The Clock Man‘s gotten dinged a couple times by readers who felt it could have easily been expanded to a full-length novel. Doubtless, it would have been possible; the story clocked in at 34k words, after all. It’s hardly a short story at that length and is leaning heavily toward novel area.
For those of you unfamiliar with what constitutes a short story versus what constitutes a novel let me assure you that there are rules. No one completely agrees on those rules, but there are rules. I tend to follow the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s regulations for its Nebula award categories.
- Short Story – Under 7,500 words
- Novelette – 7,500 to 17,500 words
- Novella – 17,500 words to 40,000 words
- Novel – Over 40,000 words
Based on their rules, The Clock Man is heading toward the top end of the Novella category. Could I have eked out another 6k words in that story? Sure. Would I have published it as a stand-alone novel at 40,001 words? Probably not. You see, there’s an expectation of length among readers and, no matter what SFFWA thinks, most people consider a novel to start at about 60k-70k words. In case you’re wondering, the total word count of all eight stories in The Clock Man is about 110k.
To put those numbers into pages, the general rule of thumb is 250-300 words to a page. Obviously, this is variable based on page dimensions and type size and text density. Heck, even the typeface can change the word/page count, but 250-300 words per page is the industry standard. That means a 60k word book would be around 240-ish pages and a 70k word book bout would be around 280-ish pages. A 40k novel would only be 160 or so pages. Most readers want the longer books, so I would have had to add around 30k words to that story to put it in the realm of what’s commonly accepted as a novel.
Adding 26k-36k words to The Clock Man wouldn’t have made it any better and would probably have damaged the tale with unnecessary bloat. In my opinion, it was exactly as long as it needed to be. It told the tale of Crow and Chan and set things up for what will become a full-length novel tentatively titled Greetings From Sunny Aluna.
It’s funny; I’ve got the title picked out for a book I haven’t even started writing yet, but I’ll be damned if I can figure out a title for Henchmen 3 and that sucker’s about half written now. BTW, trust me, Henchmen 3 is going to be epic. It’ll tell the tale of Steven coming to grips with being a god and continue with the bad guys from Arise and even loop in some of the missing bits from Henchmen.
But I digress. This post was supposed to be about a refresh on the look and feel of The Clock Man, not how awesome Henchmen 3 (of 4, in case you’re wondering) is going to be.
It’s going to be awesome, though.
So, anyway. I was working on a new Twitter ad for The Clock Man and something about that ad just freakin’ clicked. The ad in question is at the top of this post. I can’t exactly explain what I liked about it, but I just had to see how it would look as a book cover. A bit of tweaking later and I came up with the first cut and posted on IASD‘s Facebook group page. A few people and I went back and forth and the next thing I know, I’ve got this:
Like I said: something about it just clicked. The original is on my Facebook author page if you ever want to see it. The end result is I accidentally redesigned the cover for The Clock Man. It’s not that I was disappointed with the original cover, I still like it. But, let’s face facts here, that new cover POPS like a mofo. Does it capture the feel of the book – or even the story? Kind of. But this is a collection of stories that are only somewhat interconnected so it’s difficult to pick a single image to capture the theme.
In a way, the dragon works as well as anything else.
Now, the technical notes:
The background was hand built in Inkscape. The image is from Vectorstock (drawn by pathique). The font is Akashi. The whole piece was assembled in Inkscape and I used GIMP to do some final modifications like resizing to keep the edges clean.
I find graphic design to be a good way to relax in a way that writing isn’t. I guess it uses a different part of my brain. If you ever find yourself with some free time and an idea, try it out. You might just create something cool.
Just as a side note, I do custom cover design. Drop me a line if you’re interested.
Have you ever redesigned one of your covers because you were bored?