Sunday, June 1, 2014

Splitting ONE In two

One year ago I called my fantasy epic "finished" at 128,850 words after ten years of development, and launched a spirited campaign pitching it to literary agents. One year ago I was certain that in one year, I'd be well on my way to getting published. Ain't that a B?

Finally finding an agent kind enough to give me advice after she initially rejected me, I learned that traditional publishers are more than likely to shun any work over 100K words from a new author. Still clinging to the notion that those publishers were my only route to a broad readership, I knew I couldn't cut 30K words (about 90 pages) from my novel, so I decided, maybe it could work as two?

Yeah, maybe it could. That approach worked out all right for the "Kill Bill" movies, originally intended as one film, then separated into two volumes due to length. Each functions compellingly as a self-contained story, together feeding a larger narrative. A sizable portion of moviegoers would have probably passed on a film in excess of four hours, no matter the reputation of its creator and key players, so this seemed like a prudent move to get as many consumers on board as possible.

Applying this same principle to my book, I've found that aside from my grandmother, who read the whole bastard in all its glory in about three hours after a copy arrived on her doorstep, much of the rest of my family seem daunted by the size. Either that or they think it blows and want to shelter my feelings, but I doubt it. So, I thought, maybe the only way a bunch of total strangers will give it a shot is if it's broken down into a couple more compact reads.

It's already divided into four main parts with a natural halfway point, which comes at my protagonist's tumultuous departure from his father, leaving off on a cliffhanger brought on by a major decision that sets his trajectory for the latter half. With two very distinct progressions of his growth on either side of this break, each with its own beginning, middle and end around full-fledged relationships, trials and tribulations, they could both be self-sufficient.

But, thinking back to when I was writing it, I realized, never once for even a split second did I think this was two books. It was always one, from the moment its microscopic beginnings hit me at thirteen to when I typed THE END at twenty-four. All kinds of subtle details woven throughout the first half work to enhance the significance of the second, creating an intricate tapestry that, if torn, would leave loose, tattered threads dangling aimlessly towards each other across a wide disconnect.

Sure, if the first volume did well enough, there would be that loyal handful closely re-reading every word the day before the second came out, having it all fresh in their minds, but still, maybe some of the magic in reading it the first time might be lost, and maybe a great many others will only rely on their memory of reading it a year before.

While just beginning to learn about the prolific opportunities offered by e-publishing, as well as the successes of many independent authors of books much larger than mine, who refused to mutilate or mold their work to fit a business model proven to sell, I'm encouraged that any well-written, memorably marketed book will gain momentum with an audience it deserves.

Thinking about seeing my book published as "A Facet For The Gem: Vol. 1," and, "A Facet For The Gem: Vol. 2," I hoped that, if both were successful, they could eventually be re-released as one, like I originally intended. Instead, I think I'll be true my creation from the get-go. And if I've done my job right, when people read A Facet For The Gem from start to finish, they'll take to heart one of its most central messages, that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

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