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The Technician
No Imperfections Noted
The Jeff and Casey Show
Jeff and Casey Time
Casey Muratori
Seattle, WA
The Secret Surprise
"Don't be a Tojo."
Original air date: July 14th, 2014
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Transcript
Jeff:
Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Jeff & Casey Show.
Casey:
Hello, and welcome to the Jeff & Casey Show, one of the finest hour/hour and a half…
Jeff:
I like how we can’t even say, “One of the finest hours…”
Casey:
One of the finest something…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
That you hear every Monday…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
On the internet.
Jeff:
That’s right.
Casey:
Certainly, higher quality than any other approximately, give or take, 30 minutes to hour-long show…
Jeff:
That’s true.
Casey:
Yeah. Although it’s really only ever… Take 30 minute… There’s never a give. We never only do 30 minutes anymore. There was a time when we did but not anymore.
Jeff:
We don’t undershoot.
Casey:
No.
Jeff:
No.
Casey:
So anyway, yeah, one of the problems with the Jeff & Casey Show, obviously, these days that didn't used to be a problem is because you're not here various weekends of any given month, we have to have lead time.
Jeff:
Pre-do them, yes.
Casey:
Yeah. So basically, there’s lag. It is a lot like a game running on the unreal engine. When you play it in multiplayer, there’s a lot of lag. There’s 200 milliseconds between when you do anything and when you’re ever gonna see that thing happen if you aren’t the server. And so, a lot of times, you just end up taking a shotgun in face.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
You know, like the guy wasn’t anywhere near you at the time but…
Jeff:
I see. Are you saying lag affected the Jeff & Casey Show?
Casey:
I’m saying lag does affect the Jeff & Casey Show.
Jeff:
Alright.
Casey:
So what that means is all of the topics are old news by the time you hear them because they were news at the time we recorded it.
Jeff:
Oh, I see. So we are breaking news…
Casey:
We are breaking news…
Jeff:
It broke for us.
Casey:
We are breaking news…
Jeff:
It just doesn’t break for you.
Casey:
We are breaking news into pieces and we’re delaying those pieces by quite some time.
Jeff:
Yeah. Okay.
Casey:
What that means…
Jeff:
What that means is we need to go to new media distribution where we, like, just unleash 50 hours of Jeff & Casey Show, Netflix style…
Casey:
What? Oh, binge it, right? Okay.
Jeff:
And then they just do it.
Casey:
Wait, how does that… Oh, you’re saying basically like we binge you because we recorded them all on Sunday, on like a 6-hour marathon and then you listened to all that on Monday so it’s right… There’s no lag anymore. It’s really…
Jeff:
You have to wait 2 months until..
Casey:
But then you’ve got to wait a long time. Okay.
Jeff:
Just saying…
Casey:
Well, as soon as you sign Kevin Spacey to be on the podcast, then we can talk about that…
Jeff:
Alright.
Casey:
Our Netflix deal when it comes through.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So I guess the…
Jeff:
[inaudible 2:21] call Netflix is what we’re saying.
Casey:
We’re available.
Jeff:
We’re… Let’s put it that way.
Casey:
Alright? We are available. So I guess I should explain in a little more detail what I’m talking about here. So one of the things that is harder to do on the Jeff & Casey Show is ballpark when, if we're talking about something, when that thing will actually air.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Right? So if it’s like Jeff is going to go out on the inaugural run of his boat, if we actually want to have it like a show about that, we have to acutlally record it, like, 3 weeks before and be able to…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
It’s just a nightmare, right?
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So we can’t really sink things properly up to when they actually happened and that…
Jeff:
Okay, the nature of it…
Casey:
That’s the nature of it now.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So I think because we’re doing 3 today that we can actually do the secret surprise that I was alluding to earlier today…
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
Off the air… And the question for you, Jeff, that you have to think about now relating to the secret surprise is…
Jeff:
Okay. Do I know what the secret surprise is? Because I don’t think I do.
Casey:
No, you don’t.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
So can you keep a secret?
Jeff:
Can I keep a secret?
Casey:
Because you are one of the worst people at keeping a secret.
Jeff:
I have a hard time. It hurts me.
Casey:
So what do you want to do here? Do you want to talk about something else today or do you want me talk about the secret that you then have to keep?
Jeff:
So here’s the situation. I like everything spoiled.
Casey:
You do.
Jeff:
But I have a hard time keeping that information to myself.
Casey:
Yeah.
Jeff:
I would say in that scenario I would rather be spoiled than have to do some work…
Casey:
Suck it down.
Jeff:
Yes. So give me the secret surprise.
Casey:
Alright. So we’re gonna talk about the secret surprise.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
Okay. So we’ll talk about the secret surprise. So as you know, I wrote the first volume of the book series that I am working on now. And you, Jeff, have been a fantastic proofreader through all of it. You read the first draft and had no notes.
Jeff:
I said it was great.
Casey:
Zero.
Jeff:
But wasn’t I positive? Because I liked it…
Casey:
Yeah, your fantastic encouragement…
Jeff:
So here’s what happens. Can I tell you what happens?
Casey:
Okay. Yeah, go ahead. Let’s get it out there. I gave you the first draft of this. It was, like, 2 years ago or something when I wrote it originally.
Jeff:
This is what happens with me in reviewing games, as well…
Casey:
Okay.
Jeff:
Is the more I like a form of media, the more I get into that weird zone state where I’m just experiencing the media as fast as possible.
Casey:
Alright.
Jeff:
And nothing is…
Casey:
Your critical faculties are not…
Jeff:
I’m not looking at grammar… I’m just absorbing it, like the game could be as shitty…
Casey:
Okay.
Jeff:
That’s how the very first braid was actually for me when it was, like, really bad [ 2D ] right after that trip to Thailand where I’m like, “Okay, this is fucking awesome.”
Casey:
Okay.
Jeff:
And I had no good notes because I was like, “No, ship this.”
Casey:
Ship it. Alright.
Jeff:
I was like, “Ship this.” And I had to wait almost 4 years for that thing to finally fucking come out?
Casey:
I think there were only 3 but…
Jeff:
That was a long time.
Casey:
No, you can be right. From the initial Thailand, it may have been 4.
Jeff:
Yeah. It was a long time.
Casey:
I don’t remember what year [ Braid ] came out but yeah…
Jeff:
So…
Casey:
No, it wasn’t 4 because that was 2005. And Braid came out in 200, it had to have…
Jeff:
I don’t remember.
Casey:
Or 2007 even.
Jeff:
We could ask [ John ]…
Casey:
It was, like, 3 years. Yeah, it had to be 3 years.
Jeff:
We can catch up with [ John ] next week.
Casey:
Yes. So anyway, yeah you basically… You know, you’re always like, “Give me the draft of whatever you’re working on,” right?
Jeff:
Yeah, I love it.
Casey:
And I’ll send it to you an…
Jeff:
That’s kind of like a spoiler thing.
Casey:
Nothing comes back.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
Nothing comes back. So you’re not really a proofreader, you’re more just like a spot… Like, you just like to… You’re like a voyeur. You just want to read it. You don’t care… You don’t have anything to add to the process, right?
Jeff:
I feel like it’s like… What do they call it? Early access?
Casey:
Yeah, your early access backer. You’re an early access backer.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
You just want to download the alpha and fuck around.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
You’re not gonna be on the forums.
Jeff:
Exactly.
Casey:
You’re not gonna express an opinion about it.
Jeff:
No.
Casey:
You’re just gonna be like, “Fuck it.”
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
“Just give me the early access. I want to see all the stuff.”
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
So, yeah…
Jeff:
This is not helping my guesses, either, which is great. Like…
Casey:
Oh, yeah, right. Right.
Jeff:
I’m intrigued that you point further.
Casey:
Yes. So anyway, one of the things that… So the reason I initially did this book series… I’ll give some of the background of it, I guess.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
Since this is… This podcast is…
Jeff:
So people know about it…
Casey:
So people know what I’m talking about… So, I like writing for whatever reason. It’s just something I like to do. And so, when I originally started trying to do some writing, I was thinking about, “Well, I’d like to (at some point) figure out a way to make some money writing so I can spend more time doing it.”
Jeff:
Okay. Sure.
Casey:
Because basically, one of the problems with writing is that it’s really not much of an economic that really makes it make sense.
Jeff:
Yep. It’s getting worse and worse.
Casey:
It’s only getting worse. And really, at some…
Jeff:
It’s like the iPhone Store but times 10…
Casey:
It’s like the iPhone Store. That’s right.
Jeff:
It’s like, literally like, 10 out of a million instead of 10 out of 10,000.
