Friday, September 9, 2011

The Mythology of Supernatural: Reader Question Response #2

Okay folks,

So the reader response for this week does not come from any one particular person or reader, because several people have asked the same general thing in a variety of different ways. More or less, their questions came down to the length of the book.

Some people have asked (or complained) about the book being "too short."

Some people have asked (or complained) about the book being "a bit long."

And still other people have asked about the method(s) I used to make the length of the book "just right."

I swear ... I feel like I'm in some weird writer's version of 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears'.

Anyway ... instead of answering any specific one of the above three questions, I figured I should just explain how I went about deciding the length of the book in general.

First of all, obviously there are certain constraints set down by the publisher as to how long a book should be. They don't want it to be too short/brief ... but they don't want it to feel as though it drags on needlessly. I more or less hit right in the middle of the set word count/page range given to me by the publisher.

I realize that some people want a book like this to go into uber-serious detail, while others just want the basics. I can tell you that I went into this project knowing that I was not going to be able to please either group. If I got too wordy or unnecessarily detailed, hitting the max allowed word/page count, then I felt as though I was going to lose a good chunk of my mainstream readers. If I made it too brief/short, at the lower end of the minimum word/page count, then I knew that people were going to feel (for lack of a better description) "ripped off."

So ... what was my genius strategy for hitting the middle ground? Simple, I would first write a section/chapter ... then come back and read it a few days later (as well as let some colleagues and my editor read it). If I (or a rough majority of my test readers) got bored before reaching the end of a particular section/chapter, I did not go any further with it. If, however, I (or, again, any of my test readers) reached the end of a chapter or section with that sensation of "Aw, man ... is it over, already?" ... then I would continue researching and writing until that feeling went away.

Okay ... so this is not exactly "genius" ... but it was the best method I could think up. To be honest, I think that sometimes people put too much emphasis on length. For example, I'd rather learn everything I want/need to know from 100 well written pages than to be bored to tears by covering the same amount of information in 300 unecessarily wordy/detailed pages. And, in my experience, I have found that most readers feel the same way.

And besides ... I know very well, as most writers do (or, at least, should) that no book I ever write or publish is going to please everyone. In the words of Chuck Shurley (which, by the way, are also quoted in the book):
"You try to tie up every loose end, but you never can. The fans are always gonna bitch. There are always gonna be holes."

And you know what? I am cool with that. It's just part of the job.

So, long story short ... if you felt that The Mythology of Supernatural was too short, I am sorry for that ... if you felt that The Mythology of Supernatural was too long, I am sorry for that ... if you felt that it was just right ... um ... thanks?

Okay, now that I am back from the trip I will continue posting one response a week for as long as I keep receiving questions.

FYI - I got the intial sales numbers from the publisher today. They were VERY good. As always, my most sincere thanks to everyone in the Supernatural fandom-family for all the support!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Nathan, I wrote an Amazon review of 'The Mythology of SPN' and addedd that I'd be interested in reading your book "Lillith; Rape of the Dark Mother". You are right, it's incredibly expensive, and I'd love to take you up on your offer of a reader's copy. I don't really want to write my address down here, but if you could contact my at, we could hopefully work something out and I'd really appreaciate it (having recently been made redundant by the collapse of Borders.) Thanks.


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