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Source:Reader Mail: AMoL Progress Bar 15 March 2008

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From Brandon Sanderson's website:

To start off, I wanted to mention that the personalized ELANTRIS hardcover sale will end this Friday. (March 21st.) The books will still be for sale, but they'll jump from $22 to $25. So if you've been planning to get yourself a copy, this week would be a good time!

Now, onto the body of the post. For a while, I've been thinking that I'll probably have to give up officially on answering all of my email. Following the WoT news, it has grown increasingly difficult to find time to respond to everyone who has been so kind as to contact me. We shall see. For the time being, I got an interesting email the other day, and I thought others my be curious to hear my answer. The email was as follows: Will you be posting a progress update of sorts on your page? I understand there is a large refining and editing process to overcome and publishing and distribution, but I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that knowing it's finished would be a tremendous load off our shoulders. Any plans for a method to let us know about your progress? It's a good question. As many of you may know, I have progress bars on the front of my website showing how far I've gotten on whatever project I'm currently engaged in. I've got one now listing how far along I am in my re-read of the series. (Finished CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT, by the way, and am now reading A NEW SPRING.)

Will I do this for Book 12? I'm planning to, but with a few caveats. The thing is, it's hard for me to judge how long this project will take. It's unlike any book I've ever worked on. With my own novels, I've gotten to the point where I can sit down and plot them and know roughly how long they will be before I start. (I generally shoot for about 200k words in length for my epics, 50k for Middle Grade books, 80-90k for a YA novel.)

I don't know how long AMoL is going to be, though. That's going to present a problem for running a progress bar of how far along I am. (The current program we have is percentage based, and I won't know what percentage is done if I don't know how long the novel is going to end up being.)

Right now, my goal for the book is 300k minimum. Looking at the material Mr. Jordan left behind and the story that needs to be told, that's a realistic size to start with. This wouldn't make the book the shortest in the series, though it wouldn't be the longest either. It would be right in the middle.

I'm expecting it to go longer than that, to be honest. Mr. Jordan himself often said of this book that it would be as long as it had to be, even if Tor had to invent a new binding for it! From what I've seen of the material, I don't think that's going to be necessary—I think he was responding to worries of the fans that he wouldn't tie the novel up in one volume. From his outline, writings, and other work on the project it looks to me that he was planning it to be in the 300-400k range.

So, I'll probably start the progress bar assuming the book will be 300k long, then update it later when I have a better idea of its length. I will be needing to go and touch up the sections that Mr. Jordan wrote. (They are in rough draft from. As I've mentioned, I intend to leave them as pristine as is possible for the novel, with as minor editing as is possible while still maintaining the integrity of the novel.) Therefore, I'll start the bar at 0%, and once a section of pages is touched up or written by me, I'll update accordingly.

(For you trivia buffs, the longest book I've ever written was 306k long. It was THE WAY OF KINGS, which was the book I wrote right before MISTBORN. The first draft of WELL OF ASCENSION was second, topping out at 258k in first draft form, though we cut it to about 245k before it went to press. So yes, AMoL is going to be the longest book I've ever worked on. Though, since Mr. Jordan left large chunks of writing for the book—including much of the beginning and ending—I don't know that this will technically be the longest book I've written, assuming you count only words I myself wrote.)

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