- 25 Ways To Become A Better Writer Another great list of good writing practices, shared by the inventive and insightful Chuck Wendig
- Five More Mistakes That Will Expose You As a Rookie If you must know any writing rule, these are it.
- Janet Fitch’s 10 rules for writers “…if you like using an adverb once in a while, stick with Fitch. “
- The Sharp Angle: Your Questions Answered, Part I: Keeping Short Fiction Short I always wondered how they keep it short!
- 5 Kudzu Words That Creep Into Your Writing Note: don’t do it!
- To Plot or Not to Plot – The Art & Craft of Writing Creatively “So which is better – writing organically or plotting?”
- Pitching Your Novel | Rachelle Gardner “One thing I’ve noticed lately in fiction pitches – verbal pitches or queries – is that some writers want to tell all about the theme or the emotional journey of the story, but they have a hard time conveying the actual story.”
- Pitchingpalooza, part VIII: you’ve gotta have heart, miles and miles and miles of heart — oh, and a professional pitch won’t hurt, either A long but extremely worthwhile read. Not your typical three paragraphs of how this publishing business works.
- Self-Publishing: Carnival of the Indies Issue #10 — The Book Designer A nice collection of links about writing, self-publishing, book design and marketing books.
- Storybook – Download — And finally, a goodie: an open-source (i.e. free) that builds on the same premise as Scrivener, PageFour, Liquid Story Binder, and etc. My favorite of these story-friendly writing software? Liquid Story Binder. But no, I personally don’t use any of these programs — Just WriteMonkey, Word, and OneNote for me!
Category Archives: Publishing Business
I’ve kept on with my writing like a good little writer should, but for the past two weeks, I’ve been struggling with and getting aggravated over what may seem, and probably is, trivial.
For writers just starting out, you may have realized that there are set guidelines for the average amount of words in an MS (manuscript) for any given genre. Heck, they’ve even incorporated a general word count for book genres in Sims 3! And it’s fairly accurate for the most part, though I’ll beg to differ on their length for “Romance” fiction. Speaking of trivial…
If you’d like a list of standard word counts by genre, here’s a decent and relatively up-to-date list. I want to focus upon the current genre I’m writing: high fantasy to include epic fantasy. The typical word count for high/epic fantasy is 100k-120k words.
I began my story with a word count goal of at least 180k. Why? Because I read a lot of long high fantasy and sci-fi novels, to include the Dune series, Martin, Erikson, Goodkind, Williams, etc. and I did an average word count of their novels. They reached 200k and above. So I, being the typical uninformed self, thought I can do that too. And after 30k words into my story, I really thought I could. I still think I could make this a 180k+ word novel. But then for reasons unknown (I really don’t know), I thought, “I’m not a published author. And wait, I hear agents have word count limits. I know I’ve looked into this thing before, but that was a long time ago. Wait, let me look into this again.”
So I began looking up and kept arriving at the numbers 100-120k words. I was crushed. Devastated. Maybe I’m delusional, that my story really wouldn’t be that long, I’m just hoping it’ll be 180k words. But seeing that Book 1 of my story is going to end at around 50k words, it’s possible, or not. I’m not sure. And that’s my problem. Agents give leeway to authors who have a proven track record, which applies to most of those authors I just listed up there. First-time authors? Much less leeway. There are always exceptions, but they are so few and far between that you won’t be able to disprove what I just said up there.
- I’m thinking much too far ahead. I haven’t even finished my story yet! I’m not even halfway through it, and I’m already fretting about an imaginary word count!
- This is a first draft. I’m sure there will be a lot of condensing, merging, deleting (*cringe*), and other methods of reducing that word count.
What I learned from this sad episode is: Don’t worry about technicalities while you’re writing. That’s the whole point of a first draft.
Worry about all these things when you complete your MS. This doesn’t mean I’m going to make the 120k word mark, I might miss it by a long shot (note I’m still confident about making it a super-long novel — I’ll get a good laugh at this when I finish at 90k words!), but it won’t prevent me from querying it. Not that I’m a phenomenal writer, but I’ll never forget what one writer told me: “Write a good story, let your agent worry about it’s length. Especially if you are a first time novelist, the most important thing is quality. Tell a gripping tale and it will find a home.”
ps. For kicks and giggles, I did a word count of a couple fantasy books in my library:
“Wizard’s First Rule” Terry Goodkind; random page: 366 words. TOR Fantasy, 1994. 836p x 360 = 300,960 total words*
“Otherland River of Blue Fire” Tad Williams; random page: 374 words. DAW Books, 1998. 675p x 370 = 249,750 total words
How’s them numbers?
*total words is average. Could be more or less!
pps. Just look at the fretting and the frustration over word count … there’s more than one page of this! It’s just awful.
I’ve come to conclude, with all these arguments for and against self-published or published material, to submit work to a publisher first. Subject it to criticism. Maybe they’ll even tell you why they like it or not. And work with that. If you don’t agree with what they have to say, or are pretty sure that they’re wrong, then go the self-publishing route after a round of feedback.
— If you’re impatient and you need to see your novel in tangible book format NOW, then self-publish.
— If you want to self-publish because the profits from it are much more enticing than going through a publisher, then self-publish.
— If you want to improve your work, you write for fun, and write because you love it, then try that publisher route first.
For now, I feel that self-publishing, being relatively new, is still very malleable. Opinions are still being made of it. Sure, there may be a lot of self-published crap out there, but isn’t it all relative? For the most part, we know that publishers need to make a dollar, too, and they’re looking out for themselves. Trends come and go, and there’s so much talent out there that is yet to be discovered. Not to mention that there are hundreds upon hundred of publishers out there. I’m not saying submit your piece to every publisher out there before going the self-publishing route. Be reasonable, give yourself a limit, and if you get nothing out of the experience (to include the contract), and you really want to get your book out there to the complete stranger, then self-publish.
I recommend Smashwords.
Also, another peeve of mine is when articles compare novel writing with writing a movie script. Sure, there are some complicated movie plots out there, but for the most part, it’s very direct (has to be because of time restraints) and generally quite restricting as far as character and backstory development goes. You know why reading the book the movie was based on is so much more fulfilling than watching the film. That’s why. So unless you’re writing a screenplay, I can’t recommend taking scriptwriting advise for your novel. No, I’m not condoning wandering from your plot and theme just because you have the liberty of filling up 200 pages as opposed to a screenplay’s average 100 pages (with typically a lot of white space on the paper). Directness and making every scene count is essential. The fun of novel-writing is flowering it up, putting in a lot of twists and expounding on certain details, subplots and description. Modern Hollywood is not a good example for how you should write your novel.
That’s my humble opinion though, of course.