Are the major publishing houses dying a slow painful death? The following is an outstanding article written on the blog site of one of my favourite authors, Hugh C. Howey. He wrote an amazing series of novels of a dystopian world that I highly recommend. Here is the link to the first in the Silo series: Wool.
Why is he one of my favourites? It’s because he started as a self-publishing author and put a short story up for sale on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. It became the Wool Omnibus and led to his other great novels. So for me, as a self-published author, he is someone to be admired. He wrote the article below on his blog site and I hope it’s okay to publish this on my own blog. I’m going to contact him and let him know. He might get mad at me. Hope not.
Anyway, I digress. The traditional publishing community is in a very real danger of collapsing down to something unrecognisable from today. Have a read and comment on what you think. I also encourage you to check out Hugh’s blog – it’s fun: http://www.hughhowey.com/blog/
Books vary in length. There are many factors such as the font, the size of the font, page size, etc. Typically we assume an average page contains 350 words. Then you have to ask yourself what is the “normal” length for a fantasy novel? Well, I have an answer that most people should accept seeing as it comes from a very good fantasy source.
The Hugo Awards state for their award categories they use the following word count:
Best Novel: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.
Best Novella: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) and forty thousand (40,000) words.
Best Novelette: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between seven thousand five hundred (7,500) and seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) words.
Best Short Story: Awarded for science fiction or fantasy story of less than seven thousand five hundred (7,500) words.
So, 40,000 words for a novel. Most novels I read, such as urban fantasy, are around 70,000 to 90,000 words. Takes me around 6 hours to read. My last novel was 135,000 words. So wow, poop on a stick! I should be splitting my novels into their two parts and selling them that way! I would have FOUR books on the market by now!
Just kidding. I just write a lot of – very meaningful – words. I’ve always been verbose. I spend time describing the world that most best-selling authors don’t do. Lots and lots of dialogue interspaced with a little tell. That’s the big drive for acceptable mainstream novels these days. Writers always preach “Show don’t tell“. At its simplest, this phrase means to show the reader what is happening, or what the character is feeling by showing it, not telling. For example, you don’t write “He felt sad.” Instead, you would show it. For example: “The man hung his head and lifted a finger to wipe away a stray tear.” You’ve just shown he is sad instead of saying that he is sad. I admit it is a much better way of writing and lets the writer show his/her talent. That being said, it’s reached the point that if you don’t show and do tell, people will harshly critique you. I think it’s a step backwards in some ways. I love the tell that the classic fantasy authors provided – and don’t tell me they didn’t. Pun intended.
So why blog all this dribble? I have decided that after Freamhaigh, the fourth novel in the New Druids series, I will reduce the words in my next novels down to around 80,000 to 90,000 words. And publish more often. The New Druid series will embark on a series of smaller tales after Freamhaigh. Many ideas. Just need the time to write them.
Edited to correct grammar and the like. I rushed this blog post earlier today.
By the Word! I have Too Much Material! My wordsmithing skills are getting wordier. The more I write the third novel in the New Druids series the more I have to say. I outlined Stoc months ago and now that I am finally putting pen-to-paper [a colloquialism] I am rapidly discovering that the story can’t be told in 400 pages. I could – but I would be removing so much. You might remember that this happened during my first novel. I had an epiphany and realised I was well into my second novel.
Quite possibly I simply suck at creating outlines…
In any event, decisions will need to be made at some point. I’ll know more once I complete Part 1: Parry. This is not a bad thing. It just means that the final closure on the main story arc will be delayed somewhat.
The good news is that I have written over 25,000 words. I’m in the groove and loving it. I love this story and the characters. I hear their voices in my head when I write their dialogue. They surprise me often. Words come out of their mouths that I did not expect.