive. It’s also something no other software publisher on the face of the earth does for it’s customers at any price – let alone for free.
Executive conclusion: Technical support of interactive fiction books is a nightmare.
Executive decision: Malinche will no longer be publishing new interactive fiction books.
Reasons 1 and 2 pretty much made my decision simple to make – but not easy,
Reasons 3, 4 and 5 were not nearly as scary but served to underscore that publishing new interactive fiction books in the year 2014 and forward would not be a wise use of resources. I won’t bore you with the details.
That’s pretty much why I haven’t written hardly at all for the better part of the last 12 months. It’s like I knew – but I didn’t want to know.
Now I know.
But all along I missed writing. And I missed book blogging.
So now what?
I’m going to resume writing. And book blogging.
The difference is I won’t be writing any more interactive fiction. I’ll be writing conventional novels with distribution to Kindle and iBooks for sure and Kobo and Nook more than probably.
All of my existing interactive fiction titles will remain on sale forever on a more-or-less “as is” basis though my dedication to fans will practically guarantee a swift response to help with any challenges my readers may face.
So I am officially back in the saddle but I changed horses. There. The artist got the last word.