Monday, I finished up my (hopefully) last read through of Rodeo’s Run, the second book to my Heaven Heathen’s MC series and passed it off to Becca of In the Corner Editing. And of the two series that I write, werewolf motorcycle adventures and mixed up fairy tales, Heathens is the longer and the more difficult concept of the two to sell.
Sure, I can say it’s Sons of Anarchy meets the Expendables meets the Wolfman with a touch of Dredd and Ultraviolet tech and world wise. Maybe Minority Report for fun. But even that doesn’t really capture to me what Heathens is really about or the world. (Post apocalyptic science fantasy adventure. Dear God, I wish I could make that shorter. You say Urban Fantasy and most people get what that means or Paranormal Romance. But no, not me… I can’t do that. I have to be difficult.)
Heathens is also long. So far the books are running about 170,000 words, that’s 500 pages. I’m spending a lot of words and page time showing things rather than trying to summarize them. And I know that if I wasn’t self-publishing that unless I had an editor or a publisher that really trusted me (like Becca trusts me) that I’d be cutting the books in half. I tried doing that with the Lone Prospect and the book ended up a flat mess of nothing that I cared about anymore.
And as I was editing this one and dealing with the “thank God I’m self publishing because the story really sort of starts at page 204 here,” emotions, I looked back at what a publisher would probably ask me to cut and realized that it would have a chilling effect on further books. If I cut several scenes out of Rodeo’s Run, there went an entire scene in Serpent’s Smile. If I cut out a minor (and controversial) story line that I started in the Lone Prospect, there are huge parts of Rodeo’s Run and why Quinn is in the book at all that wouldn’t make sense.
Every time I try to cut something, I lose something that effects something else later on because of the way the idea family and the pack works in my universe. I care too much about the family aspect of my story to slash things away without discrimination because if I do, it is going to change the way future books can be written. (And I have my reasons for some of these story lines.)
I’m not saying every scene is 100% important. I’m saying those scenes are like a waterfall, you start with one, it hits a rock and creates two more and those two connect to another scene that is creating another two scenes and things multiply. The more things you cut, the more limited things you can do later.
Now, I understand the reasons why traditional publishing is so risk adverse. There are publishing costs and marketing costs (not that many authors get the five star treatment). And while at the same time they want properties that can translate into series, they also don’t want first time authors to be so attached to their books they’ve got a series already written. Just in case the first book doesn’t do well. (But you know, without proper marketing, how can a book do well? We’ve got a conundrum here.) But it makes it difficult on those of us who are trying to take a little risk in our writing and push the edges of the box. If I was a marketing genius, I could probably figure out a better way to market my books myself, but I’m not so here we are.
But, Rodeo’s Run is out of my hands for the moment. (I cheat since Becca is my best friend and she often gets to help me story edit as I’m writing. Granted, she’s really hands off because she trusts me.) I even got to insert an interesting fact about sunflowers into the book and make it relevant! Now, if I could only figure out how to use that fun trivia fact about glitter….