Wednesday, 8 January 2014

IWSG: A question

It's the time of the month that writers across the world come together to help sort me out... ahem! I mean, offer support to the writing community. To sign up, follow this link... link!

This month I have a question, pure and simple - but first, you'll need some background...

I've been working on my current story for a couple of months - it's actually a novel I started in 2006 which I rediscovered late last year and utterly slashed it down to it's bare bones to rewrite.

I have a crush on a publisher (does that sound weird?) I would love to be published by these guys more than anyone else in the world. They sent out notification of a new ebook series for urban stories for 18-24 year olds.... and guess what? My book fits the bill.

The word count requirement is 30k, which would mean cutting 3500 words (easy-peasy, to be honest).

Okay, that's the background; here's the problem:

  • I haven't yet put in a few of the details I need to, which I think are important, and will probably mean increasing the word count
  • Although this story fits the brief perfectly, the next book may not be contemporary urban fiction - the characters and story come first, the genre can be absolutely anything! I imagine they would want another novella for the same series, rather than just having authors they work with once.

The question: What would you do?
  • Ignore the additional material and cut to fit, with no guarantee - of course - that after all that work the novella might not be accepted?
  • Or would you write the novella/novel you wanted to and look for another publisher, or even submit to that same publisher for their main list?

63 comments:

  1. I would never try to force my work to fit a publisher, however, I have read the book you're talking about and I can't see how there is anything left to add lol! Just write and edit as you would normally, and see where you are with it when you're done. You might balance out the cuts with the new additions and still meet the word count.

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    1. I realised I wrote a story over 7 years without a single mention of Christmas - I need to put in at least the baby's first Christmas. And there are a couple of threads I started and just let slide. I've just never been in a position where I've written too much, ever! It's making me a tad, erm... insecure :-)

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  2. Is the 30k set in stone or would they accept between 30-40k? I'd write the book how you want to write it and see what the word count is when you're done, then go back and see if there's a way to cut it down a little. When you really can't do anymore, send it in. If the story is something they're really interested in, I'd think they'd overlook the wordcount in favor of working with you to make it fit.

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    1. No, unfortunately it's a 20-30k word count. But I think you're right - I have to write the story I want to write first.

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  3. I agree with the above comments re writing the book how you want to write it. If it ends up fitting in with that publisher's new series, then excellent. If not, then maybe it's a sign it belongs in another series of theirs at a later date or with another publisher or self published.

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    1. It seems so obvious when other people say it, but I've really been tying myself in knots trying to work this out by myself!

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  4. Sometimes by reworking, editing, and cutting unnecessary words can make a story tighter and better. See what you can do. Although, write something you will be happy with. If it doesn't work go the whole way and submit elsewhere.

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    1. I don't write unnecessary words though... In fact, I sometimes don't manage to write the necessary ones, so editing for me usually involved adding scenes/words to make sense of what's there already... Unfortunately, this will take me further away from the target :-( Submitting elsewhere might have to be the answer.

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  5. Write it how it needs to be written and send as is. If they want cuts, they will let you know. And if they don't accept it, then you have the story you wanted anyway and can submit elsewhere.

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    1. Yes, half the time that's what I think, Alex... and then the other half I just really want to meet their criteria!!

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  6. people keep telling me to write the story *i* want to tell. if i don't like it, no one will.

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    1. I'll always write the story I want to tell - it's just how I tell it which may vary.

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  7. The second option sounds like it would be more fair to your story. Just write it and polish it for what you want it to be and submit to them as is. That way, you have the story you wanted and it will stand on its own. You can always submit to other publishers later.

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    1. My crush is so huge on these guys that other publishers just don't exist at the moment! :-)

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  8. Given the background you've described...it sounds like you already have a direction which may not fit the way this series you're writing is heading. My opinion is write the story your characters are wanting for this series. Less frustration than wrangling with what you have and trying to make it fit.

    You know what your dream publisher is looking for the novella series. Your mind is already working or imagining one that fits in with those guidelines. That could be your next project. OR, if this publisher has already expressed and interest in these sort of stories and you see their main list has this genre in the line up then write this current series the way you vision is pointing and submit it.

    Sia McKye Over Coffee

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    1. Yes, their main list could possibly be another option.

      I tried to comment on your blog, but I'm not sure it went through. In short: lovely photos, editing's hard and time is never enough :-)

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  9. Do what your gut tells you to do. You'll feel better about it.

