As of this week, my novel City of Magi is now feature complete! It ended up clocking in at 1040 pages (271090 words), which means I've got a lot of hatchet work to do on it before it's ready to go out to an editor.
Special thanks to Meredith Mansfield for all her amazing help with reviews, and thanks to everyone here for the dozens of questions and conversations that have helped me shape my work.
I'm going to take a little bit of a break and epub a few shorter works before I start to polish/debug this one (which won't be epubbed unless years go by and it looks like no agents are biting).
Yeah... that... that kind of just happened. I know I've got to cut it down. I've got plenty of places where I can do that. Lots of people keep telling me to just break it up into a series, but I was already planning it to be a series, and... well... there's not a good place to stop in the middle. It actually has structure, I think.
Posts: 499 | Registered: May 2008
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My view as a reader is that books are properly as long as they need to be, no longer and no shorter. I very much disagree with cutting simply to make a wordcount goal. And if I really like the book, why would I want to leave it any sooner than necessary?
Yeah, publishers have Handy Sizes that are economical for them. Is that really doing the reader a service? Well, it may do your wallet a service, heh.
That said, often a high wordcount is just surplus verbiage, and I don't mean needless scenes, I mean stuff like my fave example, using "would be able to" when in fact you meant "could". And a particular peeve of mine, tacking "to me" and "to them" onto the end of observations, as if we don't know whose POV we're in. 99% of those can go away.
Wow, congratulations! I have to admit being jealous as well though. I'm only 20 thousand words in to mine and the end looks very far away--it must have felt fantastic to write 'The End' when you got there
Good luck with cutting it down and if you ever need someone to look over the first few chapters to give a fresh view feel free to keep me in mind.
I'm assuming that was your first one so its always nice to finish one esp. your first.
But as to the length, My first novel was 320,000 words. But instead of using a hatchet on it, I turned it into a trilogy.
If your e-publishing it, as it sounds, that length could be okay as someone has already said here and as I have heard from other sources but I don't think it would be bad to split it into two or three books either. I have read trilogies that read like they were originally one book. Not sure how that works on epub but it has worked the traditional way. Traditional publishers may not like First books to be trilogies but some have been known to buy them anyway and it could always by your second book bought. If you go that way.
Congratulations. I am so far from even writing a novel.
As to the length, a 1k page book is awesome. Battlefield Earth and the Stand are both 1k page books, and i loved them. As far as what is standard now, 300-400 pages seem to be the target size for most novels published. I've been reading a lot of older sf work that my dad bought a long time ago, and most of them are only 100-200 pages long.
How you want to publish it is up to you and the publisher. chop it up, or leave it whole, just remember the audience to whom you are intending to read it.
@Wordcaster You are right that the Stand was cut in its first release. I have only read the uncut version of it. I failed to mention that in my earlier post.
Posts: 53 | Registered: Dec 2009
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I'm not saying that there isn't room for some trimming.
However, it's a very, very good story. (I've read all of it.)
Okay, it's length may make it more difficult, but not impossible.
THE NAME OF THE WIND was Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel. It's 700 pages and the story won't even be finished until the third book (still unnamed afaik) comes out in a couple of years. Between THE NAME OF THE WIND and THE WISE MAN'S FEAR, the story is currently 1700 pages long and nothing has been resolved. Heck, we haven't even gotten to the climax, yet. Or found out why the whole thing is called THE KINGKILLER CHRONICLE. (Aside, I really hope that the king he kills turns out to be Ambrose.)
Of course, Rothfuss had won Writers of the Future with a short story that was basically an extract from his novel. There might be a lesson in there.
Thanks so much for all the love, fellow Hatrackers. I promise I'm not going to hack away at my manuscript indiscriminately - I know I just need to trim and smooth. I'm of the opinion that everything I write has a little bit of wasted space; the tough part is figuring out where you're "enhancing" and where you're "dithering."
I know that there are lots of great thousand page books. I suspect, though, that when I go to publishers, I'll have slightly less clout that one S. King. I know there's a target length that they look for, and while I doubt if I'll ever fit into that target (I've heard 100K to 150K as well), I'm hoping not to be more than double the target.
I actually didn't get the satisfaction of writing "The End" because I didn't write the last chapter last. It actually took me the better part of a day before I realized that the chapter I had sent off to Meredith was the last of the holes I had to plug before the whole thing was, in theory, complete.
Re: History - I know it's much too long, but I don't plan on epubbing City of Magi unless I run into so many road blocks I just don't see it happening the normal way. I think epub is the future and all, but I still dream of seeing my name on a bookstore shelf. And I'd love to have something to sign, even if only one person shows up to a signing. I will, however, be epubbing some other stuff, probably before I get back to editing City of Magi. Look for Those Who Die Young - Issue #1 and Joyriders - Issues #1 & #2 on Kindle/Nook/Smashwords in the next month or two.
Re: Meredith - Kvothe has got to kill Ambrose. I'll be very upset with Rothfuss if it ends up being someone else. I'm just worried about Denna. I don't see her making it to the end of day three - she just has "tragic character" written all over her.
I went back to check my first four novels cause I was sure I beat that, but I bow in homage. I wasn't half that, must have just been my margins etc boosting the pagecount.
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When it comes to epubbing, i kind of think that the brick stores will look to see what's selling on on the ereaders to know what they should have in paper form on their shelves in the future. reading some of the blogs about how much money is being made from epubbing has shown me how much money there is in it to be made, but that how tall that ceiling is, we don't know yet.
Posts: 53 | Registered: Dec 2009
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quote: When it comes to epubbing, i kind of think that the brick stores will look to see what's selling on on the ereaders to know what they should have in paper form on their shelves in the future. reading some of the blogs about how much money is being made from epubbing has shown me how much money there is in it to be made, but that how tall that ceiling is, we don't know yet.
You can sell to both, at least to independent brick stores, there is POD and there are selling techniques to get them interested. Of course it works better with more novels for sell but it has to start somewhere
Twice the expected size huh? I know some above have suggested splitting it into a trilogy, however, that comes with its own baggage for the agent/publisher - if the first doesn't sell, then the next two wont. However, splitting into two can probably be accomplished if you have the following
1. A major subplot that can be resolved near the middle and enhanced to take equal weighting as the main plot throughout this section.
2. A natural pause near the centre which can act as a change in direction (e.g. at the end of the 1st LOTR movie, the group split up after the climax of the battle with the orcs) or major twist in the MC's journey (e.g. Luke Skywalker finding he was Darth Vader's son). This would still probably need significant resolution for some of the characters, particularly the finish of a critical change in a key character (e.g. Luke Skywalker realising that he didn't have the ability to take on the dark side alone just yet).
While there are books that have completely unresolved endings because they were always intended as a trilogy/series, this equates to a much larger risk, and therefore increases the probability of rejection by agents and publishers. Of course, a really great story can bypass this, but if you are that great a story teller, then why not tell it in such a way that minimises this risk?