Technically it’s still very late on Thursday, but since I’m answering comments and e-mail I decided to go ahead and do this a little early. First, thanks to everyone for both the public and private responses to the first Q&A Friday! I really appreciate it just like I appreciate your following me and my work.
Today’s first question relates to how I release novels, such as ‘why so long between sequels’ and ‘why are there other books in between’, and so forth.
I work on multiple projects at once, sometimes working on as many as six things in any given day. That means that I might go several months (as I did this year) with little in the way of released material, then have three or more works released in just as many months as those projects are finished one after the other. I’ve always worked that way and find it to be a more efficient use of my time. If I’m ‘stumped’ on one project, I move to another and work there. Sooner or later, sooner if I’m lucky, my ‘block’ will lift and I’m back working on the first project. If it doesn’t, then I’ll move on to something else while my mind mulls over the problem with the first work.
I’ve read of authors who work like this and others who say they simply cannot do it. I don’t know which way is better, and believe that it depends on the individual. For me it allows me to keep working even when the primary project I want to complete is at a standstill because I can’t work around a problem in the plot. It keeps me busy, that’s for sure.
Another thing is that I sometimes get a new idea for a new story and have to start working on it right away, a compulsion that I can’t seem to beat and I’m not sure I’d want to. Billy was a compulsion. Roland was at least somewhat a compulsion. Tammy and Ringo was absolutely a compulsion. So for me this approach works.
BUT, this also means that I might release three, four or five works before the first gets a follow-up or sequel. Also, neither Billy, nor Roland were intended to have such followups. Parno was always intended to be a trilogy, and even with that plan in place it’s a slow process. Ideas are easy it seems sometimes. Dialogue is not.
There is also how well a story is received. For instance, I released a short read called ‘Monster of Creasy’s Hollow’ last year that was intended to be part of a series of short reads. It was completely outside my normal range of work and genre, but something I had immense fun writing. It did okay, but was not as well received as Billy or Roland and so on. That being the case, I tend to try to focus my efforts on what readers want to the extent that I can. I think that’s only fair, since it’s the readers who make it possible for me to keep doing this. I want to entertain. If you aren’t enjoying the story then I’m not doing it right; that’s how I’ve always looked at it. As I’ve said before, I’m less of a writer and more of a story-teller. I want the story to draw you in and take you to where the characters are. I want you to feel like you’re part of the story yourself. When you don’t, then no matter how well a book is received I still feel like I let you down a little. I try not to do that.
So, long story short, the Defenders of the Rift saga is still ongoing, but I haven’t spent a great deal of time on it, relegating it to the same status as “Bonespear”, that of a guilty pleasure that I work on when I really should be doing something else but can’t seem to get it together.
And that is why my release schedule seems so scattergun in it’s approach.
Second question: Why are some books so much longer than others?
There’s more than one answer to this. First, I don’t write according to page count. If I go by anything length wise it’s wordcount. Page count can be changed by such simple things as formatting, spacing or even type setting. Word counts on the other hand remain the same regardless of all of those changes and most others.
For instance a reviewer on Amazon once complained of one of my works that I had ‘padded’ the story by double spacing the lines, having a blank line between paragraphs, blank pages between chapters and so on ALL TO RAISE the page count and give the ‘appearance’ of a longer novel.
ALL OF THOSE ITEMS are industry standards for the most part, and are part of the formatting guidelines that Amazon asks writers to use in preparing manuscripts for publication on Amazon. You don’t have to follow them I suppose, but when the platform you’re placing your work on suggests you do something, I try to listen. When the publishing company who pays for your advertising and printing asks you to do it, I try much harder to listen, lol.
Also, I don’t write looking at page counts. I write to tell a story. When that story is finished, I stop. If it’s part of a longer story then when the part I’m working on is finished, I stop. I don’t start out saying ‘okay, this will be a four hundred pager’. I start out with ‘this is the main character and this is the story I want to tell’. That’s what I work with. I stop when I’m satisfied that the story, or at least that part of it, is told.
For instance, I had a e-mail concerning Tammy and Ringo having fewer pages than Billy. Being about a third as many words as Billy that was almost certainly going to be true. But where do you stop a story that looks like the end of the world? At least the end of civilization as we know it? When T&R ends, they are isolated, fairly safe, and have just discovered there no ‘cure’ will be forthcoming. No matter how well prepared you are, that’s a mind blower for most folks. That leg of their journey is ended, one way or another, so that part of the story ends there.
Also T&R will, Lord willing, be part of a longer story in the months to come, so the ‘story’ isn’t really finished, just their part of it. Or not, as I said before, since they will almost certainly appear again at some point when I get the second story working again. Or the third, depending on how the second story develops as I work on it. Right now there is give or take as to whether they will enter the second novel until the very end, setting up the third story.
Anyway, the difference in ‘length’ is the difference in stories. How the story is told, from what perspective it’s told, and how far-reaching the arc is going to be. Some stories are longer, but have only one book because that’s all of that story. Some are shorter because that part of the story is ended, yet there is more behind it in another story line set in the same circumstance.
And with that I’ll end this session of Q&A Fridays with a large THANK YOU to all of you who support my work. To me, the fact that you ask these questions means that you are interested not just in what I’ve done so far, but what I’d doing next. That, to me, is probably one of the highest compliments a writer can receive, and I thank you for it over and over.
Until next time,