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Poll: In Range? A Word Count Poll (401 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) (66 votes [16.46%])

    Percentage of vote: 16.46%

  2. Voted Upper end but not scary (80k-100k) (146 votes [36.41%])

    Percentage of vote: 36.41%

  3. Praying because I write historical fiction or fantasy I'll get away with it (101k - 125k) (57 votes [14.21%])

    Percentage of vote: 14.21%

  4. I like to push boundaries but I'lll be leaving the word count OUT of my query :) (125k-150k) (22 votes [5.49%])

    Percentage of vote: 5.49%

  5. I am ENTIRELY delusional (150k-200k) (6 votes [1.50%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.50%

  6. There are PHONE BOOKS smaller than my tome (over 200k) (5 votes [1.25%])

    Percentage of vote: 1.25%

  7. novella anyone? (less than 60k) (16 votes [3.99%])

    Percentage of vote: 3.99%

  8. I am a little short of words but the ones I have are irresistable (60k to 75k) (49 votes [12.22%])

    Percentage of vote: 12.22%

  9. I write YA/Juvenile/Childrens so there is nothing wrong with 50k or less (34 votes [8.48%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.48%

I think the books coming out today are --

  1. Voted Too short -- when I pay $20 bucks I want more than 200 bleeping pages (144 votes [35.91%])

    Percentage of vote: 35.91%

  2. Just right (237 votes [59.10%])

    Percentage of vote: 59.10%

  3. Too long -- this is the age of the 140 character Tweet, please folks! (20 votes [4.99%])

    Percentage of vote: 4.99%

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#81 Robin Breyer

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Posted 10 February 2011 - 04:29 PM

The serial published story was the 19th century's TV.

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#82 Michael O

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Posted 03 June 2011 - 08:01 PM

Newbie here currently working on a commercial fiction piece that's about a dating and relationship guide that revolves around 5 college roommates. I realized that I had two books in one when it went over 150k and I wasn't finished. I took the advice that I gathered online and "saved" that extra material for another WIP and now my current project ends just under 115k. I am in the process of editing but I am thinking that potentially it will be polished at 112k, 110k if I am lucky. As I have already made severe cuts to the piece are there any thoughts on the commercial fiction genre? Thank You.

#83 jdenker

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 02:28 PM

I don't have any answers, but I'll be watching the responses you get, because I have the same issue. I'm writing a contemporary romantic comedy (commercial women's fiction by any other name). I've been cutting diligently, and I'm currently down to 108K, but I'm not quite sure how to get it to 100K.

And then there's the question of whether it's possible to charm an agent enough with the voice and content in a partial or full that s/he is more open to working with you later to cut more if necessary. ...Yeah, I know. Dream on. :tongue:



Newbie here currently working on a commercial fiction piece that's about a dating and relationship guide that revolves around 5 college roommates. I realized that I had two books in one when it went over 150k and I wasn't finished. I took the advice that I gathered online and "saved" that extra material for another WIP and now my current project ends just under 115k. I am in the process of editing but I am thinking that potentially it will be polished at 112k, 110k if I am lucky. As I have already made severe cuts to the piece are there any thoughts on the commercial fiction genre? Thank You.


As the great philosopher J. Clarkson has so often said, "How hard can it be?"
Hey, somebody read my blog, whydoncha? It's gonna start growing mold otherwise...

#84 Robin Breyer

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Posted 09 July 2011 - 02:42 PM

As I've said elsewhere, there are different standards for agents and publishers. Charming a publisher might work. I am less confident about charming an agent. You really need to make sure that your MS ends up in the range that publishers publish and agents will pick up. Many agents will see a word count of over 100 and balk. For many this might be an instant rejection before they ever read more. They see is as an inability to write tightly rather than having a story that is larger in scope. I face this on a constant basis since I write SF and Fantasy, two of the three genres that regularly exceed 100k words. But I know from how agents express their feelings on those longer genres (the third being historical fiction) that many of them use word count as a way to filter out writers who aren't likely to be as good. It isn't fair, but with the volume of queries they get, we really can't blame them.

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#85 S.K. Keogh

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Posted 14 July 2011 - 09:18 AM

While I write in one of the "longer" genres (historical), I purposely kept The Prodigal short (89,000 words) in order to attract agents/publishers who might be frightened away by a longer manuscript from a debut novelist. I landed an agent, but I've yet to land a publisher.

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#86 mwsinclair

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 12:17 PM

Newbie here currently working on a commercial fiction piece that's about a dating and relationship guide that revolves around 5 college roommates. I realized that I had two books in one when it went over 150k and I wasn't finished. I took the advice that I gathered online and "saved" that extra material for another WIP and now my current project ends just under 115k. I am in the process of editing but I am thinking that potentially it will be polished at 112k, 110k if I am lucky. As I have already made severe cuts to the piece are there any thoughts on the commercial fiction genre? Thank You.


One formula I like using is the one that Stephen King was told as a young writer and which he includes in On Writing. It goes something like this:

first draft - 10% = "final" draft

I may be wrong on the draft terms, but I'm sure the message basically was lop off 10 percent. So if you've got 115,000 words in your first draft, you should probably find yourself clocking in closer to 102k, not 112.

Of course, I haven't read your work, so I'll leave you to it. But my experience has been that the 10 percent rule has been fairly accurate for me.

#87 Michelle_in_WI

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 05:13 AM

Here's a very detailed agent blog on the matter of word count for chapter books, MG, and YA. I found it quite helpful.

http://literaticat.b....html#idc-cover
If you have time, check out my blog. Thanks for reading!

