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Old threads > Peeve: Publishers chopping Fantasy books down

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message 1: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne (jeannekc) I know we already have a "Pet Peeve" thread, but this is a different topic.

Here lately I have heard way too often how writers of Fantasy books are being asked by publishers to chop their book in half and make it into two or even three books since "series" are what is popular. Because of this practice we no longer get REAL epic fantasy anymore, but rather we have to buy 3 $10 books of 350 pages where we used to be able to get 1 $10 book of 800-1000 pages.

I don't know about any of the rest of you, but this really annoys me! I read the entire Wheel of Time Series, as well as have read all the available books in A Song of Ice and Fire and find I really LIKE a nice good long fantasy read. 350 pages just isn't enough to develop a rich fantasy world IMHO.

So am I all alone in this? It seems to me that the publishers are going for profit rather than being true to the craft.


message 2: by Robin (new)

Robin (RobinSullivan) | 629 comments I can't say that I've heard much about this - and I try to keep my ear to the various trends in publishing. I know that it seemed like that for Name of the Wind - so I would not be surprised on that one - but in general I think most authors who write series have them "planned" for that.

I have heard that many publishers don't like long works for first time authors so it may be that some of the authors are doing it to themselves - Leslie for instance alluded to that recently.

I personally like the smaller "episode" type reads then huge volumes but I'm very goal oriented and I like treking through my TBR's - I know Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell took me a long long time to read and ultimately I was not "captivated" by this work.


message 3: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne (jeannekc) I guess if it were presented as an episodic presentation or serialization, such as Stephen King's original presentation of Green Mile book box set, AND priced accordingly I wouldn't mind. But I have heard more than once that a writer (and these are first time publishing writers) who have been told to cut a book into two because they don't publish books of that length for first time writers. Where I have read some of these chopped in half books, I felt like they would have been far better off to have left the in one piece.


message 4: by Bradley (new)

Bradley Actually I have reviewed a good long fantasy read. Here it is:

Ivory Sword The Lore of DAYONE


message 5: by Eric (last edited Feb 06, 2009 06:19AM) (new)

Eric (songwind) I think this practice (particularly with new authors) is more about the expense of the longer books compared to their likely revenue-generating power. Even back in the 80s and 90s you would frequently see really long stand alone books end up as two paperbacks, because price and physical structure demanded it. To Green Angel Tower , anyone?


message 6: by Robin (new)

Robin (RobinSullivan) | 629 comments Id be surprised if most publishers would look forward to a multi-book deal for an "unknown" new writer. Probably the the thing they want the most is a stand-alone shorter work. With the "potential" for more.


message 7: by Elise (new)

Elise (ghostgurl) | 582 comments Hmm, I don't know about that. It seems like a lot of the new books coming out now are still massive epics of 700+ pages, or maybe that's a lot of what I've been buying lately. I actually don't mind it if they do decide to break it up into more than one book, as long each book can be ended reasonably well. Breaking it up makes it feel less like climbing a mountain. I'm sure it makes people more likely to buy the book(s) as well. It's a good marketing strategy.


message 8: by Jeanne (new)

Jeanne (jeannekc) Bradley wrote: "Actually I have reviewed a good long fantasy read. Here it is:

Ivory Sword The Lore of DAYONE. I also just finished A Song for Arbonne and just loved it! The culminating war only occupied about 30 pages of the 512 page book but it was the whole story behind why the war occurred that was so fascinating.



message 9: by Bradley (new)

Bradley The Ivory Sword was rather enjoyable. It was focused some on war at the beginning, but it quickly turns into a surprising tapestry of characters on various adventures. You might like it. Plus the two writers of the book are nice folks. =)


message 10: by Jane (new)

Jane (jane_jones) Well the last two books I read - Name of the Wind and Griffen's Daughter did feel as though the publisher just split them up into multiple books. In the case of Griffen's Daughter it might have been because of what Jeanne said. Name of the Wind though was definitley not a short book ;-) It is one of the things I didn't like about it was how it just "ended" mid way.

Now compare these two with Crown Conspiracy and Mistborn. Both of these books seemed "designed" into multiple books - they each told a complete and fullfilling story but left enough to want you to explore more of their world. From a pure "length" standpoint. I like books that are not so "fat" - Even Mistborn which I loved could have been trimmed significantly and still enjoyed. I think (for me at least) The Crown Conspiracy was a perfect length - I got enough to get the "feel" but it wasnt IMO bogged down with a lot of background.


message 11: by Nozomi (new)

Nozomi (N0zomi) | 8 comments Readers are sometimes discouraged by long novels. Especially since most people are busy. Publishers know this.

I'm perfectly fine with books being split, as long as it's not too obvious. Don't get me wrong, I love George R.R. Martin's and Alexandre Dumas' series, and I'm fine with long novels. But sometimes, I'd rather read a shorter 350-400 page novel. Especially since I have college classes to study for.


message 12: by Jim (new)

Jim (JimMacLachlan) I'd rather see smaller books for wear & use purposes. All our Jordan & Clancy books fall apart fairly quickly where the smaller paperbacks don't. A paperback is a very portable book for me. I should be able to hold it easily in one hand while eating, fit it in my lunch box or coat pocket. It's why I prefer them to hardbacks.


message 13: by Janny (new)

Janny (JannyWurts) | 730 comments There are quite a lot of reasons why publishers are chopping down books - and that some books that would do better as one volume are coming out as two.

