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Poll: In Range? A Word Count Poll (254 member(s) have cast votes)

What's the word count of the book you are currently pitching?

  1. Right in the sweet spot (75-80k) (43 votes [16.93%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.93%

  2. Upper end but not scary (80k-100k) (92 votes [36.22%])

    Percentage of vote: 36.22%

  3. Praying because I write historical fiction or fantasy I'll get away with it (101k - 125k) (37 votes [14.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.57%

  4. I like to push boundaries but I'lll be leaving the word count OUT of my query :) (125k-150k) (16 votes [6.30%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.30%

  5. I am ENTIRELY delusional (150k-200k) (3 votes [1.18%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.18%

  6. There are PHONE BOOKS smaller than my tome (over 200k) (4 votes [1.57%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.57%

  7. novella anyone? (less than 60k) (10 votes [3.94%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.94%

  8. I am a little short of words but the ones I have are irresistable (60k to 75k) (32 votes [12.60%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.60%

  9. I write YA/Juvenile/Childrens so there is nothing wrong with 50k or less (17 votes [6.69%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.69%

I think the books coming out today are --

  1. Too short -- when I pay $20 bucks I want more than 200 bleeping pages (96 votes [37.80%])

    Percentage of vote: 37.80%

  2. Just right (143 votes [56.30%])

    Percentage of vote: 56.30%

  3. Too long -- this is the age of the 140 character Tweet, please folks! (15 votes [5.91%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.91%

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#1 Litgal

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 08:15 AM

Practically once a week someone posts a query for review (in the appropriate place, please) and without reading the prose veterans here can tell it will meet with instant rejection. WHY? The word count is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG (usually too long but sometimes too short). The poster, when told nicely, will get defensive and insist he/she sees massive books on the shelves of book stores (or some such). Now I am not against big books (I write em) and not even against hiding length at the intial stages (my query didn't have a word count in it). But folks, there are boundaries and banging your heads against that wall gets you nowhere.

So I thought I would start this thread with a post about word counts across genres. Think of them as "incredible shrinking" word counts if it helps you.

http://theswivet.blo...vel-length.html

Cheers

Lit. (aka Sophie Perinot)

#2 redwood

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 09:09 AM

Practically once a week someone posts a query for review (in the appropriate place, please) and without reading the prose veterans here can tell it will meet with instant rejection. WHY? The word count is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG (usually too long but sometimes too short). The poster, when told nicely, will get defensive and insist he/she sees massive books on the shelves of book stores (or some such). Now I am not against big books (I write em) and not even against hiding length at the intial stages (my query didn't have a word count in it). But folks, there are boundaries and banging your heads against that wall gets you nowhere.

So I thought I would start this thread with a post about word counts across genres. Think of them as "incredible shrinking" word counts if it helps you.

http://theswivet.blo...vel-length.html

Cheers


I will never get defensive, Lit Dear!

I'm trying hard to slice dice and cut. Thank you for all your thoughts and opinions everyone!

(I've read the swivet blog with dismay and grief.) :sad:
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The Year-god's Daughter, book one in The Child of the Erinyes Series, will be published in November, 2011

#3 r louis scott

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 09:11 AM

A good article, Litgal, but I see that our genre is once again ignored.

#4 Litgal

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 09:50 AM

I will never get defensive, Lit Dear!

I'm trying hard to slice dice and cut. Thank you for all your thoughts and opinions everyone!

(I've read the swivet blog with dismay and grief.) :sad:


Sigh, I know. But I like to think, as I begin a full-read-through of my wip with an eye to clipping, no news is good news and that no further shrinking is taking place.

Lit. (aka Sophie Perinot)

#5 redwood

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 10:01 AM


Sigh, I know. But I like to think, as I begin a full-read-through of my wip with an eye to clipping, no news is good news and that no further shrinking is taking place.


You probably know that the publishers over in the UK are much more open toward bigger books. They also seem to prefer a novel beginning that IS NOT necessarily action, as in someone dying or fighting for his/her life, but action in that other almost-lost way (here) of character building or description. I keep it in the back of my mind that I might query over there someday although many of them are closed to American writers. I have friends there who are always urging me to submit where I can.
“There’s no such thing as tough. There’s trained, and there’s untrained. Now which one are you?”
The Year-god's Daughter, book one in The Child of the Erinyes Series, will be published in November, 2011

#6 Litgal

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 10:06 AM

You probably know that the publishers over in the UK are much more open toward bigger books. They also seem to prefer a novel beginning that IS NOT necessarily action, as in someone dying or fighting for his/her life, but action in that other almost-lost way (here) of character building or description. I keep it in the back of my mind that I might query over there someday although many of them are closed to American writers. I have friends there who are always urging me to submit where I can.


Too true. I have several friends in UK with book contracts. I often think what I write would fit in better there, but, for better or worse, it is hard to land an agent where you are not. Once in a while I imagine suggesting to my own exellent agent that we try to sell foreign rights first but hey, he is the expert and I don't want to mess with his routine.
Lit. (aka Sophie Perinot)

#7 bigblackcat97

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 10:49 AM

The ms I'm pitching is YA urban fantasy 84K. I'd like to think I can get away with that extra 4k since it's urban fantasy and I've got some 'splaining to do.

