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JDM1950
03-27-2012, 02:27 PM
I polished and re-re-re-re-edited my first ever manuscript, and have cut my original word count from 180,000 to 145,000 (it's a fanatsy epic). I have been querying agents for a few months with no serious positive replies. Is it because I mention the word count in my query letters (which almost all submission guidelines require), the agent sees the WC, and automatically thinks "too long for a first-time author?"
Believe me, I have agonized over some of the cuts I have already made. What remains in the MS is what I believe is a continuous flow of action and story-telling that I can't afford to cut too much more from. I know that a professional editor might slice a sentence or paragrph here or there, but is my suspicion in the above paragraph legitimate--that just seeing the word count garners a rejection?

Terie
03-27-2012, 02:48 PM
You must include word count in queries. 145K is a wee bit on the long side, but not horrendously too long for epic fantasy to make it an auto-reject. It's probably something else in your query that's responsible for not getting requests for partials/fulls. Or, if you're getting those requests, it's something else in the manuscript.

Parametric
03-27-2012, 03:10 PM
It's a big wordcount, but if the sample pages are amazing, the problem is surmountable. I'd suggest posting the query in QLH (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=174) and the first pages in SYW (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=67).

quicklime
03-27-2012, 03:59 PM
apologies in advance, but after seeing some of the other posts I would strongly suspect it has to do with query--you're long, but not horribly so for fantasy.

pop it over to qlh. sub your first 5 pages in syw as well.

lauralam
03-27-2012, 04:10 PM
Just so you know, Angry Robot Books is having an Open Door submission period from April 16-30th for epic fantasy, so you might try subbing to them as well while you query. They have specific guidelines to follow. There's a thread in the Science Fiction/Fantasy forum somewhere.

BethS
03-27-2012, 04:47 PM
I polished and re-re-re-re-edited my first ever manuscript, and have cut my original word count from 180,000 to 145,000 (it's a fanatsy epic). I have been querying agents for a few months with no serious positive replies.

For some agents, a high word count is an auto-reject. For others, it will depend on the quality of the manuscript--or the query. If you've not received any requests for partials or fulls, but keep getting rejected at the query stage, then probably your query needs some work.

Little Ming
03-27-2012, 09:25 PM
I polished and re-re-re-re-edited my first ever manuscript, and have cut my original word count from 180,000 to 145,000 (it's a fanatsy epic). I have been querying agents for a few months with no serious positive replies. Is it because I mention the word count in my query letters (which almost all submission guidelines require), the agent sees the WC, and automatically thinks "too long for a first-time author?"
Believe me, I have agonized over some of the cuts I have already made. What remains in the MS is what I believe is a continuous flow of action and story-telling that I can't afford to cut too much more from. I know that a professional editor might slice a sentence or paragrph here or there, but is my suspicion in the above paragraph legitimate--that just seeing the word count garners a rejection?

JDM1950,

You've already started a few threads about your submission process, and while I sympathize with the rejections, myself and others have suggested that there might be something wrong with your query and/or MS. If you are unwilling to post the query and/or opening in QLH (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26) or SYW (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26) it will be damn near impossible for anyone to help you.

quicklime
03-27-2012, 09:45 PM
JDM1950,

You've already started a few threads about your submission process, and while I sympathize with the rejections, myself and others have suggested that there might be something wrong with your query and/or MS. If you are unwilling to post the query and/or opening in QLH (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26) or SYW (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=26) it will be damn near impossible for anyone to help you.


QFT, as I've seen several of these invitations, and they seem to be completely ignored by the OP.

this is like asking if the shirt lwould look good on you, and refusing to let us see either yourself or the shirt.

Colossus
03-28-2012, 03:04 AM
I ran into this same problem with my first Manuscript. I had queried and queried with no success, and finally an agent said to me that he believed the word count was much too large. His reasoning was the cost of publication.
I whittled several thousand words off it, but couldn't get it lower than 135,000 without taking out what I believed was context crucial to the story.
Long story short, I had to publish it POD... I believe in part to the word count and also due to the fact that I was an unknown (still am) and that it was perhaps too risky a project for some.

Hope my experience helps..... I stood by my story. Several hundred people bought and enjoyed a copy, and perhaps one day I can get it re-released to a larger market.

hlynn117
03-28-2012, 03:57 AM
I know it's an epic fantasy, but really, word count matters. It matters in academic writing, and from what I know in that field, I can believe it matters at least half as much in creative writing. I have the TOO MANY WORDS problem. I force myself to kill off arcs and characters to get it down to 100,000, if not below, because I am a newbie to publishing. Even people I know who do this thing for a more real living than I do have to keep editing and cutting and polishing their works to certain lengths. Sat with some writers polishing a TV pilot, and guess what...it has to be short, despite how much you want to hook the audience on your characters. I'm sorry if I sound grumpy, but I would say to rethink your story.

JDM1950
03-29-2012, 06:01 PM
Thanks for the advice, all.
I see a few options to consider:
1. Try whittling down some more (I don't know if I can do more than say 2,000 - 3,000 words/10 pages)
2. Try fixing the query (I'll take stab at Query Letter Hell)
3. Shelve the larger work for now, finish my next WIP (I am estimating it running to near 100,000 words--also fantasy) and hopefully get my "foot in the door" and get the larger work out when I'm better known.

bjcox
03-29-2012, 06:26 PM
I say you jack it back up to 200,000, then cut in in half and make it a two parter.

JDM1950
03-29-2012, 06:32 PM
lauralam--

Checked out Angry Robot. I don't fulfill all of their submission requirements. Thanks anyway.

