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Poll: In Range? A Word Count Poll (270 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) (44 votes [16.30%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.30%

  2. Upper end but not scary (80k-100k) (101 votes [37.41%])

    Percentage of vote: 37.41%

  3. Praying because I write historical fiction or fantasy I'll get away with it (101k - 125k) (37 votes [13.70%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.70%

  4. I like to push boundaries but I'lll be leaving the word count OUT of my query :) (125k-150k) (17 votes [6.30%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.30%

  5. I am ENTIRELY delusional (150k-200k) (3 votes [1.11%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.11%

  6. There are PHONE BOOKS smaller than my tome (over 200k) (5 votes [1.85%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.85%

  7. novella anyone? (less than 60k) (10 votes [3.70%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.70%

  8. I am a little short of words but the ones I have are irresistable (60k to 75k) (36 votes [13.33%])

    Percentage of vote: 13.33%

  9. I write YA/Juvenile/Childrens so there is nothing wrong with 50k or less (17 votes [6.30%])

    Percentage of vote: 6.30%

I think the books coming out today are --

  1. Too short -- when I pay $20 bucks I want more than 200 bleeping pages (104 votes [38.52%])

    Percentage of vote: 38.52%

  2. Just right (151 votes [55.93%])

    Percentage of vote: 55.93%

  3. Too long -- this is the age of the 140 character Tweet, please folks! (15 votes [5.56%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.56%

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#21 Cat Woods

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 12:04 PM

I know, but it does beg the question of how to address your word count in juvenile lit. I believe the common query round up is roughly 5k. However, that is way too much of a discrepancy for books that aren't much longer than that to begin with.

So, a picture book can be rounded to the nearest 25 words; a chapter book to the nearest 50 or 100 and middle grade to the closest 500. YA would do well to round to the nearest thousandth--unless you're trying to fudge your high count, then the 5k might work.

At least that's the conventional wisdom I've read over the years. Well, not the fudging part...

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#22 Litgal

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 12:20 PM

I know, but it does beg the question of how to address your word count in juvenile lit. I believe the common query round up is roughly 5k.



Hey Cate -- this time I do intend to round to the nearest 5k but in the past I've rounded to the nearest 1k -- and that is in historicals where counts are hight
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#23 Cat Woods

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 12:56 PM

Litgal, the most I've ever done is 500. I get queasy with the thought of a thousand, let alone 5K. :wink:

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#24 Ammari Sky

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Posted 18 September 2010 - 02:27 PM

I know a guy on Authonomy who's MS is not completed but has over 500k words. I about fell out of my chair when he asked me to read it. :tongue:

I told him no way would an agent not in a mental hospital touch it and I know lots about mental hospitals.

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#25 Robin Breyer

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 10:28 AM

Funny how we balk at such a big number in one book these days. Some of the oldest and most famous novels (Tale of Genji and Don Quixote) are over 500k. James Michener's Centennial is the most recent one I know of (well, the most recent I've read anyway). But when you think about it, there are a lot of them, they just usually get divided into parts. Lord of the Rings is over 500k with the appendices. The longest first book I've heard of in the last 40 years was Terry Brooks' Sword of Shannara at 235K. There are plenty of large books out there, but not by new authors. I would balk at reading something that large that isn't published. That's a lot of work to read when you aren't sure of what you are getting yourself into. At least if it is published there are reviews.

I've written over 500k, but that is 4 novels and several short stories.

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#26 Tom Bradley

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Posted 19 September 2010 - 10:47 AM

I cut LMM down to a hair over 80k words. It was at 85k, then I lopped it down to 82k, and after slicing a bunch of excess wordage yesterday before I sent it to an agent, got it down to where it needs to be. And, more than likely, if I go through it again I could probably find more to cut.

#27 Robin Breyer

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Posted 28 September 2010 - 10:47 PM

This topic keeps popping up that there is a new entry, but there isn't. I think we have a gremlin.

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#28 Litgal

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    In the meantime I am one of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which releases November 4, 2014 and tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:09 AM

This topic keeps popping up that there is a new entry, but there isn't. I think we have a gremlin.


No Robin -- every time someone new votes in the POLL that shows up as a new post, even if they don't (and they certainly don't need to) make a substantive comment in addition to their vote.

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#29 bigblackcat97

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:26 AM

I have a substantive comment - I knocked another 5K off my ms last week. WOOT! It started out at 104K (rough rough draft) and is down to 78k. Editing is work, but it improves with every edit, undoubtedly.

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#30 Louise

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:33 AM

Re: EDITING!!! Does anyone suffer the fear of going back to edit an WIP or am I alone in this? Once I force myself to go back and look at it, I start to lose confidence in my ability to write - I do believe there is some merit in my writing but it's a battle when I'm editing. Anyone have any tips for overcoming this resistance? Thanks. L.

#31 bigblackcat97

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:39 AM

Re: EDITING!!! Does anyone suffer the fear of going back to edit an WIP or am I alone in this? Once I force myself to go back and look at it, I start to lose confidence in my ability to write - I do believe there is some merit in my writing but it's a battle when I'm editing. Anyone have any tips for overcoming this resistance? Thanks. L.


Louise - you just go for it, baby. I've learned from surfing agent's blogs that any writer who thinks they are awesome probably sucks. If you doubt yourself, it's cause you know you can improve - which means you are willing to work at it.

