1. Thomas Mayo
    Offline

    Thomas Mayo New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2015
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    2

    180,000 or 2 x 90,000?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Thomas Mayo, Feb 17, 2015.

    Hi everyone,

    I've got a problem I'm sure many of you have faced before. I've written a book, shaved it from 200,000 to 181,000, and am now learning how terrible that number is.

    My question is whether I should submit it as a single work or split it - and if the latter, should I say 'It also comes with a nearly ready sequel, or in 180,000 word mode'?

    Your help is massively appreciated. Thank you!

    Tom
     
  2. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Does the story split well? I'd divide it. But I wouldn't divide a story that made no sense to divide.

    Welcome to the forum.
     
    Lemon flavoured likes this.
  3. Thomas Mayo
    Offline

    Thomas Mayo New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2015
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    2
    Thank you! It splits okay - but it really would be 'part one and part two' rather than two whole stories. Is there any precedent for saying 'the book can be split if necessary' in the covering letter?
     
  4. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    If you are an unknown sending out query letters to publishers, you might want to rethink that division: is there a way to draw part one to at least a semblance of an ending?
     
  5. Thomas Mayo
    Offline

    Thomas Mayo New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2015
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    2
    I'm a complete unknown - I had a well-reviewed play on at the Edinburgh Fringe once. That's it...

    The book's a (purposefully) silly fantasy, and the split point I have in mind is the protagonist's second death out of three. Sadly, it's pretty clearly structured as a single work. My current plan is:
    • Send the 180,000 book, with an offer of splitting if necessary.
    • Dependant on the response (or complete lack of), submit a split version three months later.
    • Alcohol.
    How does this sound as a battle plan? Awful? Passable? Sad?
     
    outsider likes this.
  6. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,602
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    I only know what I've been reading, I'm not an editor or publisher. But I suggest you now revise the ending of part one. Tidy it up with a clean ending. You need more certainty and confidence in your query letter, not a proposal for the publisher to decide.

    Were it me, again this unqualified opinion, I'd work on that second death. Leave the reader with a hook, was it the final death or not? Don't even bring in part two until part one is actually published.

    Here's my other suggestion, this one I'm very confident in. Let go of your love for you assets. What that means is, don't limit yourself by being tied to part two as essentially needed. I'm not suggesting tossing it out, nor am I saying not to put it out there unless part one is a success. I'm saying don't be so in love with part two that it stops you from giving part one the best chance you absolutely can to get published.
     
    Thomas Mayo likes this.
  7. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    Publishers don't like taking on more than one book by an unknown author because of the risk involved. Ideally, you'd whittle it down some more. Fantasy novels by unknown authors are in the 80k-120k range. That being said, if I absolutely had to choose between the two choices you gave, I'd pick one 180k word novel.
     
  8. Thomas Mayo
    Offline

    Thomas Mayo New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2015
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    2
    This sounds very wise - I'll follow your advice! Sadly, part 1 would be incomplete without 2 (very much leaving the plot unfinished), but I'll push forward with an initial query and see what that gets me. Thanks for your time!
     
  9. Void
    Offline

    Void Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2014
    Messages:
    303
    Likes Received:
    229
    Speaking as someone who has (and kind of still am) faced this exact problem, I went with the option of reducing the word count down from 180,000 to a more reasonable length (hopefully, less than 140,000).

    The story could be split at a surprisingly convenient point in the middle, but the first part doesn't really work without the second part. As much as I hate to remove any passages, there are quite a few sections that are way too long.

    I would say you should probably not pitch it as a two part story. From what I've heard, publishers are rather wary of multi part stories from new authors. So you should probably assess how well the first part is able to stand on its own. If the first part is able to stand on its own without the second part, then I would suggest simply pitching the first part as a single story, with the second part more along the lines of a sequel.
    If the first part isn't able to stand on its own, then I would suggest looking over the book to find sections to edit down and submit it as a single novel. This isn't just for the purposes of fitting it into a desired word count, sometimes you may find that certain sections are just superfluous bloat that the story can do without.
     
  10. TWErvin2
    Offline

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2006
    Messages:
    2,528
    Likes Received:
    561
    Location:
    Ohio, USA
    By splitting, will the first novel have a complete story arc and result in a satisfying read for the reader? This is a key question. If not, then it wouldn't appear to be a viable option.

    My novel Relic Tech, the first novel I wrote, ended up being about 180,000 words. It made it out of the slush piles at both Tor and Baen, before being rejected by both. And those decisions took a long time to arrive (I submitted directly to the publishers).

