Publishing situations I didn’t think of

In the years I spent trying to get published, (querying, reading, re-writing, etc.) I read a lot of publishing blogs. This was partially because I wanted to be an informed author, but mostly because I hate looking stupid, and the best way not to look stupid is to be informed! Anyway, I thought I’d pretty much covered my bases in my research. I mean, I’d gotten an agent, gotten an editor, and turned in two books, without running into a problem I hadn’t at least read about… Until yesterday.

So yesterday I get a call from my lovely, wonderful editor telling me that we have a problem. The book I’d just turned in, the second in my series, is about half again as long as my first book. I replied that I knew this would be a problem, and that I was going to work on shortening the second book. Oh no, she replied, that’s not what she meant. You see the problem isn’t  the length of book 2, it’s longer, but still perfectly in line with standard fantasy word counts. The problem is that the first book and the second book won’t look right sitting next to each other on the shelf if one is half again as big as the other.

Huh, I said, I’d never even thought about that. Learned something new! So, I asked, a little perplexed, what did she want me to do?

Turns out, she wants me to add about 40 pages to book one. This was around where my brain exploded.

Here was an editor asking me to make a book longer. And not just a little longer, but 40 pages longer. That’s about 10,000 words. Of course she had a good point about the relative lengths, and that book one was a trifle on the skinny side (Editors often have good points, this is one of the great blessings and infuriations of working with them), but… 40 pages! On a book that’s been done for months! Forget for a moment that I don’t even know where to begin adding pages, until this book I, as a writer, have never been asked to make anything longer. Keep it short, stupid, was the watch phrase! Even with my editor’s urging, it feels to deeply wrong to make something longer on purpose.

I’m going to try my best to do it, of course, but this just goes to show that I should never relax and think I know the publishing game, or the writing one, for that matter. It has a bad habit of proving me wrong.

9 Responses to “Publishing situations I didn’t think of”

  1. August 28, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    You have my deepest sympathies. I find it much harder to add pages than to cut them. Best of luck with the project.

  2. 2 Terri-Lynne
    August 28, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Whaaaaaaaaaaat? I think that if my editor (if I had one) ever asked me to add pages I’d probably faint! Not because I’d cringe having to do it, but I’ve had the same, “Keep it short, stupid!” drummed into my poor, brevity-challenged brain for years!

    Lucky you! 🙂

  3. 3 Sue
    August 28, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    My first thought (after arrghh!) was: use a larger font. And an otherwise blank page announcing each chapter.

    Good luck!

  4. 4 Lindsay
    August 28, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Um… wait, WHAT?!

  5. August 28, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    ::jaw drop:: …I didn’t know that could happen.

    ::looks uneasily at outline of Book 3, which looks to be a good 20% longer than books 1 or 2…::

  6. 6 rachelaaron
    August 28, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Yeah, crazy isn’t it?

    She’s talking to production to see what they can do to make the books look more similar, but printers can’t work miracles, and there IS a 35,000 word difference here.

    I knew this book was trouble!

  7. 7 Ilasir Maroa
    August 28, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    This sounds weird. I’ve never really declined a book because the previous one was a slightly different thickness. Is that a common trend?

    Anyway, good luck.

  8. August 30, 2009 at 6:41 am

    This is where one hopes that one had cut a particularly spiffy, well executed scene because it didn’t add tremendous amounts to the plot, but oh, wouldn’t it be lovely to include it anyway? Oh well. Out with the axe…

    That would be the ideal, I suppose.

  9. August 31, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Juniper, if I’d had a scene like that, I’d be stoked, but this was the ONLY BOOK EVER that didn’t have one. Figures.

    BUT – UPDATE – my editor just wrote me back saying that production (that magical department who turns word documents into books) has come through and I won’t have to add more words after all. I’m SOOOO happy, not just that I don’t have to add words when I didn’t know where they were going to go, but that I now don’t have to do all that work. WHEW.

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