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Editing Flight

There are three things I'm struggling with Flight of the Scions. I'm pretty sure no author in the world struggles with these (*cough*) but that seem to be weighing on my mind rather heavily. One, I have a plan for but the other two are undecided.

The first is traditional or self-publish. I'm self-publishing under my other byline and enjoying myself greatly. I like creating covers and setting everything, getting it to fit together and just seeing a book that I created from end to end. I get to make decisions about fonts to use, illustrations, and colophons. On the other hand, self-publishing is "easy" in that there is no one deciding if my work sucks. I could put garbage out and make it look pretty. Plus, I know many successful people have done it (self-publish, not create garbage), most of my writerly associates/friends are self-published in some form and I think it is fantasic. But, I want to be great and... that is not something I can decide. Plus, traditional published would get me in more doors than I can right now.

Related to that is the second problem--length. Yeah, I'm whining a bit about it, but right now, Flight is 196k words. The sweet spot for most fantasy novels appears to be around 80k with a standard deviation around 15k words. So, using completely made up math, I could say being a good writer would let me go 2? or 120k words. Being a great writer would be 4? or 150k words. Even making that up, 200k is not anywhere near the sweet spot. :) I like math, but made up math is more fun.

From prior experience, I won't be able to take out 100k words from the novel. It isn't reasonable to even take out 50k. However, if I reduce the novel to a single point of view... and re-write a single chapter, I could probably reduce it down to 123k words. Which, with some editing, could easily be a 100k novel.

(If you are curious, I figured this out using: for i in chapter-*.txt;do a=$(grep 'Point of View' $i | cut -f 2- -d : | cut -c 2-);b=$(wc -w $i);echo $b $a;done | grep Kan | cut -f 1 -d ' ' | awk '{total = total + $1}END{print total}'. I am seriously geeky some days because each chapter is tagged with location, point of view, characters involved, and the like just so I can do stuff like that. Because it's fun.)

The problem is, I think those 73k words were important enough to add. They increase the depth of the story and show the things the main character won't ever know. They have the reasons behind one of the major plots, establishing histories and character development intended go through FOTS (should be SF though if I rename it), PD, VS, and into DC (all four proposed books).

I don't know if I should add or remove it. Obviously, I have to make a decision. The writing world doesn't really seem to be into director's/author's cut of novels yet. And, cutting it now may impact the long-term plot. The problem is: I don't know.

Traditional press doesn't seem to work well with huge novels for newbies. And this isn't a story I can split in half. I've read two novels that did that recently and it comes down to my friend's Evyl's comment at the end of Fellowship of the Ring: That's it!?

Self-publishing, on the other hand, can handle the larger books. There are a ton of them set out at GenCon every year and they seem to do very well (Elfhunter, A Prisoner's Welcome). My favorite book, Paksenarrion is 1,024 (power of two, *squee*) pages long but Elizabeth Moon is a role model of mine and it is three full novels. And she's filled with novels already and the more novels, the longer you can go.

So, I guess it comes down to story. Is the 200k word version worth it? Is it that important to me? Is the lack of plot in the 123k word version going to be a problem.

That comes to the final third problem, which has a plan: editing. I'm going to get Flight edited. Now, I thought it would cost a thousand, maybe two at the most, because MG cost me just over a thousand. However, after a weekend of sticker shock and awesome people being helpful, I know that it is probably closer to $6k to get it edited. Editing will help me in a few ways: tight up the writing as much as possible, make sure it is as solid of a story as possible if I go traditional, and make sure it is top-quality if I do the self-publish route. It is a bit of paralysis since I'll be sitting on it for another 3-12 months while I save up for it, but what's another year? And maybe by then, I'll figure out the 200k/123k problem and the traditional/self-publish.

(I really want the 200k traditional publish solution, though.)

(There is also a risk that early industrial/steampunk won't be popular in a year, but that's something I have to also risk.)

I'm planning on continuing getting this edited by the writing group. And beg for beta readers to improve it. By the time I get the money for an edit, it should be the best I can write (again).

I'm also going to probably start editing DG (for another byline) and start on PD (the sequel to Flight). Maybe a few short stories among all my other projects.