Is Your Novel Ready for the Great Digital Revolution?

ebook-kindle-shelfE-books are coming. You’ve heard about it at every writing conference from frightened people. They are pouring out of the Matrix, and they are shooting their internet lightning from the Cloud to destroy paper books, burning them away with video game beep and boop noises. Is your novel ready to be shared and read on digi-pads, intelli-phones, and Holodecks, or is it doomed to languish in a dusty, abandoned library, unable to break free from its acid-free paper shell? Take this simple quiz and find out.

Instead of using those fancy radial buttons, I have simulated the non-digital experience by having you record points as you go. Once you have answered all the questions, just tabulate your score at the end.

1. How familiar are you with e-books?

A) I do not know of this strange future-thing of which you speak, witch lord. I scrawl my story words in the blood of animals upon my cave wall as the ancestors did, and my nephew dictates your strange web ramblings from the sun machine he brought here. (Give yourself four paper points.)

B) I mostly prefer paper books, because they are musty and smell of ancient knowledge, as stories should.

(Give yourself two paper points.)

C) I like to read a few things on my Kindle, but I also enjoy the feel of a real book in my hands.

(Give yourself one digi-point.)

D) As we speak, I have 12 Chrome tabs open to smarmy thinkpieces on the “pictures under glass” nature of digital media, which I am only skimming, because I am distracted by the great wordbook That Time Stephen King Only Released His Novel on e-book, and Other Great Moments in e-book History. I am reading that book on my Amazon Kindle, which I used to sleep with under my arm until my mean spouse told me I was muttering sweet love poems to the device and keeping my terrible paper spouse awake.

(Give yourself seven digi-points.)

2. What is the story of your novel?

A) It’s a period piece, taking place from the time when I was a young adult, in a “write what you know” kind of way. Once a literary agent laughed at my reference to the Vietnam War, and said “Who is Paul McCarthy?” and then the agent called me old and stomped on my glasses and took my lunch money.

(Give yourself two paper points.)

B) It’s set in contemporary times, but I avoided references to specific technology, so that the story would be timeless, and a masterpiece, and that will teach those garbage Twitter teens a thing or two.

(Give yourself one paper point.)

C) It has a few references to social media and cell phones, to tie it to this bold world in which we live.

(Give yourself two digipoints.)

D) My novel is about a tumblr star having a gamergate flame war with the moderator of the subreddit SJWmockery, and uses the Millennial phrases to tap into their zeitgeist. It has a Matt Bors comic as an epitaph, and each subsequent page is a link to gifsets from The Steven Universe. The novel actually programs Android phones to fire electrical currents straight into headphones and activate the synapses which are unique for producing Millennial endorphins. Readers have called my novel “The Paragraphs Version of Angry Birds,” shortly before my novel Cyber-converts them and forces them to tweet advertisements for it.

(Give yourself eight digi-points.)

3. Imagine e-book writer and internet personality, Cory Doctorow, comes to visit you at your house. What music would you put on?

A) I would find some real classy Ink Spots songs and throw those on my phonograph, which I would have my butler carry, so that I could turn the crank on my car to give Mr. Doctorow a tour of the grounds.

(Give yourself seven paper points.)

B) I would burn a mix CD with some of my favorite hits, titling the disc “Only 90s Kids Will Get This!” and stamping the CD with a picture of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

(Give yourself four paper points.)

C) Simple. I’d just put “steampunk” into Pandora and my multiple Sonos speakers will stream his tastes straight into my living room.

(Give yourself one digi-point.)

D) This is a trick question – why would I meet an e-man in the dreaded Meatspace, with the fetid odor of paper and bodies and the stale Doritos I haven’t thrown away, when I could message him on one of his many profiles on the internet? Check and mate, website quiz writer. I am on to you and your tricks.

(Give yourself two digi-points.)

4. Which of these images best describes the experience of your novel?

A) [foogallery id=”8421″]

(Subtract four digi-points.)

B) jack

(Subtract two digi-points.)

C) [foogallery id=”8425″]

(Give yourself four paper points.)

D) [foogallery id=”8427″]

(Give yourself two digi-points.)

5) Does your novel have an engaging story with fully developed characters, well-crafted language, and a voice and style which support its content?

A) Yes.

(Give yourself one million GOOD NEWS points.)

B) No, it sucks, actually.

(Give yourself one million TERRIBLE points.)

Okay, let’s see what your score was!

If your highest point total was in the GOOD NEWS category:

Good news! Your book is probably fine!

Telling stories through the written word has existed for millenia and a minor format change affects the publishing industry way more than it affects storytellers. Because you wrote well, it probably has a place out there somewhere, so ignore all those questions except for the fifth one.

If your highest point total was in the TERRIBLE category:

Uh oh!

That fifth question was the key! If your book sucks, it may be difficult to sell in any format. There are millions, maybe billions of books for people to choose from out there, and most of us would rather read a good book, either in paper or digital form, than one which is bad. Maybe try making the words better, and then you can worry about the way those words will be displayed.


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