Despite the fact that many schools out here in Colorado started up again a week or more ago, the day after Labor Day is ALWAYS going to feel like a “back to school” day for me. And since it is a back to work day after a luscious three-day weekend, I’m inspired to tackle a number of questions in a special post-Labor Day speed round. This time, a number of questions from the comments of various posts. Starting with… the Booklady! Caryn asks:
Lately I’ve noticed that every new book except, perhaps, for occasional long-anticipated new releases by big-name authors, comes out on a Tuesday. Why is that? What’s so special about Tuesdays?
This is partially a guess on my part, but I’m thinking it’s an educated one. The publishing world is trying to keep up with other forms of entertainment, like CDs and DVDS, most of which ALSO release on Tuesdays. It’s like how most new movies hit theatres on Fridays. I think it’s so by the end of the week, newspapers have enough time to collect the information necessary to come up with bestseller lists and hot new releases. It probably also has something to do with trying to get authors on talk shows when they’re not being shoved aside by movie stars with weekend releases. Maybe?
Moving on to something I know a little bit more about, Kathy writes:
I’ve heard the term “plot points” bandied about. Can you give us a definition and a “how to use” column?
The way I use the term, it refers to the major highlights or turning points in a novel. Your book may include lots of scenes of your characters sitting around in the cafeteria talking, but a plot point might be when one of them comes out to the another. That’s a turning point. Plot points are especially useful to be aware of in, perhaps, putting together a treatment or synopsis for your book. Maybe a note of the major action scenes or reversals, and try to convey the action of your story in a few short pages. The important information you need to include to actually tell what happens are the plot points. That’s what moves your story along, and separates it from other books about high school kids, for instance.
Ok, time for one more. Not actually from the comments, but I’m tackling it anyway, ‘cuz I don’t play by the RULEZ!! Ahem. Bill writes:
I have noticed a trend for shorter literary novels in the bookstore especially foreign translations. Is a 215 page, 50,000 word novel too short for serious consideration?
I wouldn’t think so, Bill, but I can tell you it depends on so much more than just length. While 50,000 words sounds about right for a teen or MG book, I can see how adult editor may think it feels a little short — but others may disagree. This is an important point to end on, so let me be emphatic: Don’t let yourself be bogged down in trends. Are you seeing lots of novels getting published tipping the scales at over 200,000 words? Don’t worry. There always needs to be a counter-balance. A perfect gem of a 50,000 word literary novel is going to find a home, even if it does seem like the midget cousin of a literary giant.