Edit Down or Break the Book into Two?

That is the question.

As I’ve mentioned in past blogs, I’m to the editing point on both my stories (well more editing and trimming down) and I’m running into an authorly dilemma with one of my novels. Do I edit down my novel, or do I break the story into two books?

I’m really not a fan of breaking the book into two.  The story was written as a single novel and I want to keep it that way. Call it pride or being stubborn. I’ll admit to both. That said, if all I do is edit the story down, the book will be between 150k and165k words which is a long novel. I know this, I’ve always pictured it as an epic story. Still, it’s a size agents and publishers tend to bock at (for a variety of reason and I’m not devaluing their valuable advice). If I cut the book into two, I would need to write an ending for the first book and write a new beginning for the second book. I could do it as painful as may be for my ego, it could be done and I’m pretty sure I have a place that I can make it work. 

But, this, to me, seems like a cheat.  I’ve read books that do this, and I can tell.  It’s like the author saw 80k words as the stopping point and rushed to give the reader a half assed ending.  Then they pick up the story at a false beginning and continue on for another 80k–100k words and end the story.  When what they should’ve done, in my mind, is offer one book at 160k–180k words and given the reader something wonderful.

Now, I’m not saying cutting the book in two is wrong.  I’m saying I don’t personally like the idea.  Does this mean it hasn’t been done well? Of course it has.  I’m sure you can find a great editor, or story doctor, to help you accomplish a perfect cut that no one will ever notice. Expect for the author. Which is fine. After all a book is a product, you need to be able to market and sell.

I’m intentionally taking out the ‘art’ and ‘creative’ nature of the book/story so as not to involve emotion.

Some of you may be saying, “You’re too close to the work.  You’re not seeing all the fat to be trimmed. There is plenty to cut.”

You would be 100% correct. I am too close to the work.  But I’m still editing the beast down now.  I’m also going to put the book through another round of beta reads for feedback. Find out what people think and ask them to mark up where they believe the story can either be trimmed or cut.  With luck this will help me remove enough bits from the book to make it palatable for an agent and publisher.

If that still doesn’t work there is the idea of self-publishing. And it has appeal, because I can keep all the emotional connection to the book and treat it the way I want it treated.  Like a fine glass of wine enjoyed slowly on a quiet night in front of a warm fire.

Too much?