One Big Book or Two Smaller Books?

Big Books And Deadlines

1Axiom_200x300I underestimated how many words my co-writer Linda and I needed for each planned scene in our Wanderer of Worlds contemporary fantasy series. As a result, we’ve missed our self-imposed December 2014 deadline, for sure. An extra 70-90K will do that to you; it ate into our editing schedule, which also doubles because the wordcount doubled.

Since it’s really book one expanding into two, we had to squish a new title, Untethered, between the original one and two. Each title and cover makes sense to the story found within.

Axiom was only supposed to be between 80-100K words long but our new guess, using current wordcounts per scene as a guide, is around the 180K mark. Book One has grown into a monster, which poses a costing problem that will affect our readership.

Points I Had To Consider

2Untethered_200x300Even though thick books are often loved by fantasy readers and there’s perceived value in a large tome, e-readers don’t show the size of the spine. The paperback itself would be pricey, and I’m trying to attract a readership to the series. There’s a certain point when price becomes a sticking point, and it’s lower for unknown authors. I want to make the paperbacks as affordable as possible, and I can’t do that if there’s 600 pages to print. The print cost will be high. If I can get it down to 300 pages each, I can be under $10 which is an attractive price for a paperback.

Since I have a multiple book series, the decision to split the first book doesn’t impact the overall feel of the series. There are critical story points in a few places throughout book one that I can cut at rather than just randomly ending, though I will have to reshuffle the scenes a little bit. Splitting the books also gives me the added benefit of being one book ahead of the release dates, which isn’t much of a cushion but it’s better than nothing. I don’t want a big break between books coming out… certainly not near the start.

We want to release two books a year… it’s achievable if we stay focussed, without rushing. That would see the whole series in three and a half years if we keep that momentum. It’s hard to know what kind of momentum I’ll have next year, because I’ll be able to write freely every day. At the moment I only have two or three proper writing days a week because I have a child in kindy. When she starts school, I’m going to double that writing time… which I mean to double my output with. It’s entirely possible I can achieve more than two books a year… but I don’t want to make any more promises I can’t keep or deadlines zipping past.

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13 thoughts on “One Big Book or Two Smaller Books?

      1. I’m sure it looks more impressive as one book… I’ll miss out on that myself. Are you selling it digitally only or as paperback too? Did you care about price at all? I imagine my thought process on price would be very different if the book was a stand-alone rather than the start of a series.

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  1. I would personally rather have two good-length books than one gigantic one, both as a writer and a reader. In small part due to the price, but also to lessen the intimidation factor.

    I have owned 1Q84 for like 4 years now and every time it comes up as my next read, I cower at the sight of that beast. O.O

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    1. Thanks for another viewpoint, and not one I immediately think of as I usually get excited when seeing a sizeable book… the kind that feels like I’ve just had another life with rather than going on an adventure. I know what you mean though, there ARE some paperbacks on my shelf that I put aside to get through a shorter book instead. I’d forgotten about that attitude. My e-reader removes such bias. 🙂

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      1. Well, it’s also a matter of if these potentially divided books can stand on their own as well, which I’m assuming is the case otherwise it’d make for sort of a moot point, hm?

        So long as there is enough story there to substantiate the reason for the split, or for keeping them together, the other stuff shouldn’t exactly weigh too heavy on the decision, you know?

        (Sorry for the über late response by the way. :P)

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      2. Pfft, no apology needed.
        I agree that the divided book needs to make sense because I personally dislike when books just stop, like they’ve been chopped. However, Wanderer of Worlds isn’t episodic… it’s one continual story. I don’t know if that will work for or against us. I’ll let you know in 3.5 years 😉

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  2. My first-ever novel calved over several years into a four-book series, each book between 77k and 97k. Easier to split them when they’re somewhat linear, as mine were. I can appreciate the difficulty you face. A more recent novel of mine went through major morphing three different times as I rearranged the spokes on the wheel, a far different structure than I’m accustomed to. Keep that pen to paper!

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    1. Isn’t that interesting, that expanding into second or third books is more common than I realised? wonder how many trilogies or multi-book series’ were originally intended as a single book but grew too big for its pages? Thank you for sharing your own experience, especially about the reshuffling. That will take some discussion!

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