Once upon a time, in a book far away the hero was not the cuddliest man for miles. It sounds like fiction, and in a way it is. Fiction reflects its germinative society. In fact it not only reflects that society, it is by necessity and evolution a symbiote of that society. Neither can endure healthily without the other in good health, and a decline in one will foretell a depreciation of the other.

Back in the time of legends, it was possible to meet a hero, or even a hero’s sidekick or temporary companion who was not a nice guy. A good guy, sure, but the type of man who inspired Churchill to utter; “We sleep soundly in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.”, and everyone in the allied nations to not only know what he meant, but to hold those men in high esteem.  The Lone Ranger wasn’t the type to talk a bad guy into putting down his gun because violence never solved anything, he shot the bastard and got on with life. Being willing to do violence to those who needed a foot broken off in their ass and not paralyzing oneself with doubt afterwards (or before) is historically (and today) a highly adaptive trait.

Of all the civil rights era men who did good things, it seems only Martin and Malcolm are really remembered. Malcolm X is seen as some sort of boogieman, a mostly tame boogieman, much like a domestic version of Fidel Castro, but while being acknowledged as scary, he’s otherwise just sorta there. Martin Luther King Jr, who’s honorifics have been eroded is somehow just about the sole martyr of the struggle. While both of them did good things, it is probably a third man who had the most lasting impact on peoples lives. In the era of bus boycotts and lunch counter sit-ins, he helped push food banks, literacy programs, and voter registration. While Martin pushed an almost servile passivity, and Malcolm’s sabre rattling set the teeth of even his allies, Bobby Seale managed to invigorate and activate the forgotten middle. In his own words:

They came down on us because we had a grass-roots, real people’s revolution, complete with the programs, complete with the unity, complete with the working coalitions, where we crossed racial lines.

Yet, most people born after the civil rights era don’t know who he is, or that they should be wishing him a happy birthday today. How is that possible?

It’s possible, because the value of a man as protector, as avenger, as the half of the fabled learning duo that isn’t orange and topped by string leafs has been consigned to the realm of villainy. And yet, on the other hand men have been excluded by social pressure from elementary education, day care, and after school programs. Organizations like 4H are nearly overburdened with testosterone if they have one in twenty male leaders, and not shockingly they retain only a slightly higher percentage of male membership.  So men aren’t allowed to inspire people to behave better out of fear, nor are they allowed to be involved in nurturing. Decades ago when the dark hero, the Bobby Seale, the Conan, the gruff uncle or grandfather was a common sight, men were allowed a variety of roles. These human wolfhounds didn’t (and don’t) just exist to set limits on what the wolf can do, but to steer the flock as well.

Just judging by the point the change from traditional scope of roles become fodder for Hollywood humor, Mr Mom (1983), Michael Keaton’s exploration of full-time stay at home daddyness as compared to something the current Hollywood might produce? The “good guys” in much of today’s fiction are indistinguishable from most of the women except by pronoun, and occasionally which restroom they use. This isn’t nearly as much because of a change in how women are portrayed, as it is in how men are. Gruff men, dark heroes, strong males are never shown as present, or at least not present for long.

As fiction is a symbiote of society, this portends things that are not good for anyone. From the business point of view, it doesn’t inspire men to read, or appreciate women who do. Why would any man want to contend with hundreds of reinforcements of a stereotype that if he’s strong he’ll either leave soon or be evil (and probably evil)? This blog post has an interesting spin on the role of men.

Creator Convienient Content

Posted: 15th October 2012 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

There are lots of forms of this, in writing there’s the ancestral sword that happens to be sharper and stronger than normal metal. My absolute least favorite is the plot convenient personality traits. The character who has an issue with authority so big they pick fights with anyone who tries to direct them. Most of these will get stamped out in the editing process.

Recently I ran into some in fiction that made me wonder how the hell they made it past a sounding board. In a situation where the enemy is attracted by loud noises, one of the key characters hops on to a loud motorcycle to make their escape from an area laden with the enemy. The other major issue in this one was people backing into a room in the building that is being swept for enemy.

Why gods why? These are people who survived an extended period of time in a hostile landscape. Somehow these two mistakes don’t get stepped on by anyone. All survivors? Can someone explain this one to me? What is the worst bit of lazy creator syndrome you’ve seen lately?

