Breaking the rules • 17 November 2008 • The SnowBlog
Breaking the rules
I mentioned a while back that Andy bought all the Peter F Hamilton books, and after casually glancing at the first paragraph of the first book in the Night's Dawn trilogy, I ended up hooked. Thing is, the first book of the trilogy has over 1200 pages. Fine for me as a reader - it didn't feel over-long and there was little redundancy - but as a publisher I would certainly have got out my 'reject' stamp. (I don't really have a reject stamp.)
I wonder what gems we've turned down over the years because they break the rules? One of my rules is 'if it mentioned orcs *and* elves in the first page, it's a no'. (I still think that's a good rule.) But we'll almost dismiss out of hand short story collections, anything under 70,000 words and anything over 130,000. Maybe we shouldn't. But as we say in our open rejection letter, publishers are like shoppers at a January sale - looking out for bargains, and quickly skimming over everything else. What's certain is that our opinion is formed as much by industry norms and conventions as anything - so a publisher's opinion of your book is only interesting if they decide to publish you. It's certainly no measure of the quality of your work.
By the way, Peter F himself writes about the writing of his trilogy here, which is interesting.