Casey:
Yeah, it’s even lower [ buried into ] than the iPhone Store to some degree because really, anyone can write something. And so, it’s pretty hard to deal with that [inaudible 7:40] and one of the, you know… A problem that’s even worse if you think about it is, “Well, also, I can go do work for very high pay in a different field.”
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
Right? So unlike a starving author who may be just like, “Fuck it. I’ll just eat ramen,” it’s like…
Jeff:
You’re making a literal trade, yeah.
Casey:
I also have to go like, “Alright, yeah, this is not a very good idea, career-wise…”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Because no matter… And really, it’s not even like if you make it or not as an author. If you make it as an author, almost… There are almost no authors who make as much as I would make programmer.
Jeff:
Yes.
Casey:
Almost none.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You’re talking about, like, J.K. Rowling.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You’re talking about… You have to be one of the greatest authors of all time, sales-wise, before you’re talking about programmer money.
Jeff:
Right. People on the New York Times Bestseller can make $200,000, for example.
Casey:
Yeah. So you’ve got to be in the upper tier of the bestsellers before you’re talking about programmer money.
Jeff:
Yeah, it’s definitely 1% of the 1%.
Casey:
Yeah, exactly. And you can certainly get there. I mean, J.K. Rowling makes way more than I’ll ever make programming or ever will make programming, probably.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
But you know, that’s… Just so we know what the stakes are…
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
It’s not like, oh, you wrote a good book and it got well-reviewed and it was a bestseller. Now, you’re making programming money. No.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You had to be more than that.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So you look at it and you go, “Alright, this is clearly a pastime.”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
But I felt like… I was like, “Okay. I would like to be able to make some money from it because that does kind of help things a little bit because, you know, if you can be self-sustaining at something that makes it… So you can make a trade-off easier and go like, “Okay, so I’ll be relatively poor but I can live. It’s not a problem.”
Jeff:
And I like it.
Casey:
And I like it. So that’s fine. So I wanted to look at it from that perspective. But the other reason I wanted to look at it is it’s really no fun to write something and not have anyone read it, right? It’s not like the kind of thing where you were… I don’t really see it as like I’m making art in some corner somewhere and I don’t care. It’s all for me. It’s like, I like… To me, a big part of art is the communication with other people.
Jeff:
Okay. Interesting.
Casey:
And I’d like it to be a dialogue where, like, I’m putting something out there and people have a response.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And I want to see the response and I want to respond to their response. Like, I want to have a book series where, like, people are engaged with it and I am responding to their engagement. Like to me, that’s actually part of the fun.
Jeff:
Okay. Alright.
Casey:
I don’t see it as a puritanical mission of, “I’m writing this thing and I don’t care what anyone thinks.” It’s like, no.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
And…
Jeff:
Even to the extent that that might constrain your writing, like…
Casey:
Yeah, because… So, the way…
Jeff:
You find those constraints fun.
Casey:
Yeah. And I feel like this is true in a lot of things. But just in general… So the way that I look at that is I feel like when you sit down to do something like writing or making a game that you’re really excited about or invested in artistically as opposed to just, you know, maybe if you’re just doing it as a business… But assuming you’re artistically motivated in some way, then I feel like you sort of have this opportunity to define what it is that you’re doing. Like, I don’t think people can come and say, “This is art. This isn’t. This is what you should be doing. This is what you shouldn’t be doing.” There’s just basically different perspectives on that.
Jeff:
True.
Casey:
And one of the perspectives and the one that I personally like is you have an idea of what you’re trying to communicate but that communication sort of like, is only… The only real constraint with that communication is that that’s what you’re trying to say with the piece. It’s not any further than that. So e most effective way… Like, if you and I are gonna have a conversation, the same thing applies. If I want to sit down and try to convince you to try vanilla ice cream for the first time or whatever the fuck…
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
Then, my motivation is that. That’s what I’m trying to do. So it only constrains me in so much as my intent here is to have you try the ice cream at the end of it. That’s what I’m going for, right?
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
And so, I’m fine with if my initial plan doesn’t seem to be going well and I’m seeing reactions from you that’s taking it in a different direction, if I still see the opportunity to get you to try the ice cream or whatever, I’m fine with this. To me, it’s like it’s a back and forth. It’s an argument that can evolve. It doesn’t have to be all about the ground rules that I set out when I started.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
So to me, the art process basically ends up with being sort of “I define the objective, what I wanted to do when I started making this thing”.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
And it doesn’t have to be manipulative like getting you to try ice cream.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
It can just be communicating an idea and having you respond to that idea. But at the same time, it is fluid. So if I see that you aren’t responding to the idea or you’re not engaging with the idea, I’m totally down with changing my approach to try to get you to engage with that idea.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
So if I want this book to be about spying or whatever the fuck (because I care about that political issue and I’m trying to make a book that’s somewhat political), I don’t necessarily care if all of the things I started out wanting to include in that book get included or included the way I want.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
What I care about is having the people who read it engage in that topic, right?
Jeff:
Sure. Okay.
Casey:
And so that, to me, is like, pretty much my… If I had to say… And I’m not an accomplished artist. So I don’t necessarily feel…
Jeff:
That’s your approach to that?
Casey:
Yes. I don’t necessarily feel like this is some brilliant insight thing. It’s literally just how I think about it. And maybe, in time, I’ll see if that’s stupid. But just in my limited experience, that’s what feels good to me.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
You know, it’s what feels good. It’s like you go in there with that idea that you’re trying to get across and you’re open to the feedback that what you were trying to do is whatever. Now, just to illustrate how fluid that concept is, I’m talking about this book in particular… Well, okay, so… Actually, let’s put that on hold for a second. I’ll get to that in a minute. So anyway, going back to where this book originally came from… So basically, I don’t have very much time to write. It’s not something that I really have time to do. Basically, what I do is I save money when I program.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And I have a bunch of programming things that I also want to do like helping out in the [ witness ] or whatever that take money because I don’t get paid for those things…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I’m trying to donate time for something and I’m too expensive for these things, right, or whatever the fuck, right? ‘Cos it’s like you’re helping out in a project or doing something open source or whatever.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So I don’t have that much time to write. So I have to try and see what I can do in the time that I have.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
So one of the things that I was looking at with this book series… I was like, “Okay. I am someone who isn’t an established author. There’s nothing I can point to that’s in my favor. I can’t say, “Oh, I’m this fancy person from Harvard.”
Jeff:
I see.
Casey:
I can’t say, “I’m an expert on this subject.”
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
I could write a programming book…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
But that’s not the same. That’s not fiction.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I can’t say that I’ve written these things that you loved before because I really haven’t written anything before, you know, for the most part. So when I started out with this, I have nothing. I have nothing to convince you that you should read my shit.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So looking at that, I was thinking like, “Okay. I think it’s probably smart to try to do some small works that can be sold very cheaply and that aren’t a big investment on the part of the reader to read them.”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Like, if I do an article or I do a novella, that’s a much smaller time investment.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You can read it in 3 hours. I’m not asking you to give me 90,000 words. I’m not asking you to give me this full 2-day/3-day/4-day experience to get it down.
Jeff:
Sure.
Casey:
Make sense?
Jeff:
I’m with you.
Casey:
So what basically happened is I wrote one book which I posted. And that was my first shot at writing anything ever. So that was a learning experience for me in what was going on. And then the second thing I wrote was this and that was towards the goal of, “Alright, I’ve written one thing. I see how the process goes. I know what I’d do differently. I think I’ve got some idea of how to make this work properly.”
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
“Let me write a second thing and let me try to do it in a way that I might be able to actually get some readers.”
Jeff:
Right. Okay.
Casey:
Just something that might make people actually read this. The first step is to start to actually have that process where people read the book and engage with it to some degree.
Jeff:
Sure. Okay.
Casey:
That was the goal. So I wrote this book and basically, my sort of thinking originally on it was I’m like, “I’m gonna write a thing where basically, like, there’s just this dude…” Because I have… You know, like, most people have their little ideas file. I’ve got tons of book things or whatever the fuck and just ideas in there. It’s, like, things I’ve wanted to do. And I was looking at some of them. And one of them was I wanted to have this reviewer who reviews, like, everything to them. Everything to them is a review, right?
Jeff:
Right. Okay.
