The Secret Me - An Author FAQ

How many TSM journals are currently available for sale?
I've released 14 in all, and plan to release at least 3 more.

Which TSM book have you personally spent the most time with?
It would have to be "A Film Fanatic's Record". The rating list in that book is massive, so I find that I'm constantly tuning to it; sometimes even just keeping it on the coffee table to write in the moment I finish watching a movie I haven't seen before. And seeing those pages slowly fill up has been very gratifying.

Which TSM book do you think makes the best gift?
Unless you know the person in enough detail to make a judgment call, I'd recommend "A Questionnaire Journal 2", because it gives you a taste of what to expect from all of the other TSM books. Clearly though, if you know a lot about someone then the decision should be pretty easy to reach. For example: If you're buying something for a video game fan, then getting them a copy of the video game edition of "A Couch Potato's Take" would be a no-brainer.

What's next for the TSM series?
While I've plenty of ideas, I'm currently finishing work on "A Fantasy Manifesto" and the teen edition of "A Questionnaire Journal". I would love to create a second volume of "A Rated Survey" as well.

What are your thoughts on the negative TSM reviews relating to explicit content?
I can't knock users who are unhappy with their experiences. My tendency is to blame myself when this happens. That being said, a very old version of "A Questionnaire Journal" appears to still be circulating. My original publisher had some issues with distributing an incorrect version I was using as a template, and continued distributing it for months after I attempted to correct the issue. That's a big part of why I began publishing with Createspace. And my experience with them has been flawless thus far. I can only apologize to those users who received a product I had no intention of ever selling. So some of the negative things I see in reviews aren't reflective of what you'll currently get when buying direct from amazon. But I'm sure most of their complaints are valid for what they have in front of them. These bad reviews do seem to have created some negative assumptions for new users though, who I still find complaining of adult content in the current edition. And the current edition is almost as mild as I can make it while keeping things interesting. There's also a statement at the front of each book, saying that these aren't intended for children. I'm interested in bettering the experience as much as is possible, but don't know what else I could possibly do to ensure that these complaints of adult content stop showing up in reviews.

Will there ever be a TSM book full of adult content?
Most likely. The plan is there, and I know that many individuals want something along these lines. But my experience has indicated that most people won't actually write in that sort of book. It appears to be used at social functions as a game of sorts instead. And, since I'm already involved in creating games as well, I may move in that direction, as opposed to releasing an adult-themed TSM book. A TSM board game, perhaps? I just don't know at this point. If you're big on that idea, then check out my free-to-download game "Humans Against Everything", by visiting humansagainsteverything.com.

Which TSM book have you found is easiest to fill out?
"A Rated Survey". No writing out your answers or compiling lists. Just circling numbers from the first page to the last. It's a streamlined and very casual experience; aimed at giving loads of insightful information about us all in a short amount of time.

Which part of the series is currently best suited to children?
For young children, I wouldn't wholeheartedly recommend any of these journals. But either of the two "A Shared Life Log" journals are great for teens. They are fun social tools in my opinion; perfect for young people. Not that they aren't also fun for we adults as well!

Which TSM journal promotes the most interaction with other people?
The two I just mentioned are clear winners here. But "A Companion's Relic" can be fun for groups as well; as it requires a group in order to complete. Just keep in mind that the naming edition is a solo experience.

How can someone experience a little bit of all TSM journals at one time?
Again, give "A Questionnaire Journal 2" a shot if you want some of everything.

Do you ever reuse material in any of your journals?
No. I take great pains to ensure that every TSM release contains completely unique material. So even "A Questionnaire Journal 2" won't give you material you'd find in the journals they're meant to emulate. The teen edition will, however, recycle some material from other titles to a certain extent when it is finally released. Otherwise, everything is always as fresh to the user as I can make it. In other words, you're safe buying them all.

Where can I buy these journals for the lowest price?
The lowest I know of is on Amazon.com. They often deeply discount the prices I set, deliver faster than any other company I've tried, and will ship for free if you order $25 worth of stuff (or are a Prime member). Also, though it doesn't pertain to the TSM series, if you buy a physical copy through Amazon of a book I have available on the Kindle, then the Kindle version is completely free to download at any time thereafter.

What makes the TSM journals different from other journal books?
I initially began work on these journals because I couldn't find their content in the other journals I was filling out. So these are really just meant to fill some gaps in the journal market. I recently read one of the reviews on a TSM book which compared it to a myspace survey. And, although it wasn't meant as a compliment, I think that's pretty accurate. I want these journals to be the kinds of things which highlight every aspect of our lives; documenting our journeys, if you will. But I also want them to be fun. And that's a road which some users, understandably, aren't interested in walking. If you want someone to ask you only comfortable questions, then my journals probably aren't for you. The TSM series is meant to make an open book of you.

Are you associated with "The Secret Me Book"?
I get asked this pretty often, and the answer is no. Unless my name is on the product as a contributing author, I had no part in it. I wish I could at least give an opinion on that particular title, but I've yet to actually lay my hands on it. Looks rather nice! But no, it isn't part of my journal series.

How can I submit an idea for the TSM series?
Just visit the "Contact" section of shanewindham.com and shoot me an email. I can't promise a response, but I read everything I'm sent.

