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  1. #1
    joe
    Guest

    Word Count matters

    Are you telling me my novel with 63,000 words will not get
    as close a look by an agent as 100k word book?



  2. #2
    Russ Still
    Guest

    Re: Word Count matters

    My guess is that it depends on the genre, and by how compelling your query letter is.

  3. #3
    Lisa
    Guest

    Re: Word Count matters

    80,000 to 100,000 is considered a novel. If the book is over 100,000 from a first time author most agent don't want it. Because most publishers don't like to take the chance on a book of that length on a first timer.

    Lisa

  4. #4
    Bernard Shakey
    Guest

    Re: Word Count matters

    These discussions are based on the implicit assumption that one ought to try to tailor the length of a book to maximize its potential for publication. This seems wrongheaded to me.

    It's somewhat like a 5'9" guy asking if being 5'9" is the optimal height for being an NBA player. No it isn't, but so what?

    Turning what ought to be a 60,000-word novel into an 85,000-word novel is guaranteed to make it a much worse novel. I doubt that improves its odds for publication.

  5. #5
    Russ Still
    Guest

    Re: Word Count matters

    Gee, Lisa. What do you base that on?

    And Bernard, which would be the better seller from bookstore shelves, assuming equally good stories, no filler in either? 60k or 110k book?

  6. #6
    Bernard Shakey
    Guest

    Re: Word Count matters

    I have no idea, and I doubt anyone else does either, as the question is too abstract to be meaningful. Some people like shorter books and some people like longer ones. Longer ones cost more than shorter ones, all things being equal. Whether the excess cost will be worth the price to the marginal buyer will depend on factors that are far too particularistic to be generalized about meaningfully.

    And in case, the basic point is that book should be as long or short as it needs to be, so this whole genre of discussion is really pretty pointless.

  7. #7
    Russ Still
    Guest

    Re: Word Count matters

    It's only pointless if you're speaking of the art and craft of writing. In which case, I agree with you completely. If you're speaking of the harsh world of marketing and sales, however, it is quite pointed.

  8. #8
    Bernard Shakey
    Guest

    Re: Word Count matters

    It only matters if you think it's possible to sit down beforehand and outline a book that you "know" will be 85,000 words, instead of 65,000 or 110,000. I don't think this is possible for most writers who are doing something other than complete hack work.

    Now if you're planning on writing a three-volume epic in LOTR style, that's another matter. But the arguments about this question circle around fairly narrow word ranges. Yes, it's harder to sell novellas. Yes, it's harder to sell really long novels. Beyond those not very useful generalizations, I don't think there's much to be said.

    And I certainly don't think it's useful to *plan* to write an 85,000-word book, instead of a 65,000 or 110,000.

  9. #9
    Debra
    Guest

    Re: Word Count matters

    "It only matters if you think it's possible to sit down beforehand and outline a book that you "know" will be 85,000 words, instead of 65,000 or 110,000. I don't think this is possible for most writers who are doing something other than complete hack work."

    I must disagree. Just as I could write a 5-10 page essay in high school, I could plan as an adult to write a 2,000 word short story or a 50,000 word young adult novel.

    When I started my second novel, I realized it was getting much too complicated for my desired word count, so I did away with such plot points as her friend's anorexia, her grandfather's secret, etc.

    My first novel seemed to come up short for wordcount, so I beefed it up by making a minor character a much bigger influence on the main character's life.

    Now, I don't think this would work so well if one had, for example a tight finished 80,000 word YA novel and tried to lop 30,000 words from it. Or a completed 20,000 word YA novel and you tried to add 30,000 words. But during the process of drafting or doing early revisions, I think there's a lot of ways to successfully tinker with word count.

  10. #10
    Jordie
    Guest

    Re: Word Count matters

    I agree with Debra. I'm two-thirds of the way through my WIP. About 20K words ago, I realized that if I continued using the outline I had, my work would clock in at only 60K words. I redid my outline and now I think I'll come in at around 80-90K words.

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