Since the collapse of the ID (independent distributor) market in the latter nineties, a huge volume of specialty sales have been lost. Many independent bookstores closed, too, and chains became more nationally led.

This has meant that the buying patterns for local markets are not focused. The same shelf at a chain at a small town will have the same books as a chain store in a large city. Loss of volume sales has drastically cut down on the already very narrow profit margins for books.

The publishers never made a large amount on niche markets. Cutting down the size of books means less cost per unit. A very fat book that sells out is less likely to go back to reprint than an thin one, selling out in the same period, as the reprint runs are smaller and costing out another run can make or break, by the number of pages.

There is a lot more to the inside view of how the industry works. Most decisions are not made, due to greed, or because a new author isn't worthy, but trying to cut the fine line between making a success or a failure, and the ability to keep a book active on the backlist.

I do not enjoy cliff hanger endings, for series books, but that's the way it's happening, due to the unpredictability of the market, being hit again and again and yet again by very rapid, often sweeping changes. There's quite a lot of scrambling to keep a list on solid footing with so many shifts within the industry.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

My Children of The Dragon series is a group of stand alone novels about different characters in the series and covering a variety of different timelines in the same thread. My first book is 336 pages, my anthology, which contains illustrated versions of the next four books, is 344 pages. To expect anyone to adhere to a specific type of cutting or editing is to basically make every author prescribe to a formulaic style of writing. My books are also sold in trade paperback format and large paperback format to save the cost without sacrificing the quality of the writing or the plot. Many publishers are not concerned with that. They are concerned with making profit. Ultimately, it's the reader who decides how much to spend and on what. Loss of volume sales is based on that factor alone, and it's the same across the board for all publishers at the moment. It's the economy.


colleen the fabulous fabulaphile (blackrose13) I mentioned in my intro that I used to be intimidated by big books... and while I've gotten over it (one of my recent faves is Strange & Norrell which I read in, like, a week because I loved it so much) - I still prefer smaller books...

Part of it is the aforementioned intimidation... but I think a lot of it comes down to practicality:
1) I read a lot on the train, so I prefer books that are easier to transport. (I also prefer paperback to hardcover for this reason, too. Well, that and price).
2) It's a little silly, but I have small hands and larger books tend to cramp my hands before too long. I never got into the practice of lying a book on my lap - I always hold it, and it's harder to hold a larger book.
3) If I'm hearing really mixed reviews about a book, I'm less inclined to give it a chance if it's really long - partly because of time investment, and partly because I almost obsessively finish a book once I start it, and there's that risk that I'll hate it and still force myself to slog through it. It's much easier to give a smaller book a chance...


message 16: by Robin (new)

Robin (RobinSullivan) | 629 comments I'm very impressed blackrose about your JS&MN. Now THAT was a book that intimitated the heck out of me! And I must say that for me at least it was "really hard" to get into.


colleen the fabulous fabulaphile (blackrose13) Strange & Norrell seems to be one of those books that you either get completely swept up... or just don't. When I finished it I had loved it so much, I insisted that my fiancé read it, thinking he would like it, too, as we often have similar tastes. But he also had a really hard time getting into it. He slogged thought it - mostly on my prompting, I think... but he did say he started enjoying it much more once Strange entered the story, so maybe it'll pick up for you, too... :)

I will say, tho, that while I did love Strange & Norrell I did find myself wishing it was broken into smaller chunks, because that was one book my poor little hands had a hard time handling... On the other hand, if it was broken up and people had such a hard time with the first part, they might never continue on...

I did want to add, tho, that while I personally prefer easier to handle chunks, I don't think a publisher should ever force an author to release a book in any format other than that which he/she prefers... but I imagine the publishers have far more of a say in the matter than not...


message 18: by Robin (new)

Robin (RobinSullivan) | 629 comments blackrose wrote: "Strange & Norrell seems to be one of those books that you either get completely swept up... or just don't. When I finished it I had loved it so much, I insisted that my fiancé read it, thinking he..."

I did finish it and ultimately gave it a "postive" rating. I agree whole heartidly though I would have broken it down into multiple volumes and maybe worked a bit on the footnotes (some were just too long!)




message 19: by pete (last edited Apr 01, 2009 10:38PM) (new)

pete hi all,

i don't have alot of time to read and when i do i read pretty slow. i always try to view how a book is rated before i get into it. the fact that Strange & Norrell won the awards it did helped me go for it although i read the mixed reader reviews. i'm glad i did because i really enjoyed it although it took me a while to read. its one book where i actually changed my normal schedule to read more than normal. guess i might be in the minority of those who actually enjoyed the footnotes a lot...seemed to give it an authentic flavor that i thought was really cool!


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Books mentioned in this topic

The Green Mile (other topics)
Ivory Sword: The Lore of Dayone (other topics)
To Green Angel Tower (other topics)
A Song for Arbonne (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

George R.R. Martin (other topics)
Alexandre Dumas (other topics)