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    1. My gut is just as indecisive as I am, unfortunately :-(

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  10. I think it is up to you, but I always write the book I want and look for the publisher that fits my book. But don't trust my word, because my reasoning is probably why I'm not published. Do whatever feels right to you. Best of luck.

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    1. The book will be the same, the additions are just scenes I think the reader might need. But now I'm reading through it, I'm not so sure. Still so very undecided.

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  11. I'm glad you asked this, not because I have any answers, unfortunately, but I learned a lot reading others' answers. Keep us informed how this all works out. And happy New Year!

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    1. LOL! I love IWSG for just that reason - you learn so much! Happy New Year to you too :-)

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  12. Okay, I'm going to throw out a different opinion than pretty much everyone else. Lol. If you really, really want to submit to this, then go for it. You said it'd be easy to cut 3500 words, so do it, just make it a separate document. Keep both, then if they reject you can work on the other one and not worry about word count. That's my two sense, anyway. :)

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    1. And if they say 20k-30k they probably won't care if you're over by 1k or so. :)

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    2. I thought it would be easy - but I've been editing without taking too much notice of the word count and even with deletions, it's stayed exactly the same! I really like the idea of two versions, so I can go back to the full version if I need to (which I probably will...)

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  13. I'm so not qualified to answer this question at all, but here's my gut instinct. Write a story you want to tell, the way you want to tell it, and edit it until you're happy with it. If you try to fit your square peg into a round hole by shaving a little off the sides, it might fit, but you'd have ruined your peg for all the square holes it could have slipped into. Or something like that. I think in analogies.
    I do get the crush thing, though. The suggestion that you have two version might be the way to go for now, that way you still have options. I did that with my last story and ended up with something I really liked, but it was strikingly different than the first draft. And I'm so glad you like it!
    Thanks for being such a loyal supporter at Life is Good. You are appreciated!
    Tina @ Life is Good

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    1. Thanks Tina. I think you've covered most angles here, which is good because I don't want to close any doors if I can help it.

      I can't imagine that story any different, so it's interesting to read that it changed so much in the second draft. I love the way stories develop like that though - it keeps writing interesting.

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  14. If you think your book fits the bill, then go ahead and submit it, but don't do anything you wouldn't be happy with. Best of luck with this!

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  15. I'm a minimalist. I could totally figure out how to squeeze in your details and chop for length. If you go through the piece with a single question in mind, "Is THIS absolutely necessary?" it's surprising what results. I think you should go for it. A publishing credit is a publishing credit, and it will earn you greater exposure when you do put something else out there. I've read numerous short stories in collections that won my heart, and then I found out the author had continued the story in full. Great way to segue into a strong readership.

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    1. The thing is, I'm also a minimalist... which is why I think the additional scenes need to be there. Mostly it's to make the timeline work - ie. the novel spans 7 years, but I didn't once mention Christmas!

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    2. *high five* That's incredible--writing a story that spans so much time. I wrote one once that covered 3 years, and it just lost its momentum for all the time lapsing. Ultimately, I wheedled it down to 1.5 years and focused on "tension all the time." It worked. Yay!

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  16. I agree that you should do what feels right. Don't shoe-horn it in if it won't fit, but if it does then go for it! I'm sure the publisher will tell you about their expectations before anything is set in stone!

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    1. I've spent so long dithering about this, I'm not anything feels right at the moment :-/

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  17. Sounds like you have had some good advice here already, hope it has made things clearer for you. I do agree that you should write the story till you are happy with it without worrying too much about the constraints of word count etc. Maybe when you have done that and edit it again you may see something that can be cut to make it fit the brief of this particular publisher. Best of luck and let us know how you get on.

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    1. Thanks Suzanne. I'm editing without regard of the word count. It's strange, because I'm normally trying to get the word count up to novel length and never quite making it.

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  18. First since it seems Kyra really knows your writing I'd value her opinion the most. But - if it's not too much of a soul suck, I would edit your story down to meet the word count - neaten it up and submit. If you get a nibble, then there's room for negotiation, because meanwhile you've added what you've wanted and made it the story you like. How can they refuse the better version?
    well, yeah - they can say no, but then you shop it around. Win win for 2014. good luck

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    1. I don't tend to have much to edit down though. I did delete a whole scene and shave a lot of another one today, so I'm not doing too badly. Word count is exactly the same though.

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  19. As several have written, you have to follow your instincts and what you know about the project as well as the publisher. This is another of those decisions that will keep you awake a few nights. I hope you find the solution that works for you.