JDM1950
03-29-2012, 06:35 PM
BJcox--

I don't see a logical point in my story to cut it to 2 parts. I'm a first-timer and I don't think agents/publishers will want to work with a cliff-hanger from a newbie. Maybe later when I get to Rowling status...

bjcox
03-29-2012, 06:38 PM
Ok, just throwing it out there

Tromboli
03-30-2012, 12:46 AM
when I get to Rowling status...

Good luck with that.

Actually, from what I understand fantasy is quiet often sold as trilogies, or more. It's pretty common for that genre as readers prefer it (even from newbies). I could be wrong, but that was my impression. Maybe look into that a little more. It might be a possiblity.

But I think the moral of the story is that your word count in this genre shouldn't kill you. Most likely your just not hitting the mark completely with your work. Could be a lot of things, the market, finding the right person for you work, or various things with in the novel itself. If you continue to have trouble I'd say move on to another work and come back to this one later.

JDM1950
03-30-2012, 03:06 PM
I'm posting my current query letter for my novel "Captain of Narma" on Query Letter Hell. Feel free to praise or rip...

Old Hack
03-30-2012, 07:12 PM
So, not only do you want people from this thread to spend their time helping you with your query, you expect us all to hunt it down, too.

In other words, a link would be nice. If you want people to help you, make it as easy as you can for them to do so. Thank you!

quicklime
03-30-2012, 07:29 PM
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=241467


for hack, since i think jdm is making an effort but learning how things work here

Bufty
03-30-2012, 07:51 PM
Could be wrong, but can one give direct links to SYW threads - doesn't the password prevent it?

The above link told me I had to login again.

quicklime
03-30-2012, 07:59 PM
didn't for me...

?

Old Hack
03-30-2012, 08:22 PM
The link works fine, Bufty--just so long as one has the password in hand.

Bufty
03-30-2012, 08:41 PM
Thankyou. I get the following message and have to log in afresh with my own password -



You are not logged in or you do not have permission to access this page. This could be due to one of several reasons:


Must just be me -maybe got rid of a cookie or two at some time.
But no worries. I know how to get there. Sorry if I've caused any hassle. :)



The link works fine, Bufty--just so long as one has the password in hand.

Becca C.
04-01-2012, 07:20 AM
A word of advice on whittling down even further:

Do it sentence by sentence. Without fail, every time I take a pass at editing a MS, I can shave off at least a couple thousand unnecessary words by really, really scrutinizing each word. Do I really need that extra adjective there? Is the story really going to suffer if I cut that "Yeah" or "Oh" from the beginning of the sentence? Do my characters use each other's names too often? You can cut lots of words by getting rid of characters using each other's names when they don't need to.

When you're using "reductive thinking," it becomes easy as pie to shave off words. 20 word sentences become 13 word sentences, or sometimes just get deleted altogether. Sometimes I find myself saying the same thing twice when the point was strong enough to begin with.

Polenth
04-01-2012, 08:45 AM
Could be wrong, but can one give direct links to SYW threads - doesn't the password prevent it?

The above link told me I had to login again.

I find if links open in a new browser window, it thinks I'm not logged in. If it opens in the same window, or I copy/paste the link into a new window, I remain logged in. Sometimes it can be odd.

Old Hack
04-01-2012, 10:46 AM
A word of advice on whittling down even further:

Do it sentence by sentence. Without fail, every time I take a pass at editing a MS, I can shave off at least a couple thousand unnecessary words by really, really scrutinizing each word.

And remember: cutting down your word count doesn't mean slicing extra words out of your sentences, it also means deleting entire scenes if they're not working hard enough for you. This is a step that many writers are reluctant to take, but you have to be ruthless: if it's not working, cut it out.

JDM1950
04-03-2012, 04:23 PM
Sorry, I don't know how to "link" to other threads....
My QL is on Share York Work/Query letter Hell/"My Current QL" by JDM1950.
Been ripped pretty well, but am starting to get the idea. Feel free to join in...

heyjude
04-03-2012, 04:47 PM
Here's your link (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=241467), JDM. (See the earth with the linked chain just above where you type in quick reply? Select your text, hit that earth, then paste the URL.)

eqb
04-03-2012, 05:35 PM
And remember: cutting down your word count doesn't mean slicing extra words out of your sentences, it also means deleting entire scenes if they're not working hard enough for you. This is a step that many writers are reluctant to take, but you have to be ruthless: if it's not working, cut it out.

I once cut 12 chapters.

They were well-written (imo), and had lots of interesting stuff going on (imo), but they didn't belong in that particular book. Cutting them put the focus of the plot on the important arcs and storylines.

zegota
04-04-2012, 07:08 PM
My opinion, worth every penny you're paying for it:

I think it's unlikely that the word count alone is netting you non-responses. Sure, it probably is for some agents -- I'm sure there are a few that have strict rules, "NOTHING OVER 120,000, NO THANK YOU!" But authors have debuted with long novels, especially fantasy novels -- look at Sanderson and Rothfuss. So it's possible.

If your query and first few chapters are mindblowing, an agent will look past the word count. And in your case, your word count isn't even ridiculously long for fantasy. I'd spend time making sure your query pops (looking at your post in SYW, it needs some work), and your first few chapters are incredibly engaging. Also, make sure both are terse -- it'll show the agent that those 148,000 words are truly necessary, not just blathering.

'Course, this might be wishful thinking on my part, since I'm in the same boat as you. But most of the experiences of writers in my group has been that agents are likely to say "Cut and resubmit" rather than "No" if it's only your length that's giving them issues.