Casey:
And so, that was my goal when I initially sat down to write it. It was like, everything’s a review to this guy. So I wanted a book about a dude who reviews everything. And as he goes through the book, every experience he has, the fucking reviews it.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
That was the…
Jeff:
Initial point…
Casey:
That was the idea.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So I sat…
Jeff:
It’s a little different than that…
Casey:
Well, okay. We’re getting there.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
So I sat down to write it. And like I said, I don’t have much time. So basically, the way I write is I write a chapter a day. And so, if there’s 14 chapters in a book, it took me 14 days to write.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
There’s then the rewrite which is usually, again, another 14 days. So if there was a second full draft, it took me 28 days to write it. You can basically tell exactly from that how it goes, right? And there’s usually gaps in between because when I have something, I send it out to some people to get their feedback and proofreading and all that sort of stuff…
Jeff:
Right, like all my good feedback.
Casey:
All your non-feedback. But there’s other people who read it and do have feedback. And so, I want to see that and take that into account and think about it. And much like game design… Well, [inaudible 17:17] So anyway, I sit down to write it. And what I ended up writing, basically, was a bunch of chapters about a food reviewer who basically has a bunch of experiences that he does not like where he is bitching about them.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
But then sort of transition into experiences that he does like and he’s still reviewing them. So ends up… And like, one chapter, he has sex and he reviews the sex or whatever the fuck, right?
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
You remember this was the first draft. So to me, it was just a farcical thing about this dude who reviews everything.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And the joke was just that he reviews everything. That’s it. That was the entirety of this book. That’s all it was to me. And I was just trying to do a little thing that would be interesting.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So what happened was when I gave this to people to proofread, I got a very, very different reaction than what I was expecting. Nobody, perhaps besides you but even not really you, reacted to it as, “Haha, here’s a guy who reviews everything.” Nobody. That was not on the table. It was not even something that people thought about when they read this book.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
Instead, overwhelmingly… And I mean, like, pretty much everyone who read it who gave feedback (unlike you)… So pretty much everyone who read it had the exact same response to it.
Jeff:
Really?
Casey:
And I don’t know. I suspect if I continued being a writer or even a part-time writer for a while, I suspect that 10-20 years from now, I will look back on this and say something like, “This is the best feedback you can possibly get when you send out a draft.” And that is anger.
Jeff:
Really?
Casey:
If people are angry and upset with you when they read a draft, that means that you have tapped into something very important and then you just fucked up somewhere.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
And all you have to do is un-fuck up.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And un-fucking up, despite what Hollywood may make it seem, is actually really easy if you care.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Because people will let you know… Now, they don’t know what you fucked up because they’re not writers. So they’re not prepared to diagnose the specific problems.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
But they will voice to you very clearly the fact that they’re upset and what they’re upset about.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
And it’s not that hard for you to go back and reconsider “What did I do to piss these people off?”
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
If you have any human emotional understanding at all…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
It’s pretty easy to go, “Okay…” It’s much like in a relationship. You didn’t expect this person to get upset and they did.
Jeff:
What’s really wrong?
Casey:
You should be able to realize, introspectively, what you have done.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And you go, “Oh, I didn’t think of that. I wasn’t thinking. I’m sorry I did it,” right?
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And so, what happened with this book, I realized very clearly, is I had lucked out or maybe it was… If I give myself some credit, I did a good job. If I don’t give myself any credit, I lucked out. And I don’t know which of those 2 it is.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
I’m way to na_ve at this to know. But let’s assume I lucked out for now. I lucked out and I created a character that people really cared about in a very specific way.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
And once people emotionally invest in a character that they care about and that character becomes real to them, you cannot treat them in a farcical manner. It’s simply not allowed, right?
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You can’t go and have this person doing these things that the reader is uncomfortable with if they’ve identified with this character in an emotional, deep way.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And I looked at it and tried to figure out what it was about this character that was making people engaged so deeply with them. And I kind of went through and went, “Okay, I think I see what’s going on here. I understand what they responded to.”
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
And so, I’m gonna go back. And this ties it in to what we’re talking about earlier about how flexible I am willing to be in this situation. I am not at all prima donna, especially when you’re learning…
Jeff:
Right. Sure.
Casey:
I feel like you kind of… If you don’t know what the fuck you’re doing, if you’re a novice, you should not be prima donna-ing around.
Jeff:
I see.
Casey:
You should be open to fucking criticism because you need to learn, right?
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And I know that I don’t have the kind of experience that I would need to be Mr. Fancypants Author. Like, that’s just a given. So anyway, I looked at that and I was like, “Oh, okay. I get it. Like, I get what people were responding to in this and understand why they were so upset. So I’m just gonna do a rewrite, full rewrite,” ‘cos really…
Jeff:
Interesting…
Casey:
The second 14… It was 14 chapters the first time, the second 14… “I’m gonna do a full re-write and this time…”
Jeff:
Of book 2?
Casey:
No, of book 1.
Jeff:
Oh, whoa. Interesting.
Casey:
No, no, no. this is the one you just read, the new one.
Jeff:
Yeah, the one that’s out, though, now?
Casey:
The one that’s out. I rewrote all 14 chapters from the original draft you read.
Jeff:
Whoa, okay.
Casey:
You probably don’t fucking remember.
Jeff:
Oh, no, no. Right, right. Yes, yes, yes, it’s very different.
Casey:
It’s totally different. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
So I do that, right, and I’m like, “I’m going to rewrite this to make this character be a real character who does embody the things that people were putting on to him because of the way he was written.”
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
They responded to him like a real character but I hadn’t actually done the job of giving him a real character because that’s not what I was doing. It was the furthest thing from my mind that this guy could ever even be considered a real character. If you read the book, you’ll know what I mean.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
He’s very character-ous in a number of ways. But people like strange people. They like strange characters.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I mean, they’re just like… There’s a lot of TV shows that are built around very unusual characters.
Jeff:
Sure.
Casey:
And people respond to them [ in a way ]. So I felt like I kind of had an obligation at that point. I’m like, I’m trying to be an author here. I’m trying to learn how to write well. If you are given the incredible fortune of having anybody respond to your characters in that way, you kind of owe it to them to give it your best shot to actually deliver something meaningful. And so, I was totally willing to just change even what I was going for with the book because that’s a much deeper and richer thing than I ever would have expected to even give you with this thing. So great, I’m all in. I’ll do the best that I can. So I wrote the new one. And I felt like I did a decent job on that. And I’m like, “Alright, this is pretty good. I’m totally happy with this. Unlike my first one, I don’t have a lot of criticisms on it.” I’m like, you know, maybe some things but like, I was really pretty proud of this. I was like, this is the first thing I’ve ever written… Not that I’ve written a lot of things but it’s the first thing I’ve written where I was like, “I could give this to someone and say, “I feel like you might like this.”
Jeff:
Right. Okay.
Casey:
And I probably wouldn’t really do that with other things. I wouldn’t do that on my first book. So I am pretty psyched that it’s done and I want to get it out there. And then of course, then I had to make a cover for it, which was a disaster.
Jeff:
Right. I remember the color… Yeah.
Casey:
We talked about this on the podcast. It was the thing that made me never want to do art again.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So from now on, I’m working with artists on everything. Artists, I’m just so glad that they want to do art because I don’t have it in me, it’s true.
Jeff:
I love that that’s what burned you out.
Casey:
It’s what burned me out.
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
It’s what burned me out. So yeah, so that was done. So it took me a long time to do it. So I finally did it. And so I have it, I wrote this thing back for the original book that’s like a typesetting system. It outputs… You could get a PDF out of it and you could also get an Amazon ebook out of it. And so one of my goals with this book was to try and get some readers.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
So in my world, I’m like, alright, there’s a couple ways that you can get readers. One is you can have a blog that’s popular, right, and you can transition that into a thing. But I only have a programming book.
Jeff:
Mmhmm… It’s a different [ process but go on ].
Casey:
And programmers ain’t literature nuts.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
Like, they ain’t reading, you know, “Ulysses”, probably. That’s not… And this book, while it’s relatively accessible, it’s not some kind of fancy pants literature of anything.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
It’s heavy on the verbiage. It’s got a crazy specific style. It’s not “The Hunger Games”. I can’t just be like, “Go read this. It’s fun for the whole family.” That’s just not true.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And I’m not gonna try to pretend it is. So I know that that’s probably not happening and I’m not gonna get any… It’s like if I start writing things on my blog in Witness Wednesday where I’m like, “Go check out my book,” that’s not gonna…
Jeff:
Crossover. Right.