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    1. I'm still going around in circles. I should know exactly what's best for this story, I have no idea why this decision has been so hard!

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  20. Do what you really want. If you want the story first, don't cut it for anyone but you. As for publisher love, I know what you mean. For years and years, I wanted to be published by Tor. It was my ultimate goal. Now I know I'll never fit what they want, and I'm okay with that.

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    1. One of the issues is, the full story may only be 35/36k, which is so close to the word count guideline for this imprint. I'd kick myself if I read the books that make the cut and realise mine would have. On the other hand, because my writing is so tight, cutting anything is so hard. Argh! See, I still have no idea!

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  21. I agree with everyone else, you have to do what you think will best serve the story. If you really think the story can find a home with this publisher, then take the chance. But if not, add what you need to add and find a home for it later. Good luck!

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  22. I'm a fan of story coming first and the commercial enterprise coming next. That doesn't mean you can't sell your work like crazy, but rather that you need to put out your best work up-front instead of just checking off items on a list for the plot, etc. If you can naturally make the story fit, great, otherwise submit it in what feels to be the true form the story needs or move on to other publishers. Hope that helps!

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    1. Oh yes, the story would always come first. The additional details are really for my own peace of mind. Kyra Lennon read it, and has said she doesn't see how I could fit any more in. If I add what I want to, I might end up taking it back out again!

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  23. If the story is important to you, then perhaps you shouldn't try to change it to accommodate this publisher. If you try to write a story in a way that doesn't feel right to you, the readers will notice.

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    1. That wouldn't be my intention. I always stick pretty close to my vision. I write very tightly, so I might find the additional scenes only add a couple of hundred words!

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  24. I have to agree on writing the story how you want it written... never rush it to fit a publisher. Then submit to the publisher you love... if they adore it, they'll work with you on it:) Best of luck.

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    1. I'm the world's slowest writer, rushing isn't a problem LOL!! Thanks Tania :-)

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  25. Hi Annalisa,

    Having pondered your posting and also noting the others, I have to echo the sentiments here. You really have to do what feels right. Think of the best balance. And heck, I know of an acclaimed "pawblisher" :)

    Have a nice weekend, Annalisa.

    Gary

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    1. I'm trying hard to balance it at the moment - but I keep see-sawing!

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  26. If I ***really*** wanted to work with these folks, I'd give 'em what they want. Meanwhile, I'd scribble away at the other stuff I wanted to add till either 1. it's done or 2. I decide it isn't necessary after all. If the publisher were then to opt for the stuff, and I liked the extra stuff, I'd ask if they're interested in checking the new stuff out/using it. If yes, sweet! If not, I'd have to either let it go or withdraw my piece from that publication.

    Another thing I might think about is whether the unfinished threads need to remain...

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    1. Yes, I think you've nailed it Mina. I think I need to try my best to fit the publisher, but equally have something ready if they reject it. Thanks :-)

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  27. I couldn't even make a choice on what I would do. First I was all set to write that I would totally go with #1, then by the time I got to the comment form I'd decided #2 was totally the right move. What a sorry advice columnist I would make. Whatever you decide to do I wish you luck!

    And I thought IWSG was all about straightening ME out.

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    1. Hehe, I know... Not easy, is it? My head has been spinning as fast as that too, the only difference if I've got the words in front of my. My left hand wants to add words, my right wants to take them away!!

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  28. I think I'd try for option A. Even if it's a lot of work, it's a move in the direction you wanna go. If it doesn't pan out, you can always fall back on option B.

    Good luck whatever you decide!!

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    1. Thanks Pk... Even a week later I'm still ebbing and flowing!

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  29. I think only you can answer those questions as it's your story. Write and edit tightly to the best you can and see what you have. Including if all threads are needed or not. Then the decision has to be made. Go with your heart x

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    1. Luckily there's no deadline on the this submission - my heart is being very unhelpful!

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  30. This is coming from someone who has never published anything but I think if they don't have something with tricky words telling you about any future writings I would go with releasing the story into the genre it currently fits into.

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    1. I'm sure this story fits their requirements. I double checked with a friend though, because usually my work doesn't fit anywhere!

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  31. I also have a crush on a publisher. As in...screaming girl and a teen heart throb sort of feeling. If I could get my book published with them, I would do it even if it meant that it is a one time thing. No questions asked.

    Hope this helps.
    Leanne ( http://readfaced.wordpress.com )

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Please comment - I love a good chat!