Thought, Attention, and Intent

Posted: 10th October 2012 by onyxhawke in Question of the Day

Paying attention is something we all struggle with occasionally. Sometimes a topic isn’t interesting, sometimes the speaker is boring or manages to push one of our buttons with some mannerism most people don’t notice. Other times we just aren’t putting much effort into the experience. Here’s two items for the first I’ll ask, what your response to the premise of the study is:

You can either listen to the story above, or click this link to read it.

Next is the question of intent. The explicit text of the picture is pretty clear. One critter is asking another about their faith. Ask any writer who’s been baffled by reviews, or simply look at the reviews for any movie with 100+ reviews and you’ll be forcibly reminded that not everyone reads the same subtext in things. Some of the differences are cultural, some are age or gender tied, and still others are based on personal experiences with one or more pieces of the content.

 

So here’s the questions for you:

  1. How often do you get completely lost in something?
  2. When doing things, what helps you focus?
  3. What if anything did you find distracting about the audio of the story if you listened?
  4. What subtext do you get from the picture?

I’ll answer if four or more people do.

Bobby Seale Speeches

Posted: 5th October 2012 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Bobby Seale had a different,style of speech than other black civil rights leaders. He was more accessible, less metaphorical, more realistic and less idealistic than Martin or Malcolm.

A 1998 speech

His birthday is coming up, if you appreciate his speech,he’s got a couple books out including a cookbook. His website is: http://www.bobbyseale.com/

Robotic Assistance

Posted: 1st October 2012 by onyxhawke in Writing Prompt

Sometimes the internet serves up some totally sublime oddities. This blog is based on one of them. So, what can you write around or about a machine designed for, low human interaction collection of male reproductive material? Said devices nominative purpose is facilitating treatments for reproductive issues. Being writers I’m sure you can come up with one or three other ideas… If you’re curious what such a device looks like, here’s the story.

Media + Social = Social Media Optimization

Posted: 27th September 2012 by onyxhawke in Social Media

One of the things I see a lot of individuals failing at in social media is realizing that both words are individually important and each end needs to be done to make it effective.

Social means giving people something to respond too. It also means responding. Social does after all mean interaction, and some form of viable personality coming across to your market.

A few months back during the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings twitter feed was impressive. It was fun, energetic, and showed as much life as the fanbase. The people in publishing who have the most engaged followers on twitter, all talk to their followers. Ann Aguirre, Rob Thurman, do it right. They don’t just throw stuff out onto the internet and let it blow in the wind.

Laissez-faire social media success just doesn’t happen. Neither does pure self promotion. There has to be a balance.

If you hate the web interfaces for Twitter and Facebook you aren’t alone, but you’re not trying hard enough. There are Outlook and Thunderbird plugins for Twitter, and a host of desktop options, mobile apps,and of course the option to text in from even the dumbest phone in the world.

Just like any good blogging interface will let you schedule a blog post, you can schedule tweets. If you schedule three or four tweets a week, and just login once or twice a day to check responses (or set your account to email you when you get messages sent directly to you) you don’t have to live on twitter. If you don’t engage your audience, unless you are a megastar, you have no leverage.

Spend a day, or two between projects, or forty minutes at a time between rounds of edits and get in the game. Ask friends, use your search-engine-of-choice, and find a solution that works for you.

People think differently. Because of this they behave differently.

Every so often I’m reminded how differently people behave. They behave differently because theythink differently. The behavior follows the thinking and is as closely linked as light source and shadow length. Some people don’t get this. For some the entire concept is invalid. For others they get it to the extent that they can acknowledge themselves and anyone with analogous beliefs beliefs as “normal” and the rest of humanity as complete freaks of nature

The next stop on the understanding chain are the people who get that their are differences, but are constantly baffled by their appearance. This would be the person who understands that some people become cops, but when confronted with the aggression needed to do that job in some situations, or the need to carry a gun daily, can’t organize it into a way in that makes doing something they hate (carrying the gun, or simply the aggressive demeanor) fit intotheir preview of a functional human being.

One of the inherent stumbling blocks for people who can’t understand that the thought and behavior styles of a lot of things are linked, is that they assume that other people don’t really think or believe in a way different than they do. To this person, actions different than they would take arewithout reason . More, they are actions and beliefs that aren’t needed for success in those entirely different behavior patterns. In order to be a successful Army Command Sergent Major, than a news anchor, soccer goalie, wedding planner, or underwater welder.  If you take three or even one of the major mental tools and talents away from the CSM, such as the ability to recognize ordinance, and the detachment needed to keep an embattled company functional (or even dominant) against a numerically or technologically superior foe, they just can’t succeed, and if they never had those abilities, they probably never made that rank in the first place.

