Metapost: In Which I Let Power Go To My Head

So this is a transcript of an actual not-made-up conversation I had this week:

Work Friend: You have a blog? What do you blog about? Do you blog about work?

Ana: I don't think I could maintain the necessary detachment or coherence. I mostly blog about literature, book reviews, eReaders and some tricks I've learned about them, that sort of thing. And I've got this whole Fred-Clark-Slacktivist-Left-Behind series thing going on.

Work Friend: You've lost me. What?

Ana: Oh! Um. Fred Clark. He has this ongoing really cool deconstruction of the Left Behind series. You have to read it if you haven't. He thought it would be a good idea to take a popular series and really go through it line-by-line to deconstruct what is fundamentally wrong about it, but in a really thoughtful and humorous manner, and --

Work Friend: Oh my god, please say you're doing "Twilight".

Ana: Um...yes, I'm doing "Twilight".

Work Friend: Awesome. Is it any good?

Ana: I guess so. I like it. I have readers - which totally blows my mind.

Work Friend: You have readers?! How many?

Ana: Um. I get at least six comments on my weekly Twilight posts now, so...six?

Work Friend: No, no, for every one person that comments, there are at least ten people who also read regularly but don't feel the need to say anything.

Ana: Really? Are you sure?

Work Friend: Yep.

Now, I wasn't going to contradict Work Friend, because if there's one thing she knows, it's her social media statistics. But I also wanted some outside confirmation, so my first thought following this conversation was, I'd better check my page view stats when I get home! Alas, my egotism is surpassed by my absentmindedness, so I spent all weekend remembering that I needed to check my page stats before instantly forgetting to check my page stats because something shiny had already caught my attention in its iron grip.

Fortunately, Remember the Milk was created specifically for people like me, so I was able to retain Check page stats! in my mind long enough to create an RTM entry on my phone, and then when I was cleaning out my list this afternoon, I finally got to that line entry and it was off to the Blogger races. I knew it would only take me a minute to check my page stats, but I really should have budgeted in an extra thirty minutes for gibbering excitedly to myself.

I had 524 page views today. I mean, yes, at least half of those are from search engine spiders. And, yes, another half of what's left is almost surely my own browser obsessively refreshing every time I comment to see if anyone has responded. But, still, between the remaining page views (and the thirteen lucky followers I see on my Google Connect footer at the bottom the page), there's ample evidence available that Work Friend is right and I really have a silent following of at least twenty people.

So to the twenty people who might be reading this, let me just say: I have mathematically proven that you all are five different kinds of awesome, and if I ever have the good fortune to run into you in Real Life, I will totally buy you a cool refreshing beverage of your choice from the nearest petrol station. Thanks!

And if you don't like beverages, I'd be happy to serve you one of my many alfredo sauce recipes. I collect alfredo sauce recipes like they're Pokemon.

I also think it would be truly lovely if I could find some way to abuse this unprecedented amount of power and influence that I obviously now have. My first thought was to have all of you write the President of the United States expressing your heart-felt desire to see the Quileute werewolf crowned national animal as opposed to the American Bison who is, let's face it, much less likely to bring a girl flowers or take to her to the movies on a nice date.

But then I thought to myself, Ana, what kind of idea is that? You know perfectly well that blog activism should be performed to help people - ideally yourself and maybe some of your readers. I had to admit that I had a point, so I immediately started thinking of new ways to benefit myself and possibly my readers - ideally with 5 mouse clicks or fewer, because we're all busy people, amiright?

I must confess, I'm really loving the Twilight deconstruction posts, and from the looks of my referral logs, you hypothetical readers are too, because those posts are the ones getting the biggest hits. I told myself when I started out that I was by gum going to do all four of the official novels, and possibly the two spin-off novellas as well, and I still intend to see it through. I think the current posting rate of once-a-week is a pretty good one - it gives me just enough time to still work, breathe, play, plan ahead, and so forth, and you guys don't get tired of the material, I hope. I would like to eventually-maybe go to two posts a week, but that's probably going to require something drastic, like quitting my job or becoming addicted to espresso.

However, having said all that, I didn't go into the blog business to just write snarky and self-important commentary about Twilight - I want to write snarky and self-important commentary on lots of other things as well! There's already a one-off floating around here about Bumped and how much I enjoyed the twin symbolism within it, but I'd also like to do a few more books, and possibly some anime series (Claymore and Ergo Proxy are definitely on my deconstruction list). These planned deconstruction posts would be in addition to the Twilight posts and wouldn't mess with the weekly Twilight schedule, so if you are just here for the Twilight posts, this wouldn't really affect you one way or another - although you'd be more than welcome to click over and read through if you got bored on Saturday mornings waiting for the next Twilight post to go up.