Casey:
There’s not gonna be a lot of sales there. No one’s gonna care. It’s whatever. So I’m like, “Okay. I need to figure out a way to get readership for this thing.” And I did. Part of that is making it short form, like I said…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And making it easy to [ get investments ] but I still need to try and get it out somewhere where people will look at it. You know, some people who like reading this sort of thing will actually look at it. And I don’t really know that there’s that many avenues for that. So there’s places you can send things. You know, you can send things in and be like, “Okay, maybe there’s a blog somewhere.” And there’s not that many of those, even, where you can be like, “Hey, check out my book…”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
But they often just… I mean, they’re just getting pounded with ebook submissions all the time.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And then there’s one other places which is Kindle Singles.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
And one of the reasons that I kept the book under 30,000 words and I…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Okay. So I should put one other thing. Kindle Singles, which is a place you can go for short form literature, basically what it is is it’s a place that sort of highlights… Basically, they have sort of an editorial process. It’s basically like a publisher.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
You can go to them and you can say, “Here’s my book. It’s under 3,000… It’s short form. It’s under 3,000 words. [ It can even be an article, it can be ] 3,000 words, right?”
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
“Something short form and I’d like to publish it through you.” And they are a real publishing division now. And, you know, like Stephen King publishes his short stuff through there and all that stuff, right, so it’s like a real thing but it’s something anyone can apply to.
Jeff:
Sure.
Casey:
You don’t need an agented manuscript to go there. I didn’t want to work through an agent. I didn’t really want to become like a business-oriented author. I just wanted some way to maybe get the book out to some people.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So Kindle Singles looked like a really good idea because I’m like, “Anyone can submit to this. I could send it to them. So I should keep this under 30,000 words,” So this was the problem when I’m… You know, for me, actually, because the other thing…
Jeff:
30,000 or 3,000?
Casey:
30,000.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
So it has to be… To give you some perspective, a novel is usually between 65,000 words, let’s say, and 120,000 words if it’s really long.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You know, so… Yeah. So basically, it can be a double length novel…
Jeff:
Like 90 pages or 100 pages?
Casey:
It’s like 100 pages, I’d say.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
So basically… So you figure if a normal book you’re picking up… I mean, in pages, it’s very fluid content…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
But if a normal book you’re picking up is 300 pages, this is gonna be 100 pages. It’s gonna be about a third, maybe a little more than a third… So if it was a short book… Like, let’s say it’s one of those… “The Fight Club” or something…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
It’s a shorter book. It’s gonna be like half a book, right? If it’s a 60,000-70,000 word book, it’s half a book.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
But if it’s a 90,000 word book, it’s a third of a book, right? So it’s somewhere in there, fairly long but not novel-length.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So I wanted to keep it under 30,000. And that was not a problem [inaudible 28:23] It’s just a throwaway thing. But the other thing that I realized when I… So when I was going back [ there ], I was like, “People actually wanted more of this guy.”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
They were not done with him at the end of it. So I’m like, “Fuck. I’ve got to have more.” But I need to submit it to things where… like, I don’t have a lot of options here for… Where am I gonna ever try to get this thing published? I have nothing to go on. So what I did is I just said, “Alright, I’ll just make it a series.”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I’ll make it a series of books so it can be as many as there has to be. I figure I’ll do three and that’ll be like sort of a novel and a half or one long novel, right?
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I’ll do 3 of them and that will be it. So I’ll break it up into that way. And so, I kind of figured out, you know, what would the plot line be if I had to go for 3 books? How would I do that and so on… And so, I do that. And the first one is 30,000. And at the end, it’s like, “To be continued…” Right? It’s like, it’s got… So I made kind of an implicit promise. “I’ll make more of these. It’s still coming. But this first installment is gonna be short.” And I kind of liked it that way because I was like, “Well, I can sort of see if anyone engages with this.” And then that’ll let me know what kind of a priority to make it ‘cos, you know…
Jeff:
Oh, okay. Sure.
Casey:
Should I do this book in a year or 2 years? Or should I get started on it right away because people liked it?
Jeff:
Right. Okay.
Casey:
Alright. So I get the cover done. I have the thing printed. I put it up on Amazon. And I’m like, “Alright, so pretty much the only thing that I thought of, my brilliant plan for trying to get this out into people’s hands, was I’ll submit it to Kindle Singles.” Now, Kindle Singles obviously gets N thousand fucking, shitty novels sent to them a day.
Jeff:
Right, right, right.
Casey:
Right?
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So it’s not even really a question in my mind. I’m like… It’s not even a question of will they like this book. It’s “can I even get them to read this book”.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I am sure they are just looking for reasons not to read this book.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Because everyone who sends something to them wants them to read the book and they just have more than they could possibly spend their attention to do.
Jeff:
Sure.
Casey:
And it’s not that… I mean, nothing on them.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
It’s just, I’ve been… I mean, I recently did Indie Megabooth judging, right. And you look at… When you’re staring at 350 games, that’s just not something… It’s a very [inaudible 30:22] problem. And you want to do a great job, like I suspect the people at Kindle Singles want to do a great job at finding all the great stuff.
Jeff:
Sure.
Casey:
But at some level, you have to devise some system of filtration, like looking at game play videos or whatever it is, to try and weed out some things first because you can’t play 350 games with your full attention.
Jeff:
Sure.
Casey:
So at the very least, you’re gonna segment it out. Like, some people will play these 20 games, they deal with these 20… But then, you’re back in this position of, like, “Okay, if I’m the guy who likes JRPG’s but I didn’t get the JRPG because of whatever we did, then that person’s at a disadvantage,” right? So there’s all these things in there where it’s just judging a large number of things, no matter how good and how well-intentioned the people are, you run into difficulties there and there’s just no way around that. So I’m sitting there going, “Alright, I’ve got to submit this thing to Kindle Singles and they’re probably not gonna read it. So what am I gonna do to try and make sure that they read this book?” Because I’ve got nothing. Like, I’ve got nothing to say, like I said before, much like making a pitch to the people who are gonna read the book, I have no way of convincing them. I’m not an English PhD. I have no credentials.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I’m a software programmer from Seattle which is about the furthest credential thing away from good credentials you could ever ask for from an author. So I’m like, well, okay. This book is a comedy at heart. It’s much more… It has a lot more sort of seriousness to it now because of the way people respond to the characters. But still, at heart, it is a comedy. It’s supposed to make you laugh. And to the extent that you feel emotional sort of pain on the part of the other character, that’s part of the sort of comedy coming to [inaudible 32:06]
Jeff:
Sure.
Casey:
It’s part of people going through stuff. But in general, the prose is meant to make you laugh and to… It’s a happy book at its core. It’s not gonna end in everyone dying or anything like this, right?
Jeff:
Right, right.
Casey:
And you can kind of tell that right from the beginning.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
It’s silly. It’s got some silliness to it and whatever, right? And so, I’m like, “Well since it’s got this kind of silliness to it and it’s also a very kind of verbose-grammatically thing, I should probably write the email to them in a way that gets this across.”
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
Because that way, whoever…
Jeff:
In somewhat character?
Casey:
Yeah.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
So, I write the email to them and I’m like… I just included… I’m just like, “I think you should consider this book. Here is the link to it,” right? And I’m like… I just go in full-on… I don’t know… [ Mike Croft ] mode or whatever you want to call it.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I go into full-on mode on it. I’m like, “Unlike all the factory-written novels that you’ve been getting, this book uses only the finest quality words, raised in optimal conditions.”
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
I’m like, “Every word has been considered for…”
Jeff:
Right… Organic…
Casey:
You know, “It has been harvested at the exact right time…” Because the book is also still about a food reviewer so I’m like, this all ties in pretty well in my opinion, right? And I go on and on about all of how… The process we have for allowing them, you know, the free-range…
Jeff:
Free-range words…
Casey:
Of imagination…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Right. I’m like… I go full on. So I’m just like… The pitch is full on, right?
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So I’m like, “Alright, that’s…” I mean, I don’t have any other ideas so I’m like, “Fuck it.” So I send this to them. And so this is… I don’t know. So you know, I think I posted the book on Amazon on Tuesday. I Tweeted it whatever. And then, I send this email. Like, almost immediately after that, I type this email out, send it to Amazon, and it’s at… I don’t know. It’s like, 5 or 6 o’clock or something like this. So I go to bed. I wake up the next morning and there’s an email that’s like, “I read the book. It’s fantastic. Can we give you a call.”
Jeff:
Awesome. Right.
Casey:
I’m like… I double check the thing. I’m like, “Is this actually from them?”
Jeff:
Right, right.
Casey:
Because I’m assuming, like, I’ll hear from them in months.
Jeff:
Right, right.
