Saturday, 26 November 2011

Multiple enemy contacts

As in 'no plan survives first contact with the enemy'...

This is something like the third time I've changed my core plan since deciding in March to go the self-publishing route, so some explanations are in order. Particularly since I'm not sure whether I'm changing plans this time or not. Any and all opinions welcome (okay, this is the internet. Any and all relevant, considered opinions welcome ;D).

So I'm thinking of abandoning my plan to publish The Non-Agency as a trilogy and instead publishing a single volume version as soon as parts 2 and 3 are ready (basically, 'Heaven Can Wait' will disappear from Amazon, to be replaced with a single 200,000-word book 'The Non-Agency').

The key reason for this has to do with the problems, which I've mentioned but not yet discussed in detail, I've had with part 2 of the trilogy, 'Some Kind of Angel'. The first draft turned out lacking everything that made the first book good. One particular problem is that SKOA is bloated and sluggish, and I think one of the big reasons for that is all the work I had to put in in the first half re-introducing and explaining stuff that is introduced very smoothly in HCW.

The third part, 'Don't Fear the Reaper', has no such problem, because I made a conscious decision not to explain all that stuff in the first draft. As a result, it's much more streamlined and, despite being fairly slow-paced, it moves along a lot better than SKOA. As I've been preparing to rewrite SKOA, reading back through it, my inner editor has been screaming at me to chop out all that explanatory gubbins.

One of the things that has been a common theme in the feedback I've received (not that there's been a whole lot of it, what with having only sold 7 copies...) on HCW has been that people really enjoyed learning about how the world of the trilogy works. SKOA in its current incarnation spends too much time retreading that ground, not enough time breaking new ground, and the little bits of new ground it breaks are lost in the heaps of old stuff.

That's not to say there aren't other serious problems with SKOA. I don't consider myself an expert on the technical side of writing, so I don't normally do 'how to write' blogs, but SKOA's given me a whole lot of material for one or more potential 'how not to write' posts, which I may do over the next few weeks. Among SKOA's other problems are a lack of an arc for the main character, the third act being on back-to-front at the moment, and some deeply unlikable side characters (who, in fairness, are supposed to be unlikable; you've just got to understand why they can still like each other...).

That's beside the current point, though. I can do a lot to help SKOA by relieving it of the burden of being a book in its own right. There are other plusses to amalgamating the trilogy into one book (besides getting to use the word 'amalgamating'. Twice!); the collected version will come in at almost 200,000 words, which is much more the length ball-park for epic fantasy. I've blogged before about how lost I am in the field of YA fantasy, but at 63,000 words, 'Heaven Can Wait' sits quite uneasily in the 'grown-up' fantasy section. The collection will also look distinctly less pitiful as a paperback - more like 650 pages than 200 (which in 8' by 5' trade size looks more like a textbook than a novel).

The main downside is for the handful of people who've bought HCW on its own, particularly for full price. These folk - to whom, after all, I owe a great deal more by way of gratitude and goodwill than I do to the rest of the world - face having to pay for HCW twice. I don't know how I'd feel in their place, but I know there certainly are people in the world who'd object. Maybe the concerns of seven people shouldn't make much of a difference to what's essentially a commercial decision, but desperation hasn't yet stripped me of my conscience, so at very least I'm going to have to make some arrangement to cover the lapse.

Anyway, that's my thinking on the subject. Thoughts?

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