1. NathanWrites
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    NathanWrites Member

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    Sitting On An Essentially Finished Novel For Over A Year.

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by NathanWrites, Jul 4, 2013.

    It's at 60,000 words. I wanted it to be thin enough that even non-readers would not hesitate diving in. After some consideration I have decided to add another 15,000 words (reserved for any additional character development necessary) to conform with the industry standard.

    I've read, edited and revised extensively over the past year. Put the book on a shelf for awhile and re-read it with fresh eyes. I still like the story, which is probably natural. My list of agents has been researched and I have selected several that I feel I could work well with. Query letters have been custom written, but none sent yet.

    So what's the problem? It's hard to admit but I'm scared. Scared the book will succeed, because I'm not seeking fame or fortune. Scared the book will be rejected since I poured so much heart into it. Scared that I will never be able to adequately communicate with others. Silly, I know.

    How do others deal with this? I've already started another novel. That one (and the next, and so on) could wind up in the same drawer, due to the same fears.
     
  2. u.v.ray
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    u.v.ray Member

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    I wouldn't worry about gaining fame & fortune. You're almost certainly not going to experience it. At the very least you are a long way from it.

    As for your other worries -- taking rejection on the chin is all part of a writer's growth. It's as simple as that. You have to send your work out and be prepared to get knocked down.

    Then you get back up and continue writing. The ones that have it wrung out of them and give up were never writers in the first place.

    I am afraid it's a case of sh*t or get off the pot.
     
  3. NathanWrites
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    NathanWrites Member

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    Good advice. Didn't mean to sound over confident regarding success. It's just that I'm not keen on ever being in the public eye. My fear of rejection relates mostly to being misunderstood more than having my internal faith rocked. I'll never stop reading or writing despite the outcome.
     
  4. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Adding to what u.v.ray, said, very little moves fast in the publishing world, NathanWrites. It will take time for agents to respond, editors to reply to the query. Then they will have to respond to either the first three chapters/synopsis, or full manuscript or whatever they requested. If an agent eventually accepts, they will begin submitting to editors, which will take time. If an editor accepts it will take time to be placed in the publishing schedule/edit/proofs/ARCs/Cover Art, etc. So, whatever happens, it's unlikely to happen all at once, giving you time to adjust.

    And nothing wrong with having a bit of confidence that your writing/story has what it takes to succeed, because that confidence is what will carry you through any rejections, and will carry you through the times it takes to continue writing, or through the edits and revisions an editor requests, etc.

    Hang in there and good luck, and when you think it's ready, start the process by sending out to agents and/or editors you've researched. While you're waiting, work on that next project.
     
  5. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Well, it's a leap of faith. And when the choice is a slim chance of getting published, and read, versus letting your beloved novel rot on the shelf, it's an easy choice to make.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    even 75k is on the short side for the adult market... or is it YA?
     
  7. huntsman40
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    huntsman40 Active Member

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    Everything you've said here says to me that you should NEVER publish a book. At least this is my opinion based on what you've covered. You don't want fame, fortune, to be in the eye of the public or to be rejected. If you try to publish your book you are CERTAIN to have one of these things happen and possibly more than one of them.

    Why do you want to get published? I've heard lots of reasons you don't, but no good reason you want to. If you don't want to be in the eye of the public it can't be that you want people to read your work, as it's the public that will read it. You don't want money or fame, so that is out as a reason. Only thing I can think is you want the adulation of your peers perhaps? And sadly one does not come without the polar opposite, as not everyone will like your work, and we are back with rejection.

    So I stick to my first point, if what you've said here is all true I can see no good reason you'd want to publish and lots of reasons not to do it. Of course if your fears are only shallow ones based on the fact you aren’t sure how you may handle all the reasons you gave then it’s a case of face your fears or leave your work in a draw. There is no other answer.
     
  8. 7thMidget
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    7thMidget Member

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    It's worth it to share your work with others if it's good enough. You can always run and hide later, but the sense of accomplishment will follow you everywhere, so don't waste the opportunity to experience it! There are always mitigating factors, sure, but don't let yourself be overwhelmed by them, especially knowing that you haven't even started the process yet.
     
  9. NathanWrites
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    NathanWrites Member

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    Thank you for the input everybody. Looks like it's time to make the leap.

    The reason for wanting to publish is simple. Books are my sole addiction. They have provided so much pleasure in my life. I want to give something back in return.

    I'll complete the requisites for posting in the workshop and then post some examples of my work.

    Thanks again!

    PS I've been writing for decades, this is just the first novel I have completed. Research (conflicting) indicated 75,000 was average for a literary novel. Expansion/contraction to fit requirements is not an issue.
     
  10. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    What Maia said. I would also add that if it is for the adult market (which your "closer to industry standard" comment seems to suggest), then you should probably read through it again and see if it really is mature enough to be an adult novel. Your statement that you might add on another 15,000 words for character development likewise is not promising.

    We all have our ways of doing things, but it seems to me that you need to go back and read it through with a critical eye and see if it really is a complete, well-developed, fully engaging story. At 60,000 words, it may be more of a novella than novel. Have you developed your characters to their fullest? Are there engaging subplots? Lots of conflict? You should also read through a couple of novels you admire and compare how they develop characters and their stories and compare them to yours. I'm not suggesting you imitate them, but they will suggest to you the appropriate "weight" for a full novel.