Likewise, a therapist who doesn’t recognize the varying cues and what they mean in a patient, is pretty useless from the word go. If they can’t tell that a patient squirms or starts sweating every time they mention “summer camp” or gets frosty if they ask “do you understand?” on a given item, it doesn’t matter how many times the therapist rolls the dice with a new patient, they’re gonna roll snake-eyes far, far more often than is statistically valid.

Sure, meeting the people who can’t grok the thought-behavior link and it’s inherent value can be amusing in small doses, but as readers, writers, agents and editors we need to appreciate that in life, and in books that those people who think differently, couldn’t be what they are, especially if it is different than ourselves without their peculiarities.

One recent example of this, is the comment thread attached to this story on the Mt Everest Avalanche that killed several climbers. One major camp is of the “well, they died doing what they loved” folks, arrayed in another strata are the “how could they do anything so dangerous in the first place, there’s no point” alignment. The first group clearly beliefs the reward of the vista, persisting despite the cold, exhaustion, oxygen issues, and the danger. The second sees no point to the risk for reasons that run from being deliberately uncomfortable, to the danger, to the lack of productiveness to the expense and risk. For themselves each individual is correct. If you can’t fathom the risk, and don’t see the reward to a non life maintenance activity, you aren’t going to go climb a mountain, go skydiving, or see how your car handles at a 140 miles per hour. But for the other camp, that visceral rush is worth a years worth of drudgery and privation, not just for the experience, but for the memory they get to hold onto forever.

Another common example is how many words people need to feel they’ve spoken or written something in a useful manner. At the top end of word use are the folks who think a quick hello is twenty five minutes catching up on everything that has happened since the last two they interacted with someone. At the other are the people who consider a nod, the upward turn of one or more corners of the lip and eye contact an exhaustively lengthy conversation. Most of homo sapiens falls somewhere between those extremes. One example of what some will call the verbal misers of the world is Bill Belichick, multiple Superbowl winning coach of the New England Patriots. The famously terse gent was pegged exactly by an NFL.com writer here. Which I’ve quoted here:

Those comments came after a lengthy explanation of how the situation got that point. Belichick spoke for more than three minutes just on the situation, which translates to sixteen hours from a normal coach. – Greg Rosenthal

I think a debate between Belichik and New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella could be cover twenty topics and be held to under 500 words total.

You have to wonder sometimes how some impressive speeches get left out of public discourse.

Is Johnson as charismatic as Kennedy or King? Probably not, but sometimes a simple approach to things that comes across cleanly is just as strong.

I have a pretty simple criteria for words I don’t want to see in books. It probably hasn’t changed in years. I don’t think I’ve ever explained exactly what it is. Your mileage may vary, but for me it is real simple:

If I haven’t heard a word spoken in conversation at least three times outside academia it shouldn’t be in a novel.

Are there exceptions? Sure.

Just not very many:

  1. Technical terms are exempt,
  2. The word should not have been used by the same person each time.
  3. One conversation where the word is repeated  counts as one occurrence.
  4. If you’re trying to convey something crucial about a character.

That’s it.  I read tons, I’ve spent a good chunk of my life talking to people on topics that run the gamut. Books are a form of communication, and the most effective forms of communication are pretty straightforward.

Question of the Day: 9/11

Posted: 11th September 2012 by onyxhawke in Question of the Day
Tags: , ,

Eleven years ago today, America was changed forever. The Post Communist Era that began when the Soviet Union crumbled, and the Berlin Wall was smashed to pieces was over. The Age of Terror began.

So where were you that day?

How have the events of 09/11/01 and what followed effected you most?

I was at home on my day off. I woke up moments after the first plane hit the tower. Unusually for me I turned the tv on, and heard them talking about it onevery station. I’m not a tv person so this was a bit disconcerting, sure it was a tragic accident but not much more. I logged into a chatroom on AIM I almost lived in then, and you could tell who had turned on the news, radio or talked to someone who had. Universally, the first comments, even before greetings were “oh my god” or some other inadequate and inevitable expulsion of disbelief, horror and shock.

Then the second plane hit. I knew the world I’d come to know after the Wall and the Curtain fell was burning. Then reports of the Pentagon crash. More people filtered in and out of chat and the mood went from numb shock to blind, atavistic rage of the kind I don’t think Americans had experienced en masse since Pearl Harbor.

