Splitting projects to help them grow

New names. More words. New plans.

It’s been a frustrating few months, but now that I’m getting a clear vision of what’s still to come, I’m finally feeling a little better about everything going on.

If you haven’t guessed, I’m talking about my epic fantasy series, the Snakesblood Saga.

Different books have different needs. I’ve always felt like my paranormal stories are better served by an indie path, which is why I’m still planning to release my upcoming paranormal series on my own. There’s not as deep or wide of a traditional market for paranormal books, which means anything that breaks from the current ideal market isn’t going anywhere traditionally. The ones that get turned down aren’t bad books… they just aren’t the “hot now” category. YA and shifter stories are the big sellers in the past year. Next year, who knows what it’ll be.

From the time I started working on the Snakesblood Saga, I always envisioned it working best as a traditionally published series. Now that I’m older and have more experience–not just with writing, but with the different facets of the indie world–I’m not married to the idea, but I do want to give it another shake before I look at alternate venues.

In the past, this has been a difficult subject for me to discuss. I’ve had a lot of people ask me why? or why not? when it comes to my choices to pursue traditional publication over an indie route for this particular series. The difficulty has nothing to do with my feelings on the state of publishing and everything to do with that I don’t know how to explain it to people who don’t already have intimate knowledge of the series.

I am not rejecting the idea of an indie route, and indie publication is not “less” in any way. It’s not the last resort, it’s not vanity press, it’s not a sign of failure for an author to pursue it. Mind you, I’ve chosen the indie route for my upcoming paranormal series despite interest from traditional publishers, simply because it’s what’s best for the series. In some ways, this whole situation has everything turned upside down. Indie authors are used to having to defend themselves and their decision to self-publish, but this is the first time I’ve ever had to defend my choices to pursue traditional publication!

The thing is, regardless of what you know about the series, traditional publishing offers me a few small advantages I may not have otherwise. I’ve made headway into identifying branding and design for paranormal books, but I don’t have familiarity with what sort of covers and descriptions will sell epic fantasy. They also have a wide range of distribution, and fantasy readers tend to love the weight of a beefy paperback book in their hands. These aren’t insurmountable obstacles for the indie author, but when I’d rather be spending my time writing the next book instead of researching covers and colors and whatnot, it’d be nice to have someone else in my corner.

But traditional publishing has its downfalls, too. For one, though I’ve gotten positive reactions to the overall quality of my writing, the main response I’ve gotten from traditional agents is that for an unknown author, my fantasy books are just too long. A good story will sell itself, but let’s be real. Publishing houses are concerned with one thing: profits. The bigger a book is, the more expensive it is to edit and have printed, cutting into their overheads. After spending several years querying and getting that response time and time again, it means it’s time to suck it up and try something different.

Each of the books in the Snakesblood Saga will have to be split and revised.

In some ways, this may be a blessing; I originally cut a great deal of content from the series for fear of the books getting too big. They got too big anyway. So when I cut the first book into two volumes, that gives me a little leeway to go back and put in everything I’d originally removed. This means a richer world, a deeper story, and lots more little intricate details weaving everything together. I’m excited about that, if not excited about all the heavy editing and rewriting to put this lost content back in place.

In the long run, I think this will be best for the series. It’s not how I planned things, but it gives me room to grow, while also getting each volume down below the recommended word count per book in this genre. It just means a little more work, plus more time before queries can resume.

The least thrilling part of the whole situation as been coming to terms with the fact that splitting the books means finding more titles.

Titles are my bane. For me, the worst part of writing is coming up with a name for a book. This particular situation makes it even worse; the 3 current titles come from events that happen late in each book, so they’re going to have to become the titles of books 2, 4, and 6. That means new names for the first volumes. Names for 3 and 5 came pretty easily, but I’ve spent several weeks warring with myself over a title for the first book. I didn’t understand why it was so hard until my awesome friend Megan laid it out for me: nothing was going to sound right because I’ve been calling the first book Serpent’s Tears for the past fifteen years.

And it’s true. I reached that title for the series when I first began writing it, years and years ago. Shifting it from book one to book two has been difficult and awkward, even if it’s still technically being used for the volume it’s relevant to. It also leaves a big void to fill. The new title for the first volume has to be relevant not only to the first volume, but to the entire series. No small feat!

It took a while, but I did finally settle on a title for book one yesterday. Serpent’s Tears will now be the name of book two, and volume one–the first book in the soon-to-be six-book series–will be called Serpent’s Mark.

I’ve been giving my site a slow overhaul, so I’ll be changing the information on the project overview page soon… I’m just not sure when.

In the meantime, that new laptop is calling me. We have a lot of work to do. bringing these books to life.

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