Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Book III Novella? Serialization and the Art of the Possible

Photo by sidewalk flying .  licensed under
Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic
Contrary to the title, this is not a post about politics.  The phrase "the art of the possible" just sprang into my mind when thinking about the actual topic of this post, which is whether to publish a version of my latest writings as a novella/short novel or wait until I complete a longer work.  When I started writing my latest manuscript, I intended it to be the final Book III of the Maker's Fire series (aka: Hemlock series).  I carefully laid out the key plot points over a series of months, and projected that it would result in a novel that would be at least 100,000 words.

But something started to happen as I wrote.  First, I realized I was making slower progress than I'd hoped.  Second, I noticed that the story has a natural 'cut point' about a third of the way in.  Some books have a conclusion with a complicating factor at this point of the narrative.  In my story it is more of a conclusion and then "on to the next challenge".  So it feels like I could stop at this point and call it a stand-alone story without compromising the integrity of the story arc.

It's been over a year since Hemlock and the Dead God's Legacy was released.  I managed to complete that book in about a year's time, but I absolutely killed myself to do it.  After I finished that book I resolved that I wouldn't subject myself to that arduous writing schedule again (I'm only a part time writer, alas).  So, here I sit a year later with about 30,000 words completed on the next book.  But I want to get another story out there.  I think readers can forget about authors who aren't releasing new work in a timely manner.

But 40,000 words (projected length) is short.  Fantasy novels are great because they are immersive.  And as a reader I sometimes find the immersion kicking in around the middle of a novel.  This is the negative of serializing like this--the story could be over just as the reader is getting settled into the narrative.  Of course I would price the work at $0.99 to reflect the shorter length--but my fear is it could be unsatisfyingly short.  Still, despite that fear, I fear being forgotten more.  So, I am leaning toward serializing and getting something out to readers to keep them engaged.  And I think what I've got is a good story.  As long as I make it clear what the length of the book is, I think I can mitigate the risk of reader disappointment.  And I will probably include a foreward that discusses these very points so readers understand why the book is short.

So, I consider this approach the best one possible, under the circumstances.  The alternative is waiting another two years for my next release.  And that seems unacceptable to me.  In this case, the "art of the possible", or, perhaps, the "possibility of art", suggests releasing a serialized novella/novel this spring.

I don't typically have a lot of interaction with my readers, but I welcome any feedback that anyone may have.


  1. I'm looking forward to the next chapter of the series regardless of what form it takes, though waiting less than 2 years would be a positive lol.

  2. Thanks, Scott! I am interpreting your comment about 2 years as encouragement to go for the shorter path. :)