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neilfriske
11-19-2012, 12:23 AM
Will an agent not take a book from an unpublished writer seriously if it is only 50 000 words long?

The genre is horror, if that makes any difference.

Kerosene
11-19-2012, 12:34 AM
Not a horror expert, but that might be Novella size for the genre.

Old Hack
11-19-2012, 01:49 AM
Bearing in mind what you just said about agents on another thread at AW, Neil, I don't understand why you're asking this question.


I imagine agents are the most cynical souless people alive.

I'll deal with that quote in the appropriate thread but as far as your question goes, yes, agents will take a book of that length seriously if it comes from Stephen King or J K Rowling: the rest of us have to write to a more appropriate length, or expect immediate rejection, unread.

neilfriske
11-19-2012, 01:53 AM
lol it didnt take long for that joke to bite me in the ass, now did it?

Old Hack
11-19-2012, 02:01 AM
Jokes are meant to be funny, Neil.

When you're in a hole, it's wise to stop digging.

Tigerlilly79
11-19-2012, 02:05 AM
That's way too short

Jamesaritchie
11-19-2012, 04:37 AM
Probably not, but if it's a truly exceptional 50,000 words, you just never know. Odder things have happened.

melnve
11-19-2012, 06:14 AM
You might also get away with it in YA - my YA thriller is seeing a lot more attention than my longer fantasy did. It's a more commercial concept I think, but at a touch under 50K I was worried. I've had some feedback from a few agents who have read the full, and none of the feedback has even mentioned length.

blacbird
11-19-2012, 08:44 AM
Is 50K words enough to tell the story you need to tell, and tell it well? Nobody can answer that question except you, and if you can't answer that question, chances are that your word count won't matter when it comes to approaching an agent.

caw

retlaw
11-19-2012, 05:50 PM
This is an interesting thread. The consensus seems to be: Silly author 50K isn't for agents.

Is 50K enough to be considered? Why not? If it's good. My own book - hard-boiled mystery / science-fiction - weighed in at 54 almost 55K, or ~220 pages. Puts me right in the same space as others in my genre (chandler & crumley to pull two quickly off my shelf).

40K is the definition of a novel length. To those who have indicated that 50K would not be enough, why? What do you now consider to be the definition length for a novel? Or are you saying 50K isn't enough for horror?

p.s. - I could see in SF/F where this would be larger (Thanks RR Martin! ;), so let's take that as a given.

Terie
11-19-2012, 06:12 PM
This is an interesting thread. The consensus seems to be: Silly author 50K isn't for agents.

Is 50K enough to be considered? Why not? If it's good. My own book - hard-boiled mystery / science-fiction - weighed in at 54 almost 55K, or ~220 pages. Puts me right in the same space as others in my genre (chandler & crumley to pull two quickly off my shelf).

40K is the definition of a novel length. To those who have indicated that 50K would not be enough, why? What do you now consider to be the definition length for a novel? Or are you saying 50K isn't enough for horror?

p.s. - I could see in SF/F where this would be larger (Thanks RR Martin! ;), so let's take that as a given.

It's safe to say that Chandler and Crumley aren't debut writers writing for today's market.

There are ranges for word length that vary by genre. These change over time.

Any time an unpublished writer presents something that's outside the current 'accepted' range (whether it's word length, themes, genre-crossing, whatever), they're putting up an extra hurdle for themself. That means that to get to 'yes', everything else has to be even better than it otherwise would be.

For successful, money-making writers, there are pretty much no rules. Unpublished writers aren't already successful money-makers who can expect to receive the same consideration as established authors.

randi.lee
11-19-2012, 06:15 PM
I agree with Will. Seems like a good size for a novella.

Jamesaritchie
11-19-2012, 06:28 PM
This is an interesting thread. The consensus seems to be: Silly author 50K isn't for agents.

Is 50K enough to be considered? Why not? If it's good. My own book - hard-boiled mystery / science-fiction - weighed in at 54 almost 55K, or ~220 pages. Puts me right in the same space as others in my genre (chandler & crumley to pull two quickly off my shelf).

40K is the definition of a novel length. To those who have indicated that 50K would not be enough, why? What do you now consider to be the definition length for a novel? Or are you saying 50K isn't enough for horror?

p.s. - I could see in SF/F where this would be larger (Thanks RR Martin! ;), so let's take that as a given.

A novel starts at 30K in literary fiction, and with certain types of romantic tales, such as Bridges of Madison County. A novel starts a 40K with most genre fiction.

The problem is not whether 50k is a novel. It is. The problem is that most publishers want much longer novels, simply because market research shows that most readers prefer longer novels.

