Ask Daphne! From the Commenters

September 2nd, 2008 • Kate

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.

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6 Responses to “Ask Daphne! From the Commenters”

  1. Susan Helene Gottfri Says:

    The music industry also drops on Tuesdays. Perhaps this is another way in which publishing is following music.
    As for why Tuesday and not Wednesday or Friday (payday), it could be because historically, Monday is a dead day in terms of the entertainment industry. Look around. Many restaurants are closed. Clubs are dark. Movie theaters report low grosses on Mondays. It's as if the world has enough entertainment over the weekend and needs a day off.
    It makes sense (sort of) that Tuesday would turn into drop day. People are theoretically ready to think about entertainment again after having their Monday to refocus on work, so Tuesday almost becomes the start of the week.
    I dunno. Some of this is merely a theory.

  2. Kiersten Says:

    Good points, Daphne! And as far as word count–who better to sit next to Moby Dick on the bookshelf than The Old Man and the Sea?

  3. Caryn Caldwell Says:

    Your thoughts on Tuesdays for release days make sense, especially the idea that papers can then pick up info on the new releases. I've thought of all sorts of other possibilities but nothing that jumps out. I do know that when I look at my blog stats, I see that traffic tends to be higher on Mondays and Tuesdays. Maybe people are looking for an escape at the beginning of the week. And as Susan mentioned, if some stores are closed on Mondays, I guess that leaves Tuesdays. Or maybe publishers want to give stores enough time to get shipments in and on the shelves before the weekend shopping rush hits.

  4. yellowbrick08 Says:

    I agree about Tuesday. DVDs are always released on Tuesdays with a few exceptions. With a lot of bookstores selling DVDs now, publishers could be releasing books on Tuesdays to appeal to the movie fans who go into stores looking for the new release DVDs on that day. I wouldn't be surprised if this was happening a lot with books that will appeal to movie fans.

  5. Cameron Says:

    What's the shortest, actual book you've ever published/seen traditionally published?

  6. DaphneUn Says:

    It depends. If you're just talking word count, there's lots of wordless picture books. Do you mean within a specific age range or genre? The shortest book I've represented is probably the forthcoming MG novel RED BUTTERFLY, which, since it's a novel-in-verse, is only about 29,000 words.