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  1. #11
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    I hate to sound defiant, but doesn't it really depend on the story? I mean, if you have elements that are crucial to the plot would you leave them out just to pull your work under the 70,000 mark? Or would you go back and inject so much babble and filler that it made the story incoherent just to make it over the 80,000 mark?

    Seems that word count is a far less important issue than content to me. I had an agent ask me to remove 15,000 words from a MS after the query process had begun (which they later turned down). I could only remove about 7000 before the story began to suffer. Seemed an odd rule at the time and it still does.



  2. #12
    Dana
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Hagler View Post

    Seems that word count is a far less important issue than content to me.
    Well it should be. Enforcing rigid word counts is a bit like insisting an artist fit his painting into a certain sized frame. It's much the same as all the rules about POV and show don't tell, which amount to petty tyrannies. They're guidelines only, not Gospel, and as such should always be subordinate to the creative process. Take a look at the best sellers, you'll find they've broken all the "rules."

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Hagler View Post
    I hate to sound defiant, but doesn't it really depend on the story? I mean, if you have elements that are crucial to the plot would you leave them out just to pull your work under the 70,000 mark? Or would you go back and inject so much babble and filler that it made the story incoherent just to make it over the 80,000 mark?

    Seems that word count is a far less important issue than content to me. I had an agent ask me to remove 15,000 words from a MS after the query process had begun (which they later turned down). I could only remove about 7000 before the story began to suffer. Seemed an odd rule at the time and it still does.
    Not really. If the word count is significantly out of the spectrum of what is commercially acceptable for what the agent or publisher is looking for (I've constantly point out that they are usually looking for something in particular, not just picking any old topic or take out of the air), they won't look any further at what you have. This is particularly so for an untested author. I also keep trying to say that they commonly will look for the wordage almost as the first thing--and be irritated if you hide it. Because wordage is one of the deal killers and they don't have time to spend on an off-the-top deal killer. They have mounds of offers sitting on their desks, many of which will meet enough of their specifications to soak up the attention they have to give to over-the-transom offers. It's not an author-favored world. And that's not the fault of the agents and publishers. It's a function of all of the writers and writer wanna bes who assume they have the next greatest novel in their pocket. You sorta have to think about what's important to the agent and publisher, not what's important to you, as the writer.

  4. #14
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    It's my understanding it all depends on genre. A YA novel may be 60,000 words, but that might be considered awfully thin for, say, adult, historical fiction.

  5. #15
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    Even if it means sacrificing the story? Seems that if all you worry about is commercial success that may be the answer.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Hagler View Post
    Even if it means sacrificing the story? Seems that if all you worry about is commercial success that may be the answer.
    Why are you asking here if you aren't considering commercial success? Why would you expect a publisher to go bankrupt for a stranger who wants to be published but doesn't care about commerical success (for both author and publisher)?

    Just Xerox it and send it around to your friends and be pure of the taint of any commercialism or marketability.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Kessler View Post
    Why are you asking here if you aren't considering commercial success? Why would you expect a publisher to go bankrupt for a stranger who wants to be published but doesn't care about commerical success (for both author and publisher)?

    Just Xerox it and send it around to your friends and be pure of the taint of any commercialism or marketability.
    I'm with Gary on this one. A very reputable agent once told me at a conference that one of the first thing she looks at is word count. It's a business, and in the end, I think the goal of all authors is commercial success.

  8. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by J D View Post
    I think the goal of all authors is commercial success.
    It certainly is with agents and with all publishers who aren't a nonprofit using the books in their activities. They aren't in the business to be going bankrupt.

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