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Book Length- How Flexible Is It?


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#1 wendymireles

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Posted 10 April 2011 - 10:50 PM

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions!


I am concerned that YA guidelines so frequently list word count as 40-80K, or thereabouts, and yet I see so many novels on the shelves in my range, which is 120K.

How flexible are the word count guidelines? And why do so many forums recommend such low word counts?

Could it be that the older YA work gets categorized as Crossover?


Thank you so much! I appreciate your input.

Best,

Wendy Mireles

#2 Mary Kole

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 08:29 AM

I am very wary of anything over 100k. And it's very difficult to "manufacture" a crossover hit. Crossover hits are published in either YA or adult and then get an audience in the other on their own or through the publisher's marketing efforts on both sides. You can't just say, "This is going to be crossover" because that's not the author's decision to make, it's the publisher's, so I wouldn't count on it. It's a cost issue. Sure, there are a lot of books coming out in the 120k range, but a lot of them are bloated, frankly, and need editing. As a debut, you give yourself a much stronger chance with fewer than 100k words because those words mean paper and ink and printing and shipping and warehouse costs. Your book is also "renting" space on bookstore shelves -- if it doesn't sell at a bookstore, that bookstore can return it to the publisher and get its money back. A bookstore can put one thick book on its prime shelf real estate, or it could fit two smaller books, and make two sales instead. You can do whatever you want, but those are the artistic and practical considerations of trying to publish an overlong book.




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