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Offline BrendanQuinn

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Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« on: June 16, 2018, 11:17:44 AM »
What's up everyone!
Been locked in my cave writing, and now that I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, crawling out for help from my fellow writers. Self-imposed hermitage doesn't help much when turning to promotion and marketing, so I'm a bit lost. Lotta resources out there and on here though, so starting to get the hang of it.

I wondered though, has anyone here tried releasing a book in two parts?

I've got quite a long Sci-Fi novel, first in a series. The first book alone is already coming out of editing at 150,000 words, and now that I'm moving to Copy Editing, the prices for a decent editor are freaking me out.

Would it be a ridiculously bad idea to try and split the book in twain, thus being able to pay an editor for the first half, then save up some more $ and get the other half edited? Then, sell as two books?

Like so:

"X Book: Part 1, FREE"
"X Book: Part 2, .99"

Anyone had success with this or do readers just get p*ssed off?


Thanks in advance for your feedback, much appreciated.

Offline D.A. Boulter

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2018, 12:22:20 PM »
If you're dividing a book into two parts just to divide it into two parts, then you can expect a lot of anger from your readers.

The reason for this is every book has a certain flow to it, with various points that it goes through. Using the three act structure as a hypothetical match to your book, that's like stopping in the middle of act two. There is no resolution in the middle of act two. You've just left your readers hanging out to dry. Consider how you feel when watching your favourite TV series and just as they get to an exciting part, up come the words "To be continued ... stay tuned next week for the exciting conclusion." At that point (if not forewarned, I want to throw something at the TV. If forewarned, I still feel a residual anger.

On the other hand, you could break it up into 5 novellas of 30k each and have no problem -- as long as you were writing it as a serial to begin with. Each portion would have its own mini-resolution, though the greater resolution would wait until the final chapter.

Example: Say Protagonist must rescue the fair maiden from the dragon. To do so, he must first acquire the Sword of Righteousness, then use it to kill the dragon, because anything less will result in failure. You could then spend the first half of the book having Protagonist acquiring said Sword of Righteousness. At that point, he has gained a specific goal, and you could break, although he hasn't yet rescued the fair maiden. The second half of the book (or the part that will become Book #2) will have him seeking out and confronting the dragon. It works because Protagonist has an major interim goal: getting the sword.

However, if your protagonist's one and only major goal is to seek out and kill the dragon, and you don't have a convenient stop-place, it won't work.
« Last Edit: June 16, 2018, 12:25:13 PM by D.A. Boulter »


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Offline Arches

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2018, 01:14:23 PM »
Unless you are the reincarnation of JRR Tolkien, this is probably a bad idea for the reasons stated above concerning story structure. I expect that most readers won't pick up the first book until the second is also available, defeating your purpose in breaking it in two.

Even serializing a novel is difficult because each part needs its own structure. It sounds like you've already written at least half of the book, so you'd have to go back to the beginning and change it into a serialized novel. Good luck with the story.

Offline KD Ritchie

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2018, 02:05:09 PM »
I would personally go through and see what your structure is for this novel. Can you revise some arcs? Can you expand others?

I really love this series by Chris Fox :) I haven't yet read this one, but Plot Gardening might give you a quick, simple way to figure out how to plot out two new arcs: https://www.amazon.com/Plot-Gardening-Write-Faster-Smarter-ebook/dp/B07BH8VZDV/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Offline Reveries

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2018, 03:14:27 AM »
I've had a book grow so ludicrously long that I've split it into two books, and done it successfully. Even my editor didn't realise that she'd edited what had been half a book until I told her.

BUT the first book didn't just stop at a random point. The original book already had a natural plot climax and achievement point in the middle. I worked on the structure of the first half, improving the climax to make it into a proper ending for the first book, and emphasized the fact that the characters had achieved the first part of what they needed to succeed.

If the midpoint of your long book doesn't already have the foundations for a good book ending, then you've got a problem.


Offline BrendanQuinn

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2018, 10:31:55 AM »
Ya I guess I should have been a little clearer. I have a very natural split at the midpoint, where the protag receives not only some understanding of his new power, but also the first coupling between him and the love interest. Its not EXACTLY 50% of course, but pretty damn close. Its a sort of pausing to catch a breath. And then, the story picks up again 3 months later, where hes grown into his power a bit and finding his footing, but gets thrown right back into the fire.
My other works in progress definately dont have such a natural breaking point and I doubt I could replicate that in another story (nor would I want to),
Its the sort of point where things wind down but its very obvious that things arent over, lots of questions still to be answered.
So, Reveries, its looking like I may have something like what you had.
I think of something like Hyperion, where the two first books could easily have been merged into one long book. There was a nice end at the first, but literally nothing was yet solved.

