Monday, February 25, 2013

Divide And Conquer!

So I've recently put the finishing touches on an epic masterpiece that is finally going to catapult me to the fame and reward I so richly deserve. Time to start sending out those queries so I can take my pick of the offers as they roll in!

Dear Ms. YAgent:
Please consider representing my new YA dystopian, science fiction, paranormal, suspense, romantic, literary thriller ZOMBIE CAFE. It is currently 139,000 words -

"Right..." bemoans the agent for the thousandth time today, her eyes glazing over, followed by a stream of consciousness - Like Barnes&Noble is going to devote three inches of shelf space, per copy, to a complete unknown. Not to mention the cost of churning out and distributing this tome. Just reading it the first time is going to take twice as long as that Ahmish Space Opera burning a hole through my Kindle. <Delete>

So what is an aspiring published writer to do?

Our politicians do it to the popular masses every day, so why shouldn't we do it to the capitalist industry that refuses to recognize the talent that is verily glugging out of our ears and getting our keyboard all sticky?

Honestly, there's a lot of junk out there, but a lot of great writing, as well. Since I went with a small indie press I've really started paying attention to the work that is already out there. You've probably got some really good stuff. I've got some good stuff, too. My writing partner's debut Foreseen* is getting some incredible reviews on Goodreads. Just because it isn't traditionally published doesn't mean it isn't good stuff.

But frankly, my best work to date, which I would prefer to traditionally publish, isn't getting much attention in the queryverse. One of the reasons, at 139K words, It's Too Damn Long. There's a very good reason that 90% of debut novels that get published are less than 100,000 words. Or rather, some very good reasons. Reasons . Plural:

  1. Paper costs more than ever before. 
  2. Printing costs more than ever before. 
  3. Shelf space in book stores is more limited and competitive than ever before.
  4. Publisher cash is more limited than ever before.
  5. Publisher time is more limited than ever before.
  6. Customer cash is more limited than ever before.
  7. Customer time is more limited than ever before.
  8. I'm a debut author.
  9. Getting the point?
  10. Hello...?

This book was already slated to be the first in a series. So guess what? It just became two books! And instead of three LONG books, it'll be five shorter ones. Now, not only have I written the first in the series, the second in the series is automatically 75% complete. I also get to include some of the scenes I cut out of the original manuscript in my misguided attempts to make it shorter. And it just so happens there is a fantastic spot to wrap things up yet leave a powerful cliff hanger. It's almost like I intended to do it this way, just like that guy who scored a goal in the Europa League last week. At least he said he was shooting. I always do.

I'm really quite proud of this book. Yet every time I write a query letter I balk when I would write 139K -gack- thousand -gack- words <coughing spasm>. It was dumb. I knew better. I know better. Time to stop being my own worst enemy, at least in this particular case. Time to divide. Time to conquer.

Until next time,

John C. Brewer is the author of Multiplayer an MMOG YA SF novel, and The Silla Project, a North Korean nuclear romance. You can learn more about him and what he is doing at his website,

*Foreseen, Terri-Lynne Smiles.

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