Friday, June 10, 2011

Where to begin, and why I love independent publishing

A common problem I've noticed people commenting on is the difficulty in beginning a story.  Leave it to me to have a completely different issue!  I have lots of stuff written, in fact before I started getting serious about publishing my work, I had written 187 chapters, some long enough to qualify as a novella on their own.

The task of splitting the story into separate books began.  I thought I had a good start, but I was told that at 187,000 words, my first book was far too long.  So I broke it off even earlier, at just 135,000 words.  Then the next problem became obvious; due to the length of the entire story, there has to be a good deal of setup.  Setup, while utterly necessary to the story, isn't nearly as exciting as when the plot gets into full swing.  Don't misunderstand me, there is excitement in my setup, which is essentially the first book, but it builds slowly.  The main character also begins as a fairly inexperienced woman, and grows steadily throughout the entire storyline.

I toyed with the idea of pulling a miniature Star Wars maneuver, and beginning the first book in the middle, then backtracking, but I couldn't figure out a good way of stepping back to provide the beginning.  I ended up writing a prologue that does a fairly good job of introducing some of the truly important individuals in the later books and a hint at what will be happening later on when all heck breaks loose.

So now my story progresses more like the early Babylon 5 episodes, where lots of things are going on that at first don't seem to have much cohesive meaning, but after having read the entire series, nearly every single thing that has happened earlier will fit into the whole like the pieces of a huge puzzle.

I'll admit, the first two volumes of the first book do not have a whole lot of action, and no real romance.  That will change, on both counts!  When the time is right.

Is this the right way to go about it?  I have no idea.  Some people love what I have published so far, while others find it too slow.  One of the many wonderful things about independent publishing is that, if we learn that something isn't working out right, we can change it!

I recently split my first book into three volumes because I knew I needed to give away some of my writing for free, and didn't have the heart to give away all 135,000 words.  Now I'm giving them away anyway, so I'm contemplating re-joining the volumes.  I had also originally had a certain level of romance in the first book, but took it out so my children could review my writing without having to skip sections.  Maybe I should re-join them and also add back the juicier bits?  It's a thought.  I do love independent publishing.


  1. my indie author/publishing friend Kristie Cook is doing a series as well. she told me that she followed all the suggestions her crit partners had given her for the first book in her series and now she hates it.

    i'm having a similar problem with the sequel to my first fantasy novel. after several drafts, i've realized that i was writing the story for everyone else and not for me-- and it was sucking the life out of the story and me to do that. now i want to go back and start not quite from scratch but pretty close. i sure couldn't do that if i were under contract. also, i'm in the middle of getting my house ready to sell and my brain can't handle that and writing. sure glad i'm an indie.

  2. Thank you, you just helped me make my decision. I am going to re-edit my first book and put back in the parts I had removed. For a while there I thought I should try to appeal to a young adult audience, but the later books simply can't be re-written well to do that. And... it doesn't feel right.

    I'm going to write it the way the story itself demands.