100,000k is not short for a novel….

So as of today, I have published 3 fantasy novels and 2 shorter works of Paranormal Romance. I have been writing for 12 years now and before self-publishing, I attempted the “traditional publishing” route. Strangely enough, my books were considered a little too long for several agents to feel comfortable with, especially when trying out a new, unestablished author. After some back and forth, I finally decided to self-publish because it seemed like the ebook market was taking off and there were a lot more opportunities for self-published authors to be seen and read.

Weirdly enough, since publishing my work, I have received consistent complaints that my books are too short. I am very flattered that people want to keep reading my stories and wish they were longer. I mean, what more could an author ask for? But I’ve received so many comments about the length of the books that I feel the need to explain.

Sora’s Quest is 105,000 words.

Viper’s Creed is around 95,000 words.

Volcrian’s Hunt is 115,000 words.

To put this in perspective,

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is 74,000 words.

The Hobbit is 95,000 words.

Twilight is 115,000 words.

What I am trying to point out is that my books are no shorter than average for Young Adult Fantasy. In fact, when I was first trying to get Sora’s Quest published, I was repeatedly told that it was too long and needed to be cut down to 75,000-85,000 words. So understandably, the last thing I ever expected to hear from my readers is that the books are too short! Some readers have gone as far as to accuse me of doing this on purpose, and I can assure you, this is not the case. I am not attempting to write a series of “extremely short serial novels” that require you to purchase several books just to get the feeling of “one novel.” The characters are on a quest and I can’t wrap up all the storylines in one book, because then there would be nothing left to write about. This model of “one story split into several books” has been used by countless authors, especially in the fantasy genre: J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan and even Patrick Rothfuss to an extent. That being said, I realize that some readers don’t like unresolved conflicts in a series, especially when they have to wait for the next book to be released, and they are entitled to their opinion. But it is not my intention to frustrate anyone!

I think, maybe, that Viper’s Creed caused some of this tension because it does end abruptly and the story arc continues into Volcrian’s Hunt. You’re right, I probably could have planned that out better. But the next books in the series are looking like they are going to be quite a bit longer than the last few, perhaps 120,000-140,000 words (which, by the way, would be VERY hard to publish as Young Adult Fantasy if I were to go the traditional route.) So I guess I’ve learned my lesson: traditional models of publishing, especially in regards to word-length, can be bent. I am hearing you guys–you want longer books. So from here on out, that’s what I will try my very best to do, while staying true to the story (of course.)

So your thoughts, reviews and letters DO matter, and your feedback helps me navigate the books to come. Thank you for being honest reviewers and readers, and I look forward to continuing the series. Thank you for reading!

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Comments (7)

  1. Georg

    Personally I have enjoyed reading your books and found the length of them to be ok. I don’t like short books because I read to fast and they are over before I even get started it seems.

    I like the fact that you continue the story in the next book, it gives me something to look forward to down the line. Although my greatest joy is when I discover a series of books that takes me a week to read to finally end the story. That way I really get into the characters. They become alive for me. So much so, that it takes a couple of days after the story ends, before I can start to read the next book. Without thinking about the last one I just finished.

    • Hi Georg! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree that the books have been released at wide intervals and perhaps that is cause for some of the complaints I’ve received. I am a very fast reader as well, and I enjoy very long fiction (in the 200,000 word range), but I find that I am a succinct writer. I get impatient with “fluff” and long explanations or unnecessary, laborious details. I’d rather just focus on the good stuff–ie. characterization, conflict, action and romance. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t written any books yet that are quite that length. Perhaps it is something I should try in the future. I always enjoy a good challenge.

  2. autumn firedragon

    The only reason I would and have thought your books (The Cat’s Eye series)are short is simply because I cannot put them down and I want MORE,MORE, MORE! In reality, this has absolutely nothing to do with the length of the books and if I were you, I’d take the sour grapes you perceive and see it for what it really is; a beautifully developed wine that will no doubt become a vintage classic.

    Any chance on a movie of this series?

    I think your characters are unique and well developed and the same for your stories. We simply want more. That said, I’d much rather read one of your books that doesn’t get boring because you felt pressured to make it longer based on some of your readers collective bitching.
    Stay true to yourself. Your stories speak volumes about your talents. And, for what it’s worth, I’m a 50 year old young adult. I adore your work, it is 2nd & 3rd time reading quality.
    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    ~ Autumn

    • Hi Autumn! Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. This stood out to me: “That said, I’d much rather read one of your books that doesn’t get boring because you felt pressured to make it longer based on some of your readers collective bitching.” You are absolutely right. It wouldn’t be fair to all of my readers if I only listen to the few that complain. I will resolve to stay true to the story and seek first to deliver and entertain! Sora and Crash deserve that much, and so do you. :)

  3. Emily

    Dear T.L. Shreffler,

    I have just finished reading The Cat’s Eye Chronicles in EXACTLY one week. I started the first one last saturday and I just, moments ago, finished the third. AMAZING! I am totally enthralled in this story. As a reader, I was never bored when reading the books and I couldn’t put them down. And I mean literally. I couldnt force myself to put them down and go do something productive, like study for my chem exam. I love the action, the humor and I am a huge sucker for the romance. I leapt for joy whenever Crash and Sora had a moment. Thank you for FINALLY getting them together in the third. I can’t wait to see where things go for them and the entire crew in the fourth installment. I am just heartbroken I have to wait over six months for the release of the next book! Keep working hard and know your work is loved. I’m cheering you on!

    Love, Emily

    • Hi Emily! Chem exams are definitely not my forte, I was always a bio-girl. I could have majored in Biology if I didn’t love writing so much. I hope you did well on your test! Thank you so much for reading the Chronicles and stopping by to share your thoughts. Crash and Sora have a bit more to go before they can fully resolve their feelings for one another. Book 4 is a huge relief to write… I have finally gotten the characters to a point where I can sit back and let things unfold as they will, without so much painstaking, deliberate pacing. Can’t wait to share the next book with you guys! It’s gonna be epic… 😉

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