Idk its probably a bad idea but good to hear at least one author did this with success.

I suppose the risk would be losing readers.

Offline C. Gold

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2018, 10:42:18 AM »
He receives some info and beds the girl... while that probably leads to a climax, it doesn't sound very climactic for the book's ending. But you might be able to work at one depending on what has happened so far.

Offline OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2018, 12:24:01 PM »
Ya I guess I should have been a little clearer. I have a very natural split at the midpoint, where the protag receives not only some understanding of his new power, but also the first coupling between him and the love interest. Its not EXACTLY 50% of course, but pretty damn close. Its a sort of pausing to catch a breath. And then, the story picks up again 3 months later, where hes grown into his power a bit and finding his footing, but gets thrown right back into the fire.

The ruthless backdrop is that we don't have a bottomless well of money to draw from. If you don't have the money then I'd do it. Simply for lack of another option. I'd love to have wings but I don't see any angels willing to give them up.

The advice on here is helpful tho. I'd look at that ending and polish it up a little, maybe add something that feels a little more definite. When you publish make sure you add a date when the next one will be out and keep that promise. It's all about managing those expectations. If they know that the next is coming you'll get a little breathing space. You will get dinged on the reviews but the sales should pick up once the second one hits.
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Offline BrendanQuinn

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2018, 01:13:14 PM »
Ya there’s quite a bit more to the plot point than that. The midpoint answers the question of what really happened to the protag at the inciting incident. And questions like ‘who has been trying to kill me?’ And ‘how do my new powers really work?’ remain.


As far as expectations, I think you’re right. Would probably want to make sure thr readers knew right up front the length and all that, that this eas part one of two and make sure the price reflects that too.


Didnt Stephen King do this sort of thing way back in the day with the Green Mile? Swear I can remember little thin books near the cash register, selling the book in pieces. Of course, that’s Stephen King, so he can get away with things most others can’t.

Thanks for the feedback so far!



« Last Edit: June 17, 2018, 02:49:40 PM by BrendanQuinn »

Offline OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2018, 03:02:53 PM »
Lots of authors have had to do it. But usually it was because the print book kept falling apart. Robert Jordan did it with his first novel. It was out as one book before being split. Janny Wurts did it a number of times as well. It's not if you can do it, it's if you have to do it. If you gotta do it just keep the advice in mind. Your thinking of it now so I'd set a list of the advice so you can try to hit as many points as you can. Either way it's an adventure and that's all we can ask of life.
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Offline KD Ritchie

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2018, 03:09:08 PM »
Ya theres quite a bit more to the plot point than that. The midpoint answers the question of what really happened to the protag at the inciting incident. And questions like who has been trying to kill me? And how do my new powers really work? remain.


As far as expectations, I think youre right. Would probably want to make sure thr readers knew right up front the length and all that, that this eas part one of two and make sure the price reflects that too.


Didnt Stephen King do this sort of thing way back in the day with the Green Mile? Swear I can remember little thin books near the cash register, selling the book in pieces. Of course, thats Stephen King, so he can get away with things most others cant.

Thanks for the feedback so far!

I think if you can just hit that narrative arc, you'll be fine. You'll attract a lot more readers by having two books, no mention of a split, and a tighter narrative by just wrapping things up. It's fine to leave bigger mysteries, but give him a clue or key to solving a bigger mystery for the next book. Have a battle of sorts with an antagonistic force - you know? We don't all know the intricacies of your novel, but if you can mirror the climax to being at least 75% as high as the end of what would be book 2, I think you'll do great :)

Offline The Bass Bagwhan

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2018, 05:25:22 PM »
I'm an editor and charge decent rates, so I appreciate that the cost of a 150K Copy Edit isn't to be taken lightly. But if the whole purpose of splitting your book is to reduce that cost, it's not the best of reasons - considering the thought and craft that's gone into all other aspects of the book. It seems like a bit of a compromise of all your efforts so far.

I'd suggest two thing: get the first half edited and see if the manuscript is significantly improved. A good editor can also help you evaluate whether that "ending" works.