 

How has it affected me most?

I think the knowledge that our country will never escape the professional alarmist, no acceptable risk, safety over liberty mentality that rose from the pyre of terrorist acts, and how sad it makes me for future generations, is the biggest one.

As a geek, I read a lot. Most of it I understand, some of it I enjoy, but often it is just horribly written. So while discussing things with the dynamic Kate Paulk as we lamented not being at either of the big cons, I came up with an idea that would probably solve a lot of problems.

“Technical Data Writer”.

Essentially it would be a Masters level degree that you started immediately when entering college. It would have slightly more than the minor requirements for English writing, and at least 15 credits in each of four more disciplines.  Say for example someone wanted to work for a food mega corp, four concentrations that included mechanical engineering, computer science, economics, and nutrition would have enough tools to understand and translate just about any document, or casual bit of conversation in the company. Concentrations of physics, art, chemistry, and marketing could be invaluable to a car manufacturer. Certainly this would be a more useful degree than hiring another member of the Cult Of The MBA.

This type degree also has a few non industrial applications. Think of all the badly written textbooks that have been tossed at students. Or users manuals for everything from cell phones to blue-ray players, and other tech toys.

The writing portion should start with the basics from sentence diagramming, and include some fiction writing just to stretch the skills. The rest should have at least two basic and two mid to high level courses as requirements.

Life as we know it is built out of DNA. DNA is composed of four nucleic acids. They pair up and construct short sections of three to grow into everything we know. Humans, rabbits, star fish, hummingbirds, spiders, all the same tiny pieces arranged differently. Guanine, Adenine, Thymine, Cytosine all appear in amounts that are tied to the one they pair with

If you start of with the basic assumption that you are keeping all the rules for how earth biology works except for a different number of base pairs and base items, you’re gaining enormous flexibility. Realistically, you could see as much variety in a population of 1000 adult alien sentient critters from the same large town as there is in every species of canine on the planet. Colors, shapes, sizes, number of claws, dominant gene sets, temperament and intelligence

If your Notionalbiology had two more base parings? In earth life A and T pair up as do C and G. Say, for example there Xamplinine and Notionsine which were another pairing, as well as Handwavesine and Fakenine. Scientifically they’d get imaginative shorthand like X, N, H, and F. Given the variety of life we know of, you could have a planet spanning species with huge regional differences in phenotype expression, and yet still be inter-fertile. We know that wolves in northern and colder climates will be larger than ones in southern and warmer climates.

With this much biological variability you could easily have subterranean specialist, water dwellers who spend their whole life in the ocean, and some gifted with flight all of whom could produce offspring of the same species within their own group or as crosses with other groups.

Strictly speaking, as a purely biological phenomenon, if this species were aggressive, they’d make the Borg look like the pushy kid at the local lemonade stand because in a single generation they could adapt to just about any environment.

Now some links from people who know what they are talking about:

http://cen.acs.org/articles/90/web/2012/02/Twist-DNA-Base-Pairing.html

http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/basics/dna

Baines_astrobio04

Baffled By Editors And Agents?

Posted: 27th August 2012 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Note for this post the definition of reading is the second one discussed in this post.

A lot of people wonder what makes agents and editors tick. Or more specifically, what about the jobs warps us into our peculiar jaded mass.

Let’s start with the proto-agent or proto-editor who is an avid reader. They read the equivalent of one 100,000 word book a week, minimum. That’s all fun reading, and probably edited and written at a passable level. Over the course of a year, that translates into 5,200,000 words, give or take. Well less than some of the book a day folks, but more than enough that bookstores, even chain ones, probably know them by name.

An editor or agent, as a matter of course will end up going through 10 book equivalents a month, also as a minimum. If you break that out to four new things, two things read and touched twice before, one thing edited/reviewed once before and a couple dozen book parts, you begin to get a picture. This doesn’t include; email, instant messengers, social media, cover blurbs, contacts, marketing plans, blogs, queries, outlines, synopses, books read for market analysis, book reviews, and whatever other miscellany of the day might be required to do the job on any given day. If you assume a low 3000 words a day of non-book reading and 260 day work year you’ve got just about 800,000 words. That’s another eight book equivalents.

So a low balled rough total would be about 13,000,000 work related words a year. That’s 130 book equivalents a year. Be amazed when they remember any particular of anything written and only have a few hangups about what they hate in writing.