The problem I'm running into with books, however, is that a lot of the stuff that I would like to go back and deconstruct and pick apart isn't necessarily in electronic format at the moment - and the odds of my actual deconstructing a "paper only" book are incredibly low, if only because OMG TYPING. I am a terrible transcriptionist and I rely on the search function in Calibre so much that it's not even funny.

To my utter delight, both Amazon and Barnes & Noble feature product-page buttons on books that say, basically, "Tell the publisher that if they published this book in eBook format, there's a non-zero chance that someone might buy it someday", and the button actually does seem to work, but since it's one-vote-per-account, I haven't figured out a way to abuse the system without spending the rest of my life making fake gmail accounts.

So here's my thoughts: I'd like to run a weekly feature where I spotlight a book that I'd like to see in some form of eBook (Kindle, NookBook, etc.) but for whatever reason isn't already offered in that format. In the blog post, I'll mention why I think the book would make a great eBook - either because it would be a tremendously fun book to maim in a deconstruction or because it's a genuinely good book that I think people would like - and I'll include links to the product pages where you can add your name to the "poke the publisher" pile. There's absolutely no commitment on your part to actually buy the book - the links just indicate that someone, somewhere, knows this book exists, so it probably shouldn't be thrown on the Abandonware pile yet.

Readers who want to participate will get internet hugs from me. Readers who go the extra-cool step of writing the publisher directly to inquire about the title will gain ultimate immortality (and possibly sparkly-diamond skin) by being mentioned by name in the next week's feature. And readers who don't want anything to do with this tom-foolery can avoid these posts entirely - I won't be so tactless as to point out that the last reader who didn't forward my chain letter click on the "poke the publisher" link was eaten the next day by rabid wombats.

(Super important note: If you do participate in this feature - and I hope you do - please help our case by being polite to the publisher. Please, please, please no nasty letters, nasty reviews, or nasty 'kindle bombs' on the product pages. You can catch more flies with Honey Combs than with vinegar soaked Raisin Bran, etc.)

If everyone is okay with this plan, please say so in the comments. (I will also take utter silence to be a positive sign.) If you foresee problems with this plan or if it would utterly ruin your experience with the blog, then please say so now so that I can go hide under my computer desk and weep melodramatically.


Matt Smyczynski said...

I'm just chiming in to say that I'm one of the invisible readers. I love the Twilight posts, but generally don't have anything to add to the discussion.

I'd definitely be willing to click on books to get publishers to magic them into ebooks. Not necessarily every single one, but definitely ones that sound interesting to me (it feels wrong to say "DUDE EBOOK THIS" if I wouldn't actually buy the ebook).

aligorami said...

I don't have an e-reader, nor any desire to purchase one, but I am a massive fan of your Twilight posts -- and now, also apparently a statistic (the romance!). I actually gibbered a little bit with excitement when I found them because it is totally something I always wanted to do myself but I am really lazy and also couldn't write shit on a dirty van sooo because it is conceivable that one day I will DESPERATELY DESIRE an ereader and it will be very important to have the mostest bestest AND mostest worstest books all ready for me I will totally participate!

Ana Mardoll said...

Hi, Matt! It's great to put a name and a face to one of The Invisibles!

I completely respect your decision to only click on the link if it looks like something you might read - hopefully my "Poke the Publisher" posts will describe the books so wonderfully well that you'll be able to immediately tell if your interest is piqued. :D

skymt said...

You actually have a silent following of at least 55 people. That's from Google Reader, which makes subscriber counts public. Then there's all the other feed readers to consider, plus some people who don't even use a feed reader... You're probably in triple digits even.

Ana Mardoll said...


Seriously?! Whew. 20 silent readers is good plain fun, but 55 is a lot of responsibility. I'll try not to let you all down! ;)

I did not know that Google Reader published subscription numbers. How do you find out? When I look at the main blog rss in GR (the one the rss link in the upper left hand corner redirects to), it says 2 subscribers. Which is, ah, me and Husband, I think. Haha. I wonder what feed the rest of you wild and awesome people are subscribing to??

Anyway, googling your post for more details took me to Feedburner, which looks extremely cool. They're still crunching numbers with their supercomputer (and most likely cursing me for keeping them up late on a Sunday night!) so I don't have the stats yet, but I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with. Neat!!

Darice Moore said...

