After meeting with a number of potential agents about my new manuscript Wars Amongst Lovers I was surprised to learn, (after all their nice comments about the characters, story line, pacing and even story structure) that it is too long. Not just a little too long but maybe 60,000 to 70,000 words too long. Now I have recently bought a lot of books that are in this word count range and many are even longer (pick up any Follett or Cussler and you know what I mean). Their point was they are they and you are well, nobody. I of course answered, not yet!
The discussion of how long a book should is as old as the printed page. The simple answer is “as long as the story takes.” But the real answer is really a couple of answers. The first is, What is the market buying? – not what’s being offered but what’s selling. In our time of 140 character lives one might assume that shorter is better, given our short attention spans and universal ADHD. The second reason is economics, a three hundred page book versus a 500/600 page book – both story’s being equal. The market doesn’t accept a 50 percent increase in the price due to additional printing and shipping costs. In fact shipping can literally increase by more than 50% - bigger/thicker = more weight = more $$$$$. So unless you have a proven track record not many publishers will want to pick up that big first novel.
What to do? Well, not being unreasonable, I suggested instead of beating the thing up and cutting away 45% of the story (and to be honest it is already quite efficient) why not make the book into two books. It also gives me a good reason to do a trilogy. Expand the time frame and also expand the hero’s story.
It’s a fabulous historical fiction piece that begins before World War II and now can include the period from the late 1940s and into the early 1950s. So there you are, from one book comes three, all reasonable in length and doesn’t everyone just love sequels?
And regarding ebooks none of the above applies, page count is irrelevant.
RE Sharon O’Mara: She’s still hard at work getting the bad guys. Kevin Bryan landed a job in London, and Basil, well he’s just lying in the sun waiting for his next bone. Story is slowly coming together, but no promises on publishing dates.
More Later . . . . . . .