Publishers all have preferred length guidelines, and these are primarily for new writers. When guidelines say a publisher wants novels ranging from 80k to, say, 120k, they mean it. This is the length that sells best for them, and if you want to write a novel that's very much shorter or longer, you usually have to earn it by first writing a novel that falls within those guidelines, and that sells well.

Then, once you've proven you can write well enough to sell a lot of novels, you can violate those guidelines and still sell the novel.

There are always exceptions, and a good agent doesn't laugh at any novel just because of length, but when a new writer does violate the length guidelines, that novel can't just be as good as one that falls inside the guidelines, it has to be better. A lot better. It has to be truly exceptional.

retlaw
11-19-2012, 06:33 PM
Welcome to Forumland, neilfriske.

I ran into something like this in one of my initial 25 posts as well, and my comment was far more innocuous than the snippet I read in this thread. If this truly was a joke (and I haven't seen your other post), then you should take this opportunity to understand this:

These are forums.

It is not a group of ppl who know you. The vast majority of contributors are good, smart ppl that you'll be glad you got to know (in my limited experience, old hack is one of those ppl). There are also some who either may not be as smart as they think they are, or may be too smart for their own good & assume their worst-case interpretation must be the correct intention for a post and love, love, love to let you know about it and how oh-SO-smart they are for sussing you out.

And no amount of, "Uh, what? I, I - hold on. Ok, I typed that, but that isn't what I _meant_." Is going to cram the toothpaste back into the tube.

Before you post _any_thing with a _hint_ non-constructive negativity to it, think twice. Then think again.

For my part, I'd come across this before, but had forgotten about it. I knew how the wind was blowing, and I simply swallowed hard, apologized, learned my lesson, and moved on.

Also, you should understand that the mods are like old west sheriffs, and you're the new guy in town who's carrying a gun he forgot to check in at the outskirts. Given dizzying array of all things possible that they come across on these forums, I'm sure you can understand that they see malfeasance first, in fact really - to protect themselves and the forums - mods have to assume bad intent. Innocence? Innocence you ask? We don't need no stinking innocence! :) It comes in a "Yeah, right." dead last.

Heck, I reached out to a mod to make sure my .dot sig would be ok. That mod suggested that a change might make it ok but was going to fly it by another mod. I made the suggested change, but the other mod, I'm guessing, didn't have the full details, or whatever but made the assessment on the information they had (some of which was about something outside of my .sig that was completely wrong) that I was trying to do something fishy.

Shrug. What was I gonna do? Convince him/her they were wrong? That I had an absence of malice? That I was a good guy? First, I understood that the mod was doing what they thought best, that the mod had the best of intentions. And then I simply apologized for any confusion and moved on. My past and continued actions in Forumland to be a positive, or at least constructively critical contributor would be my best defense.

Just my own $0.02 on how my own travails on exercising wit in Forumland.

retlaw
11-19-2012, 06:39 PM
It's safe to say that Chandler and Crumley aren't debut writers writing for today's market.

LOL - not anymore! But at one point they were. I also do understand that Chandler was written decades ago & that, of course, standards do change.


Any time an unpublished writer presents something that's outside the current 'accepted' range (whether it's word length, themes, genre-crossing, whatever), they're putting up an extra hurdle for themself. That means that to get to 'yes', everything else has to be even better than it otherwise would be.

This is well & good & I understand the words coming out of your mouth, but --- it doesn't answer:

To those who have indicated that 50K would not be enough, why? What do you now consider to be the definition length for a novel? Or are you saying 50K isn't enough for horror?

Terie
11-19-2012, 07:02 PM
This is well & good & I understand the words coming out of your mouth, but --- it doesn't answer:

To those who have indicated that 50K would not be enough, why?

This has already been answered: publishers set word-count ranges based on their knowledge of readers' demands.


What do you now consider to be the definition length for a novel? Or are you saying 50K isn't enough for horror?

I don't personally have a definition of novel vs novella. I write novels, and I aim for word counts in the standard ranges for the genres I write.

Besides, my personal definition of novel vs novella is irrelevant. It's what publishers want that matters.

Finally, I don't write or even read horror, so I don't know what the current convention is.

JSSchley
11-19-2012, 07:04 PM
The Swivet (Colleen Lindsay) on word counts. (http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/03/on-word-counts-and-novel-length.html)

The big issue is more that there's a sense that at 50K, you've probably underwritten your horror story. (Similarly at 200K, it'd be clear you'd overwritten it.)

If several good betas who aren't your friends have read the book and feel that without a doubt, it isn't lacking, couldn't benefit from another sub plot, etc. then...write a kick butt query that shows that you are a master of tight writing and query it.

