View Full Version : Novel Length

09-16-2005, 08:30 PM
What (in your opinion) is the absolute maximum word count for a fantasy novel for a first time author. I'm sure publishers have a number in mind due to cost.

Richard White
09-17-2005, 02:02 AM
I'm not an agent and Andy may have a different opinion, but here's my two cents:

It depends on the publisher.

Most people would tell you to shoot for between 80-90K words. However, some publishers are looking for stories around 100-120K.

It all depends.

Tell your story, then edit the heck out of it and see what you have left.

Ray Dillon
09-17-2005, 02:13 AM
This is a bit of a side note, but yesterday at the library I saw a novel that had to have been a million words!! :D It was around 1700 pages, larger than normal for a hardcover, and really small text. I forget the name or title, but I'll go back by and find it again. It was a new book. really couldn't believe how huge it was. I don't see many people reading that thing.

09-17-2005, 03:31 AM
Stephen King's The Stand is like 1000 pages long, isn't it?

Of course, he wasn't a new author when he wrote that. For a new writer, I'd suggest something moderate, like in the 80-120K range.

09-17-2005, 09:34 AM
Mr Norrel and Jonathan Strange ((?) may be the ther way around!) - a fantasy book by a first time novelist - has well over a thousand pages.
A Suitable Boy has 1500 pages and it was his first published novel. It became very famous.

09-17-2005, 09:25 PM
My agent told me that shorter books are better for first-timers because they have a lower price. The more pages, the higher the price. It's helpful to have a track record to enable a higher price for more pages.

09-17-2005, 11:12 PM
It's true that A Suitable Boy is very long, but it's also true that Seth then deliberately set out to write a much shorter work for his next book (partly) because: "I also reckon that publishers aren't intrinsically fond of long novels; they're difficult to convince people to read...or to review for that matter." In addition, he was a published poet - a field even harder to break into than novel-writing - before he became a novelist.

His experience shows that it can be done, but for every one book of extraordinary length published by a debut author there are many, many more published that are average length. Only the individual author can decide if his or her vision of a very long novel is worth the added difficulties in getting published.

Andrew Zack
09-21-2005, 05:42 PM
My advice to first-time novelists is to stay in the 100-120,000 word range.