Hi, I'm a silent Google reader who got here from your posts at the Slacktiverse. (I'm kinda silent there, too.) I love your Twilight deconstruction, though I suppose it makes me a complete hypocrite in that I've never read the books. (I tried. I might try again, just for fun.)

As an e-reader myself, I'd be happy to gang up with you to request e-books, if they're things I'm interested in. (I'm interested in a lot, so that leaves a lot of room for possibility.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Darice! Welcome! Internet hugs all around.

I'm rather silent at Slacktiverse, too, largely because I can never think of anything half as clever, insightful, witty, intelligent, or creative as the rest of the readership, so I just end up basking in the awesome comments. :D

I'm thrilled to have another eReader owner here! I never thought I'd like having an eReader, but now I buy special jackets just so I can carry one around with me at all times. I should really schedule an intervention for myself, but it's probably better than my old strategy of taking 3 paper books with me everywhere at all times...

Therese Norén said...

Hi! I'm a silent reader who loves your Twilight posts!

TheDreadPirateMatt said...

Not quite invisible (I have left a couple of comments), but I guess a translucent reader? Love the Twilight deconstruction, and also just bought my first ebook reader (Kobo). My wife (who has been at best a sporadic reader in the past) has now decided that she, too, would like one of these devices.

I'll be happy to start poking publishers for more ebooks (and better formatting, less DRM etc.)

"[I]f I ever have the good fortune to run into you in Real Life, I will totally buy you a cool refreshing beverage of your choice from the nearest petrol station."

Let me know next time you're in the Antipodes (specifically South Australia -- yes you have readers from all the way over here!) that beverages may flow...

Irrwisch said...

I am one of your invisible readers. As English ist not my mothertongue writing is not as easy as reading. I have got the link to your blog from a friend in Hamburg/Germany. I am living in Salzburg/Austria. It may be a little bit difficult to meet for beverages but I am very interested in your recipe for Alfredo Sauce.

I will click for interesting books although I have actually no e-reader.

Sarah Smyczynski said...

I too am one of the silent readers, and one of the 55 google reader subscribers. :) My husband is a huge slactivist left behind reader, and when he pointed me to your twilight posts, I was hooked. I freely admit to squealing in an almost teenage girl delight when I see your twilight posts pop up each week. (Though I enjoy your other posts too!)

I don't have an e-reader yet, and for a long time, I was dead set against them ... but I'm slowly warming up to them. I'll poke at books, though, because as an aspiring writer, I'm all for things that will make my odds of getting published go up. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

Welcome, Sarah!

I swear to you, eReaders are like the Borg collective - they get you when you're not looking and then you're one of us forever. :D


Welcome, Dread Pirate Matt! Good to see an Aussie here - I'll have to eat a biscuit in your honor on Anzac day! :D


Welcome, Irrwisch! In the interest of furthering Austria -- American relations, I give you this alfredo sauce recipe! This one comes from "The Best Ever Slow-Cooker" cookbook by Catherine Atkinson and I just tried it this week:

3 egg yolks
7 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
1 cup Ricotta cheese
4 Tbsp. heavy cream
3 Tbsp. butter
salt, pepper, ground nutmeg

The book recommends melting everything together and tossing it with rigatoni pasta, but I found it goes very nicely with bread, too. When heated, it almost has a stretchy, elastic consistency, but in a good way. :D

foxtrotlver9732 said...

I'm just commenting to say I'm loving your deconstruction posts as well as your reviews.
P.S. Since I just commented that means I represent 5 people right? So that means YOU JUST GAINED 5 READERS! OH MAN, NO WAY! Thats how statistics work, right?

Ana Mardoll said...


My god, I think you're right! Isn't math fun? :D

If my referral logs are to be believed, quite a few of my readers are from Slacktiverse. I think that's awesome - by following BOTH a snarky deconstruction of Left behind AND a snarky deconstruction of Twilight, we've all really shown a commitment to the snarky deconstruction concept. ;)

Orion Anderson said...

I read regularly but don't feel the need to say anything! And by speaking up, I've just called 10 more readers into being. I am now like unto the gods.

Ana Mardoll said...

Welcome, Orion! Thrilled to have you here! I just hope you're ready to take responsibility for the poor confused souls you just spawned into existence. Or are you one of those aloof deities that never answers the phone and expects everyone to slog through regardless? :D

Hyperio said...

Hyp here from Slacktiverse - I just wanted to tell you I like your deconstructions. They're insightful!

I am also looking forward to reading posts about Claymore (I prefer the manga to anime - much better in my opinion).

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