Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How Many Books?

I've been asked the same question a number of times since the publication of my first book, Eena, The Dawn and Rescue Once readers discover that this is just the beginning of Eena's extraordinary adventure, they want to know...

"How many books are in the saga?"

Well, the truth is.....

Eena's tale, which I refer to as the Harrowbethian Saga, was originally the Harrowbethian Trilogy.  When I took on the challenge of creating a new fantasy /science fiction /romance /adventure story, I was only interested in compiling three books.  Quite frankly, that's about my personal attention span for any series.  Not that I haven't read the four, five, six, seven, plus volumes of many excellent strings of amazing works of fiction, but I tend to grumble about it.  So, to satisfy my own preference, Eena started out as a trilogy.

It was a three-book package that I handed out to dozens of my friends for pre-reading.
Book One - Eena, The Return of a Queen
Book Two - Eena, The Two Sisters
Book Three - Eena, The Companionship of the Dragon's Soul

Personally, I still prefer the story in this trilogy bundle.  I think it's perfect.  However, as is often the case in life, others disagreed with me.  The fact is, these original books comprised 700+ pages each.  A little lengthy, maybe, but well worth the read.  Who isn't frustrated when an entertaining tale ends too soon?  At first I ignored the few who suggested I consider dividing the novels into shorter-length narratives. 

"Ha!  Are you kidding me?  It's a trilogy, people!  Would you tolerate cutting The Lord of the Rings in half?  Or slashing the Eragon Saga into eight parts?  Yeah...I didn't think so!"

But there were arguments to consider.  Young adult literature is more likely to sell if the page count isn't overwhelming.  The majority of book buyers shy away from thick books, prefering something they can tackle on a flight, there and back.  It's more cost effective to publish a smaller book. 

"Yadda, yadda, jibberish, nonsense, yawn......whatever."

Then the miraculous day came when I was actually on the phone speaking to an interested publisher.  Unbelievable!  Not an easy occurence to come by, I'll tell you.  Oh my gosh, if within the first five mintues she wasn't recommending I divide each book in two, persuading me with the same previously brushed-off arguments!  Wisely I said, "Of course I'll consider it."

Then I hung up the phone and groaned.  "Ugh!  My beautiful trilogy!  My poor, perfectly-wonderful-as-it-is trilogy!  They want to tear you apart and destroy you!"

So, a bit on the unwilling and disgruntled side, I complained to my husband.

"Three books is the perfect number, the perfect length for a saga.   More than that and you lose the interest of readers!  And then tell me this, how am I to find some coherent midpoint to slice each book in half?  What if I can't?  How do you end one half of a book and start it up again in another, making it believably two books when obviously it's supposed to be one?  That's insane!  It's impossible!  And then.....oh yes....and then I would need to come up with THREE MORE TITLES for THREE MORE BOOKS!  I might as well just call it part one and part two of what ought to be one solid book!  Criminy!"

My husband heard me out and said little.  "If your goal is to get published, Richelle, you should do what the publisher asks."

"Grumble, grumble, traitor........whatever."

So, I went to work butchering the first of my books.  Dreadful, anguishing chore!

Honestly......shockingly.....it turned out to be easier than expected severing the book in two.  The story's action naturally came to a nice shift in settings and plot near midpoint. 

Huh.  Interesting. 

Okay....alright....so maybe that wasn't so hard.  But there was still the chore of having to write a new ending to this 'first-half' of the book, making it believably a stand-alone book of its own.  A grevious task....if even possible. 

It took me two added pages.  Hmmmm. 

But......there remained a need for another title!  A catching caption to slap on the cover of what had now been transformed into two books instead of one. 

Okay, so in this first book the heroine discovers her true identity and is rescued from dire circumstances.  How about..... Eena, The Dawn and Rescue

(Dang, that was easy.)

You get the picture.  Each book of the original trilogy was divided into two halves creating a six-book epic saga.  The new titles (around 350 page count each) are as follows:

Book One - Eena, The Dawn and Rescue
Book Two - Eena, The Return of a Queen
Book Three - Eena, The Curse of Wanyaka Cave
Book Four - Eena, The Two Sisters
Book Five - Eena, The Tempter's Snare
Book Six - Eena, The Companionship of the Dragon's Soul

Now, as the twisted irony of fate would have it, the publisher who showed such promising initial interest in my books backed out, leaving me with transformed written works and a bucket of pitiful tears.  Yes, I cried a bit.  But after a little lamenting, I picked myself up, whispered a prayer, and resolvedly quoted myself, 'Don't ever give up!' 

With the support of my husband, I was able to invest in a self-publishing venture, and on April 26th, 2012 a box was delivered to my doorstep.  Inside the cardboard package, in paperback form, was the first novel I'd ever written, Eena, The Dawn and Rescue.  I am grateful now for the events that encouraged Eena's story to be sectioned into smaller books, enabling me a better opportunity to find success in this self-publishing world.  My short-term goal is to sell enough copies to reinvest in the remaining books.

My long-term goal?  To eventually find success enough as a novelist to have Eena's story published in the trilogy form in which it was originally meant to exist.  At that day it shall sit on my bookshelf next to the great J. R. R. Tolkein's masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings

"Don't laugh.  A girl can dream."