Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Cinder Block of a Book


     The Toy Cop arrived in the mail yesterday and I half-imagine the poor UPS guy going to his doctor at the end of the day to get a hernia brace. This head-on shot (admittedly, a crappy one as it's blurry and doesn't capture the vividness of the colors I'd chosen) doesn't give you a sense of how large this book is. It would make Tom Clancy or Steig Larsson green with envy not because of its literary merits but because it weighs in at 610 pages. You couldn't run over this thing with a Humvee.
     It's one thing to know the exact word count of your manuscript (just over 170,000 words) but another thing entirely to format it for POD publishing and seeing the physical size and heft of the thing when it's finally in your hands. I'd shrunk the font size to 11 dpi (I use a standard 12 on Word) to help reduce the page count. But as I said with American Zen, when you're formatting a book with a substantial word count, there's only so many things you can do to compress it and the much smaller 6x9 trim size I'd selected for TCC forced me to squeeze the margins, hence the high page count. And each full page contains 34 lines, two over the standard 32.
     A few things ought to be mentioned. I've said before that virtually all my novels are tied to others in a constant crossover effect. One example is the heroine of this novel, Officer Penny Gallagher, briefly makes an appearance in Chapter One of American Zen. This was an 11th hour change not done until two years ago when I was doing the final revision and proofing for the Kindle edition. Penny notices Mike Flannigan, AZ's narrator, is down in the dumps at a Pop Warner banquet and somehow convinced Mike to get on stage and do a Karaoke rendition of his favorite song. This taste of what he used to do is what helps get Mike on the road to look for his old bandmates.
     Similarly, when I was doing the final revision and proofing of TCC for its own Kindle edition, I decided to insert Mike Flannigan into that universe, writing for him a fictional article on capital punishment for the New York Times. To date, Flannigan also appears in two of the three Joe Roman thrillers I've started, even having a phone conversation with Roman in The Puppet Children.
     As I'd stated before, my dream is to incorporate the main characters of several of my novels, including Penny, Roman and Flannigan, into one massive super novel in the future that would make The Toy Cop look like Strunk and White's Elements of Style.
     For now, though, that'll have to remain a distant dream as publishers, thanks to the shrinking goldfish attention spans of the typical American reader, dictate that books above 100,000 words don't sell and they avoid them like Republicans do the NAACP annual conventions.

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