It's less an issue that not being at 80K means you suck, just that publishers prefer something longer, and that at 50K, the chances are high that you've written something that is lacking the details and plot progression necessary in your genre. For that reason, as Terie said, you're putting an extra hurdle before yourself, because an agent has to go, "Do I love this so much that I'm willing to either a) work with the author on substantial revisions to bring this to 80K or b) champion this to publishers whose instinct is going to be to say, 'No, it's not worth our investment to publish this?'"

Calla Lily
11-19-2012, 07:08 PM
Welcome to Forumland, neilfriske.

I ran into something like this in one of my initial 25 posts as well, and my comment was far more innocuous than the snippet I read in this thread. If this truly was a joke (and I haven't seen your other post), then you should take this opportunity to understand this:

These are forums.

It is not a group of ppl who know you. The vast majority of contributors are good, smart ppl that you'll be glad you got to know (in my limited experience, old hack is one of those ppl). There are also some who either may not be as smart as they think they are, or may be too smart for their own good & assume their worst-case interpretation must be the correct intention for a post and love, love, love to let you know about it and how oh-SO-smart they are for sussing you out.

And no amount of, "Uh, what? I, I - hold on. Ok, I typed that, but that isn't what I _meant_." Is going to cram the toothpaste back into the tube.

Before you post _any_thing with a _hint_ non-constructive negativity to it, think twice. Then think again.

For my part, I'd come across this before, but had forgotten about it. I knew how the wind was blowing, and I simply swallowed hard, apologized, learned my lesson, and moved on.

Also, you should understand that the mods are like old west sheriffs, and you're the new guy in town who's carrying a gun he forgot to check in at the outskirts. Given dizzying array of all things possible that they come across on these forums, I'm sure you can understand that they see malfeasance first, in fact really - to protect themselves and the forums - mods have to assume bad intent. Innocence? Innocence you ask? We don't need no stinking innocence! :) It comes in a "Yeah, right." dead last.

Heck, I reached out to a mod to make sure my .dot sig would be ok. That mod suggested that a change might make it ok but was going to fly it by another mod. I made the suggested change, but the other mod, I'm guessing, didn't have the full details, or whatever but made the assessment on the information they had (some of which was about something outside of my .sig that was completely wrong) that I was trying to do something fishy.

Shrug. What was I gonna do? Convince him/her they were wrong? That I had an absence of malice? That I was a good guy? First, I understood that the mod was doing what they thought best, that the mod had the best of intentions. And then I simply apologized for any confusion and moved on. My past and continued actions in Forumland to be a positive, or at least constructively critical contributor would be my best defense.

Just my own $0.02 on how my own travails on exercising wit in Forumland.

retlaw, I have one word of advice: If you have a gripe with something a mod has done or said, take it to PM with that mod. Don't air your grievances in public.

Maryn
11-19-2012, 07:24 PM
Amen.

Maryn, whose raised hackles are especially lovely this time of year

Sophia
11-19-2012, 07:36 PM
Given dizzying array of all things possible that they come across on these forums, I'm sure you can understand that they see malfeasance first, in fact really - to protect themselves and the forums - mods have to assume bad intent. Innocence? Innocence you ask? We don't need no stinking innocence! :) It comes in a "Yeah, right." dead last.

Yeah, this is total bollocks.


Heck, I reached out to a mod to make sure my .dot sig would be ok. That mod suggested that a change might make it ok but was going to fly it by another mod. I made the suggested change, but the other mod, I'm guessing, didn't have the full details, or whatever but made the assessment on the information they had (some of which was about something outside of my .sig that was completely wrong) that I was trying to do something fishy.

Shrug. What was I gonna do?

You could have continued to communicate with the mod(s) in question, explained your intent, got the facts behind what the problem might be instead of making assumptions, and got it sorted out.

And now I'm off to the saloon to exercise my power, while also trying to protect myself from all these wild members around me with their baaaad intentions.

Calla Lily
11-19-2012, 07:39 PM
I'm a good aim with a Glock 9mm. Also, if I choose to sheriff in a fantasy story, I'm a good aim with a bow and arrow.

All right, you durn highfalutin' writers over thar! Who-all's got a bone to pick with th' sheriff? I'll be meetin' ye in the main road at high noon. :guns:

High Noon... hmm.. . that sounds like a good title...

Maryn
11-19-2012, 09:04 PM
Sheriff! Sheriff! They's a-fightin' over tuh the saloon!

Calla Lily
11-19-2012, 09:20 PM
I"m on it, little lady. Don't you worry yer pretty little head now.