    My current publisher picked it up and it has done well. But that 180,000 word count was an additional hurdle. You can always send it off, and work on another project while it's making the rounds, having learned from the first novel now to structure the plot so that the second one will result in a shorter (word count) product. That's what I did. While Relic Tech was making the rounds I had a number of short stories and two novels published ahead of it.

    Good luck whatever direction you take.
     
    Thomas Mayo likes this.
  11. Thomas Mayo
    Offline

    Thomas Mayo New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2015
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    2
    This has really filled me with hope. I considered the same approach - I'm nearing actual 180,000 now (I'm slimming it down from 183,000), and then will see if there are big chunks I can take out. I've been back and forthing between these two slimming approaches for a while, though it's giving me a helluva headache.

    I'm going to refine to the 'true' word count (i.e. the one where it feels like I've removed everything truly extraneous) and then go ahead and send.


    Also, everyone here's been really kind, which has been great. It's nice to know I'm not alone!
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  12. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    If you can turn it into two stories with a beginning, middle and end, yes. Otherwise I wouldn't do it.
     
  13. Kasubi
    Offline

    Kasubi Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2015
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Rwanda
    Two questions:

    1. Is it a) genre or b) literary?

    A. If it's genre, I'd suggest split it and offer the first and a completed sequel if you can resist the submissions process before then.

    B. If it's literary fiction, you might get away with 180k. It's not such a horrendous number.

    The reasoning there is that genre fiction usually comes in series and trilogies. Though Fantasy can happily run to 180k by itself (Romance, Crime and Horror are usually shorter). Genre fiction is usually about writing a long-lasting brand that will keep on sellin'.

    Literary one-offs can be any length really - if they're good.

    2. Have you had a look through potential publishers?

    I recommend FirstWriter. Found all three of my publishers through that. Or pick up a copy of Writers' & Artists' Yearbook (if that's still in print? They were talking about going digital?).

    Look at what publishers and agents are looking for. Then send them the full 180 or the 90/90 version based on what they say they're looking for. Never hurts to be versatile.
     
  14. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,930
    Likes Received:
    5,468
    From what I've read, I believe that having a complete and satisfying story in one book is important, and being a reasonably conventional length is important. But I think that the complete and satisfying story is absolutely mandatory, while the conventional length is just very (very very) strongly preferred.

    So if you can't split it and make the first half into a complete and satisfying story, I think that the only strategy is to keep it whole but cut it as much as you reasonably can.
     
  15. VirtuallyRealistic
    Offline

    VirtuallyRealistic Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2015
    Messages:
    160
    Likes Received:
    77
    Location:
    Wisconsin, USA
    A split would be the thing to do if it makes sense for the story. I wouldn't sacrifice the story for a more conventional word count, though. If you think you can reasonable split it, giving each half a beginning, middle, and end then go for it. Otherwise send it as is and hope for the best.

    This is my humble opinion. I have yet to attempt getting published, so I know little of the publishing world.
     
  16. AASmith
    Offline

    AASmith Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2015
    Messages:
    290
    Likes Received:
    119
    That is a lot of words lol! I would consider splitting it, however when it comes to querying I have heard that agents/publishers do not want to discuss sequels in our first letter. So your first part has to be good on its own without the second part I would think. I guess what I am saying is, as a reader book 1 has to be really good to get me to read book 2 so if you break it up focus on making a good ending thus a good transition between the two.

    I wonder when you would be able to discuss a sequel with an agent?
     
  17. Lance Schukies
    Offline

    Lance Schukies Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2015
    Messages:
    178
    Likes Received:
    39
    from what I understand it is purely cost of printing and shipping, so if you going for electronic publishing leave it. if you want it in print fix it, but make sure it has a good ending.

    I am splitting up my first novel. luckily I can make the ending work.
     
  18. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,589
    Likes Received:
    5,074
    Not purely, I don't think. Editing costs will also be significantly higher for a much longer book, and good editing is a significant expense.

    That said? OP, who else has read your story? Betas, crit group, anyone?

    I haven't read a word of your work and it's totally possible that every word is needed. But a LOT of new writers write long, and a lot of them produce work that feels bloated rather than complex. So I'd recommend that you try to find someone (or, ideally, a lot of someones) to read your story and see if there's any bloat. Ask them to keep track of when they're really engrossed and when they feel like the story is dragging. Parts where a lot of them feel like it's dragging? Cut 'em out!
     

Share This Page