#88 DavidLBell

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:42 AM

One of my projects is a historical fiction saga. Of course it will be well over 100000 words, maybe even over 200000. However, my son came up with a great idea. "Hey dad, why not make it into 2 volumes?" BTW, this book is not the one I am currently marketing (99009 word thriller), but is in production. The trick now is to figure out how to end the first volume and lead into the second.

#89 Litgal

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    In between I became a "hybrid" as part of a group of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which released in November of 2014. The book, "A Day of Fire," tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:45 AM

One of my projects is a historical fiction saga. Of course it will be well over 100000 words, maybe even over 200000. However, my son came up with a great idea. "Hey dad, why not make it into 2 volumes?" BTW, this book is not the one I am currently marketing (99009 word thriller), but is in production. The trick now is to figure out how to end the first volume and lead into the second.


If it's historical fiction agents aren't going to blink at 100k. I've even read a blog (may have been Janet Reid) in which an agent admitted to being suspicious of historical ficiton under 100k because that isn't enough words to sufficiently "world build." My debut novel is gianormous. So if you write lone you have picked the right genre.
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#90 DavidLBell

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:53 AM

My saga wiull be at least 2 volumes. The rough draft is not finished, and it is over 700 handwritten pages. I recently checked out an agency which does historical fiction among their genres, and they accept 75000 to 150000 word submissions.

#91 Litgal

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    In between I became a "hybrid" as part of a group of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which released in November of 2014. The book, "A Day of Fire," tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 21 March 2012 - 08:56 AM

David, in my experience (and I was given this advice by a published historical writer before I was one myself) the key is NOT putting the word count in your query. In fact, I didnt' put it on partials either. Get them well and truly hooked before they discover the manuscript's size -- that' s my motto. My book is more than 150k.
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#92 Robin Breyer

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 09:19 AM

Good to know. I'm in pre-pre-production on something I think falls into historical fiction. It is an epic story of a man's life through the 20th century. I'll have to see how long the first part turns out at (provided I ever start writing it) before I'll be able to judge the total length.

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#93 Litgal

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    In between I became a "hybrid" as part of a group of six authors involved in a high concept novel-in-six-parts called "A Day of Fire" which released in November of 2014. The book, "A Day of Fire," tells the story of the final days of the doomed city of Pompeii in a way you've never read it before.

Posted 21 March 2012 - 09:22 AM

Good to know. I'm in pre-pre-production on something I think falls into historical fiction. It is an epic story of a man's life through the 20th century. I'll have to see how long the first part turns out at (provided I ever start writing it) before I'll be able to judge the total length.


But remember Robin, to be historical fiction the events need to take place at least 50 years ago or OUTSIDE of the lifetime/experience of the author. So, for example, if I write about 1957 it is historical fiction but if my mom does it's not. Weird, but the idea is the writer must approach the event/topic/time-period through historical research not experience. Nothing more recent than the early 60's is historical fiction right now.
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#94 Robin Breyer

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 09:49 AM

Well, regardless of what genre it may fall into, it is a story that I want to tell. It will be long in any case. The first volume would certainly qualify as it would cover 1926 through part of WWII.

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#95 Kristina

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Posted 21 March 2012 - 10:20 AM

I've recently got an idea for a historical fiction novel, based on an event known in a few countries on the south of Europe, but the rest of the world probably has no clue about it. More I thought, more it developed into a story. I definitely plan to write it one day, and good thing is that I already know a lot about that era.
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#96 pcr1967

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 08:46 AM

Okay, I'm a little sad now. :sad: I love to write and I've just finished my first original book (I write fan-fic as a hobby and boy do they go on) ... but this book ... I either need to turn it into two books or redo it, because there's no way I can cut anything out of it and make the story understandable. And yeah, there are phonebooks smaller than this book. :huh: Yes, I get wordy, but I doubt I can cut it down to less than half ... and that's what I'll have to do if the numbers stated in that article are right. :blush: So, I guess 266k is too big then, huh? :unsure:

P.S. Oh ... I should probably state that it's a Sci-Fi novel.

#97 C. Taylor

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:12 AM

For classic sci-fi (versus something with just sci fi elements), I think you're still at least 100K over. Is there a place where you could cut in two, with little effort? If not, are there subplots you could eliminate?

And these days, it needs to be asked... are you going to go the traditional route? If not, and you epub it yourself, then word count is less of a problem, BUT it still needs a go through to make sure it's all been tightened and you're not repeating things, or using words you don't need-- and that's the case no matter which route you take.

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#98 pcr1967

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:33 AM

I think it's time for me to get some glasses. :laugh: It's 266 pages long. The wordcount comes in around 130,000. :blush: Silly me. A bit of editing should be able to cut it down to just below 120k.

And yes, I'm trying the traditional route first. I've decided to give it until the end of the year. If I don't find an agent by then, I will try self-publishing and see how that goes. But I must assume that if I get turned down a lot ... there's something about the book that needs to be changed. :tongue:

#99 C. Taylor

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 09:51 AM

That's MUCH better!! lol.

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#100 pcr1967

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Posted 03 May 2012 - 05:28 PM

Yeah, that was my thought too when I realized my mistake. :laugh:

I honestly don't know if it's classic sci-fi. It takes place on the Moon and it's in the future ... nah, it's classic sci-fi. :smile: I know it's hard to get something as mainstream as sci-fi published, but hey ... I love the genre myself and there are a lot of sci-fi books out there, so why not try, right? The worst I can get is a no. :tongue:




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