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Assessing interest in a speed-cubing book after losing my work

Book on CFOP and the cube, basics to general mastery and beyond

  • I would pay for a physical book

    Votes: 29 55.8%
  • I would consider paying $10+ for an e-book

    Votes: 4 7.7%
  • I would only pay <$10 for an e-book

    Votes: 5 9.6%
  • I would prefer these efforts on YouTube; I wouldn't read the book

    Votes: 15 28.8%
  • I would prefer a series of articles

    Votes: 9 17.3%
  • I don't agree with selling speed-cubing resources

    Votes: 4 7.7%
  • I don't care

    Votes: 4 7.7%
  • I like cats

    Votes: 24 46.2%

  • Total voters
    52
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RowanKinneavy
Thread starter #1
Hallo speedsolving.com,

Over the past 12 months I've been piecing together my thoughts on speedsolving (the 3x3) from a variety of different angles - direct advice on CFOP itself (ground-up to high level); my research on deliberate practice and expertise; thoughts about flow; cubing and culture, vice-versa; psychology, personality and speedcubing; analogies between philosophy and cubing (and puzzle-solving more generally); probability and observer-perspective; nurturing intelligence through creativity; and what we learn about the mind from the cube in general. There are some interesting anthropological and evolutionary insights to be explored.

I feel like a trick is being missed in terms of a physical (or electronic) book on these topics - Dan Harris' book is now out-dated and quickly superseded by Internet browsing, and though Ian Scheffler's book looks interesting, it is totally different in scope.

I recently had a traumatic incident with my laptop and a leak, and since I lack basic life-skills (read: backing up my HDD), I lost a lot.

I'm asking here so that I can assess whether the interest is high enough to justify the effort in writing (and re-writing) 80-100k words. My summer break is coming up, leaving me with a lot of time for productive work.

I have several options to play with, involving brick & mortar publishers and self-publication platforms (YT & e-book). Less optimistically - a series of lower-effort (but high quality) articles on here or a website of my creation.

Please let me know your feelings in the poll. I'd appreciate your thoughts on the effort, or areas you'd like to me write about. Of course, I am aware we all want things for free - but free work will be accordingly less perfectionistic (and less broad) in effort or time. If there is a better place for this then please move it appropriately - though I'm readily up for discussion about the content ITT.
 
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#3
A poll on this website is 100% non-indicative of how successful your book would be. Serious cubers (like those that read this site) would be the least likely to buy such a book and 95% of your target market would be people with a curiosity about the cube who are not necessarily very good at it. The Rubik's cube is still a common word around the planet, and with aggressive marketing, any good book about it could be successful so long as it does not focus on how to solve the cube. If people are purely in interested in how to solve the cube I think they would most likely just watch some free videos, where videos are easier to follow than written text anyway. So if the book has a much bigger scope than just solving the cube and is geared more towards non-cubers, I think it could be successful, but in the writing industry 'successful' is a relative term and there is a big difference between a book that brings you $10K vs. $500K. Although details about how to solve the cube (in my opinion) shouldn't make up the majority of the book, it would still be nice to see a least a short chapter on different methods to solve the cube, since the average person has no understanding of that and might be curious.
 

mark49152

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mark49152
#4
Having read your posts on here I would definitely want to read your more extensive writings. I'd pay for a book. I also voted that I'd prefer a series of articles because I think that might make this kind of content more accessible. I also think the topics you describe are only really of niche interest to cubers so you shouldn't worry too much about making it friendly to non-cubers. Scheffler's book is not really comparable because that's about the world of cubing, not the art of cubing.
 
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#5
You lost 100,000 words? I don't even know where to begin my condolences.

I would probably read such a book, but I don't know that there would be a broad readership in general. It sounds like you're going for something almost academic, and the group of cubers who are also keen on cubing-related "anthropological and evolutionary insights" is, I would guess, quite small.

That said, I am -- unsurprisingly -- fascinated by the idea of books about cubing (In daydreams, I've even entertained similar writerly notions myself). I'm convinced that pretty much any subject, including cubing, will only benefit from writing about it, especially in a format that requires as much sustained dedication as a book.

You should absolutely read Ian's book, as it's far and away the best thing that's ever been written about cubing. I think if you're going to try something on a topic that's been so sparsely covered in serious writing, there's no way around reading everything that's out there. Wheras Dan Harris's book is, to my mind, more of a picture-aided guide, Ian writes narratively, and unearths many interesting, at times wonderfully weird, background stories in the process. It's also a milestone for cubing in that it shows how it can be written about: what analogies work; what personal-to-historical ratio is effective; which pieces of knowledge to presuppose and which to explain (it's especially fun when Ian, who studied English, includes literary references, in a sport that's so full of mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists). It does sound like you're not as interested in the anecdotal, chronicling side of cubing as the analytical. But I have to say that it's precisely the human-interest aspect in Ian's book that made it interesting to me (and attracts most of its readers, I would guess). Your project seems far more esoteric, and I worry that this would severely limit your readership. Though maybe this is something that all depends on things like tone, jargon, paragraph length, sentence length, etc. Depends -- would you be going for something like philosophical or criticism-style prose? Or rather something more informal (without dumbing it down)? The latter would certainly get you more readers.

