Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Let There Be Questions (Part II)

More questions from the Entertainment Marketing Class at Kennesaw State University --

Antonio O. asks, "Your biography mentioned that you do not wish to become overly popular in order to avoid public gossip and ridicule. Would you say that you have successfully reached most of the audience through your literature you intended?"

Remind me to reread my biography. It obviously needs some tweaking. I'm coming across all wrong. I would prefer not to hit the same level of fame/fortune as Ms. Rowling (and others) because your life ceases to be your own. At present, if I schlep out to the grocery store looking like the Bride of Godzilla nobody cares (except the poor checkout person who has probably seen worse). Once you reach a certain level of fame, you acquire folks who will want your photo to sell for LOTS of money. How much? $100K and way higher. Some of Kate Middleton's (Prince Wm's ex-girlfriend) were going for $250K. That's ridiculous. It's a bleedin' photo, folks. No wonder the woman is being stalked (literally) by the paparazzi.

Unfortunately, with the fame and $ comes the downside -- no privacy. Authors are less likely to be targeted than people who date the future King of England, but still that "moat" is breached. I like being a private person and so I'd much rather have a successful career, but not one that puts me in the Rowling stratosphere. She carries an immense weight on her shoulders because of the popularity of the kid named Harry. I'm happy to watch from the sidelines.

As for the ridicule or public gossip part, I'm not much worried about that. As long as my conscience is clear, I'm good to go. As to the actual question Antonio poses, I'm still reaching that reading audience book by book. It's a long slog until you reach critical mass. But just like a nuclear reactor, you don't want too many rods out at once.

Sarah B. -- "Where would you like to see the Time Rovers series go from here? How many novels to you see as part of the series?"

Well, if I ignore what I just said in the paragraphs above, it would be great if the Time Rovers series was made into movies, on TV, as little pocket watches in Happy Meals, etc. In all honesty, I would settle for solid books sales but I wouldn't bitch too much if they made a TV series out of Jacynda's exploits. It's not hurt Jim Butcher and his wizard Harry Dresden (great books, by the way). Much more than that is a bit over-the-top. I currently see about 5 or 6 books in the series. This is contrast to Mr. Butcher who says there are 20 and he already knows what is happening in them. Sigh... writers like that make me double the amount of single malt scotch in my glass. I only see a few books ahead which is an issue if you're trying to pull a big 3-book apocalyptic finale such as Jim is aiming for. So I just keep moving forward one at a time and hopefully I'll know when it's time to wrap things up so the books don't become STUPID.

Emily H posed a good question-- "You say that word count is not important when you are self-published, but is when you are writing for someone else. Why is this?"

I should have qualified that a bit. It is not as important when you're self-pubbed. If you want to go on for five hundred pages and can afford the printing bill, have at it. When you become traditionally published it is best to keep the books in the 80-125K word range. These fit better on the shelf. If your book is coming out as a mass market, then the 90-110K range is better as the booksellers can get three books in a rack that way. You get fatter books in mass market size (the paperbacks) when you get to be a big name author.

The key thing is that sometimes longer is not always better. I've read certain authors who could have trimmed two hundred pages easily, but their editor didn't take out the chainsaw. Pacing, as they call it, is everything. You want a page turner. That's not always easy to deliver.


Anonymous said...

Jana, thank you very much for answering my question so promptly. It is refreshing to see someone who has established themself in the public eye but is still down to Earth and doesn't have any problem remaining under the radar. Cheers.
-Antonio O

Anonymous said...

Jana, thank you for visiting our class and answering my question as well. I completely agree with you in that some books I have read could easily have been 100-200 pages shorter. I suppose it is quite a hard balance to strike when you are trying to tell a story and maintain your reader's interest simultaneously. Thanks again and good luck in the future!
-Emily H.

Jana Oliver said...

I'd have gotten to more of these questions a lot quicker if deadlines hadn't intervened. Now that the short story is off to the editor, I can work on the questions when I'm taking a break from Virtual Evil's edits.