RARA-AVIS: Re: Books by the pound

From: Dick Lochte ( dlochte@gmail.com)
Date: 14 Oct 2007

While publishers do love a nice fat book that can justify a $30 tag, it is not exactly true that they insist on padding to increase the word count. Bestselling authors can do pretty much whatever they want and that includes writing long or short. Sometimes -- Robert Parker's and Dick Francis's books come quickly to mind -- the book size is the result of wider margins and bigger typeface. This is particularly apparent in the unabridged audio versions of the books, where Parker's come in at about seven hours while the average thriller weighs in at twelve or thirteen. Some publishers don't bother with the subterfuge. The Westlake/Stark series has been presented in a compact size to compliment the compact writing style. Elmore Leonard's are comparatively thin. Ditto books by Larry Block, Lee Childs, Walter Mosley. My point, not that I always have one, is that I can't think of a case where an editor told a writer: I love the manuscript, but make it longer. Usually, it's the writer, too much in love with his (or her) words to edit or, worse yet, to accept anyone else's edit, who is responsible for the fat book.

Dick Lochte

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