As for publishing, I think self-publishing might be the way to go. You could get a small amount of print copies made, maybe through Createspace or something, and then also sell it as an e-book that's much cheaper than the print. Either way, I'd imagine a lot of promotion would be needed to get cubers interested. Ian published with a Simon & Schuster imprint, so, in terms of publicity, this would be a totally different calibre, with much more one-man work necessary.

But yes, in general, I'm intrigued.
 
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#7
I'd probably read it if you wrote it and did a good job with it. You could go the self publishing route. There are a few affordable options for that.

I know the feeling of losing lots of work. Half way through my PhD I lost almost 2 years of research in a hard drive crash. The good news is it goes way faster the second time around and you get to fix all of your mistakes.
 

ottozing

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#8
Like others have said, I would without a doubt love to read such a book as someone with both a big interest in cubing and a long history of enjoying your postings here on the forum! Obviously publicity could be an issue, but I'm sure plenty of us in the community would be willing to promote the book (Myself included)

Excited to see what comes of this whatever you choose to do with your writing :D
 
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RowanKinneavy
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A poll on this website is 100% non-indicative of how successful your book would be. Serious cubers (like those that read this site) would be the least likely to buy such a book and 95% of your target market would be people with a curiosity about the cube who are not necessarily very good at it
I think your points are sound and I will keep them in mind, thank you. That said, I would like to mention that the content is still flexible depending on medium. It is not yet worth pre-supposing *too much* about the target markets - we'll see how things shape up - though for those target markets I think you're spot on. In my ideal world I would write a Super System for cubing, but it seems any publication method will force some subset of that effort.

I also voted that I'd prefer a series of articles because I think that might make this kind of content more accessible. I also think the topics you describe are only really of niche interest to cubers so you shouldn't worry too much about making it friendly to non-cubers.
Yes, I'm still attracted to articles. At heart I prefer the open-sourcing of cube knowledge, but it's hard to invest significant time when all time is regarded as money. They will almost definitely be present in some form regardless of what I end up doing.

I may end up re-balancing niche : populist content, we'll see. Expect a PM in a month or two!

You lost 100,000 words? I don't even know where to begin my condolences.
Fortunately, only half that much - I should have specified. It's still icky to dwell on.

It does sound like you're not as interested in the anecdotal, chronicling side of cubing as the analytical. But I have to say that it's precisely the human-interest aspect in Ian's book that made it interesting to me (and attracts most of its readers, I would guess). Your project seems far more esoteric, and I worry that this would severely limit your readership. Though maybe this is something that all depends on things like tone, jargon, paragraph length, sentence length, etc. Depends -- would you be going for something like philosophical or criticism-style prose? Or rather something more informal (without dumbing it down)? The latter would certainly get you more readers.

As for publishing, I think self-publishing might be the way to go. You could get a small amount of print copies made, maybe through Createspace or something, and then also sell it as an e-book that's much cheaper than the print. Either way, I'd imagine a lot of promotion would be needed to get cubers interested. Ian published with a Simon & Schuster imprint, so, in terms of publicity, this would be a totally different calibre, with much more one-man work necessary.

But yes, in general, I'm intrigued.
Thank you, I wanted to think about this post for a while before responding. I will read Ian's book. I'd also love to read anything you'd have to write on cubing topics, it would be a pleasure. The project comes from a desire to pin down day-dreams of my own.

I am not as interested in the history, no, except as a mode to support academic/philosophical notions or connections. I'm not geared towards those inter-personal aspects as a writer, as much as I enjoy reading them. My competitions/yr stat may have something to do with this.

I have a proclivity for philosophical and esoteric topics, and I am much more comfortable thinking and writing in this way before editing with simplicity in mind. The niche-constraints you (and @efattah) mentioned may imply % limits for these topics in the project. I would like to make these things accessible to a casual reader, in a limited extent. Createspace is a good shout, I'll set about investigating concrete options.

.
In general, thanks for the kind words and interest so far. It's invigorating. Excellent points raised too. While it is unfortunate that I lost a lot of work, I'm lucky to have such a supportive bunch.
 
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#10
From what I can gather, I think you would be capable of writing the GED of cubing - now that's a book I'd pay good money for!

(Even the way Hofstadter had to basically invent new typesetting methods in order to get onto the page what he intended reminds me a little of your efforts...!)

(I also agree with most of what Cornelius has to say.)
 
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