Some of you may recall my list on Friday of blogs that got me thinking... One of them is a blog topic unto itself... possibly a rant of sorts... not that I have a goal of pissing anybody off, but it is something that has irked me since I started into this publishing morass. Rules, Rules and DAMN Rules. Of all the rules, the one that irks me most is book length. The reason it irks me so badly, is I believe strongly that the length of the book should be determined by how long it takes to tell the story—no more, no less.
And you know what? I don't CARE what genre it is! I don't CARE if romances and mysteries are supposed to come in at under 300 pages. It's crap. If the story isn't complete, then it takes more time to tell.
I get that there are some readers who are afraid of a nice fat book. And I myself am a reader that can't bring myself to pay good money for something that looks like I could finish it in a day—takes everything I have, no matter HOW highly recommended, to actually pay money for a book less than 300 pages.
I suppose it is we tarts who like 'em long...
But what I HEAR, is that the genre readers have an expectation and won't buy something that falls outside of that. Now I get how tempting a sure thing is, really I do. But what about appealing to a NEW market? There have got to be people like me who prefer our mysteries with some meat on their bones. I LOVE mysteries... when I can buy them in the mainstream section and they have a nice 400+ page count, because THEN there is character as well as plot. (I like them otherwise, but I LOVE them when there is more to them)
I will be honest and say I am still darned picky about my romances, but the handful of romances I've LOVED in my life have been books like The Thornbirds, or Five Smooth Stones—big books that get into deep issues.
So when I read the advice that an Urban/street/literary mix can't go long, even when it was a clean read, it made me want to cry.
My Vision... such as it is
What I would REALLY like to see is a cooperative effort by WRITERS to get some of these worthy works 'approved' in some way that the authors could self publish without the stigma. I get it—publishers can't take the chance because readers really ARE cautious about these rule breakers. But these are the books that stand the test of time—the books that last into the next generation, and longer. There has to be SOME route to get them out there.
What I'm NOT saying, is this is an 'easy way'--self publishing's problems are endemic--the easy way allows through a lot of crap, and I don't want to give credibility to THOSE books that haven't been traditionally published because they aren't ready yet.
I believe the process of peer review is a tough road. I don't think authors should 'be easy on their friends'. I don't believe in a 'tit for tat' system. I think it should be anonymous and VERY tough, but a panel of... say 3-5 authors making a recommendation whether something is ready for publication or not--giving feedback on places it could be improved, regardless of whether any publishing house is ready to take the chance or not, seems like a nice screen so that readers can trust it enough to order a self published book.
I publish scientifically, and it works for that—only sound science, backed up by thorough review of the context, told in readable language is published. Most manuscripts take 3 or 4 rounds before they are accepted. There are actually tiers of journals, with a few only accepting 'the best'--so maybe we have a tiered process here, too. I'm not sure how it would work. I don't have masses of published writers I'm in contact with to get something like this going, but doesn't it seem like in a tightening market, when traditional publishing seems to be getting harder and harder, that something like this might be necessary?
That's my story and I'm sticking with it.