What else are you currently working on?
My first novel and my next poetry collection are at the top of my list for now, as far as books go. Beyond that, I'm waist deep in creating table games and furthering my online t-shirt business. Eventually I'd like to get back to writing and recording music. And these are only a few of the crazy avenues I'm pursuing. My website gives better detail on all of my random projects. So check shanewindham.com for more information.

Will the TSM journals ever be released in a hardback format?
Probably not. Don't get me wrong, I think they'd look good and potentially have a longer shelf life. But hardbacks are costly when it comes to distribution. Plus my current publisher doesn't support the medium. If they ever do, I would consider it; so long as the end cost is fair to consumers.

Where can I obtain free TSM books?
Goodreads! I often host free book giveaways there. No catches or strings either. Just enter any giveaway for a chance to win. Plenty of other authors are doing the same thing on that site as well. So do yourself a favor, and register with them today.

Have you thought about creating a TSM website?
I certainly have. And it will eventually exist. My vision of its function at the moment though extends beyond my know-how. So I will likely have to ask for help in setting it up. I would like for it to work as a social experience in many ways. The idea is that you can fill out any portion of the books at any time for free, then share them with friends or even strangers. It will need to have a comparison option, so users can gauge their compatibility with others based upon their own responses. And I'd also enjoy giving the ability to compile and print your own books, using your own answers, those of friends, maybe even celebrities. In any case, I am definitely paying the idea some serious attention.

How do you decide on the final content in your TSM books?
I usually place a draft in front of a few very different individuals and see what they like and what they don't like about the journal. Then I try accounting for the casual audience to ensure the product is something most people can enjoy; cutting things which are too personal or specific to things such as gender, race, etc.

Why wouldn't my submission for a particular title make it into the final product?
Usually because it just didn't fit. That could mean there really wasn't room, or it could mean that it just wasn't appropriate for the general idea behind that title. Still, every idea submitted to me goes into a database, and is always present as a 'possible' for use in future titles. So don't think your idea was counted out if you don't see it immediately. It may just be better suited to something else I'm working on.

What other kinds of books have you published?
Plenty of poetry, as I've been writing the stuff from a pretty early age. Of the 27 books I have in print, 11 of them are poetry collections. Most of the rest are TSM journals. But I also have a collection of table games in print. These involve only your basics, like cards, dice, and dominoes. That book is called "Table Games", and is aimed at being family friendly. The games I'm producing online however are definitely the kind of thing you want the youngsters avoiding.

What journals, not counting your own, would you recommend?
My favorites are "What I Love About You" by Kate Marshall and "How to Love Me" by Ali Davis. There are plenty of other awesome and unique journals around, but the two I just mentioned have been longstanding favorites of mine. What can I say? I'm a sucker for love.

What kind of books are you interested in eventually publishing?
I'll soon be attempting to write full time, so the fiction ball will certainly be rolling. Among my smaller passions though are childrens stories, comic strip collections, and even cookbooks. At this point, nothing is really off the table for me.

Which of your journals do you like the least?
Rough question. Clearly I'm pretty partial to all of them. The one which sees the least amount of attention from me though is "A List Lover's Keepsake". It's not that I dislike the journal. Not by a long shot. I just find it difficult to reach ten entries on certain lists, or keep it under ten entries. Also, it was the second TSM journal I published; after which I really began pushing a ridiculous amount of material out for the series. And that journal just hit the back-burner for me.

What's the biggest surprise you've had when it comes to sales in the series?
To be honest, I didn't expect "A Biased Perspective" to see much in the way of sales. The book is full of nothing but writing prompts on some very touchy subjects. Although I knew I was publishing something I was personally interested in filling out, it simply wasn't apparent to me that people would grab for this journal the way they have.

Do you have any regrets where the TSM series is concerned?
Somewhat. My very first questionnaire journal was something titled "You're Stranger Than You Think". I had begun making long lists of questions, ranging from tame to entirely too adult. When I started asking friends to throw questions at me as well (usually while intoxicated) the question list took a very taboo turn. And those questions ultimately formed "You're Stranger Than You Think". Part of me wishes I'd never published that title, because I was too uninformed at the time to realize that I couldn't just make it go away at will. Plus the aforementioned draft of "A Questionnaire Journal" that's resulted in most of my negative reviews was just an early TSM draft containing chunks of "You're Stranger Than You Think". Sadly, there's another book I put out in the seemingly infinite stupidity of my youth titled "The MySpace Blog Book". It was only a collection of my blog posts from those MySpace days. But, much like MySpace itself, the thoughts which shaped those blog posts are now laughably childish to me. Nonetheless, these mistakes have only made me stronger at producing quality products at the outset.

What's been the best piece of feedback you've had about the series so far?
I live for the personal thank you messages which tend to hit my inbox. I've had a number of people attempt to make me feel ashamed of writing these journals; as though my true interest is cashing in on others' vanity. But the selfish truth is that I write journals that I want to fill out for myself. That other people use them to document their lives and are actually able to tell their own stories using one of my pet projects is a very unexpected bonus. The success of these journals is giving me greater artistic freedom by the day. And so I hope that everyone who ever purchases one of my books knows that they contribute to my ability to create every new book I release. They keep me going with their kind words and contributions. And I get to chase my dreams as a result. There is little more that I could hope for. My fans are amazingly warm individuals. And I will keep trying to give as much as I've been given.

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