Today, I finished the first draft of “Sect of the Rounded Stone”. I’ve actually done a second draft of a number of chapters, too, so once could easily say that I finished the first-and-a-half draft of the book. It took longer than I wanted it to, partly because there were a lot of details that needed to be properly connected together, partly because there’s a lot of story to tell, and partly because it’s hard to write on a train that isn’t running on time.
So, hurrah! The first draft is finished! I was feeling really good about it, too, until I took the all-important step of checking the word count, at which point, I deflated a good 5-6 psi.
“Knight of the Flame” is made up of ~224 thousands words. It’s not a short book. So far, “Sect of the Rounded Stone” is clocking in at ~307 thousand words.
This, of course, presents all kinds of interesting questions regarding the nature of self-publishing, and digital publishing, in particular, the most relevant being: is 307 thousand words too long for a book?
I’ve touched on this before. A digital book can basically be as long as the author likes. Bits don’t weigh anything, and there’s no such thing as a page-count for an ebook (however accurately a particular device might try to estimate one). If you except the sunk cost of the infrastructure used to deliver the bits, here and there, the value of the product is entirely in the words, themselves, and the story they aim to tell. If the words are valuable, then the number of them simply doesn’t matter (so long as you’re not trying to tell short stories, which I’m most decidedly not trying to do).
So, that leaves physical, hard- and soft-bound books. The value there isn’t just in the words. The paper, ink, and binding material all need to be individually purchased in order to go into the whole. The longer a physical book gets, the more of those materials are required, and the higher the final price of the book.
The question then becomes: how many physical copies of this book do I expect to sell? The answer is: really not a whole lot. For my first book, I sold roughly 100 digital copies for every physical one. Makes physical books seem a bit trivial, doesn’t it?
A possible addendum to the previous thought, I suppose, is: what happens when the books are being republished in a mass-market format, and they’re just too big to print? I’ve decided, however, that this is an exercise in setting the cart firmly before the horse, and every body knows that horses can’t push.
So, what to do now? Why, the second draft, of course! I’m in the rather fortuitous position of being between jobs at the moment, which means I’ve got an abundance of time to write between interviews and phone calls to set up interviews. Let’s see just how quickly I can finish draft 2 and get some review copies out the door!