1. Ellen1212
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    Ellen1212 Member

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    another question on length

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Ellen1212, Feb 23, 2010.

    I am rewriting a novel from several years ago, to submit to an agent. I did a severe trimming job and now am adding new material. My problem is that I tend to be a sparse writer. I now have 50,000 words and am fairly close to the end. Of course, I can go back and add more material. My question is, how long must it be, roughly? It is paranromal fiction. Would 70,000 words be okay? Thanks.
     
  2. whiskeyjameson
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    whiskeyjameson Senior Member

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    I think it depends on target audience and the publisher. Though from what I am reading, standard first novel length is around 60 to 90k words. Though I also wouldn't recommend just adding filler.



    Best, Whiskey
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Agreed. Length should be a measure of content. Your English teacher always knew if you stuffed your essay with filler to meet the assigned word count, and so will publishers.

    70K words is reasonable for most publishers for a first novel, although it's closer to the low end of the range.

    There is probably some point in the novel where the tension can be increased by introducing a new setback or obstacle, if you do need to add more meat.

    It's my experience that a good editing pass will remove a fair amount of fluff, so it's better to have too much material in the first draft than not enough.
     
  4. kybudman
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    kybudman New Member

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    Length may be a requested factor for some publishers. It usually has to do with the costs of printing the words. This is usually determined by the printer's set-up options, which is where some publishers look when creating submission guidelines.

    As a writer, the best advice I ever heard was to use every word required to tell the story, and no more. "When a man asks you the time is not the time to tell him how to build a clock." It is, for me as a writer, a good rule of thumb. If the word count falls outside the range of the publisher's guidelines, it's time to negotiate with the Publisher. It could well be that, even if the publisher has courted your work, they may not make a great couple. Until you have a completed contract for publication, the work depends upon you for its best care. Expansion and detail of the work is one thing; useless fluff for word count is another.

    Good luck on your journey.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Word count matters to publishers, not because of prining costs, but because of what they can sell. A book that is too thin on the bookstore shelves won't be sold, and neither will a thick tome by an unknown author. A publisher is taking a chance on a book turning a profit, and the production costs (which include but are not limited to printing costs) are primarily pre volume, not per printed page.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    optimum size for most publishers of adult fiction is 80-100k, so while yours is shorter than the lower end, it might still be acceptable, if brilliantly written... some now-famous author's first efforts were quite short... 'jonathan livingston seagull' [10k +/-]and 'bridges of madison county' [36k] are just two examples...

    for the paranormal genre, however, i fear it may be a hard sell to be that short, as they usually run nearly twice that long and some even longer...
     
  7. Ellen1212
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    Ellen1212 Member

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    Thanks to everyone for your advice, it helps alot.
     
  8. Spuddfluff
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    Spuddfluff Member

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    The average length of a novel is 65,000 words.

    A novella is 17,500 to 40,000 words.

    A novelette is 7,500 to 17,499 words.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That is well under the acceptance range for most publishers for novels. Where did this statistic come from?
     
  10. Spuddfluff
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    Spuddfluff Member

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    Wikipedia :p

    It didn't look right and now I can tell why.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    publishers don't set their size requirements by any 'average' size... they want what they know most bookbuyers prefer to read, so regardless of the source or accuracy of that pronouncement, spud, it's not relevant to what size novel mss should be, to maximize their chances of being published...

    plus, different genres and markets will require different optimum word counts... YA and romance novels are generally shorter... sagas and sci-fi can run longer... so making an unqualified, 'etched in stone' claim like that isn't really helpful, imo...
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Wikipedia is not a relaible source of information.
     
  13. iolair
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    iolair Active Member

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    "Average Size" includes all the novels published in the past, and older novels tend to be quite a bit thinner than most new ones. So, it's quite feasible that the average length could be shorter than what most publishers would now be interested in.

    The most reliable source of information on what a particular publisher would be prepared to accept is, of course, the publisher itself.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    exactly!...

    one should always go by each publisher's stated preference in their guidelines, not any supposed 'average'...
     
  15. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    I might go up to about 80,000 but better a short novel than a novel that has endless filler in it. It will depend upon the publisher and story type. ;)
     

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