Casey:
Right? Like, if ever… They say on the site, actually, that they’ll get back to everyone in, like, 6 weeks.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So I guess I was thinking, “Well, if they really mean that, I’ll eventually hear some… It won’t be like a black hole.”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
They’ll actually send me a letter and be like, “I’m sorry, Mr. Muratori. We’re unable to consider your book at this time,” or whatever the fuck. So I’m fucking ecstatic. I’m like, “Holy shit. They wrote me back. That’s awesome.” They wrote me back right away which I was not expecting at all. So I’m like, “This is awesome.” So they call me at that afternoon they said would or whatever the fuck, right? And I talk to them and they’re like, “Hey, you know, I’m the editor of Kindle Singles. I loved the book,” like that was…
Jeff:
That’s awesome.
Casey:
They say that’s the best letter we’ve ever received…
Jeff:
Oh, awesome.
Casey:
And it’s the reason why we read… I’m like…
Jeff:
Oh, yeah.
Casey:
I’m like, “Oh, okay.” It’s like, I feel better about myself now ‘cos I’m like, “Awesome. That was not a stupid idea. That was actually [inaudible 35:07] idea.” Because he could’ve easily said, “Well, it’s a good thing your letter didn’t turn us off to the book because it was really stupid,” right? So fortunately, they liked the book. So yes, so I’m super ecstatic about this. I’m like, “That’s awesome. Thank you so much. I super appreciate it.” I’m like, “I didn’t think anyone was probably gonna read this book, let me be honest with you, because I don’t have any experience in this industry and I don’t have any way of reaching the readers who probably will like it, honestly. So thank you so much. That’s super awesome.” And they’re like… And this is sort of the punch line, I suppose. That’s the surprise part, obviously, but the punch line is, of course, he’s like, “But, just one thing, so about the cover…” And I’m like, “Dude, do not get me started on the cover.” I’m like, “If you want to replace the cover, please fucking do it. It was the most traumatic experience of my life. I don’t ever want to see that cover again. I don’t want to hear about that cover again,” because I think he was thinking like…
Jeff:
You’re attached to it?
Casey:
“These prima donna fucking authors, we want to change the cover because they have this cover that they like that won’t sell and no one wants to see this cover, and I’m trying to do them a fucking favor.” But the asshole on the other end of the line is like, “No, it has to be [inaudible 36:17] and this is my cover. This is the cover from my childhood,” or whatever. Opposite with me. I’m like, “Yes. Get rid of the fucking cover.”
Jeff:
Right. Burn it, yeah.
Casey:
“Just burn it. Whatever cover you want will be better than this cover. Do it,” right? So he’s happy about that, obviously, because that goes over without any sort of thing. So he’s like, “Alright, we just need a week or 2 to get the cover artist to make new covers for this thing and then we’ll put it on Kindle Singles.”
Jeff:
Okay, perfect.
Casey:
I’m like, “Awesome.” So I believe that this…
Jeff:
The timing will work…
Casey:
I believe that this Jeff & Casey Show will now be able to air at the time when the book is actually coming out…
Jeff:
On…
Casey:
Kindle Singles.
Jeff:
I see. Awesome.
Casey:
Which will be very ecstatic and I am very proud to announce that.
Jeff:
That’s awesome.
Casey:
But I didn’t want to say anything about it beforehand…
Jeff:
Because…
Casey:
Because it’s not there yet and I didn’t want to jinx anything.
Jeff:
That’s awesome.
Casey:
But it appears to have happened. It’s just a question of…
Jeff:
And they were good to work with and everything? They didn’t give you any other shit like that, any other trouble?
Casey:
Oh, no. Amazon’s fantastic. I mean… Well, one of the things that’s weird, right…
Jeff:
Did they edit anything? Did they do any of that?
Casey:
No.
Jeff:
Okay. So they act as a publisher but they don’t have editors…
Casey:
No, that’s not true.
Jeff:
Okay. They will…
Casey:
So basically… Yes, so the way Kindle Singles works is actually that they will do either.
Jeff:
Oh, okay.
Casey:
So if you do a book and you’ve pretty much gotten it to final form…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So this is like I did… I mean, I… Basically, it was done. Everything… You know, when I posted it, it’s like, “This is a book. It’s been copyedited. It’s been revised carefully. It’s been… Everything’s been thought through. It’s done.” So if you do that, you can just put your book up and then send it to Kindle Singles like I did and hope that they feature you.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And basically, that’s just like submitting a finished book to a publisher and being like, “Will you publish my manuscript?”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Right, “Here it is.” But they also have the opposite whereas if you want to work with them as an editor, you can send them an unfinished draft, draft 1, and be like, “I’d like to work with you on this.” And they will act as your editor.
Jeff:
I see.
Casey:
So if I wanted to do that… Maybe in the future, maybe I could. I mean, I could be like, “Hey, you liked my first one. I could do that with you.”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
But no, that’s… They will do either. So they can act as strictly a distributor or they can act as like a full publisher…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And everywhere in between. In my case, they’re not editing the book but they are doing the cover…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Which is something also that a publisher would do, right?
Jeff:
Right, right.
Casey:
And so, yeah. And that was awesome for me because I had a decent handle. I’m getting this book to a good state that was good and readable and nice and finished. But the cover was a disaster and I obviously… I mean, I really just didn’t know what I was doing and it was bad. So that’s perfect. That’s actually what I needed. And so, I’m pretty happy…
Jeff:
That’s awesome. Do you know what the cover’s gonna look like yet?
Casey:
I don’t. So that is why it’s not up on Kindle Singles yet, basically.
Jeff:
Oh, I see.
Casey:
So it’s basically just, like… ‘Cos nothing else actually has to happen to the book. It’s just that the cover needs to get replaced and finalized.
Jeff:
And if they do that, it shows up like on the front page of the Kindle store or something?
Casey:
Yeah, exactly. So basically, the big deal with Kindle Singles… Because the book… Anyone can put a book on Amazon so that’s not the problem. The problem is not getting on Amazon. Anyone can get on Amazon.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You just upload the book and you’re done. So the thing with Kindle Singles is it’s curated.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
It’s like the Steam store. It’s like if… Well, I guess it’s not like the Steam store anymore.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
It’s like the Steam store used to be…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Where they only accept… So I think they accept a certain number a month, you know, like 20 things a month. So you’re talking about only one or 2 things a week sometimes…
Jeff:
That you deal with…
Casey:
So it’s a very prominent placement that you get…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
If they decide to do it. So for an unknown… I mean, for Stephen King, I don’t think it fucking matters at all.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You know, everyone’s gonna know…
Jeff:
He’ll do fine, regardless, right.
Casey:
He’s fine, right? But for someone who has nothing, it’s insanely good for someone who doesn’t have anything because it’s the difference between 5 people reading your book and a thousand people reading your book or something like this which is… I mean, it means the world to somebody at that point.
Jeff:
Right, right.
Casey:
To me, it’s insane.
Jeff:
That’s awesome.
Casey:
So, yeah. I’m psyched about it because there’s no way anywhere close t the number of people who will read it on Kindle Singles would ever have read it.
Jeff:
Do you think… Will it be the kind of thing that you’ll be swamped with emails and stuff when that happens? Do you think?
Casey:
What for?
Jeff:
I don’t know, like, if it happens and they’re able to track you down, that kind of thing… Or like… idk how Kindle… I’m not used to Kindle so I don’t know if, like… Is it the standard feedback and review system as everything else and all that?
Casey:
So, I mean… Well, I’d say 2 things, right? I mean, I’m certainly…
Jeff:
Accessible…
Casey:
Yeah, okay. I’m certainly accessible. So I would say 2 things about that because I’m not sure actually what you’re asking exactly but I’ll just say 2 things. Thing 1 is I don’t think game fanaticism is at all… Like, I don’t think books happens that way. I don’t think people will send me email being like, “I’m gonna rape you,” because they didn’t like the way this book ended or whatever, right?
Jeff:
Yeah, we hope not.
Casey:
So there’s that whole kind of rabid, weird thing that happens with games…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I don’t think… If that’s what you’re asking, no. I don’t think anyone’s going to do anything like that with the books…
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
Because I just don’t think… I think it’s just a different culture, maybe. I don’t know.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So I don’t think there’s anything like that, right? But what I would say is I fully expect I’ll get plenty of harsh reviews on the Amazon review system. I mean, I’m sure there’ll be people who hate the book or whatever and give me one star. That’ll happen.
Jeff:
Yeah, I was thinking more of, like, people emailing you directly and, like, wanting to bug you about the book like, “When’s the next book coming? When’s…” That kind of thing…
Casey:
Okay. So that to me… So, I don’t know. I have never had anything… I’ve never made anything popular ever. Like, you know… I mean, I made a popular tech product with you.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Like, I mean, Granny and [ Bink 2 ] or whatever, right, were both very popular tech products but…
Jeff:
That’s not the same.
