Book Length & Tour Cities
A question that comes up fairly regularly through emails and at signings is what determines the length of a book? Why are some the size of Acheron and then others, such as Fury’s story, novellas?
It reminds me of the old southern saying, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight. It’s the size of the fight in the dog.” When I write a book, I have absolutely no idea how long it’ll be at the onset and I’m often taken by surprise.
Case in point, I thought the Warrior would be one of those books that would come in really long. But as I wrote it, it ended up being the normal 102,000 words or 410 pages. A NY pubbed novel comes in on average (depending on genre) 250-400 pages (55,000-100,000 words). That’s what the publishers consider a “novel.” And for new writers, they really don’t want you going on over the 100,000 word limit. Novellas or short stories for anthologies come in usually around 100 pages or 20,000 words. In anthologies with a lot of authors, the stories are smaller such as Zeke’s story in Blood Lite or Thomas in Elemental. And then there are “gift” books that are pubbed 50,000-60,000 words (200-240 pages).
That being said, I’ve had plenty of novellas that I started to write that ended up being way too long. One Silent Night was only supposed to be 200 pages as a gift-sized book, and it ended up being over 400 (Same with Upon the Midnight Clear which came in over 300 pages instead of its 200). The Dream Hunter was supposed to be in an anthology, but by chapter two, I realized I had too much story in it for 100 pages and so it was moved to a novel. When I started Fury’s and Simon’s books, I realized they couldn’t carry a whole novel by themselves. Too much of their backstory was already out there and had I tried to fill 400+ pages, it would have been redundant and boring (two things I try never to be). I would much rather a book come in at a normal length than fill it full of unnecessary or even worse, boring details just to make it longer.
Then we have those gems such as Fang, Talon, Acheron, Nykyrian and Syn’s books which come out really, really long. Good news for the fans, but bad news for my writing schedule as that usually causes other books such as Darkness Within to be moved as I wrote too far past a deadline for the book to be brought out on time. It’s kind of a double-edged sword for all of us.
The good news is, I never, ever rush a book to be done. My philosophy is simple. I’d much rather have a book moved than bring one out and it not be the absolute best I can make it. You guys might not like the story for whatever reason, but I can always look you in the eye and say honestly, “I did my absolute best on this and I gave it my all. It was what I thought it should be, it was the length the characters told me it should be, and I am thrilled with it.”
Another question that comes up a lot and is tied to this one is the price and format of the books. Why are some hardcovers and some more than others?
As I’ve said many times in the past, I have no control over this at all. No writer does. When SMP announced Dark Side of the Moon would be hardcover, I panicked so badly that I refused to turn it in because I thought no one would pay a hardback price for one of my books. I tried everything to keep the series in mm, but I had to turn the book in due to my contract and it came out as a hardcover in spite of all my objections. I really was terrified.
I never know what price will be charged for any of my books, audiobooks, ebooks, etc. until I seem them in the store. All of that is determined by the publisher without any author consultation. I often have books and stories come out that I don’t even know about such as the mm reissue of Blood Lite which I didn’t know was out until Kat brought it to a booksigning for me to sign. Publishers don’t always remember to tell us things like that :D
I’ve been told that some formats are determined by market such as the NP/NE trade that was done to get the books into specialty stores. I’ve no idea why the BAD books were done as trades. I don’t know why some anthologies are trades and some aren’t either. I think the marketing and sales depts determine that, but I don’t know for sure as I’ve been told different things by different houses at different times. Again, they never consult us on these matters. I think it would stun most readers at how little control an author has over most aspects of their books and careers.
We don’t even have final say on what goes into the book. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made corrections on the galley pass and handed it in, only to have those corrections not make it into the final book. Bad Attitude, first paragraph is a mistake I corrected twice before publication and yet there it is, in print, with the mistake I fixed because the production editor has final say on whether or not they accept my corrections or the copy-editor’s. There are many of those in the original Paradise City and Daemon’s Angel. Frustrating to say the least. I personally hate when I make a mistake, but I really hate to be held accountable for something someone else made wrong after I had it right.
Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the business. If you find typos in the books, please let us know so that we can alert the publisher. Send them to Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
This brings me to the next oft asked question: Can you come to my town for a signing? I would LOVE to. Unfortunately, I’m only one person and with the exception of the BAD Agency books, I write my books by myself which takes a lot of time :) And again I have no control over where they send me. I do make suggestions based on fan requests, but my publishers don’t really listen. Case in point, I asked to be sent to Minneapolis and they sent me to Ann Arbor. I’ve been trying for years to get to Savannah or Charleston and they sent me to Raleigh-Durham. Montrealâ€“ made that request many, many times, Calgary too, but they keep sending me to Toronto. I’m actually very lucky that they let me come to Canada at all as I’ve been told by many other authors that it’s hard to get to Canada for a tour.
What I’ve been told is that it is extremely expensive to put an author on tour (given the going rate on plane tix, I have no reason to doubt this is true- and no I don’t fly first class unless I use my points to upgrade). So publishers pick cities where they can get the most people and sell the most books to help offset the cost of the tour which makes sense since publishing is a business and the publisher doesn’t want to go broke sending authors on the road. In this economy, publishers have seriously cut back on tours altogether. This is why they usually only tour for the hardback releases and not the paperbacks and why they send authors to major cities.