So I was preparing Cites & Insights Volume 9 for the annual trade-paperback version…
And I realized something, or, rather, was reminded of something I already knew:
It’s too long. Sorry about that.
What do I mean by “too long”? My original aim for C&I was to do 12 12-page to 16-page issues a year (a total of 144 to 192 pages), back when this all started in 2001. Since then, I’ve adjusted expectations, and since 2004 I think in terms of “around 300 pages per year,” roughly 12 24-page issues (with either an extra issue or one or two running to 26 pages).
Not that I get there, to be sure. Volume 8 had only 12 issues (the only time that’s happened) but they totaled 330 pages–which was at least lower than volumes 6 and 7 (362 and 350 pages each).
This year? Sigh… 418 pages, not including the index. That’s 56 pages longer than Volume 6, the longest volume prior to this, and spread across 13 instead of 14 issues.
I think what happened was overcompensation–that, and the fact that I included the “non-profile portion” of three different books as part of C&I this year, which accounts for 70 of those 418 pages. Without those inclusions, the volume is a mere 348 pages, more or less on target (mostly less, since the target’s still around 300 pages).
Overcompensation? Yep. Going into this year, I knew we were going to seriously hunt for a new house and plan to sell the old one–and that meant preparing to have the interior painted, doing some other little fixups, and of course loads of disruption for prepacking, painting, looking at houses, drawing up offers, packing, moving, unpacking, seeing what needed to be done at the new house…
So, basically, every month I was a little nervous about not having anything ready when time came to publish the next issue–and took one way out: I prepared substantial essays when I had time to do so, to make sure there’d be something on hand.
The result was that I always did have something on hand–and that I put together some fairly large essays that might not have happened under other circumstances.
I’m not apologizing for the quality of Volume 9. I think it’s just fine–a bit heavy on mega-essays, but maybe that’s OK. The length? Well, it is what it is; I’d prefer a shorter volume, but that’s life.
I don’t promise to do better next year. Heck, I don’t even promise that there will be a next year–that is, that I’ll do a full Volume 10 of at least 12 issues. It seems likely, but without sponsorship or “secondary revenue sources,” it’s not certain. And assuming it does move forward, I’ll still aim for roughly 24-page issues, but I’ll still publish issues that are the length they need to be.
As to that paperback volume…
It’s done. I’ve ordered the proof copy. Assuming nothing stupidly wrong–not the usual typos, because I don’t fix typos once an issue’s published–I’ll turn it on for public access and announce it. As usual, it will be $50 for either the book or a downloadable PDF, the latter particularly representing support for C&I (since you can, to be sure, download all 13 issues and the index for $0).
Now to not do any advance writing for C&I Volume 10…at least until I’ve gotten further along with But Still They Blog: The Liblog Landscape 2007-2009.
An afterthought: In case you’re wondering, Volume 9 contains just over 331,000 words (plus a bunch of tables and figures in one issue). The previous record was roughly 289,000 words in Volume 7; although Volume 6 had more pages, it had fewer words–I tweaked the format in 2007 to get more words per page.