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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tennis Shoes Update--Compromise Averted

Hey Readers and Fans!

It was a tense few weeks negotiating final terms on Tennis Shoes Book 12: Drums of Desolation. I was very concerned by an email I received from the publisher a couple weeks ago. I'll let you in on a portion of it. I don't do this to embarrass the publisher. This email was actually sent to me before anyone at the publisher had completed reading the book. The Tennis Shoes series is a very involved series and sometimes an editor doesn't have time to read all the previous volumes. I have posted this in hopes that any writers out there with ambitions to publish will gain an understanding of how the business side sometimes works. Here is the exchange:

Hello Chris!

When the committee accepted (your book), they made a few comments/suggestions as far as revisions...First and probably most importantly, they are wondering if you would consider maybe splitting this manuscript into two books. It would mean a couple of things: first, we’d be more willing to end the book on a cliffhanger (I don’t know if that was your intention) because we could be working on the follow-up and release it just a few months later. Second, it would likely mean an increased revenue for you, since your fans would be buying two books instead of just one. And finally (and probably most importantly) the manuscript as it is now is too long for a single book. So if we decide not to split it into two manuscripts, we will have to cut a little more than 100 pages...The second bit of feedback from the committee is that we’re going to want to work on the prologue.... (We're) worried that it would not reach the intended YA target audience because it’s so deep.
(We're) looking forward to getting started on this . . . Thanks so much for such a fun story!

(name removed)

My reply to this was as follows:
Dear (name removed)
I plot my books very carefully. This book is actually a bit shorter than my last Tennis Shoes book (Sorcerers and Seers), so I don't understand (any objection to) length. My books generally end on a cliffhanger, but there is always a climactic scene at the end and many twists, which is typical of all the endings of Tennis Shoes novels. If we cut the book into two books, it will be obvious to readers that we did so for the money, and it would hurt me as the author...I'm already working on the next Tennis Shoes book, so the wait for the next volume will not be as long.
I'm not willing to cut 100 pages, so that's not an option...And I like the Prologue. It might be trimmed, but my prologues are always "deep" and philosophical. You must read the Prologues of the last several Tennis Shoes book so you understand the tradition and pattern...It's critical that you understand the intent and tone of the series. These books are NOT YA (Young Adult). Never have been. I realize the first book was directed to that market, but subsequent books have never been written for that intent...My readers know what to expect. Yes, I know many teens read my books, but teens also read Ender's Game and Lord of the Rings. They like it when the author does not talk down to them. The characters aren't even as young anymore! Protagonists in the Tennis Shoes series are sometimes in their fifties. You will have a very inaccurate and incomplete understanding of the series if you base that understanding upon the first novel...Listen, I'm really not a prima donna who thinks my works are infallible and untouchable...An editor has always offered MUCH improvement. I understand deadlines, but I won't be pressured to offer up an inferior product to meet them. I've never had to do so. I'm convinced this is why the series has been around for so long. 

Chris H.
So that was the exchange. The reality is that there will be another Tennis Shoes book called Thorns of Glory, but this is not yet written and is currently underway. As often happens when I write a story, I become very caught up in the plot and characters. I'm fascinated with the particular time period I'm writing about. My original intent was to wrap up the series (or at least the current story) with this latest Tennis Shoes book. But ideas flowed and I let them flow. I believe the greatest sin with a book is to be boring. As long as I am entertained as the author, I hope you are also entertained as the reader.
So, in the end, I was able to convince the publisher to leave the book AS IS. No splitting into two books. No cutting of 100 pages. And I will preserve my "deep" prologue, etc.
Yup, Drums of Desolation is a long book. But I hope it's worth every sentence. The release is still expected to be this fall.
Stay close to the Lord,
Chris Heimerdinger

P.S. This last winter I also was the ghost writer on a book called Extraordinary Comfort that is now available on Kindle and will soon be available in print (a month or two). It's a very sacred true story that happened in the life of a very close friend of mine. I will post more on this later, but for now I'll direct you to this link to learn more information.