Thursday, July 17, 2014

Divide and Conquer--Or, Pulling a Jeffrey Archer

Where cattle were loaded onto the railway near Abilene Kansas 1870s.
I have been working on my historical western romance, Abilene Gamble, that I began writing in February. The stress was building up inside me because, at the rate the novel was developing, it promised to be a behemoth. Yesterday, I logged in 3,750 words. By the time the ten o'clock news came on, I found myself muttering about my word total being up to a little over 75,000 words and we haven't even started the trial yet. Buck glanced my way wearing an expression that told me he thought I was losing it.
Kansas Pacific Railway right-of-way

The first half of the novel is set in Abilene, Kansas in the summer of 1871, the height of the cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail to that city. From there, the herds were sold and loaded on the Kansas Pacific Railway for shipment back east.

The second half of the novel is set in Indianapolis, Indiana, the home city of my heroine, Stella Schoenfeld, and the home state of my hero, Harry Bradford, a graduate of Indiana Law in Bloomington, Indiana.

Old Post Office and Courthouse building in Indianapolis in use in the 1870s.
Last night as I concluded my muttering, I closed down my computer, finished reading one book and then read another short book. I looked at the clock. It was past 2:00a.m. Then the inspiration hit. I knew what I needed to do:  

Split my novel into two books.

I wrote a Facebook post with my idea before I went to bed and slept on it. Today, I am of the same opinion. I separated the chapters and reformatted them. I will need to add a little to Abilene Gamble, but it appears that novel will end up being about 61,500 to 62,000 words in length. My second book, which I have named Indiana Judgment, is already sitting at close to 14,000 words. I still have the courtroom scenes to write, but I'm no longer stressed about it.

Why would I split my book and risk leaving my readers hanging a little at the end of Abilene Gamble? I realized two things when I made my decision:

1. My target audience tends to like shorter novels...something that can be leisurely read in an evening or two. A 62,000 word novel fits that bill. One over 100,000 words does not.

2. The old bottom line consideration...My target audience is more likely to pay $2.99 a book each for the two novels containing about 60,000 words. They will tend to balk at paying twice that for the same number of words in one volume.

I have been reading the Jeffrey Archer Clifton Chronicles series and I am anxiously awaiting the next book. Mr. Archer ends each book by coming to a kind of a stopping point, but leaving the reader hanging big-time. I thought the third book would be the final-final that would end my anxious waiting. But, no! Another cliff-hanger ending. No, I'm not a big-name author like Mr. Archer who probably pulls in a writing income of six or seven figures. But, I figure if he can do it, so can I. All I need to do is convince a publisher to go along with the idea.

With me splitting off Abilene Gamble, it will only take a little adjustment to a few chapters and writing a closing. Then it will be ready for editing and seeking a publisher. At least with Indiana Judgment well on its way to being written, those who like the first book shouldn't have to wait long for the second one.