Sheryl Nantus
11-19-2012, 10:00 PM
To those who have indicated that 50K would not be enough, why? What do you now consider to be the definition length for a novel? Or are you saying 50K isn't enough for horror?

Dude, WE don't make the decisions. The industry does.

*passes over chocolate*

Let's be chillin'...

:)

retlaw
11-20-2012, 10:14 AM
retlaw, I have one word of advice: If you have a gripe with something a mod has done or said, take it to PM with that mod. Don't air your grievances in public.

I don't have a gripe! What about the above was a gripe? Wasn't I in complete support of the mods all along the way? Man. I really am left shaking my head.

LOL - neil, ignore everything I said!! I _obviously_ do not get it. Here I thought I was saying something nice, something supporting, and - no. Apparently, not so much.

However, callalily61 - You are of course absolutely right. Airing a grievance publicly would be a terrible breach of etiquette.

Uff-duh. What a horrible day on the boards for me.

retlaw
11-20-2012, 10:17 AM
Dude, WE don't make the decisions. The industry does.

*passes over chocolate*

Let's be chillin'...

:)

LOL - yes, chillin' would be awesome! What kind of chocolate are we having? I like those Lindt balls - the milk chocolate. There's a Lindt store in Princeton - they're delicious.

Ok, so - now that we've broken chocolate :) - please forgive my ignorance, but I really don't know the industry standard is in these regards. Could you please tell me?

Old Hack
11-20-2012, 11:50 AM
I don't have a gripe! What about the above was a gripe? Wasn't I in complete support of the mods all along the way? Man. I really am left shaking my head.

I'll show you if you like.


I ran into something like this in one of my initial 25 posts as well, and my comment was far more innocuous than the snippet I read in this thread.

I was the mod who dealt with you, and your comment wasn't innocuous (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=7667870#post7667870): you were rude to another member, and at some length.


The vast majority of contributors are good, smart ppl that you'll be glad you got to know (in my limited experience, old hack is one of those ppl). There are also some who either may not be as smart as they think they are, or may be too smart for their own good & assume their worst-case interpretation must be the correct intention for a post and love, love, love to let you know about it and how oh-SO-smart they are for sussing you out.

When I pulled you up last time, I pointed you to the Newbie Guide and asked you to read it. If you had read it you'd know that our one rule here at AW is Respect Your Fellow Writer. How is what you've written there respectful of the writers you're describing? It comes across to me as sneering and rude.

An aside: if you see any comments here which match what you've just described, report the post so that the mods can deal with it. It's not on.


Also, you should understand that the mods are like old west sheriffs, and you're the new guy in town who's carrying a gun he forgot to check in at the outskirts. Given dizzying array of all things possible that they come across on these forums, I'm sure you can understand that they see malfeasance first, in fact really - to protect themselves and the forums - mods have to assume bad intent. Innocence? Innocence you ask? We don't need no stinking innocence! :) It comes in a "Yeah, right." dead last.

My bold.

You're misrepresenting the mods here.

If what you write is true, you'd have been banned when you were first rude to another member. Hell, you'd have been banned for this post. And yet look! You're still here!



Heck, I reached out to a mod to make sure my .dot sig would be ok. That mod suggested that a change might make it ok but was going to fly it by another mod. I made the suggested change, but the other mod, I'm guessing, didn't have the full details, or whatever but made the assessment on the information they had (some of which was about something outside of my .sig that was completely wrong) that I was trying to do something fishy.

Shrug. What was I gonna do? Convince him/her they were wrong? That I had an absence of malice? That I was a good guy? First, I understood that the mod was doing what they thought best, that the mod had the best of intentions. And then I simply apologized for any confusion and moved on. My past and continued actions in Forumland to be a positive, or at least constructively critical contributor would be my best defense.


Did this happen at AW? Because if so, you're airing something in public which happened in private, between you and a mod. And that's not on.

Also, are you sure things happened like this? It doesn't tie in with what I know of what went on, and I wonder if you are once again misrepresenting the mods here. It could be, of course, that you're referring to something that went on on another site, in which case there's no wonder that I don't remember it.

Retlaw, you might have written that post intending it to be humour but like Neil's comment, it doesn't come across as funny. It comes across as snarky and sneery, and this isn't the first time. You might want to think about that.

Jamesaritchie
11-21-2012, 01:12 AM
To those who have indicated that 50K would not be enough, why? What do you now consider to be the definition length for a novel? Or are you saying 50K isn't enough for horror?

This has been answered. It's not about definitions, it's about what publishers want. Length is why publishers put out guidelines. As the old saying goes, find guidelines, read guidelines, follow guidelines.

Everything else is meaningless, and there's nothing at all any of us can do about it.