Casey:
That doesn’t have… [inaudible 42:27] like, you know, the popular tech product is a product that sells a thousand copies or something, right, in our industry. And developers aren’t fans of the tech product, right?
Jeff:
Sure.
Casey:
Something like that… So I’ve never done anything popular. So my answer to that question may be extremely uninformed.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
But what I would say is I’d love it if anyone emailed me about a book I wrote.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
Nobody cares about anything I write. So if someone let’s say they email me because they had something to say about something I wrote, I’d be ecstatic.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
I mean, the degrees to which that happens with anything I make now, it’s basically, you know, stuff like someone replying to the programming thing.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And I’m happy to receive those, too.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I like when people… I mean, to me, the reason I wrote something was because I wanted someone to read it. And if they wanted to take the time to email me or something, as long as it’s not super, like, frightening or something…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I’m totally happy with that. And even if they had a very strong negative reaction, that’s totally, like, that’s interesting to me. And so, I’m actually… Yeah, I would say that I would be and have always been with this book and with anything else, I’m just more scared about no one caring.
Jeff:
I see.
Casey:
I mean, no one caring is the failure case. People “bothering you” about something sounds like a very highfaluting artist thing to say. Like, it’s never gonna bother me that u want to talk to me about my book. I’m fucking psyched you even read it.
Jeff:
Okay. Cool.
Casey:
And I think I’d hope… If I ever, for some reason, change my mind about that because I was reading a bunch of emails, I’d hope I would go back to the episode we did on [ Tojo ] the sushi chef up in Vancouver where I was saying he’s an asshole for not listening to his customers…
Jeff:
To remember? I see.
Casey:
Yeah, it’s like… I feel like… Well, 2 things, right? Like, it’s almost certainly the case that I’m never gonna be, like, an author who’s so popular that you’re like, Mr. Superstar or anything like that, right? So it’s always gonna be like [ Tojo ] where, like, “Okay, yeah, [ Tojo ]. You’re popular in one fucking sushi restaurant in Vancouver,” right? And that’d be the same for me. It’s like, you wrote one or two books that people liked, whoopee-fucking-do. Like, you’re still just a dude. Get over it, right? And listen to your fucking readers or whoever they are, right? It’s like, you still have plenty you can learn. And you are not some special fancy pants mister.
Jeff:
So you just say… You have to go back and just be…
Casey:
Learn some fucking humility. So…
Jeff:
Tojo…
Casey:
Yeah. So if for some reason, I was being totally asshole about that, I would hope someone would say, “Why don’t you go listen to your podcast about [ Tojo ] and shut the fuck up.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
And I would, hopefully, go do that and go, “Yep, you’re right.”
Jeff:
I see, so you’ve [ got to do the Tojo sequence ].
Casey:
I don’t think there’s any risk of that. But for some reason, if for some reason I had delusions of grandeur, I feel like that would be the thing to snap you out of it…
Jeff:
I see. You bring it to [ Tojo ].
Casey:
Because… Yeah, it’s like running a dinky sushi restaurant in Vancouver does not entitle you, right? And writing a book that some few people read and had a comment about does not entitle you to be a dick.
Jeff:
I see.
Casey:
You still need to listen to people and think about what they have to say.
Jeff:
That’s awesome. I like it. I like it. So wait, what is the exact date? Do you know yet? Or it’s just around this date?
Casey:
It is literally when the covers are done. So basically, I guess from the way they described it, they don’t do a cover. They do, like, a couple covers and then they pick the one that they will like.
Jeff:
For aspect? Oh, I see. Okay.
Casey:
So it’s like, they will go, “Okay, here’s 3 or 4 covers.” And maybe they’ll ask me for my feedback on it all but as far as I’m concerned, they’re the people who know this shit, not me. I’ve already said that my cover situation was a disaster. So…
Jeff:
What if they all look like Amazon page, so there’s, like, white with blue text, a lot of underlines, 2 columns on each side…
Casey:
It’s probably better than the cover I made. I guess that’s what I’ll say about that.
Jeff:
You are very down on that cover.
Casey:
Yeah, it just wasn’t a good experience. It’s tainted. It’s a taint.
Jeff:
Yeah, it was a tainted situation. I would agree with that because I think that cover you have is fine but I know the process of making that made you so…
Casey:
Yeah, it’s the taint.
Jeff:
It’s a taint situation…
Casey:
I can’t ever look at that cover okay because it was just a disaster and I was stupid and I made a lot of bad decisions and just things I should’ve known better especially since I’ve done production art in the past. It was just dumb. It was a dumb idea. And I think that’s just… That’s true just of probably anything where you haven’t done a lot of work at, right?
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
It’s like, most of my experiences doing, like, 3D art for Sushi and that sort of stuff…
Jeff:
Well…
Casey:
I spent a lot of time doing these things. And that’s not what a book cover is. The book cover has nothing to do with that. And so, even though I’m kind of cognitively aware of the things that make a book cover good, there’s a big difference between cognitively aware of them and choosing a path that, when you get to the end, you have that thing.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
You may think… You’re like, “Here are the issues involved,” and then you may think that you have plotted out a course that will get you there. But no, like, that is not true. You have not done that at all. What you’ve done instead is made a colossal error.
Jeff:
Okay. So what we can say is it’ll probably be out. If it is not, you can search for “No Imperfections Noted”, right?
Casey:
“No Imperfections Noted” is the name of the book and is available on Amazon for sure.
Jeff:
Anyway…
Casey:
But I am 99% certain that…
Jeff:
It will be [ singled up ]…
Casey:
Because this will be… 3 weeks from today, this will air, basically…
Jeff:
Yes.
Casey:
Sorry, 3 weeks from tomorrow. It should be up on Kindle Singles. And one other nice feature of this is you can read the book for free if you are an Amazon Prime member which basically all my friends, including you, are…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Because you all like to have your free deliveries and all…
Jeff:
I get all my shit.
Casey:
I’m not even an Amazon Prime member. So you who’s like Mr. Semi-96 Bananas Overnight or whatever the fuck…
Jeff:
Wait, so Prime lets you read it for free. Do you get any money for those situations?
Casey:
Yeah.
Jeff:
Oh, okay. Awesome.
Casey:
Do not feel bad… If you’re somebody who’s trying to support me, do not feel bad about using the Prime lending library for free. I get…
Jeff:
Go to the Prime, yeah.
Casey:
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So basically, anyone who wants to read the book, [ who has the ] Amazon Prime thing, you can…
Jeff:
Do it for Casey.
Casey:
No, just read it… If you’re interested in reading it, go and read it. Do not do it… You do not have to do it to try and support me because like I was saying, you can’t find much money as an author. It’s just not possible.
Jeff:
Yeah, that is true.
Casey:
So do not worry about that, at all.
Jeff:
That is true.
Casey:
But if you want to read the book…
Jeff:
Yes.
Casey:
You don’t even have to pay for it. It is a borrow-able thing.
Jeff:
Right. This is… Yes, the making money thing is very… It’s funny to me. Dawn’s going through a thing where she’s writing a book that came from the popular blog…
Casey:
Yes, she is.
Jeff:
And so, seeing those… And she did do the book agent…
Casey:
Yes.
Jeff:
Go to the publisher. The publisher is publishing it, has an assigned editor, does the whole book thing…
Casey:
Yeah, yeah. She did the full pipeline.
Jeff:
She went full pipeline.
Casey:
Yes, she did.
Jeff:
And there’s something in the back you’re… [ My head always about doing that ] where you’re like, “Oh, this is how people actually make money writing is going through that path.”
Casey:
Oh, right.
Jeff:
It is insane…
Casey:
The opposite of that…
Jeff:
When people complain about, like, oh, the Steam royalty…
Casey:
Yeah.
Jeff:
And what a big cut Microsoft takes on Xbox 1.
Casey:
Yeah, they don’t have any idea…
Jeff:
Oh, my… You have no idea.
Casey:
No idea.
Jeff:
Like, starting out at 70% is so laughable as an author.
Casey:
Yeah.
Jeff:
It’s like if you get double digits to start, you are amazing… You have the best contract there is.
Casey:
Right, right.
Jeff:
And there are literally a hundred reasons why they can pay you less.
Casey:
Right, yeah.
Jeff:
For things like, “Because we want to…” I mean, it’s like, we had a sale and like, okay this… We want to get rid of them to make a new run.
Casey:
Yeah. Right.