    The current industry standard for an adult novel for a first time writer is 80,000 - 120,000 words, with many publishers preferring closer to 100,000.

    If you decide to pursue publication, it is indeed an arduous process. You want to make sure you (and your work) are fully prepared for the challenge. Good luck.
     
  11. NathanWrites
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    NathanWrites Member

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    Ed, that is exactly the type of advice I was seeking. I'll try to provide some more information.

    The novel is intended as an adult literary fiction novel. The story is (hopefully) touching and powerful. There is a strong theme with subplots woven within that serve to strengthen the main concept. The structure has been well-thought out, edited and revised. I kept it short because I wanted it accessible to those put off by fat, wordy volumes. I can adjust word length without damaging the story. There are many scenes I could write or re-insert.

    The reason for using any lengthening words for character development is because the story is complete and the best way (that I could see) to increase without fluffing is through dialog that deepens the characters even more.

    I honestly feel the book has merit. I do have my fears though, as stated. I'm operating in a vacum so that's why I joined here seeking input. I appreciate everyone's thoughts.

    On word size. Isn't anything approaching 100,000 sort of large for lit fiction? Short examples like To Kill a Mockingbird, Grapes of Wrath and Lord of the Flies spring to mind. The latter is probably YA. I'm not implying I'm in the same realm as those classics.

    Cheers all!

    Edit to add: Glad I posted here first before making a fool of myself by sending off queries. I want to do this right!
     
  12. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    [MENTION=55141]NathanWrites[/MENTION] - The range I stated is general, and, yes, I would expect literary fiction to be closer to the 80,000 mark (I'll defer to Maia and Cogito on such matters). But since it isn't YA, I think 60,000 will be a bit light for a full novel and referring to it as a novella might be an option (can't tell without reading it).

    Keep in mind that very few of the folks who post here are published novelists. So, most of us are learning as we go. I, myself, have attempted to get two novels published, so I'm familiar with the early stages of the process. Have you had anyone else read it? By that I mean, someone you trust to give you an objective opinion? (I give my finished ms to my wife to read, but only so she doesn't think I'm being secretive. She's much too emotionally supportive to say anything negative.)
     
  13. NathanWrites
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    NathanWrites Member

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    I'm going to heed the advice and take a month to increase the length. I would hate to have it ignored/slushed because of word size.

    The few who have read it were quite impressed. It even made someone I did not know get rather emotional. I, myself, am still touched even after hundreds of readings.

    Honestly, I think it is a story worthy of publication one day. I think I have a lot to learn about the industry though...
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't lengthen it just for the sake of doing so - even character development can be overdone - and if you've got some brand new development that you can add, then I must question how complete your novel is. And if it's just repeat of the same development you've already fleshed out, it will read like repetition and the trained reader (eg. agent) will spot it.

    Also, I've met an author whose novel was only 60,000 words. It was a novel, and published, and successful. I haven't read it because it wasn't my style, but judging from his first page or so, it reads like literary fiction. It's certainly an adult novel. Mind you, it was also written a few decades ago.

    I think if your book is finished, then it is finished, and if it can't pass for a novel, then it shall have to be a novella. Don't add something just for word count - add it because it adds to the story. If you fluff it out, even if an agent takes you, she will simply ask you to cut the fluff out again anyway.
     
  15. NathanWrites
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    NathanWrites Member

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    Mcck, you've given me additional food for thought. I'll admit that I'm even less sure now of how to proceed with this particular story. I know that I am proud of the writing. This is certainly not the case with all that I produce, which indicates an ability to self-evaluate.

    My previously mentioned fears are valid. I live a simple, reclusive life. I don't ever want that to change. So even though I want the story told, I'm not fond of attention.

    I might just end up sitting on it another year. I am currently engaged (25,000 written, 120,000 anticipated) in a thriller which is more enjoyable to work on since it is less emotionally demanding.
     
  16. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Mckk. Don't lengthen it just to lengthen it. Length is really a by-product, not a goal in and of itself. However long it takes to tell the story is how long it needs to be. Some can be told in fewer words. As a practical matter, it just usually takes at least 80K or so words for a novel aimed at adults. But some stories are fully complete at fewer words, it's just that they're novellas or short stories.
     
  17. NathanWrites
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    NathanWrites Member

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    About character development: I might have misled with my phrasing.

    The characters are already unique. Like real people they have endearing attributes as well as characteristcs that are flawed. They are memorable enough to think about after the story is over.

    That said, character development is the only place I can see adding without fluffing. People come in layers that can always be peeled back farther and explored deeper. You will never be able to learn all there ia about another.

    I would be tempted to go the novella route if the structuring were different. However, the intricacy of how the sup-plots connect with the theme is not really suited to the format.

    I have learned much to think about just from browsing here. Thanks all.
     
  18. Erasmus B. Dragon
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    Erasmus B. Dragon Member

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    You could always publish under a pen name and ask your agent to keep your real name confidential.
     