The length of books is hotly debated here and many readers will claim they won't touch a book under a certain length, but another writer I work for (Urban Fantasy ... kind of) has discovered that 50K books are the sweet spot for his readers - and a lot of readers won't try a series until it's a trilogy. You may want to look at splitting it into a trilogy. Don't get me wrong - if you've written a complete novel at 150K you're probably better off leaving it in one piece, but if you decide to split it then a trilogy might be better.

Good luck with it.
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Offline Arches

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2018, 07:30:25 PM »
Ya I guess I should have been a little clearer. I have a very natural split at the midpoint, where the protag receives not only some understanding of his new power, but also the first coupling between him and the love interest. Its not EXACTLY 50% of course, but pretty damn close. Its a sort of pausing to catch a breath. And then, the story picks up again 3 months later, where hes grown into his power a bit and finding his footing, but gets thrown right back into the fire.
My other works in progress definately dont have such a natural breaking point and I doubt I could replicate that in another story (nor would I want to),
Its the sort of point where things wind down but its very obvious that things arent over, lots of questions still to be answered.
So, Reveries, its looking like I may have something like what you had.
I think of something like Hyperion, where the two first books could easily have been merged into one long book. There was a nice end at the first, but literally nothing was yet solved.

Idk its probably a bad idea but good to hear at least one author did this with success.

I suppose the risk would be losing readers.

Basically, a story needs a hero with a serious problem, and at least one antagonist to oppose the hero in solving his problem. By the climax of the story, the hero needs to understand how to solve his problem and goes for broke. Then the hero struggles to a literary climax and either prevails or loses. In that process, the loose ends raised in the story earlier need to be tied up. In a series, it's okay to have couple of unresolved issues, but most of the critical issues need to be resolved at least temporarily, or there's no real climax and resolution.

If the first half of the book contains all those elements, or if you can work it around to where it does, then you have a complete story. Congrats. But if you leave a lot of loose ends unresolved, readers are probably going to be frustrated. They'd be unlikely to keep reading in the hope that you'll get the second book right. That's my take anyway. Best of luck.

Online Ryan W. Mueller

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2018, 07:35:19 PM »
If the first part functions as a standalone story, go for it. If not, your readers will feel cheated.

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #14 on: Yesterday at 04:38:01 AM »
My advise is, if there's a natural point where you could finish up something major (not "the" major, because you have to have an overall arc to bring readers on with you) and have the reader be satisfied, then it's possible to pull it off. You will probably need to do some rewriting to make the end of the first book make sense and be a true concluding point. I'd say it's 100% you'll have to do it.

I'm writing a novel now that has such a point, and I was intending to actually write it as one book but the story keeps growing. I decided not to worry about it, but to continue writing until I'm done, and make any decisions at that point. I normally won't rewrite, but I actually wouldn't need to do much, if anything as the story naturally hit an "end" there.
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Offline Derrick Herbert

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #15 on: Yesterday at 04:43:35 AM »
I feel your pain, Brendan.

I had to have a similar discussion with myself after the 'novel' that I started out writing spiralled a bit madly out of control in the word count stakes.

I got to about 350k before I decided to rethink what I was doing (we can't all be Peter Hamilton's after all).

I made the very difficult decision to go back to square one and ended up splitting my original novel into four parts!

It has taken me a couple of years to get back to where I had been before stopping, but I think I have a better story now with better more complex characters. I had to (as has been mentioned above) rethink each part of the story in order to give each part a more 'natural/familiar' structure.

If as you seem to be suggesting, the two half of your story already have that structure, then definitely do it. Particularly if it will help you pay for the editing.

Hope this helps.

...and good luck.

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Re: Splitting A Long Book into Two Releases
« Reply #16 on: Yesterday at 04:48:37 AM »
Do take all of this with huge doses of salt, as I'm not published yet, and others above are far more experienced.

However, I had a similar "ouch" issue when I looked at the overall costs of producing a good product - cover, editing, etc - and, in my case, no-one else had read the book.  I didn't want to basically waste an editor's time and my money on a story that didn't work.

So, I got a couple of paid beta readers to go over the book.  Absolutely not editing, but for me incredibly helpful as it reassured me the overall book read ok, the plot worked, etc.  Also gave me lots of things to change!

Depending on what you need - I do appreciate that you mention copy editing - beta reader feedback might be helpful.

Good luck.

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