Book three news: It may be twins!
I'm back at work on An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom after a difficult 2013. Hard at work, actually--the writing is coming much more easily, to the point that I now face something of a dilemma. I think I know what I'm going to do, but I'd like to talk with you about it.
Part of what tripped me up so badly last year (besides being sick or recovering from surgery a lot of the time) was structuring book three. I have two major story arcs that had to continue right away: Sedra's impending marriage and Temmin's continuing education and growth toward kingship. And then there's poor Mattie. I couldn't figure out how to shoehorn it all into one book with a unifying story-in-story from the History. I puzzled until my puzzler was sore. I knew I was going to have to split it into two parts, but where was the logical split? I even dragged poor Netta into a whinging, epic Skype chat, which helped a little but left me with no clear answer and Netta with a headache.
And then it came to me a few weeks ago. I was given a particular template to aid in outlining. I sat down with it and boom, in two days I had an outline for the whole shebang. It works chronologically, it gives shape to the book and it allows me to tell the story I want to tell. I went to town and put down/organized more usable words on it in the last two weeks than in the previous six months. Here's the thing, though. As I work on it, I realize I don't have one book with two parts. I have two complete books, each with their own beginnings, middles and endings.
Which brings me to you.
I am leaning very hard toward splitting this into two smaller books. In IHGK terms, "small" is relative. Normally the books weigh in between 145,000-150,000 words. If I release these as one book, it'd be in the 145,000 word range. If I release it as two, each would be in the 90,000 word range--smaller than usual, but keep in mind if I did them as one volume it would not be one 180,000+ word book. That's just too long, sorry; it makes the paperback way too expensive, and I like being able to give people the paper option. I'd have to make cuts and leave stuff out. Here are the pros and cons.
- I have what would become book three well under way. If I maintain even a modest pace, I'll be finished with this first draft in mid-April or so barring disaster. I'd need two weeks off then time for revisions, so let's say it would be ready for the editor in...we'll call it June to be safe. I could have it out the door and in your hands by August. If I do the two books together it would take me until close to the fall to finish the draft at this pace.
- Sedra would get her own book, something a lot of you have asked for. (Yay, Sedra!)
- We'd get twice as much awesome cover art from Alice Fox--if she's available--I haven't had a timeframe for her, so I haven't booked her yet. If she isn't, we can in all likelihood turn to Bea Gonzalez again and know we'll get great art either way. And if neither of them are available...well, I have backups for my backups, all artists I like and know you will, too.
- If I do the two storylines separately both Temmin and Sedra will have room for stories-in-story; only Sedra would get one otherwise. There'd be room for more story, period, as two separate books, at least 40,000 words' worth between them.
- I'd have room for Mattie's continuing story as sub-plots in both books.
- You'd have to buy two books, not one. If they stay in the 90,000-word ballpark, they'd be $3.95--$7.90 total for both books (paperbacks would be in the $12.95 range, I think). Were it one book, it'd be $4.95/$16.95 (but you'd be getting less story).
- For the first time, Temmin would be a supporting character in an entire IHGK book and not the lead. It puts his story arc off a while; you won't find out exactly what happens to him after the explosive end of Son in Sorrow for another book.
- It will cost me more in editing, artwork, production and distribution. (Those are costs I'm willing to bear, though, and I'm bringing some production in-house.)
- I might be able to finish the one book faster than the two together, though with the two-book plan you'd have Sedra's book on the shelf and in your hands way, way sooner. Instead of book three in August-ish and book four in spring 2015 (maybe sooner--I've got some of it laid down but not much and I don't want to over-promise), I could possibly have a mega-book-three to you in winter 2014/2015. Temmin's book is brand-new material, all of it. There's nothing I can use from the original serial draft for him; we're into terra incognito as far as he's concerned. Either way, that particular section (or separate book) is going to take longer to write since I have at least a little of Sedra's story from the original serial to draw upon--but not much. Her story is a lot different than it was, as is the story-in-story of Macca Princess Royal of Sairland.
I will be frank with you: I'm heavily leaning toward the two-book approach. I want you to have some IHGK sooner than later. The stories truly are separate; this would not be an artistic compromise to split the one book in two. I'm coming to you because I want to gauge how you'd feel about a largely Temmin-less book in the series and how you'd feel about paying for two smaller books instead of one normal-sized book. Even though I give you what you need, not necessarily what you want (see: Son in Sorrow), I don't want to alienate you guys too much!
Let me know in the comments what you think.
(PS: The newsletter version of this has teasers for the two books/parts; subscribe for access!)