The Chopping Block

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With this title, one might think this will be a post about editing, cutting out spots in a book, or “killing your baby” as it’s often termed in the industry. But I’m going to take a different route with this as food for thought for indie authors.

In the traditional publishing world, your work is expected to be a certain length in order to be a “real” book, especially in genre fiction. You’ll rarely see a science fiction book on the shelves these days that isn’t around the 400 page mark, which has been creeping up from the 200 pages they used to be during the silver age of the 60s-70s. Font sizes and all that vary, and that’s why we authors usually talk about books in terms of word counts instead of page counts.

For the indie author, it’s a little bit different. It’s a content generation game like any other. The real truth is: if your book is 60,000 words ore 150,000 words, you’ll likely have to price the content close to the same, at a price point where you’re encouraging impulse buys. Which means you can be doing 3x the work for the exact same amount of sales.

Author Tim W. Long, famous for the Z-Risen series, has embraced this concept. He writes books that for the most part end up in the 65,000 word range — on the very short side for traditional publishing. They’re action packed though, super fast paced and perfect for the modern reader. Content wise, it keeps his writing tight and focused. In that range, he can come out with several books a year instead of just one, which is good on a few levels. Obviously, having multiple products with the same or increasing readership is 2 sales instead of one, but there’s another positive effect for authors.

Modern content consumers are very short attention spanned. On the marketing end, what this accomplishes is seeing the name Tim W. Long in new releases multiple times per year. This increases his exposure exponentially, not allowing readers to forget his name in between releases. For random people, seeing the name on repeat makes them more familiar, and when a new release hits, they’re more likely to click on it as a consequence.

Moreover, people are always clamoring for new content. We want new new new new new in our modern internet culture. The more you can output, the more people see you as someone who’s both professional and someone they can follow for the long run.

Another author friend of mine confided that he made a mistake with releasing a 150,000 word novel last year, and how it easily could have been split into 2 for that very effect. Obviously there will be some stories that can’t be told cohesively without a certain number of words, but if there is a logical stopping point, and there’s a series, it may do well to cut things a little shorter, chop it into two.

What did I learn? These conversations gave me an “a ha!” moment on my current work in progress this last week. My book was going to be split into a “part one” and “part two” anyway, and it probably was going to clock in at about 120-140k words, the way it’s going . I considered and revised my outline for part 1 to lengthen it some, adding int a dramatic space battle ending and still leave a lot to explore for book 2 when I get to it. This series should be a lot of fun, and you’ll get to see it in quicker releases as a result!

If this all sounds fun, you can check out the aforementioned Tim W. Long’s Z-Risen series: http://amzn.to/2jYTTgG

And my approximately 90,000 word release, Star Realms: Rescue Run: http://bit.ly/starrealmsnovel

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