Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Publishing A Novel: Keeping Count

Over the years, I've been asked many questions about my writing career. "How do you make any money?" Answer: For the past 14 years, I wrote for a magazine. "How much time did you spend working on your novel?" Answer: 10 years -- though on a day-to-day basis it varied. "Do you think you'll ever be as rich as J.K. Rowling? (yes, I have been asked this!). Answer: Er... I hope so! But the question that I get asked the most often, and is usually the FIRST thing that people wonder, has surprised me.

It's "How many pages is your book?"

To me, this seems like a random aspect of the writing process. When I hear that someone I know is writing a book, my first question is always, "What is it about?" or "Where did you get the idea?" If they're pretty far along in their writing, I might ask, "What do you plan to do with your book when it's done -- get an agent or self publish?" But I never think much about the page count. Even when I download books on my Kindle, I don't look at the pages. I really don't care if the story is 40 pags or 400 -- as long as it's a good story and keeps my interest. It's a difficult question to answer, anyway, because the page count really depends on what type of font is used, whether you double space and how your book formats on a particular ereader. According to Kindle, BAND GEEK is 278 pages ... but my draft copy is 350. It's probably because I changed the font to be more readable when I formatted it and I got rid of the extra space between chapters. That's a huge difference!

My husband put this whole page count thing into perspective for me. He says that people are curious about the page length because to many people, the idea of someone actually writing a book is unfathomable. Many find writing 1000-word papers for college difficult and so the idea of sitting down to write hundreds of pages for one document seems insane. For the record, I NEVER found it easy to write college essays, regardless of the length!

I guess I can understand this. One of my friends runs marathons. To me, the idea of running 26.2 miles in one setting seems impossible, but he's done this several times -- and he's not even a pro. There are people who complete dozens of marathons a year, whereas I consider walking 10 miles to be a big accomplishment. So I guess writing a novel is a bit like that to a non-writer.

As with anything else, though, things will be completed if you want them to be. BAND GEEK's original draft only took me four months to write, but I then spent the next few years really working on it. I didn't do it all at once. I spent an hour or so each day working on a few pages and then went about living the rest of my life. I worked really hard, but it wasn't all in one setting.

So if you are thinking about writing a novel, don't worry about the page count. Just write the best that you can and put your energy into crafting a great story.

Please check out and review my novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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