Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Books by the pound

From: Kerry J. Schooley (
Date: 15 Oct 2007

Like most on this list, I don't enjoy reading an extra 100 pages of padding in any book. But just as there are many good writers who cannot find a publisher for their 30,000 word books, there must be some who can add an extra 100 pages without readers noticing and feeling cheated.

On the marketing side, my experience has been that many people determine value from price. If a book is priced at $2 (original retail,) then it cannot be worth much. I've seen cases where products that could not be sold at a lower price found acceptance when prices were raised.

I sometimes think the book market is entirely underpriced. People get plenty of cheap and "free" fiction as it is, from television. When everything is priced similarly (even at $7) perception is that the product has become a commodity, encouraging the books-by-the-pound mentality of the marketplace. Of course, for someone like HCC to seek the nirvana of $50 paperbacks now would alienate many of their current fans.

Best, Kerry

At 05:27 AM 15/10/2007, you wrote:

>Some of those great old books are a lot longer than you think,
>Patrick. Small print can be misleading. I remember being amazed to
>discover that James McKimmey's SQUEEZE PLAY turned in at 65,000 words.
>Also, I wouldn't extrapolate too much from rejection slips. Each one
>is a (sometimes) creative way of saying: 'we aren't confident we can
>sell this'. That's all. Usually. In any case, short books sell all
>the time. Tim Krabbe, Guillermo Arriaga, Ken Bruen, Daniel Woodrell,
>James Sallis, Dan Rhodes, Duane Swierczynski, to name but a few.
>Megan Abbott's QUEENPIN is only 40,000 words. I doubt Sara Gran's
>COME CLOSER is that long. Novels are as short (or as long) as they
>need to be. Jonathan Smith's THE WOLF is currently selling for
>significant figures all over the globe -- and according to The
>Bookseller, it's a mere 35,000 words.
>A short book to look out for: Tom Piccirilli's THE FEVER KILL, out
>in December. A modern Gold Medal. If I wasn't already blown away by
>Piccirilli, this one would do the trick.
>While I'm at it, let me recommend Craig McDonald's debut, HEAD
>GAMES, written from the point of view of a 50's pulpster. It's out
>now and it's one hell of a ride.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Patrick King
>To: <>
>Sent: Monday, October 15, 2007 5:30 AM
>Subject: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Books by the pound
>--- Dick Lochte <<>> wrote:
> > 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.
>It's happened to me, personally. 3 agents and 1
>publisher told me, this is a good idea but it's 42,000
>words. Rewrite it for 80,000 and we may be able to
>sell it. I of course, being me, said 'The great old
>books didn't have to be 80,000 words.' The one agent
>who was still kind enough to respond to that stupid
>e-mail of mine, said short books do not work in todays
>I'm working on a good story now and it will be 80,000
>words before I let it go. Maybe then I'll rewrite the
>other, but frankly, it feels finished to me. I could,
>of course, be wrong!
>Patrick King
>Tonight's top picks. What will you watch tonight? Preview the
>hottest shows on Yahoo! TV.
>[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

------------------------------------------------------ The evil men do lives after them

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