Novel Lengths Matter
Agents love it when a debut author pitches them a 250,000 word novel.
No. They don't.
Because paper costs money. Ink costs money. And the more words you have to print the more money it’s going to cost the publishers, and right now as a debut author they can’t trust all of those words are worth the cost. Agents have been in their career long enough to see hundreds of books and to know that sometimes that heavy word count is unneccessary garbage and needs to be cut out of the book. So when your 250,000 word Lost Gods series slides across their desk in a query letter, you get a rejection letter that looks like this:
I'm sorry, but I am probably not the right agent for this work. I would suggest you take a look at these two posts on novel lengths: http://kidlit.com/2009/11/13/manuscript-length/ . I wish you the best of luck with the project.
This email changed my life. I had no idea word count was even a thing. I was still going by page numbers (page numbers change depending on your font, font size, margins, spacing, etc. Which is why they go by WORD count, Jane.) So I took a good hard look at my book and edited out 63,000 unneccessary word garbage and cut the book in half.
But Jane, the book titled “bla bla bla” is WAY over the recomended word count and IT got published. So there are exceptions?
There are 2 exceptions to this novel length rule. 1} This big book is NOT your debut book. Once you are published and your publisher sees how much money you are making because people freaking love your writing, you can write pretty much whatever you want after that. Statistics say readers will buy your second book, no matter the size. 2} But then, there HAVE been published debut books that are over the recomended word count, like The Historian. And that happens sometimes because you have a MASSIVELY AWESOME CRAZY GOOD idea and you have made every word in that book count. Every #$%& word.
But Jane, I HAVE made every word count!
According to you, and you are the worst judge when it comes to your book. Don’t believe me? Send it off to literary agents and spend the rest of your life getting rejected. Word count matters. If you want to be the exception, you won't be the exception. Not for your debut book, anyway. Us newbies have to follow the rules before we can break them.
Still don’t believe me? Try this link: