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BradCarsten
10-23-2010, 01:14 PM
I have read a number of articles that say you should not submit a book that is much longer than 80,000 - 120,000 words, as you have less of a chance of having it published- They go on to say that longer books do sometimes get accepted but the work has to be exceptional.

With that in mind, if you decide to submit a book with a much higher word count- lets say 200,000 - 250,000 words, should you only mention the word count later on in the querying process? Will it "put you on the back foot" so to speak, if the agent sees the word count before he/she has bought into your idea?

Corinne Duyvis
10-23-2010, 01:26 PM
No, you should definitely mention the word count in the query letter itself - but it sometimes helps to put it at the end of the query letter instead of the beginning.

That said, 200k+ is really freaking long, and unless you have a good amount of experience writing, there's a good chance you can pare it down. Focus on that first - you'll greatly increase your chances of finding rep.

Terie
10-23-2010, 02:08 PM
^ Yep. What Corinne said.

Many agents will consider the absence of the word count in the query to mean the book is outside the standard range and will consider it a bit of a red flag. Might as well be honest about it from the get-go.

As Corinne also said, it's best to work at paring it down. Debut novelists with doorstops (such as Susanna Clarke and her Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell) usually have an exceptional book and a strong publishing history (short stories, working in the biz, academic writing, and so on).

waylander
10-23-2010, 02:11 PM
Find a way to split it into 2 books of 100k and you will dramatically increase your chances of agent interest

jclarkdawe
10-23-2010, 05:00 PM
Not including your word count is a clue to agents that your word count is a major problem. The way to make a long word count work is to write an incredibly tight query, maybe 100 words at the most, showing you know how to write tightly, while causing the agent to spit coffee all over the computer screen.

But most people with long books write long, rambling queries that show exactly why their book is long.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

BradCarsten
10-23-2010, 06:20 PM
my manuscript is currently sitting at around 200,000 words unfinished, *gulp* and thats why im asking. Its still the first draft, and there is a LOT I can cut, and tone down, but the story itself is written and paced like a 50,000 word novel. There is very little waffle, in fact some of the scenes seem a little rushed to me.
I think the reason for this is that the story is complex to begin with. (as complex as any book set in a world we are familiar with), but now on top of that I have created a world with its own physics system/ duel magic system, culture (for every city they visit), games, history etc that are all integral to the plot or add to the depth of the world. Unfortunately that stuff has to be explained in such a way that I dont info dump, and that it doesnt become boring/too complex for the reader to follow.
I'll take the advice and strip down as much as I can, (iv already discarded about 6 chapters) but I dont think i'll be able to get it below about 180,000 words.

BradCarsten
10-23-2010, 06:39 PM
another question, do you need to justify a long word count in the query. "I know 500,000 words is long but..."

Ziljon
10-23-2010, 06:40 PM
It's good that you're already starting to think about the query, Ave.

If your book needs to be long then it will be. Franz Schubert was a wonderfully gifted composer who wrote some very very long compositions. His melodic line and harmonic landscapes were so beautiful, however, that people referred to his prolixity as "Schubert's glorious lengths."

If your story truly needs that 'glorious length' (I'd refrain from even thinking about it as unfortunate, by the way) then it will be a pleasure to read--and a great value for the consumer, too!.

I hope you will post an excerpt for critique when you're ready in "share your work."

Good luck.

jclarkdawe
10-23-2010, 07:33 PM
another question, do you need to justify a long word count in the query. "I know 500,000 words is long but..."

You justify a long word count by showing that you know how to write tight, compelling prose in your query, and have the first five to ten pages tightly enough written that an agent doesn't want to take out a red pen and compelling enough that the agent wants more. That's the only way to justify a high word count.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

scarletpeaches
10-23-2010, 07:59 PM
One important question:

Are you Vikram Seth?

If so, your word count is fine.

BradCarsten
10-23-2010, 08:06 PM
It's good that you're already starting to think about the query, Ave.

If your book needs to be long then it will be. Franz Schubert was a wonderfully gifted composer who wrote some very very long compositions. His melodic line and harmonic landscapes were so beautiful, however, that people referred to his prolixity as "Schubert's glorious lengths."

If your story truly needs that 'glorious length' (I'd refrain from even thinking about it as unfortunate, by the way) then it will be a pleasure to read--and a great value for the consumer, too!.

I hope you will post an excerpt for critique when you're ready in "share your work."

Good luck.

thanks Ziljon this is a very encouraging post.
Im looking forward to posting an excerpt, but at the same time it terrifies me lol


You justify a long word count by showing that you know how to write tight, compelling prose in your query, and have the first five to ten pages tightly enough written that an agent doesn't want to take out a red pen and compelling enough that the agent wants more. That's the only way to justify a high word count.

Best of luck,

Jim Clark-Dawe

makes sense, thanks