Jeff:
They can do so much shit. And yeah, unless you literally are Stephen King, nobody makes money. It’s like…
Casey:
Yes.
Jeff:
Certainly for Dawn, living in Manhattan, it’s completely ridiculously. There’s like, no…
Casey:
Yeah, you know, you can’t…
Jeff:
No, it doesn’t cover…
Casey:
Well, but for… Okay. And so, for Dawn, though, it’s totally fine because she’s doing it for exposure. I mean, she’s an actress.
Jeff:
Yeah, yeah. Right, right. She’s doing it for another reason.
Casey:
She doesn’t give a shit about…
Jeff:
No, no, no, totally…
Casey:
Making money on the book, the important part is getting the name out.
Jeff:
Yeah, totally.
Casey:
That’s fine.
Jeff:
The separate thing in my mind was just thinking about books as a money-making endeavor…
Casey:
Yeah, no. It’s a disaster.
Jeff:
It’s, like, a disaster.
Casey:
Well, yeah. And I think that’s totally true. But it’s also… It’s why I feel like Amazon is actually doing a really good thing with this just because you actually do have a chance to make some money. If I wasn’t a programmer, if you get on Kindle Singles and you’re relatively popular on there, you actually can make a living.
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
And if you look at the number of copies that I might sell on Kindle Singles… And when I say “make a living” and you translate that over to the same number of sales of a book where you went through an agent and a publisher…
Jeff:
Oh, yeah.
Casey:
You would not make a living.
Jeff:
Yeah, yeah. Right.
Casey:
They have drastically reduced that bar because you may look and you go, “Okay. I can do a 30,000-word thing. I can make let’s say $25,000,” which I think is their average on Kindle Singles, right, or something like that. If you take that where you’re making 70%. . . You’re getting $25,000…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Cut that down to 10 or 20%. . .
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
That is not a living wage anymore for writing 30,000 words, right?
Jeff:
Exactly.
Casey:
And so, when you look at what Amazon is bringing to the table there. And you know, I’m pessimistic. So when I look at it, I go, “Yeah, it’s probably ain’t gonna last. Once Amazon has more power in that industry, they will start reducing it and it will get worse and worse and worse, you know…” And so, I’m not optimistic about that. But when you look at the situation just at the moment…
Jeff:
Right, the snapshot’s good…
Casey:
Whatever you think about Amazon, there is no question that at the moment, they are doing a very nice thing for authors because there is nowhere else you can go and have this kind of treatment because even just going through the standard channels and getting a great deal, getting Stephen King’s deal…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You won’t make anywhere near the profit margin that you’re making on this. And so, your readership has to be sky high before you’re looking at money, you know… You know, in order to live…
Jeff:
Right. But what you’re saying is that Google Play is so good, it’ll make up for those… Yeah. Did you ever manage to get your book on Google Play?
Casey:
Yes. So… Well, okay. So we can talk… I guess we’ve got about 8 minutes left here.
Jeff:
Yeah. We can talk about the technical…
Casey:
I can talk some shop… So basically, the way ebooks work is they’re broken down into a couple different formats, most of which are basically the same.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
So what it amounts to is bastardized HTML.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
So if you thought HTML on CSS were bad, welcome to book publishing. Now, the best part about this is you already had a format that was called PDF. Worked just fine, right?
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
Unfortunately, what they wanted to do (and I can see why they wanted to do this) is when this first kick started…
Jeff:
Reformat…
Casey:
When they first came out with E-ink devices, they wanted to be able to reformat. Now, there are valid reasons to want to do this.
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
The reason you want to do this is because you want to offer a value ad which is that if you buy this E-reader and you are, let’s say, hard of sight or… Sorry, nearsighted or farsighted, whatever the fuck it is, right, and you can’t see, you could make the font size larger.
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
For the elderly or whatever the fuck. You know, everyone’s eyesight goes eventually.
Jeff:
And this is all before iPad so like…
Casey:
All before iPads, blablabla…
Jeff:
The dragging, all that, wasn’t on the… Really thought about…
Casey:
So they were like, “Okay, we need to make this reflow. The text needs to be able to be dynamically reflowed because we need to be able to change the font sizes, blablablablabla…” So I can see that being a legit decision. I don’t know that that’s why they made that decision, mind you, but I can see that being a legitimate decision. But what you ended up with, unfortunately, is a bunch of half-assed hacks that are basically piggy-backed on top of HTML. It’s like HTML with restrictions, basically.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Like, “Here are the things you can do and the other things you’re not allowed to do.” So that would be bad sort of already because one of the things… And you know, I am far from [inaudible 54:28] in this field. I am not the kind of person who’s like, “I need to smell the binding of the book and I need the musty odor…”
Jeff:
Right, right.
Casey:
Like, I don’t need to feel the pages. I’m not that guy.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
On the other hand, I think it is absolutely undeniable in every industry… I don’t care which one you’re talking about, whether it’s books or anything else, that presentation matters.
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
The only reason Apple is a popular brand, okay, is because they get this. They give you the beautiful experience. They cared about what the art looks like on the screen. I mean, it’s really hard to deny that no matter how technologically advanced we are talking about, presentation matters.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So if you are someone who thinks that a book is just the words in the book, I’ve got news for you — Typography is an art and it matters. It matters so much that I guarantee you you will feel like you are reading a more refined book if it has 5 small caps words at the beginning of every chapter. Do the experiment yourself if you don’t believe me. It looks beautiful. And when you open that first chapter and there’s that small caps words and then it goes… It’s this thing that ties you in to centuries of typography experience. And you go, “I am reading a real book now.”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And when you take all that away, it just feels cheaper, right?
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And so, unfortunately, basically what you had when this ebook stuff started was you didn’t actually have sort of the people who understand typography and typesetting. They weren’t the ones who made the formats. They were, I guess, just startups who thought that E-reading was the future.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
They’re right, I think. They were right to be in that space and good on them for being first movers. Unfortunately, they didn’t hire brilliant graphic designers and typesetters to come in and go, “What do we need to make this look great.”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Because there’s no excuse for not looking great. No matter how shitty the E-ink device, the resolution was there to make it look decent.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Okay? It was. It wasn’t about that. The device capabilities were there. It was the format that was busted. So what ends up happening is when you build an ebook, it’s basically about you, much like it is oftentimes today in the web author where it’s about you fighting the format to try and get the pages to come out looking something like a professional typesetting job. And usually, you will fail. But it’s a question of coming close enough.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So I’ll give you a classic typesetting example, right, because I’ve already thrown it out there. So small caps at the beginning of the paragraph — very traditional, 4-5 words small capped, that’s a very traditional typesetting thing. It really looks sharp. You don’t even notice it anymore when you read a book but it’s in a lot of books you read. That’s how sharp it is, right, it’s beautiful. That’s one of many of these things. So one of the things, typographically speaking, about small caps… And this is obvious when you think about it but if you don’t know what you’re doing and you just are throwing out an E-reader, you don’t think about it. You’re not a typesetter. It wasn’t your job. It’s that when you have fonts, there is a thickness of the stroke of the font that doesn’t vary across the fonts. So when I look at a typeface…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Unless it is a specialty typeface, the stem on an “I” is the same width as the stem on the “T” and it’s not like… I’m right, right?
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
And when the width of strokes vary, they vary precisely and in ways that make sense. They seraph out at the end on a seraph font. They narrow… Like, if you have O’s that narrow in places, that’s often repeated on the Q. You know, things like this. There’s a lot of visual language there…
Jeff:
That’s going on…
Casey:
Again, centuries of experience that’s happened here that have arrived at certain typefaces that we find satisfying. Okay. So if you want to make small caps, small caps isn’t capital letters shrunk down.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
The reason it’s not is because then all the widths will be too thin compared to your regular letters. So if you want to make these on a Kindle, you can’t because they only have one font and the font doesn’t include small caps. So the only way to do it is to use a smaller font size with capital letters and the shit’s too thin. So when you pick up that Kindle book and you look at the first five things and you do this on iBook, they are small caps. I gave it my best shot. But you look at it and you’re like, “Kinda thin… It doesn’t have the same effect.”
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
That’s the reason. Because no typesetter in their right mind would ever have done that. It’s not done because it looks shitty. And so, if only they had had just a few clue-full typesetters there at the beginning to straighten them out on these things, they would know. Second thing, and this is just… If you think that one was nitpicking… And I admit, you can typeset books without the five. That’s just… That happens to be what I think looks good. But you know, a lot of other people have different opinions and they don’t do that. Here’s one that’s not a matter of opinion, pretty much. It’s pretty much universal among typesetters. I don’t think… There are some modernist typographers out there but I don’t think anyone has ever…
Jeff:
Gonna disagree…
Casey:
I don’t think that anyone would actually disagree with this in practice because I think it’s pretty much the most established thing you can possibly imagine, okay. And what that is is if you have fully justified margins, right…
Jeff:
Okay, sure.
