I need your help. I’m in a bit of a tangle – my book is not marketable.
Well, not to the gatekeepers anyway. As many of you already know, the word count for Tangled, my draft YA manuscript, is over 170,000. That’s a first draft word count and I’m hoping to reduce it substantially, but I can’t see me chopping more than 40,000. So the word count will – at best – come down to 130,000.
From what I’ve read, traditional agents and publishers won’t even glance at a book that large from a first-time author. Especially not for YA. According to Colleen Lindsay, a former literary agent who blogs at The Swivet, mainstream YA should be between 45,000 and 80,000.
In his e-book, Straight Talk from the Editor, W. Terry Whalin says the typical novel is ‘between 80,000 and 100,000 words. If you’ve written a story which is double the word-limit, it is going to be a large book to produce. This weighty book is going to involve shipping and packing challenges plus other marketing concerns. I understand you’ve devoted a huge amount of energy to write 200,000 words. At the same time, don’t be surprised if your submissions are routinely rejected on the basis of your unusual word count.’
Pretty hard to argue with that. From what I can see, I have two options:
- Market the story as two books, Tangled Part 1 and Tangled Part 2.
- Go it alone and self-publish Tangled.
The pros and cons of these options, in my opinion, are:
|Two shorter books||One long book|
I’m keen to hear your thoughts on these options. Please note I’m well aware there are no guarantees that splitting Tangled into two books would get it published, just that the chances would be higher. But do those ‘higher chances’ justify doing something that would drive the majority of readers crazy? Just this morning, I read a book review on Good Reads bemoaning novels that end on a cliff hanger. Tangled wouldn’t be left on a cliff hanger, it would be left on ten.
There is another option, of course. Treat Tangled as a learning experience and file it away in a drawer to gather dust. I’m not afraid to do that, if I come to the decision it’s not worth reading. But if I can get it to a stage where I (and esteemed others) think it’s a strongly written, entertaining piece of fiction, then I want it to be available for people to read. And if that means self-publishing, so be it.
But what do YOU think? Is it worth splitting a book in two for the sake of marketability? Would you want to kill an author who made you wait for a second book to see any plot lines resolved? Have you read any books like this? Would you self-publish your work if you believed it was worth reading but not marketable to traditional publishers?