Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Splitting books

One of the links on my sidebar is to Rick Kleffel’s Agony Column. I click over there almost every day, since Rick has an entry almost every day. He's is a pretty reliable source for good FSF to read. Rick has a pretty good handle for the pulse of not just the FSF genre, but a good handle for book publishing in general. He highlights books that have gained rightful attention and will often highlight some lesser-known books and writers. Today, he’s got an excellent column on the recent trend publishers are taking of splitting books in two. I won’t go into too much detail, since he encapsulates my thoughts pretty well, and a lot of what members of the SFFWorld forums I moderate have said. But his main gist is this: the trend these publishers are running with has people paying $50 for a single novel rather than $25.

Much related to Rick’s write-up is a recent entry from Charles Stross’ blog (found via Tobias Buckell). I read Stross’ novel Singularity Sky when it first came out in hardcover, and while I thought it was a solid story, I was a bit overwhelmed by the hard science in it. I know, I know, it’s Science Fiction, but I don’t always go for the harder SF. Anyway, Signularity Sky was an impressive novel but I haven’t felt overly compelled to reading the follow-up, Iron Sunrise, though Stross is an author I would definitely try again. I think I will hurry things and try him again, since the conclusion to the first part in Stross’s newest Fantasy saga, The Merchant Princes will see publication of The Hidden Family in a couple of months. Actually, The Hidden Family is the second half of the first novel in what may be a longer series, the first book, The Family Trade, published late last year. Sound confusing? It is, just a little. Stross wrote a 700+ page book titled the The Merchant Princes, which Tor decided to split into two volumes** : The Family Trade and The Hidden Family. From what I’ve gathered in reading reviews on these books, and indeed from Stross himself, the books are similar to Zelazny’s Amber saga. Of course Stross’s reputation in the FSF field isn’t what it is just because his current writings are similar to Zelazny’s, many agree he’s got the chops to back it up. So like I did for Wolfe’s The Wizard Knight , I will wait for booth “parts/books” of the single novels to publish before buying and reading them. The premise sounded interesting enough, but like I said, reading Stross’ blog entry from Feb 21 really convinced me to read the books.

**as they did for Wolfe's The Wizard Knight and Jacqueline Carey's The Sundering (Banewreaker & Godslayer) two other single novel broken into two novels, because Tor isn’t making enough money on Goodkind and Jordan. That's sarcasm, by the way.

Stross' entry is also giving me a better focus for my own writing, because after all, you’ve got to have goals, right? I know writing is, for a vast majority, not the most lucrative income. Sure some writers consistently sell, and eventually sell on name alone. But for the rest of the writers, many need to have another means of income. So why do I continue to write? I feel it’s a responsibility I have to myself. I feel guilty or like I cheated myself when I break my writing regimen. I enjoy writing and creating people and worlds, sure maybe it’s a god-complex, but it is a lot o fun. Do I have dreams of one day seeing books with my name (or pseudonym) on shelves? I think anybody who has ever considered writing would be lying if they didn’t have such dreams. But while that may be a pipe dream, it isn’t the reason I continue to write. It’s something I feel that I need to do. I only wish I could devote more time of the day to it. Writing is something that comes easier the more often you do it and the longer you do it, or so writers say. There’s some truth to that, of course. So I write when I get the chance and "inch towards daylight."

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