Readers want what now?
May 17, 2019
Life as an Indie Author requires a certain degree of dexterity and a good set of tap shoes. It's an intense experience, filled with soaring highs and a few lows to balance everything out. Things change and then the changes change, and before you know it, the changes to the changes have changed yet again.
I've been doing a lot of reading about reader preferences. I've discovered the preferred length (generally speaking, of course) for a full-length novel has shrunk to 250 pages (5x8 paperback pages, that is). I'd read similar things before: under 70k words (around 350 pages), then 60k, now closer to 52.5k words. During my forced..ahem...rest and "recreation" period at the beginning of the year, I started in on Brandon Sanderson's The Stormlight Archive--a series in which all books are more than 1000 pages. I reached a point mid-way through that I'm calling "page exhaustion" where the sheer weight of the pages remaining in the series bogged me down, I had to switch to something else, so I am beginning to think it through and understand.
My page length preferences are derived from reading Stephen King's epics--none of which are part of a series. Well, except for the Dark Tower, of course (but those are shorter than epics like IT and The Stand 🙂 I enjoyed the depth longer works could bring to a stand-alone story, and with trad publishing schedules of one book per year regardless of how fast the author can write, longer novels still exert a strong attraction on me.
But I'm not constrained by one book per year. Or even one book per quarter.
My "plan" (subject to Petunia's will, of course) has been to publish a book every 90 days, and given the length of my novels, that has been hard--not to write, but to get edited and all the other things that go into publishing. That has meant long waits for you between books. It's also meant a certain inflexibility in the schedule. For instance, when Demon King launched, I wasn't sure how it would be received, so I didn't plan a series around it. I thought I might do a King-style sequel at some point, though, so I left room for that. There was a lot of demand for a series built from that book, but I couldn't start on it because I had 1500 words of Blood of the Isir to get finished 🙂
Yeah, Vick...where are you going with this?
I've done a lot of thinking about how I can serve you better (i.e. publish faster with more flexibility). I can't disregard editing. I can't skip my launch team. I learned how to write faster (believe it or not, software engineering techniques helped!). But there are still bottlenecks that I can't ease. I do the writing, rewriting, a deep self-edit, listen to the entire book, and give it to alpha readers--all before it even gets to a pro editor. Then I have to wait for his queue time, etc.
Sounds grim, but I think I've got a solution. I considering writing shorter books (books not stories) by subdividing those 130k-160k behemoth stories into 50k-60k chunks. I can write and edit those much more quickly, and the pro editors can scream through them. This would allow me to publish a book a month, rather than a book a quarter (again with the Petunia disclaimer).
What do you think about all this? Do you prefer longer or shorter books? Would you enjoy monthly titles from me?
Please let me know--drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.