Tuesday, November 25, 2008

To split, or not to split? That is the question!

The tree did split.  Fun one, huh?  It's from the parking lot of the school where Elizabeth does orchestra.  I got bored sitting there and had to get creative.  Should I split though?  That is the real question.  I've been trying to decide if I'm going to split the book that I've been working on.  I keep waffling.  

Here's the thing:  YA books' target length is 60K-80K words, and mine weighs in at a whopping 115K.   I've shaved and cut and that's where it stands.  In the euphoria of finishing my manuscript, I sent out some so-so queries stupidly to the wrong people (who accept YA but not what I write--now that I've seen what they particularly want online--oops!  sorry about that!  I was so naive.) and some of the right people (who weren't interested at this time, thank you very much) that I got from a book.  I looked online too, but obviously not enough. 

There is so much stuff out there once you start looking and know what you're looking for.  Now that I kind of have a clue about what I'm doing, (Thanks to Nathan Bransford and other agents' websites like his--Thanks Nathan!  I worship at your feet--well sort of, and not in any stalker-like manner) I want to start all over again.  I didn't completely strike out.  I had some interest and even a request for a full, but no takers so far.  I still have yet to hear back from 2 agents. When I hear back from them I'm starting over with a little savvy this time.  If I need to make the split this is the perfect time to do it.

Some of the things I've read lately talk about how much harder it is for anyone to take on a new author (in this economy) especially if the book is long.  It's such a big risk for the publishers, etc., etc., and I totally get that.  The agent who requested the full said that she didn't think it was commercial enough in the current market.   Is a part of it, that it is too long?  It could be.  So I think I really should split my book.  There's a natural break about half way through that with a little tweaking could be the end of the first book.  It would be right about 80K words.  Still in the ballpark. Then there's a built in sequel.

I finally make up my mind that splitting it is the best thing to do, and then I think I've lost the aforementioned mind.  There is so much great stuff going on in the second half of the book.  What if the book tanks because the best part is in the second half and no one gets to read it.  The sequel never happens because the 1st book stinks.  Waaah! 

Then I think I should just lose the first half of the book and incorporate what's necessary in the 2nd half and voila a shorter book, but the building up of the tension and characters is what makes the 2nd half of the story make sense.

Some agents say that it's the writing that counts.  Yeah, but what about all those agents who won't read something over 80K for YA?  I'm in such a quandary.  Any ideas? advice? 


spinregina said...

This is very out of my element, YA, but I lean towards the split. What appeals to me most is the built-in (and finished) sequel. Changes your query somewhat, doesn't it, to say 2 full completed manuscripts...auto 2 book deal.

I find it difficult, too, to figure out who to query. Which would lead me to not having done it yet.

Good for you! Good for you!

beth said...

This sucks. No two ways about it. For what it's worth, here's my two cents:

1. Don't keep it at 100+k words. That really is too long for an unpubbed YA writer breaking out.

2. Shoot for around the 70/80k mark, that's a good starting point. Although, to be honest, I just finished a rewrite of mine that weighed in at 75k and am worried that it is too long. I plan on cutting at least 5k, preferably 10k words from that.

3. Figure out what the best story in what you already have is, so you know what part of the 80k you can trim. I'm betting this will mostly be beginning and middle.

Take a look at your manuscript. Do you really have two distinct books? Unless there is really and truly a natural and definite break in the books, then I think a lot of this will be trimming fat and going directly to the heart of the problem. Do you focus on more than one story line? Maybe where your two books lie is not splitting one big one in half, but in separating a minor character's storyline that is taking up too much room in the text.

This is going to be hard--at least, it would be hard for me, as I hate and revile revisions. GOOD LUCK!!!!!

spinregina said...

Much better advice. Take hers.

lotusloq said...

Kristen, Thanks for the support. I thought I knew who to query, but I know a lot more about what I'm doing now and realized I really wasn't ready.

Beth, Thanks for you expertise in this. It's going to be torture for me, but I know I have to do it. I've been feeling it coming for a couple of months. I guess the best thing for me to do is eliminate some of the subplots and take it back to the essential story and no more.

I'll keep you posted.

Cortney said...

I'm no expert, just an expert reader. ;) I say split. And add a little. Is that even possible??

Hannah Beth said...

If it makes you feel any better at all, I liked the first part the very best. The story of them getting together in and of itself can stand on its own two feet, in my opinion...

keep me posted!