Big Books?

22 Jul

I write Big Books and I write Little Books. In between: Not so much.

 

The issue isn’t with the in between since my genre is YA. The shorter books (50-60K) are actually sitting where they should be for the shelf. But, something interesting happened today that got me thinking. Janet Reid tweeted that she’s been getting a lot of 175Kish books lately (ok, my Big Book doesn’t quite scratch there, so phew!) and she was wondering why.

 

This to me is a simple answer. I read fast. When I’m unemployed I can sometimes whip thru 2 or 3 mass market sized books (@90K) in a day. Yeah, I should be writing, but sometimes you need a break. And those books are great. Sometimes the author slows me down and gives me stuff to really sink into, but typically, at that size, it feels like a small book to me.

 

I want those big books. I want to LIVE in a book for a few days. I want to not be able to finish it because my eyes are burning  to close and when I do fall asleep I want to dream about it. I want the juicy pulpy world that’s so rich you need more than the “normal” size to get it. I want a cast of more than 4. I want to have to pay attention.  Great example is Poison Study by Maria V Snyder – rich world, amazing story, “normal” word count.

 

Which brings me to the next point. Why do we expect every story to be told in about the same word count? Thank God (as usual) for Stephen King. Big Books, Medium Books, Small Books, Short Stories, Novellas… If the man who points the way doesn’t stick to 90k, I think we can pretty much say that not every story is a 90k word count story.

 

And so I wonder, why does every book try to fit in there. No, no need to comment. I do understand cost efficiency. But let’s look at Twilight (I know, I promised we wouldn’t talk more about Twilight, but we’re talking industry here) — One of the reasons people love that book is because they LIVED in it. I think we can all agree that the extra paper and ink paid off. Let’s see who will be the next agent and publisher to take a chance on a Big Book and win big.

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