Just as an example, between novels, proposals, outlines, and the like between 8/19 and 8/23 when I wrote this, I went through about 250-270k words.

Via NASA: Neil Armstrong

Posted: 25th August 2012 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized

FAMILY STATEMENT REGARDING THE DEATH OF NEIL ARMSTRONG

The following is a statement from the Armstrong family regarding the
death of former test pilot and NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong. He was
82.

“We are heartbroken to share the news that Neil Armstrong has passed
away following complications resulting from cardiovascular
procedures.

Neil was our loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

Neil Armstrong was also a reluctant American hero who always believed
he was just doing his job. He served his Nation proudly, as a navy
fighter pilot, test pilot, and astronaut. He also found success back
home in his native Ohio in business and academia, and became a
community leader in Cincinnati. Â

He remained an advocate of aviation and exploration throughout his
life and never lost his boyhood wonder of these pursuits. Â

As much as Neil cherished his privacy, he always appreciated the
expressions of good will from people around the world and from all
walks of life. Â

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his
remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people
around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be
willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a
cause greater than themselves. Â

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple
request. Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty,
and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon
smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.”

Additional information about Armstrong is available on the Web at:

http://www.nasa.gov

Writing Prompt: Three-D Printing

Posted: 23rd August 2012 by onyxhawke in Writing Prompt

 

Every new technology has it implications. What if you didn’t have to wait a week for a new part for your computer, or you wanted to build your own brand new row kayak for a trip? Maybe you just need a new hinge for your bedroom door?

What can you imagine with 3-D printing?

 

(Me personally I want a bad ass sword first!)

The Facebook Experiment

Posted: 17th August 2012 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized

Facebook. It annoys me. It amuses me. We’ve all been led to believe it’s useful in business, nay critical. So at 12:40am on August 9th, I deleted my account. When I got shanked by the front office of Facebook, and was forcibly converted from a marginally useful interface to a design that is just godawful, I decided to test something that I’d been curious about since General Motorspulled their advertising from Facebook.

As most of you know, I’m reasonably active on Twitter (@Onyxhawke) and my old LiveJournal account is still there. So is the contact form on my website. And since you’re most likely reading this right here at Http://AgentIncite.com.

At 11:30am on August 10 (35 hours later) I got the first message asking what happened to my account. It was from a client. That was the only message I got. When I returned to Facebook after a week, I was down seven friends, and no one commented in the first 40 hours of my return.

So the question is, at least for business people: Is Facebook worth it?

Because Facebook needs another way to suck you into wasting more time: Behold the Video Chat App Airtime.

Selling your wares at the local con? Here’s a tip.

Possible answer to why some people just can’t lose weight. Imagine constructing a virus for bio-warfare on this idea…
From the category of “Scum of the earth”

This kid knows, you help best by doing what you’re good at. He helped to the tune of $50,000.00 He’s 13. Will Thomas, you rock.
The brain is continuing its millenniums long burlesque show and revealing a tiny bit more. This time it is showing off how it evacuates.

Know a guy who shouldn’t breed? There’s something new just for that, with no surgery.

Sometimes we forget our writer friends had lives and livelihoods before they became famous. Here’s a name you might recognize.

Czech this home out. Energy efficient, built in pool, and yup, it rotates.

There is no Tesla Museum in the the US of A. This needs to be fixed.

Hands down the best story you’ll put your fingers on this week. This is the way people should approach problem solving.
And in my email from a fab lady:

It’s time for another round of things that make you go hmm;

4Moms is startup aimed at making the lives of every mother who coms after them easier with some of the most tech enabled gear on the planet.

Got a few extra pounds to lose but can’t afford time away from your desk? No problem.

Dr Jack Kevorkian never managed to get right to death legislation passed everywhere. One wonders if he’d approve of a euthanasia rollercoaster.

With some research from Forbes, GeeksAreSexy put together a short article on the cost of the Olympics versus the cost of getting Curiosity to Mars.

 

That’s right for all your communication needs, there is now a way to say it with llamas.
If you haven’t already had enough politics disguised as art, here you go. Vicariously smack about a 1%er.

Ever wanted a fold up car? This Basque group has the car for you.

One more if you still haven’t had enough politics, here’s the perfect Twitter account to follow:

WHERE did these people get the idea they should be able to protest in a way that attracts some attention without getting arrested? #chalkupy
@FearDept
U.S. Dept. of Fear

If you have any question about the toughness of professional athletes or need a reminder of what real American spirit is like, look no further.