  19. NathanWrites
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    NathanWrites Member

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    That's a cool sounding idea, but it's not needed in my case. It would be an unnecessary step. My real name is unknown in both the literary and real world. In that sense it will serve as well as a pen name. As pointed out, the manuscript will probably be ignored. Or it might be lucky enough to meet the advance. So I have little to worry about fame and fortune changing my philosophy or basic way of life.

    All that is really left to decide is if I'm ready to call it done and release something that has become a part of me because of the long hours spent over the last two years. Still not sure if I should lengthen or what. I will probably sleep on that a bit. Do one last edit and then fire it off to the first agent on my list and let her decide.

    Is that standard? One agent at a time? Maybe wait a month for a reply? I have a handful that I was impressed with during my research phase. I tracked down interviews and read books they currently represent.

    Edit to add:

    OK, I looked at word counts of the classic novels today with greater interest. Yes, there are short (60,000-75,000) books, but they are the exception. And every one of them is outstanding. Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises or Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. My manuscript pales in comparison. I was also so far off on my supposed word count of To Kill A Mockingbird (99,121) and The Grapes of Wrath (169,481, this book reads so fast I swear it is shorter) that it is embarrassing. Once again, even though I am proud of my story there really is no comparison concerning overall impact.

    Each one of you gave valuable insight and I started re-reading, pretending to see through all of your eyes. What I discovered was the novel really isn't ready. I know what I am striving for and now realize I am not there. Literary fiction is nothing to mess around with. Once published, there is no going back to refine it. I know I can pull it off, but not without a story and characters that have a larger effect than just touching the few people that have read it.

    This manuscript can simmer another year without harm. The thriller I'm writing will take me at least another 6 months anyways. Plus that one has the added benefit of a female protagonist that I am starting to become excited about, since she's moving in a direction I hadn't anticipated.

    Once again, thank you all, your help is appreciated.
     
  20. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Second to the right, and straight on till morning.
    You sound like you're honest about your writing and take it seriously. That alone is a fair prerequisite for success, I guess.
    Kudos for pulling it off that far anyway. The thing is, one could always learn and study new things and broaden the scope of knowledge,
    at the same time it's hard to say when it's enough--at least enough for the book you're working on. I believe it's one of the
    genuine skills to be able to say when the piece is done. When it's ready, not overdone, not neglected. Wish you good
    luck.
     
  21. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    huntsman40 seemed to see it as black and white - you either don't get published or you see fame and fortune. I'd think there are a lot of books that fall in between, by getting published but only selling modestly so relatively few people notice.

    If you don't want risk fame, is see no harm in using a pseudonym. I think you are seeking validation of the work you were inspired to do. That would happen under any name.
     
  22. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think your fears are justified, in a sense that people can become famous overnight and they can experience bad aspects of fame because they are inexperienced and haven't thought about it in advance. I was lucky (didn't think so at the time) to experience the whole lot, the good and the very bad, in a much smaller and remote way, and I learned a lot. Most important thing is to decide for yourself, once and for all, whether you can live your life without trying to create something great. If the answer is yes then don't bother with fame, it's actually very draining and it messes up your peace of mind, so if you cherish those things, it's better to steer clear. If you have to write, I understand that because I do too, then don't trust anyone, especially not with your personal information, don't be too friendly with fans, be very reserved and don't commit to anything without checking with a lawyer, keep an eye on your accountant, because some of them will rip you off and will never see a courtroom over it. Don't fall into a trap of attention, people will always want more than you have to give. Keep yourself and your family as number one and insist on being paid for your efforts.

    If I ever get properly famous, I'll keep out of the public eye as much as possible. That's the key. And a good agent.
     
  23. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    120k for a thriller by an unknown and unpublished writer is way over the acceptable limit for most publishers... would be best kept down to 100k, if you want to maximize its chances of snagging an agent and publisher...
     
  24. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    I've never dwelled too much on wordcounts. Every publisher or agent I've asked has said that - if they really wanted to publish or represent a novel - it being too short or too long wouldn't be a concern. At worst they'd ask the author to expand / make cuts.

    When it comes to seeking publication for your project: you sound as though you take the quality of your work very seriously, and it seems as though you've given a lot of thought to the decision to let the manuscript "simmer".

    It occurred to me, however, that no project I've ever published has felt "ready" when I published it. There were always further improvements that could be made, and I had to choose, eventually, to decide that it was done, rather than keeping hold of it and tweaking it indefinitely.
     
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  25. Steve Day
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    Steve Day Senior Member

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    The advantage of a pen name is that nobody realizes is was you who wrote that awful (first) novel. Ask Stephen King.

    You are needlessly dwelling on the fear of it being snapped up and frog marched straight to the NYT Best Seller list. Not gonna happen.

    You know the way to Carnegie Hall, so either send out those query letters or put it in the bottom drawer and consider it a first semester exercise at Writer's University.

    By looking for an agent you will be telling yourself that you actually are a serious writer. And crafting the query letters- tailored to the specific agent's rules- is good practice for later, when you have that second novel finished.

    Or you could bypass all that, and self publish. That might be a good idea, since you say you don't want fame or fortune.
     

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