Editing is daunting, truly. I personally think that's where the real work of being a writer comes in. The storyteller's job is done - the story is on the page. Now you've got to be a writer and edit it.

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#32 Louise

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:44 AM

Thanks so much for your words bigblackcat97. They have the ring of truth and are what I NEEDED to hear. This is a tough business and support from other writers means so much. Many joys to your day. L.

#33 Sean Atherton

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 07:56 AM

Funny how we balk at such a big number in one book these days.


I blame video games and the habit of instant gratification.
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#34 Sean Atherton

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 08:00 AM

I told him no way would an agent not in a mental hospital touch it and I know lots about mental hospitals.


Most agents IN a mental hospital wouldn't touch something that size, either. (I, too, used to work in a mental hospital.)
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#35 redwood

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 08:30 AM

Re: EDITING!!! Does anyone suffer the fear of going back to edit an WIP or am I alone in this? Once I force myself to go back and look at it, I start to lose confidence in my ability to write - I do believe there is some merit in my writing but it's a battle when I'm editing. Anyone have any tips for overcoming this resistance? Thanks. L.


Hey, Louise: another way is to keep your original in a file, untouched. That way you can do anything, all the while knowing your original is intact. It takes away the fear.

I've always felt every edit improved the book--until now. Right now I'm doing an edit that drastically changes fundamental things about my story, and which take away some of the magical qualities. I'm doing this on the advice of an editor. But because it's such a drastic change, I'm keeping the original in a safe place, because I don't feel confident about an improvement this time.
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#36 Sean Atherton

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 08:34 AM

Hey, Louise: another way is to keep your original in a file, untouched. That way you can do anything, all the while knowing your original is intact. It takes away the fear.

I've always felt every edit improved the book--until now. Right now I'm doing an edit that drastically changes fundamental things about my story, and which take away some of the magical qualities. I'm doing this on the advice of an editor. But because it's such a drastic change, I'm keeping the original in a safe place, because I don't feel confident about an improvement this time.


I don't worry about minor changes (removing 'that' and 'of the' etc.) If I have to cut a scene or, more recently, a whole section, I do something similar to redwood. I save it as a new version. Depending on the size of the section cut, I might create a new short story based on what was cut and put it in a different file.
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#37 Louise

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 08:46 AM

I don't worry about minor changes (removing 'that' and 'of the' etc.) If I have to cut a scene or, more recently, a whole section, I do something similar to redwood. I save it as a new version. Depending on the size of the section cut, I might create a new short story based on what was cut and put it in a different file.


Good advice. No doubt something is lost in the editing process - I have a reader who was disappointed in my 'streamlined version'. Writing is so subjective -so saving the first work makes sense. L.

#38 Robin Breyer

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 09:43 AM

Hey, Louise: another way is to keep your original in a file, untouched. That way you can do anything, all the while knowing your original is intact. It takes away the fear.

I've always felt every edit improved the book--until now. Right now I'm doing an edit that drastically changes fundamental things about my story, and which take away some of the magical qualities. I'm doing this on the advice of an editor. But because it's such a drastic change, I'm keeping the original in a safe place, because I don't feel confident about an improvement this time.

I keep every draft. I don't worry about keeping every little change archived, but I keep the result of each editing pass. I recently made substantial changes to the opening of a book, so I have three extra files documenting the changes to that chapter, but that is a rare thing.

They always say to trim the fat, kill your darlings, etc., but I try to do that as I write. I can't tell you how many wonderful scenes and sequences that there is plenty of room for in my story just didn't make it to the page. I always keep the next goal and the end goal of the story in my mind as I write and I head for it. I had something in mind for my word count when I started and lets just say that my self editing as I wrote cut out 70k unnecessary words.

I always feel that my stories are rushed. That I don't take any time to describe the scene or add little fascinating tidbits to flesh out the world. I feel very mechanical as I write and I don't find it any better when I reread it, but my beta readers assure me that it holds their attention and is an enthralling story. I endlessly find fault with my own writing, but as I edit it paragraph by paragraph, I don't find much that I could change or improve on with my talents. In many ways I am never happy with the story. But when I reread it objectively (and my first novel is the only one I can really say this about since I waited 6 years to reread it), it works and I get into the characters. It's the type of story I set out to write, meaning one I would enjoy reading. Although that first novel could use another good editing pass. It has issues, but I don't plan on every trying to sell it.

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#39 Jean Oram

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 10:34 AM

Louise, take your time in edits. Personally, I can whip out a WIP in a month, but it takes at least three to four times that to edit it into something I like. For me, because the first draft is so, well, drafty, I pick one thing to focus on in each edit. The first editing round is sort of general things like flow and scenes that need beefing up or trimming. The last editing round is for all the fine stuff like using "pristine" ten times in three pages and minor detail things like that. I find that helps me from getting overwhelmed. As well, sometimes I just have to walk away for a week or two and let it rest--especially if I get in a hack it all kind of mood. (If I find I am cutting great chunks, I know it is time to step back.)

Also, creating a new file whenever you start edits is brilliant. Then, if you don't like what you've done, you can go back! Ta-da!

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#40 Louise

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Posted 29 September 2010 - 10:42 AM

I can't believe the quality of advice, tips on this site - quality stuff, sincere and sensible. Thanks for your post. Hopefully I've got this response in the right thread. L.




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