In VOX LIT April 2018 :
IN THE FREE VOXLIT ON-LINE THIS MONTH:
This month, many of our old contributors are back and we again have some new ones. Welcome to Paul Johnson, Angie Elliston, Alieu Bundu, TrayCee Thomas, Jeremy Lynn, Kyrian Lyndon, John Dill and Keith Guernsey.
In the NEWS section this month James interviews fantasy author Rob Burton, Angie writes about adoption, Sherry gives some advice on how long a debut novel should be, John writes about his creative influences, Amanda owns up to procrastination, Kyrian tells us why she is grateful for just being and TrayCee explores the problem of discrimination against LBGT people. Our survey this month looks at the use of reading and writing to deal with psychological issues. And there’s a spoof April Fool’s Day advert for those with creative writing talents.
In the BOOK REVIEWS page this time we have reviews of both fiction and non-fiction books from James and Ted.
The FEATURES section is our biggest ever. Ted has contributed a hilarious short story highlighting outrageous government spending projects. We have other short stories from Paul, Keith, and Alieu. For the first time, we have introduced a poet’s page, with a new poem from our old friend Zaheera and also one from new contributor Jeremy.
Our WRITERS’ NOTES page, we explore how to create reader involvement by the use of extended metaphors.
Finally, don’t forget the CONTRIBUTORS page, which has details of all our old and new contributors with links to their web pages, where you can find out more about them.
Hope you enjoy this edition and that all our contributors will become your friends. And we want to hear from you too - please use the comments boxes to send us your views.
ARTICLES on other pages....
Interview with fantasy author Rob Burton
Angie Elliston, adopter and author, writes about adoption
Writer TrayCee Truth exposes discrimination against LBGT people
Author Amanda Whitbeck keeps putting things off
John Dill describes what influences a Sci-Fi writer
Kyrian Lyndon tell us why we should be thankful
HOW LONG SHOULD A DEBUT NOVEL BE?
When I was writing the first edition of my first novel, a big question for me was how long should a debut novel be?
One of the first places I went to try to figure this out was Wikipedia. What I found out there was that writing over 40,000 words is considered a novel, but beyond that, it can vary greatly.
40,000 words or over
17,500 to 39,999 words
7,500 to 17,499 words
under 7,500 words
There are a number of factors that can affect the length of your novel, such as genre and whether you plan to self-publish or are looking for a traditional publisher. If you are looking for a traditional publisher, it is also important to note that different publishers may be looking for different minimum word counts. On the flip side, if your manuscript is what they consider to be too long, the publisher may ask you to cut some of it out.
During the process of writing my first book, I read articles and spoke to people in the industry that suggested that a new, unknown author keep their first novel short, for a couple of reasons.
First of all, many publishers are looking for shorter novels for untested authors due to cost and so on, and longer novel lengths are typically reserved for authors who have already proven themselves.
I also read that a shorter novel might better entice readers to give your book a try, as they won’t have to commit to buying a longer and potentially more expensive book by an author they have never read before.
For the first edition of my novel, then, I kept it short at about 60,000 words. However, I felt it needed more fleshing out, and this thought was echoed in a review or two of the book.
When I decided to hire a graphic artist to do the book covers for the entire series, I also decided to re-do the cover of the first book so that the series would look more uniform. This would mean publishing a second edition, and I took this opportunity to develop my story a little more.
In the end, my second edition ended up at around 72,000 words and is, in my opinion, much improved from the first edition. This is still on the short side for my genre, which is fantasy. However, I followed the advice I was given or had read in the beginning concerning first novels and decided to keep it on the short side.
On the flip side of that, I recently read an article that listed publishers who consider new authors. Each of these had minimum word counts well above the numbers I had originally been given or found. However, I have read numerous other articles and books since that repeat this advice.
And, yet again, there are still many publishers who don’t seem to recommend a particular word count.
What take-away messages did I get from all this?
Here is a list of some do’s and don’ts that I learned along the way and would like to pass on to aspiring authors:
DO base the length of your novel on what feels right for your story.
DON’T base the length on factors such as how much the per word cost for editing is.
DO think of the submission guidelines of traditional publishing houses you may wish to submit to or are hoping to catch the eye of with your self-published novel.
DON’T assume all publishing houses are looking for the same thing.
DO think of the purpose and audience of your book when deciding word count. Are you writing fiction or non-fiction? If fiction, which genre, and what age group?
DON’T write a super long book for children, or super short for adults.
And the biggest DO of all:
DO what works best for your particular story.
Below is a list of links to some articles I’ve read relating to word count:
contributed by Sherry LeClerc
COMMENTS ON THIS FROM OTHER WRITERS
Richard Savin ; most publishers are reluctant to take on a new name at much over 100k words - it's about economics and business decisions rather than art.
Schuyler Thorpe My debut novel had 175,000 words. And if people have "issues" with reading large books, then they should be burning every copy of Game Of Thrones and Under The Dome.
Kirsten Moody It sounds smart to me. I think a reader would be more willing to try out your book with a shorter commitment.
Amanda Marshall The two most recent books I read were both debut novels, one written by a complete novice to writing, and one by a journalist. In both cases, the stories were exciting and well paced in the first third, but I felt that the middle sections of the books were filled with irrelevant details that did not deepen the plot or characters, and did not move the story forward.
At last, a victory for ‘masculism’.
It’s unfortunately true that gender stereotyping leads to discrimination and in terms of employment opportunities the victims are usually women. But not always!
For more than fifty years women have had a virtual monopoly in the field of romantic fiction. Men aren’t sensitive or caring enough to write convincingly about LOVE, are they? Well, now it appears they are. Two men have breached the silk and roses walls of the love story fortress and won prizes in this year’s Romantic Novel Awards. They are the first male names to have been chosen since the competition started in 1960.
Congratulations to Kerry Wilkinson who won the young adult category with his novel Ten Birthdays, about a teenage girl coming to terms with bereavement. And congratulations too for Marius Gabriel whose novel The Designer brought him the accolade in the Historical section.
Contributed by James Gault