Belated and Spoilerific Dark Knight Rises Review

Posted: 8th August 2012 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized

The third of Nolan’s Batman movies has a straightforward title. It is dark, there is a knight, and he rises. Truth in titling is great. The movie, eh, not so. The measure of a good to great movie to me is “when I think about it, do I want to see it again more or less” Dark Knight Rises fails that. It fails miserably.

The more I think about the movie, the more malaise I feel in regards to it. As long as you don’t think about the movie it is worth watching. It has that dark, gothic beauty that is compelling when done right. Catgirl is not hard on the eyes. There’s a good guy, there’s bad guys, and the bad guys go down, eventually.

The problem is when you think about the movie it becomes an obvious and gross opus dedicated to the Occupy Wall Street movement. Which really isn’t in keeping with the Batman tradition, its also unAmerican. Sure there is political content in all comics, and other artistic mediums. Most are more subtle than this. I found myself checking the time during Dark Knight Rises, that’s not a good sign. Movies like Drive generally inspire that. Dark Knight Rises isn’t as bad as Drive, partly because well, the cast of Batman can act. Partly almost all the action in DKR is good.

Why do I dislikeDark Knight Rises? That is pretty easy, the proselytizing through film is thick enough to shutter the vibrancy of my favorite DC comic hero. The theme pretty clear:

  1. While Bruce Wayne is rich he’s both incompetent and not helping.
  2. Bane and Miranda don’t need to be good people because they had hard lives.
  3. Robin is only truly effective once he leaves the police.
  4. When Bruce Wayne goes broke and is hurt (again) then he is useful and good enough to be part of the solution.
  5. A nasty life justifies anything.
  6. After Bruce Wayne gets his money back he abandons Gotham again.
  7. Rich people never listen to their staff.

I always thought the measure of a mans worth was what he did and was willing to do, not his financial background. That’s the tradition generations of Batman fans have enjoyed, Wayne helped as much as he could throwing both money and body in harms way. Overall the movie betrays itself, its fans and Batman’s legacy.

In (hopefully) good news there’s news about Avengers 2.

 

Oh BookStores: A Lament

Posted: 30th July 2012 by onyxhawke in Uncategorized

While wandering through the Big Chain store the other day I noticed I was hearing my chief complaint about brick and mortars. It is the same complaint I’ve had since I was an eyas. It annoys the hell out of me. It is bad business in inaction. It defies logic. It can’t possibly be explained by any rational method. Simply put, it is drain on sales, which affects not just the stores, but often the publishers and writers as well.

The only thing you can count on with readers is that they will recommend what they like. Frequently. Sometimes in writing, sometimes to complete strangers, usually to family, friends and people they run into who happen to be reading. This is the best news in the world for bookstores, publishers and writers. It means the stores don’t have to be experts on every given series and writer. They just have to be in business and fail to be odious to deal with.

So what is the lament? It is pretty simple: Not being able to find the first book in a series. Really, how many people are going to see Iron Man 3 or Avengers 2 without having seen the previous ones? Not many. Very, very few in fact. So why are book buyers constantly expected to pick up series in the middle? Imagine picking up Game of Thrones at book five. Or jumping into Charlie and Great Glass Elevator without having readCharlie and the Chocolate Factory(or even having seen the movie).

It doesn’t matter if the book is Extremis or Chicory Up it can be The Wolf Age or Dog and Dragon the odds that most readers will pick up a second or later book in a series knowing it isn’t the first book are ludicrously low. Since word of mouth is still the most effective form of advertising, and readers almost always point out the starting point of series when to friends, why don’t book stores make more of an effort to get and keep the first book in a series in stock?

When the next book in a readers favorite series comes out they will be pushing it on other people. Ordering a few books from the beginning of the series for them to either push their friends towards or purchase for their friends. One of the two big advantages brick and mortar stores have over internet shopping is instant gratification. This is a huge, huge advantage. One of the first things they teach you anywhere commissioned goods are sold is put it in the customers hands. People who pick something up are more likely to buy.  Add this to the increased likelihood of purchase a recommendation by a close friend with similar tastes has and you’ve got a chance of sales that is higher than any other product in the store.

The question isn’t is it difficult to order books, we know the answer to that is no. The question is why aren’t business leaders being proactive and jumping at the chance to increase their sales? This isn’t building a personalized recommendation engine for a mom and pop business it is simply making it easier to sell more books in a series you already know sells.