1. In Limbo
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    In Limbo New Member

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    Novel Length

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by In Limbo, Jan 8, 2009.

    I am at 35,000 words and it is a complete story in itself. I know this is short but I really would like to start submitting to agents. I can get another 3,000 words but don't want to push it. Do I have a shot with a short piece like this? I know many famous novels were this short (Bridges of Madison County, The Notebook, Carrie).

    It is a literary novel, well written (so I've been told) and completely polished.
     
  2. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    Most first-time novels start off at about fifty to one-hundred thousand words. Any more and a publisher may reject it.

    Yours is more a novella-length piece.
     
  3. othman
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    othman Member

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    Couldn't you write multiple novellas and publish them in the same book (many children authors have done that with short stories) and link them by them being in different dimensions, same world, same characters of something along those lines.
     
  4. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    not necessarily the case

    It depends on the publisher you're dealing with. Baen Books for example says on their submission page that they're looking for "100-130 thousand words." and that "they are uncomfortable with works shorter then then but if you think your story is good, send it in."

    So, you need to look at your market and RESEARCH each publishing house and see what they say in their requirements...
     
  5. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    It also depends who your target audience is. A young adult novel or tween novel can be shorter. Smaller presses might be amenable to shorter novels.

    The one thing to consider about the novels you listed in the original post, except for Carrie, which was S. King's breakout novel, the others were by authors with serious publishing credentials. (Waller in non-fiction and Sparks in collaborations, but published history, nonetheless.) It may not be fair, but that does make a difference.
     
  6. Daedalus
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    Daedalus Active Member

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    That's why I said they "may" reject it. :)
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Go to your local bookstore. How many novellas can you find on the shelves? And how dusty are they?

    Now if it's in a YA section, you might have a better chance. But in general, novellas just don't sell, so therefore not many publishers are likely to show an interest.

    It's not an absolute, but the odds are stacked, and not in your favor.
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    In Limbo,

    Finding an agent for a literary novel that is only 35,000 words (novella length) will be difficult. I believe that Five People You Meet in Heaven (by Mitch Albom) was in the 40s, maybe almost 50,000 words, but that's not really a literary novel, and it wasn't his first novel published.

    If you go to this page of my website: Market Search Sites
    and select the 'NewPages.com' link, then scroll down, you'll find a link to independent publishers (mostly literary).

    Check them out and see what they're submission guidelines indicate.

    There are other links on the page (such as Duotrope.com) and that may assist you in your search as well.

    As stated, there are fewer markets for novella length works (more e-markets than print--but in my experience that's mostly romance related) that one might expect. More novel and short fiction by far.

    Good luck.

    Terry
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    virtually no one will take on a 50k work by a new unknown writer... the preferred range for that is 80-100k...

    and whether or not it's a 'literary' novel isn't for the writer to decide... if it is, it's decided on only by the agents/publishers/critics... you may have confused that complementary term with 'mainstream'...

    if what you've written is for adults, i doubt anyone will even look at it, being so short...

    fyi, waller had written several published novels before 'bridges' and sparks had written two novels prior to 'notebook' though they were unpublished... his 'discovery' was a fluke that you wouldn't be wise to count on for yourself, since it's the extremely rare exception, not the rule... and as for 'carrie,' that was another exception, although king had been writing and submitting work for years prior to it's 'discovery'...

    bottom line: when trying to break into what is an incredibly hard field to enter, it's wisest to follow the rule, than to hope you'll be a rare exception...
     
  10. kyle777
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    kyle777 Member

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    I agree with Cogito. Novellas really don't sell well. I've never even heard of any popular ones. You'll be better off sticking with a short story, or drastically lengthening what you already have and creating a full-fledged novel, which is about 80,000 - 100,000 words.

    I have to say good luck, though. The length is one of the most irritating parts of writing a novel. I have the exact opposite problem; too many words, which is actually more likely to scare away a publisher than not enough.
     
  11. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    thank you for the insight, Mom!

    It's very much appreciated! :)
     
  12. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    Ok if you look in the Writer's Market you will find publishers that handle that.

    Duotrope's Digest can help you as well.
     

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