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#8 redwood

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 01:10 PM

Speaking of word counts, I just found a sentence in my manuscript that is 54 words long. :blush:
“There’s no such thing as tough. There’s trained, and there’s untrained. Now which one are you?”
The Year-god's Daughter, book one in The Child of the Erinyes Series, will be published in November, 2011

#9 Eli Ashpence

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 01:22 PM

Speaking of word counts, I just found a sentence in my manuscript that is 54 words long. :blush:


Holy--!
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#10 RC Lewis

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 01:24 PM

Speaking of word counts, I just found a sentence in my manuscript that is 54 words long. :blush:

That's nothing. I once critiqued a ms and found sentences (note the plural) that were over 70 words long ... and it was YA. Posted Image I think there was even a doozy that pushed 100 words.
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#11 redwood

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 01:33 PM

That's nothing. I once critiqued a ms and found sentences (note the plural) that were over 70 words long ... and it was YA. Posted Image I think there was even a doozy that pushed 100 words.


Ha Ha! Were these teenage writers?

For fun once, I wrote a sentence that was a page long; I guess that would make it about 250 words, right? Anyway, I printed copies out and took it to critique group, read it out loud, then asked everyone what they noticed about it. Not one single person noticed it was one sentence! Which just goes to show, if you punctuate it right, it can be done. :tongue:
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The Year-god's Daughter, book one in The Child of the Erinyes Series, will be published in November, 2011

#12 RC Lewis

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 01:40 PM

Ha Ha! Were these teenage writers?

For fun once, I wrote a sentence that was a page long; I guess that would make it about 250 words, right? Anyway, I printed copies out and took it to critique group, read it out loud, then asked everyone what they noticed about it. Not one single person noticed it was one sentence! Which just goes to show, if you punctuate it right, it can be done. :tongue:

Biologically speaking, the writer was not a teenager. No further comment. :blush:

Long sentences are bad just because they're long. The sentences in question, however, were long because they ran on, had three or four adjectives to almost every noun, adverbs aplenty, etc. The kind of sentence that interrupts itself so much, you get to the middle and can't remember where it's supposed to be going.
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#13 Pete Morin

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 01:41 PM

I have a McCarthyesque sentence in the WIP - but it's stream-of-consciousness of a guy remembering when he was almost executed by a drug-crazed paranoid so it mimics the insanity of the moment. I haven't counted the words, but it's a full page long.


Okay okay, there's actually two sentences - one's 131 words and the other's 157.
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#14 redwood

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Posted 14 September 2010 - 03:40 PM

I have a McCarthyesque sentence in the WIP - but it's stream-of-consciousness of a guy remembering when he was almost executed by a drug-crazed paranoid so it mimics the insanity of the moment. I haven't counted the words, but it's a full page long.


Okay okay, there's actually two sentences - one's 131 words and the other's 157.


McCarthyesque. :tongue:
“There’s no such thing as tough. There’s trained, and there’s untrained. Now which one are you?”
The Year-god's Daughter, book one in The Child of the Erinyes Series, will be published in November, 2011

#15 bigblackcat97

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 07:18 AM

I notice the looooong sentence phenomenon in the classics. Dickens, particularly. But, as we all know - they got away with things then, which we do not. Such as the topic of this thread.

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#16 redwood

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 07:48 AM

Here's another link which starts with Colleen Lindsay's swivet article and also offers links to several other articles on the same subject.

http://querytracker....ipt-length.html
“There’s no such thing as tough. There’s trained, and there’s untrained. Now which one are you?”
The Year-god's Daughter, book one in The Child of the Erinyes Series, will be published in November, 2011

#17 R B Ries

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Posted 15 September 2010 - 01:38 PM

I have a couple 500+ word sentences in my ms. In each instance the narrator is rather intoxicated, so it's a free-indirect sort of thing. On the other hand my ms is 65k words, which according to most conventional wisdom would be considered thin. I've done okay with requests, but I have a feeling the 65k is turning some agents off.

#18 Cat Woods

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 06:59 PM

I voted, but since I write for kids it's hardly a fair question. I have complete manuscripts that clock in shorter than some of your monster sentences!

That said, I like a little meat to my novels.

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#19 Robin Breyer

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Posted 16 September 2010 - 07:19 PM

I think the phrase "Know your market" is the best advice. Each sub-genre has its own length range and you have to know what the norm is to know what range to go for. Fortunately most genres fall in a narrow range that generally work for everything. There are some shorter and longer genres, but most genres fall below 100k words. But there are a few that have much longer lengths on a regular basis. Once you become a published author, such things are between the author and editor. Getting published requires sticking within the newbie limits of your genre. For example, epic Fantasy (think Tolkien, Brooks, Donaldson, Jordan, etc) regularly exceeds 150k, even for new authors. But I doubt any debut 350k epic fantasy (and we are just talking the first volume) is going to get published.

Unless you are writing something that very clearly fits one of the longer genres, listen to the sage advice and don't write anything that long to begin with. Stick to the norms of your genre/sub-genre. The over-long epics are for the veteran published authors who can convince their publishers to print it.

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#20 redwood

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Posted 17 September 2010 - 08:30 AM

I voted, but since I write for kids it's hardly a fair question. I have complete manuscripts that clock in shorter than some of your monster sentences!

That said, I like a little meat to my novels.


Books shorter than some of our sentences. HA! :laugh:
“There’s no such thing as tough. There’s trained, and there’s untrained. Now which one are you?”
The Year-god's Daughter, book one in The Child of the Erinyes Series, will be published in November, 2011




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