Casey:
So in other words, if you are talking about a page layout where not talking about left, right, or center justified but full justification where both the left and right edges are flushed with the page…
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
There is absolutely no circumstance in which that is okay if you’re not hyphenating.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
The reason for that is because you get all sorts of shit. You get rivers. You get big spaces in between your text…
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
Because there’s no way to adjust the width of the words to make it not look ridiculous. So you need to always make sure they’re broken into consistent 3 to 4-letter pieces which big words don’t do unless they’re hyphenated, right? Kindle doesn’t support hyphenation.
Jeff:
Not even hinted hyphenation, not like with the invisible dashes in HTML?
Casey:
That’s the thing. So that’s all you want, right, and in fact, you don’t want them to auto-hyphenate.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
I’m happy they did not auto-hyphenate.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You want to be able to put in soft hyphens. And soft hyphens are just a thing that the word breaking [inaudible 60:55] knows he can use to split up words into smaller things, right?
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
Of course, no soft hyphens. Happy birthday, guys, right? And so basically, they’ve given you what is guaranteed… A tool set that is guaranteed to produce an amateur typeset.
Jeff:
I see.
Casey:
An amateur typesetting. It’s really unfortunate. And to be clear, Amazon isn’t actually to blame this. It’s not their fault.
Jeff:
It’s just the format, right?
Casey:
No, it’s not even their format.
Jeff:
No, no, no. It’s not their format, yeah.
Casey:
They bought Mobi Pocket. It’s Mobi Pocket’s fucking fault.
Jeff:
I see.
Casey:
So Amazon is just a book distributer. They bought the ebook division from somebody else, the actual ebook device thing. And that is the problem.
Jeff:
I see.
Casey:
And so, if those Mobi Pocket people had just had some typesetters, we would’ve been fine.
Jeff:
And they never updated this?
Casey:
So the problem…
Jeff:
Or you can’t do that with old devices?
Casey:
Yeah, that’s the problem. So basically… I really don’t know… This is 2 years old knowledge or 3 years old knowledge at this point. So I’m assuming… I’m hoping, I guess let’s say…
Jeff:
[ It’s all going ] PDF, I would assume by now…
Casey:
I don’t…
Jeff:
Because like, pinch to zoom and stuff just makes it like…
Casey:
But they’re not.
Jeff:
Really?
Casey:
No.
Jeff:
That’s interesting.
Casey:
So I would hope that maybe there’s a partial solution at this point. But as with everything else, the competition just isn’t there.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
I mean, you know, I could rant about how Amazon should go make book beautiful or whatever. But at some level, the bottom line is they don’t have competition.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
So realistically speaking, I’m talking about them just doing us a fucking favor. Like, that’s what we’re talking about here because there isn’t someone breathing down their necks who’s shipping beautiful books…
Jeff:
There is…
Casey:
And forcing them to compete. So at some level, they’re like, “We’d rather just maintain backwards capability. We’d rather you just be able to use your old devices and not have potentially different versions and all this stuff,” and on and on.
Jeff:
I just don’t know how they would do things like “Infinite Jest” and stuff which is the presentation is very important and the way the footnotes work.
Casey:
That’s true. Okay. So here’s one thing you can do or at least it’s my understanding…
Jeff:
Like parametric footnotes?
Casey:
It’s my understanding that you can do it and I guess I don’t really know. My understanding is that if you are willing to ship not actually on Kindle…
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
But just on new… On Fire and up…
Jeff:
Oh, okay.
Casey:
Right?
Jeff:
Then you get…
Casey:
Then, I think you can just use HTML5. There just is an HTML5 render or mostly subset of it or something like that. I remember seeing announcements about that.
Jeff:
I got ya.
Casey:
So it’s possible that basically, if you just are willing to forego a certain class of devices, which unfortunately I think does constitute quite a bit of readers is the problem.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And again, this is basically an adoption problem. If you’re just talking about people who have iPads, no fucking problem.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
The problem is a lot of readers who are serious readers who comprise the audience of literature, especially… What’s the word I’m looking for… Literary fiction…
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
Which is a very small genre… Like, you’re talking about a small segment of the market. It’s not sci-fi, right?
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
It’s not the wider genre fiction stuff. I don’t think you can afford, like, “Infinite Jest”, I don’t think you can afford to say, “Yeah, okay. This book sold 100,000 copies total or something. We’re gonna let 50,000 of the people [ trying ] to read it can’t read it on their Kindle.” That’s not really acceptable. If you’re talking about something that’s sold 10 million copies like Harry Potter or 100 million copies or however much it sold, fine. Fuck them. Who cares if they can’t read it on the Kindle. But that’s not the…
Jeff:
It’s just weird because there are books that are popular, “Infinite Jest”, “House of Leaves”…
Casey:
Dude, but “House of Leaves” probably sold fucking 50,000 copies.
Jeff:
Yeah, maybe.
Casey:
I mean, seriously.
Jeff:
But I mean… Yeah, I guess you just have to scale everything by the fact of, like, are they…
Casey:
Books just aren’t… Literary fiction is just really narrow.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
All fiction is narrow but literary fiction especially. And the “Infinite Jest”s of the world are not only at large but they’re not even big. Most people haven’t read “Infinite Jest”.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
You know? So it isn’t like a big… It isn’t like a sort of crossover literary movie like a “Schindler’s List”, like it’s an adult topic but everyone saw it. It’s not that. “Infinite Jest” is still the smallest fraction of people who read that book, you know.
Jeff:
Right.
Casey:
And so that’s just the way it is.
Jeff:
Crazy.
Casey:
So the moral of the story is… We have to wrap up the moral of the story of this Jeff & Casey Show. Write sci-fi. Write some shit with elves and shit…
Jeff:
Sci-fi and fantasy.
Casey:
Bow and arrow is good these days. Bow and arrow is in. Everything with bow and arrow is good.
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
Wizard, boy wizard is great.
Jeff:
Yeah, girl wizard.
Casey:
Girl wizard…
Jeff:
Yeah.
Casey:
No one’s done girl wizard. Where’s girl wizard?
Jeff:
Yep.
Casey:
You could be girl wizard.
Jeff:
I feel like there’s girl wizard probably.
Casey:
I’m sure there’s hundreds of girl wizards. They just haven’t broken through.
Jeff:
They just…
Casey:
Haven’t had their breakout girl wizard yet.
Jeff:
The Young Adult just in general…
Casey:
YA. YA, Jeff.
Jeff:
It is way bigger than everything else because, like, adults now read Young Adult stuff primarily…
Casey:
Yeah. That’s true.
Jeff:
Alright. Well, yes, look for the movie, “No Imperfections Noted”.
Casey:
The movie?
Jeff:
The movie rights.
Casey:
There’s no movie.
Jeff:
There’ll be a movie.
Casey:
There’s no movie.
Jeff:
Alright, look for the book.
Casey:
There’s just a book.
Jeff:
And you can send us an email at Podcast…
Casey:
Podcast@MollyRocket.com.
Jeff:
No, it’s not. It’s Podcast@. . .
Casey:
Oh, wait. No, it is Podcast@MollyRocket.com.
Jeff:
Yeah, that’ll work, too.
Casey:
It will work, too. That’s what we used to say.
Jeff:
Okay.
Casey:
It’s Podcast@JeffAndCaseyShow.com.
Jeff:
That’s right.
Casey:
How did I forget we have a vanity. We’ve had a vanity for so long now.
Jeff:
Did you just…
Casey:
I probably forgot.
Jeff:
You just forgot.
Casey:
I just forgot, yes. Podcast@JeffAndCaseyShow.com.
Jeff:
Send us an email, that’s right. And then, we will see you next week…
Casey:
Yes.
Jeff:
And we’ll catch on McGruff, for sure.
Casey:
Oh, McGruff the Crime Dog. That’s right. I’m sorry I went through this big, long thing about books…
Jeff:
We’ll put it at the top of the file.
Casey:
McGruff the Crime Dog was the order of the day and I didn’t even address it. I’m sorry, everyone. Hopefully, next week McGruff the Crime Dog… We’ve got so much to say. It’s been festering. We’ve got a ton of stuff. So we’ll talk to you soon.
Jeff:
Alright. Thanks, everybody.
Casey:
Bye.
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casey muratori
the jeff and casey show - season 4 - episode 21
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