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Word count consideration

word count mystery detective thriller advice

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#1 J.K. Persy

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 11:54 AM

Dear friends! 

We are searching for an agent for our debut mystery novel Codename: Chimera. This is a  43600-word fast-paced whodunit/thriller. Recently we have been told that this is super short and we have a little chance to get an agent. What do you think about it? Is our word count significantly influence on possibility to get an agent? The problem is that we cutrrently have no opportunity to increase word count.  



#2 sharpegirl

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 02:27 PM

What is the age category for your book? If it's adult, then yes, you might have a bit of a problem. On the lower end of 40K is very short, even for a cozy mystery, which usually run in the 50-60K range. 

 

It's also good to keep in mind saying things like you don't have the opportunity to increase the word count is not something an agent wants to hear. Honestly, I'm not even sure what that means. Does that mean you're unwilling to do it? Or that you can't see a way to do it? That you don't have time to do it? Or that you need editorial insight to do it? Because if the latter's the case, get some beta-readers and critique partners and have them read it with the idea "I need to bulk this book up." It will likely improve your chances.

 

An agent wants to represent an author who is open and eager to revise, because revision is Trade Publishing's thing. If you're lucky enough to get an agent, they'd likely have you revise to bulk the book up before they went on sub, to increase the chances of a sale. And an editor might have you do the same. 



#3 Guest_AWExley_*

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 03:01 PM

This book is also self published and available on Amazon which is another hurdle you have to face in landing an agent. Word count might be irrelevant if you have sales in excess of 10,000 units.



#4 mwsinclair

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Posted 28 April 2014 - 04:37 PM

To sharpegirls' point (and taking into account AWExley's noting that the book has been published), I think you'll find a lot of good comments in the Goodreads reviews of your book. Notably: the characters seem too perfect; it moved too fast; the dialogue was choppy. I'd estimate you guys could add 10,000 words from that by itself. You still have the challenge of trying to repackage an already published work, but even those reviewers who gave you three or fewer stars seemed to like the basic premise of the story.



#5 J.K. Persy

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 12:09 PM

Yes, you are right, we need to be flexible and open to make changes in our book. We think that the title is not a problem, because it can be simply changed. Actually, our question is - Will agent turn down our QL only because of word count or he/she can look at sample pages and if like it, tell us to improve the word count?



#6 Jeanne

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 12:45 PM

Yes, you are right, we need to be flexible and open to make changes in our book. We think that the title is not a problem, because it can be simply changed. Actually, our question is - Will agent turn down our QL only because of word count or he/she can look at sample pages and if like it, tell us to improve the word count?

 

It's possible an agent will ask for an R&R based on a full submission, but why take that risk? You've already received feedback on Goodreads that you should deepen your characters, slow down the pace, and clean up the dialogue. All of these fixes will probably add length to your book. Why not take the time to make the changes and query a book that you know is the best it can be?

 

Also, I'm not too sure a title change is enough to get the book past agents who won't look at self-pubbed titles. They can still Google your name and find the book. And many agents do exactly that.

 

Agents Google potential clients for many reasons: They want to know the writer isn't a crazy person. They want to confirm the book hasn't been self-pubbed or isn't up in installments on someone's blog. They want to be sure the book wasn't plagiarized. They want to see what else the author has written or know more about the author's background.

 

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#7 sharpegirl

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 12:50 PM

Yes, you are right, we need to be flexible and open to make changes in our book. We think that the title is not a problem, because it can be simply changed. Actually, our question is - Will agent turn down our QL only because of word count or he/she can look at sample pages and if like it, tell us to improve the word count?

 

Yes, there are definitely agents who will reject you because of word count. It's unlikely they'll give you a personal rejection telling you it's because of the word count. Most agents rarely give personal rejections on queries, or even on partials or fulls.

 

You're probably going to get rejected more because you have already published the novel. Unless you have substantial sales, an agent is not going to be interested in previously published work. You would be likely better off writing something new and querying that. It's not as simple as changing the title. You've given up first rights to that book by publishing it. 



#8 J.K. Persy

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 01:18 PM

Yes, there are definitely agents who will reject you because of word count. It's unlikely they'll give you a personal rejection telling you it's because of the word count. Most agents rarely give personal rejections on queries, or even on partials or fulls.

 

You're probably going to get rejected more because you have already published the novel. Unless you have substantial sales, an agent is not going to be interested in previously published work. You would be likely better off writing something new and querying that. It's not as simple as changing the title. You've given up first rights to that book by publishing it. 

But we did not give up first rights to our book by publishing it according to contrqact with Smashwords. We can at any time unpublish our book and it will dissaper at all ebook stores.



#9 RaulersonWrites

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 02:03 PM

Just because you didn't give up your first rights doesn't mean an agent won't reject you.  There's a lot of bad stigmas with self publishing that automatically turn off an agent to wanting to represent.  If you're trying to go traditional, unless your book has done phenomenally well in sales, your best bet is to take it down, beef it up to between 60k and 80k words, and not mention it's been previously published in your query.  While not all self publishing is bad, a lot of people have put a bad name on it. :/



#10 Guest_AWExley_*

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 02:10 PM

But we did not give up first rights to our book by publishing it according to contrqact with Smashwords. We can at any time unpublish our book and it will dissaper at all ebook stores.

 

It's published, available for purchase and first rights are gone.

 

Yes you can pull the book and rework it but nothing ever disappears from the internet. You have a sales history and author rank on Amazon and with other sellers, the book will always remain on Goodreads. People have purchased it, so it lives on various devices around the world. It's probably already available for free on numerous pirate sites. It is very naive to think you can unpublish, change the title and an agent will never know. Not to mention very deceptive.



#11 sharpegirl

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 05:09 PM

But we did not give up first rights to our book by publishing it according to contrqact with Smashwords. We can at any time unpublish our book and it will dissaper at all ebook stores.

 

Look, I'm sorry, but the reality is that unless you've sold a substantial amount of books, getting an agent to be interested in self published work is very difficult. It doesn't matter that you can pull it. You can't pull it from the people who you sold it to. You can't erase the sales data attached to the work. You have given up first rights to it by publishing it yourself. Publishers don't like unedited copies of a book they want to buy floating around. Your book is also at least 20,000 words less than what a minimum mystery word count should be. Be aware that it's very likely these two things will get you auto-rejected. 







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