So, I’ve recently decided to take a really long fantasy novel that’s been sitting here for quite some time, cut it into pieces, and self-publish it. It’s a portal fantasy, more or less, with a tremendously important backstory. You can think of it as a story that asks the questions, “And after the hugely important quest has been achieved, what then? What if destroying the Dark Lord was seriously traumatic? Where do you go from there?” I basically took a big epic fantasy and put the whole thing in the backstory and then moved on from that point.
This is an interesting story to me because I was trying to do several things I haven’t done in other novels. One of the most important influences was Dorothy Dunnett, because I was deliberately trying to do something unusual that Dunnett pulled off perfectly: separate the roles of the pov character and the protagonist. The pov is a person from our world, but the protagonist — the person who drives the action — is not that person and never takes the pov.
I worked and reworked this story several times … I remember referring to it as The Neverending Revision From Hell for a while … but it’s been finished for a long time. So, now that I am seriously trying to increase sales and income from self-published work, this seems like a good time to bring it out. That won’t be tomorrow. I need to do a fair bit of tinkering to get it ready. I’m thinking early next year.
Stuff I need to do to complete this project:
a) Cut it up. That part is done. I have chosen to break this story into a prequel novella that will be about 150 pages followed by two novels that will each be about 350 pages. The novella takes place in our world, then there is a natural breaking point as we leap forward 16 years, then the story picks up just as we move through the portal and into the secondary world.
There are a lot of benefits to breaking off that novella. Not only is that a natural breaking point, but the tone shifts a fair bit. The novella is almost more literary than fantasy. The rest of the story is more fantasy than literary. That is the only natural break. Setting that part aside lets me cut the rest into two average-sized novels.
b) Write new transitions. Now that I have the story cut into pieces, I have to write an introductory scene that helps guide the reader from the novella into the first book and both ending and introductory scenes that help move from the first book into the second.
Moving from the prequel into the first book will be challenging. I want to make it at least possible for a reader to get into the first book without reading the prequel (though that will not be an ideal way to approach this story).
The transition from the first book to the second will be much less challenging. This is because the novella resolves, but (sorry) the first book will not resolve. That’s going to just inevitably involve some sort of cliffhanger. Given that there will be a cliffhanger, there will not need to be much of a transition, as readers will either go immediately to the second book or they won’t, but they’re not likely to pause in the middle.
If you hate cliffhangers (and doesn’t everyone?), that shouldn’t matter too much, as that I will bring all three works out on the same exact day, so it won’t be like anyone has to wait to find out what happens next.
c) Proofreading. This is a story I have been over and over and OVER. Nevertheless, I expect there are some typos in the manuscript. I will, of course, be grateful if some of you are willing to do a proofread in return for getting an early look at this story.
d) Titles. Right now, the working titles are Tenai, Talasayan, and Nolas-Kuomon. These names will not do. One-word weird names are far too much like the Tuyo series. Even with an entirely different cover style, I think I had better come up with better titles that much more clearly indicate that this is a different and self-contained series. (Aargh.)
Also, HOW DO I NUMBER THESE?
Prequel, Book I, and Book II?
Book I, Book II, and Book III?
If I go with the first option, then how do I make it clear that really, the reader should read the prequel, that it changes the entire reading experience if you skip it? I’m afraid if I indicate in any way that this is a prologue or a prequel, readers will often be inclined to skip it. But if I call it Book I, then it’s really short to be treated as the first actual book.
Thoughts on this would be (very) welcome.
e) Covers. I would prefer the novella cover have a literary/fantasy vibe and the other two a fantasy/literary vibe, but they all need to look like they belong to one series. This is something I’m thinking about. I really do not know what direction to steer a cover artist. I have an idea about the novella, but I’m not entirely sure how to do the fantasy element. Maybe a sword somewhere.
I am not remotely sure what to do about the other two. I certainly do not need to contact an artist about these covers until I have titles, but still, hmm.
Stuff that I am doing right now that is not this:
I am actually sort of thinking I might finish the third Tuyo book, TARASHANA, or come close to finishing it, this weekend. We’re not doing much for Thanksgiving. If the weather is terrible, I won’t be doing much with the dogs either. (If the weather is nice, we’ll head for the park / go out for long walks / I really need to do some training with the youngsters / every one of the dogs could really use a bath and thorough brushing).
I hardly know what kind of weather to wish for. If I write 20 pages a day for four days, that might be just about enough to finish it. That will, btw, bring it to about 600 pages. I will probably be doing some trimming and tightening before I ask anyone to read it, but a couple of you may get that request yet this this year. No rush for this either, as I will not bring this book out this year regardless.
I will need a cover for that, too. It’ll need an animal on the cover. Maybe an eagle would be suitable this time.