Several weeks ago, Chad Michaels approached many of his fellow Wild Child published authors if anyone was interested in being hosted on his website. Never one to turn down promotion, I agreed.
Of course, I had no idea who Chad was.
After agreeing, I checked out his website to get a feel for the man, and I wasn't disappointed. As a writer of urban fantasy, we have a thing or two in common. More than anything, I was blown away by his presentation. He's gone the extra mile presenting his work, and I found it all to be most impressive, so much in fact, I'll be checking out his work very soon!
You can check him out, as well as my interview at:
A recent post on my Amazon Author Page prompted to write about something that's interested me for a while now, namely novel length in today's market.
When I first wrote The Chosen of the Light, the novel was 400,000+ words at completion. At the time I was ready to begin submissions, I had no concept of the book market, but I kept telling myself I'd written an epic fantasy in line with Terry Goodkind or J.R.Tolkien in terms of length. I perfected my query and went to work with submissions, only to be let down time and time again. I tried agents and publishers alike, but after two years of submissions and nothing to show for it, I stopped and tried to figure out where I was going wrong.
I knew my book might not be the perfect model, but I believed in my story and in my writing. I wasn't about to revise yet again and put off submissions for another five years. I began popping into writing forums and connecting with bloggers, trying to find an answer why my book wasn't getting any attention. Ultimately, the overwhelming response I received was word-length. Even for an author with previously published works, 400k words was a huge investment from a publishing company. Take the fact that I had no previously published works and (I didn't know it at the time) an evident show VS tell problem in my storytelling, I had virtually no hope of being published by traditional means.
I didn't get discouraged, though knowing I'd written an unsellable book didn't feel the greatest. I had some options though:
I could self-publish, but I'd have to hire an editor and sell market the book myself.
I could try to get some of my short stories published and build a name for myself.
I could chop The Chosen of the Light up into a smaller chunks, making it more desirable in the market.
I agonized for a long time, but I decided to chop up the book. I did another quick revision, wrapped up my first "book" and hit the submission train again. Within about six months, I received my first bite with Wild Child Publishing, and the rest is history. Today, Spirit Summoner: The Chosen of the Light Book One is out in eBook and in paperback.
But why did this happen? What made the market this way? The first fantasy book I ever read was The Sword of Shannara, and it topped off at around 227k words. Chosen was considerably longer, but in today's market, it doesn't seem that Sword would've been picked up either. According to Chuck Sambuchino of Writer's Digest, most novels today should fall between 70k and 109k words, and the Epic Fantasy genre only extends this count to around 115k-124k words. So what happened between 1983 when Sword was published and today?
After doing some research I stumbled across some interesting information from Charles Stross, an author and blogger. Stross explains from the 60's to the late 80's (well before the advent of the internet) buyers relied on novel length as one indicator of a good book. The greatest change in word counts for novels came in the early 1990's when the wholesalers supplying books to retail stores suddenly consolidated. The mass market books sold in retail stores took a huge hit as a result, but the chain stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble gave rise to mass hardcover book sales.
But hardcovers are MUCH more expensive to print and bind. Hardcover books fall into a tidy $24 for a manufacturer's suggested retail, and increasing the price even $1 can affect sales by nearly a quarter. Keeping a novel's word count within that $24 suggested retail became a requirement for almost all publishers. That being said, if hardcover books are driving the big box stores, then paperbacks must follow even if they are cheaper because that's what the market expects.
Without doing further research, I'd be interested to know how the rise of the eBook has affected this trend. My publisher is largely an eBook publisher, and perhaps, this is how I got my foot in the door. I'd personally love to see a comeback of the larger length novels, and eBooks might just bring that about.
A long awaited moment is almost here. My book, Spirit Summoner, will begin shipping March 18th is paperback format. I've dreamed for countless years of seeing my work in print, and I'm happy to say that time is finally here!
Thank you to all my friends and family who've supported me over the years, and especially, my readers old and new!
Buy it today at Amazon and Barnes & Noble!
I’ve always been into maps. I loved exploring when I was a kid, so drawing maps came fairly intuitively to me. In school I loved geography, learning places and land formations. I used to spend hours drawing maps, putting my imagination down on paper, putting myself into an entirely new world. When I began writing fantasy, my love for creating maps became an awesome new tool.
Using maps was important for me, especially early on in the writing process. I had tons of ideas and characters rolling around in my head, held together by a loose plot. My story was in my head, but organizing my thoughts challenged me in a completely new way. I began writing my story down, stringing my plot together slowly but surely. Somewhere along the line, I got the idea to draw a map.
Finally, a solution to my problem of organizing everything. After drawing my map, I began to see the big picture. I wasn’t exactly writing one story. No. I was writing about a fragment of time in a massive new world. Suddenly, the plot for this one story didn’t seem like such a challenge, because there was an entire world here. Finally, I could begin writing without worrying about knowing every detail.
Another important aspect of using the world map to assist my writing is reference. Not only could I look at my map at any time in order to remember the bigger picture, I used it to discover flaws. In my head, before I could see the orientation of my world, things seemed closer together and much easier to travel. I’d often forget distances or even how one location would stand in reference to another.
With my map in place, I could glance at it any time during the writing process, sort of like looking at notes. The relation of landmark to my characters became much easier to navigate, and I could adjust the plot as such.
As I wrote my first book, oftentimes I’d find something in the map that I hadn’t seen before, some nook or cranny that deserved some attention. My original design for Ictar was an island continent, so I’d begin to see islands or other large land masses forming in the oceans surrounding it. These thoughts began as an entertaining thought, but as my imagination churned with ideas, future stories took shape.
The map became a door into the future for me. Not only could I see the big picture, the world in which my current story was taking place, but I could see the past and the future of the world as well. New parts of my world manifested themselves all the time, and each time, my imagination took flight.
Perhaps the best part of using a map is the sense of reality you get from it. A story is a story, but when you see a map, showing you the world, not just the story, you get a much better perception of the world. Fantasy books have had maps for as long as I can remember, each differing in many ways. Some are simple, some are detailed, but they all give you a sense of the size of the world. My favorite thing to do in a fantasy book with a map is to check off locations I’ve visited as I read and look ahead to see where the story might be going. Sometimes, not all the locations are used, and it always leaves me wondering what’s next for the hero.
The map allows the writer and the reader both to step into the same world. The words a writer puts on the page are sometimes unclear, but the map brings both parties to the same table, seeing the world as it was intended to be seen.
It's official! Spirit Summoner will be available in print beginning March 18th.
I don't know a lot of the detail yet, but I'll be sure to keep my website updated as information becomes available. Thank you to everyone who's supported me and bought my eBook. Publishing is print is truly a dream come true, but I couldn't have done it with a fan base. So again...THANK YOU!