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RandyPendleton
11-18-2014, 07:37 AM
I have two books: one that Iíve self-published and one Iím in the revision stages of. I didnít feel as though book 1 would have found an agent, thus I didnít try much at all to land one. Book 2, on the other hand, is special to me (itís dedicated to my mom, RIP). I spoke to a publicist who agreed with me: the length of my work would likely be frowned upon by most agents. The book I have released (I canít post the url here, as Iíve under 50 posts) is 132,500 words. Itís been edited thoroughly, edited to as fine sheen as I could make it. But from all Iíve read, agents get scared senseless with novels over 100k words. Iíve queried about 6 agents for that one, receiving replies to 3 (all negative). After that, I decided to just self-publish it, just to get the book outta my way. Note: this didnít quite work as planned, seeing as I spent long with promoting it.

Now, Iíve got book 2 to worry about. It is 16 chapters--15 of which are complete. It will require an extensive edit, but I estimate it will be 172,900 words once Iím finished with this draft. Being a calculative guy, I believe the final draft will be around 135,000 words. But itís the same: Iím not sure if any agent would even consider this from such an unknown writer. From all the traumas incurred during the writing process of this book--spanning 8 years--I want this to have all that it deserves. The word-count is too restrictive, though, for much other than self-publishing.

Iíll tell you now: the book is full of stories, not fluff. Like my other book, this will be revised as close as I can make it (this time, I might even pay an editor to ensure itís as perfect as possible). Agents seem to fear that ďbloatedĒ books are not revised properly and are full of rigmarole. Itís not as easy as writing into a query letter that ďThis is edited extremely well, and the fat had been cut off.Ē Sure, EVERYONE says that in the pursuit of representation. That option doesnít exist. And this is a story that requires a rather large word count to tell. If I weeded this down to 100k words, the entire book would be destroyed. This is more like the concise Harry Potter 1, opposed to the fluffed-up, unnecessarily bloated Harry Potter 5. So editing far enough to sate most agents isnít practical, either.

Now, Iím simply lost. Should I take my chances with agent-querying, or should I just self-publish? I donít want to do the latter but at this length, Iím not sure what I should do.

Iím not totally sure which genre I should classify this as, but Iíll go with a boiling-pot of elements, namely: action/crime/mystery/drama Plus itís fiction. I heard books similar could go up to about 120k, but even that was trying. So really, I just dunno

Marian Perera
11-18-2014, 07:57 AM
Hi Randy,

I clicked on the sample chapter link in your sig, to get an idea of whether the writing could be cut down, but couldn't read it. I don't think my computer and/or internet connection were up to accessing wherever your sample is. Is there another site I could try?

As for a book that's 135K and isn't epic fantasy or epic historical... you could try crafting the best query letter possible, tight and stripped down to show the word count is justified. Even then, it's a risk.

Or, if you've got your heart set on trade publishing, is it possible to write a leaner, meaner book - maybe set in the same world, same characters - and pitch that first? It could be the prequel, and then when that sells, the 135K word epic would have a foot in the door.

gettingby
11-18-2014, 08:16 AM
You have nothing to lose my querying agents, but I would say you might need to query a lot more than six. Heck, I get six rejections before breakfast. Query a hundred if you have to or even more. It's not like you have written the longest book ever written. It is not impossible for you to find a trade publisher. More difficult maybe but not impossible.

That said, while you are editing really look for anything you can cut. This can be hard, but it might be necessary to reach your goal. Make sure you have an awesome query. That is going to be very important as it is with selling any book. But if you can make your query make your book sound irresistible, someone will take the bait. Don't be too quick to give up. Good luck!

Osulagh
11-18-2014, 08:40 AM
Let me clarify a few things:

Success in genres likely formulate a word count. Publishers see this. Agents know of it. It's not like agents will frown upon a word count outside of the standard fair, but it makes for a hard sell on sight. They don't want word counts that go outside of the standard because publishers don't.


Iíll tell you now: the book is full of stories, not fluff. Like my other book, this will be revised as close as I can make it (this time, I might even pay an editor to ensure itís as perfect as possible). Agents seem to fear that ďbloatedĒ books are not revised properly and are full of rigmarole. Itís not as easy as writing into a query letter that ďThis is edited extremely well, and the fat had been cut off.Ē Sure, EVERYONE says that in the pursuit of representation. That option doesnít exist. And this is a story that requires a rather large word count to tell. If I weeded this down to 100k words, the entire book would be destroyed. This is more like the concise Harry Potter 1, opposed to the fluffed-up, unnecessarily bloated Harry Potter 5. So editing far enough to sate most agents isnít practical, either.

Explain to me what "full of stories" means. If there's multiple stories in the book that can be a far more complicated problem.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard this and those people have been proven that their books can be cut down. Yes, we all feel strongly for our books the way they are. Like we do for our own children. But many times parents are wrong and writers don't see the flaws that are holding them back.

It seems like you're very defensive in the paragraph which tells me you're more unwilling to change your book than you are willing to see where it could be changed. Whatever, I'll just say: I read a few pages into the second chapter listed in your signature and the first page can be boiled down to a single paragraph is you got to the point of the conversation from the get-go and didn't let it dawdle. That is just an example.


Iím not totally sure which genre I should classify this as, but Iíll go with a boiling-pot of elements, namely: action/crime/mystery/drama Plus itís fiction. I heard books similar could go up to about 120k, but even that was trying. So really, I just dunno

Action, crime, mystery, drama and whatever aren't exactly genres because most stories have some form of those elements in them. A genre is a marketing label where you put your book into to find readers who'll likely read similar content. Probably best to ask beta-readers and the forums when you've completed the book.

Here's some general advice:

Books with longer than suggested word counts aren't impossible to sell. Harry Potter and Twilight are very good examples. They are both at extreme lengths in their genres, but sold very, very well regardless of that. Why? Because regardless of their length, they made readers read. If you're able to do that with an agent, editor, and the readers on the other end, you're golden.

But, that's both a gamble and a risk. Having around the standard word count won't guarantee your book will sell, but will appear to be a better buy to publishers and an easier sell for agents.


Here's some suggestions:

- Finish writing the book. No matter what.
- Revise it. And please, don't aim for a word count. Instead, aim for the lowest you can go. Try finding character you can tear out of the book or mix together, sub-plots that you can cut out, wording and phrasing that you can boil down, scenes that you can cut or reduce for more impact.
- When you think you're done reducing it all, edit and proofread it like hell--all the while finding more to reduce.
- Then post the first chapter in the SYW section here in AW and say that you wish to cut the word count down. Critics will most likely show you where you can do it, and you can try finding similar areas in the rest of the story.
- Finally, seek beta-readers if everything is fine after that (like, several dozen). Tell them you'd like to reduce the book down. They'll lead you if they can.

After going through all of that, if everything goes well, IMHO, you'll have one of two outcomes: A book that meets genre standards. Or, far more confidence in the writing and the story regardless of word count.

Thewitt
11-18-2014, 08:43 AM
My feeling in this is 135k isn't long enough to buy any more. I'm sick and tired of buying cut down books that fit the cookie cutter mold that current publishers demand and I'm boycotting short books and letting my favorite authors know exactly how I feel.

Self publish

Stepping down off soapbox

mccardey
11-18-2014, 09:01 AM
My feeling in this is 135k isn't long enough to buy any more. I'm sick and tired of buying cut down books that fit the cookie cutter mold that current publishers demand and I'm boycotting short books and letting my favorite authors know exactly how I feel.

Self publish

Stepping down off soapbox

I really think you'll find it's all a bit more complicated than that.

Thewitt
11-18-2014, 09:04 AM
I really think you'll find it's all a bit more complicated than that.

It's an opinion isn't it.

I find myself really disliking short books, and the trend to less than 100K words has really turned me off.

Two of my favorite authors - people with dozens of books to their credit - have now changed to self-publishing and one just released 220k words (if the math at 250 per page works out).

I love it. I feel like I'm getting value for my money, and not something the author can sell for $2.99

You may have another opinion and I have no problem with that.

cornflake
11-18-2014, 09:14 AM
It's an opinion isn't it.

I find myself really disliking short books, and the trend to less than 100K words has really turned me off.

Two of my favorite authors - people with dozens of books to their credit - have now changed to self-publishing and one just released 220k words (if the math at 250 per page works out).

I love it. I feel like I'm getting value for my money, and not something the author can sell for $2.99

You may have another opinion and I have no problem with that.

It's a trend?

I don't need more words to make value - I need better-crafted story.

A longer movie isn't better because of length either. Some movies work long; a lot that are long probably should have been edited further. Same with books.

mccardey
11-18-2014, 09:16 AM
It's an opinion isn't it.

I find myself really disliking short books, and the trend to less than 100K words has really turned me off.

Two of my favorite authors - people with dozens of books to their credit - have now changed to self-publishing and one just released 220k words (if the math at 250 per page works out).

I love it. I feel like I'm getting value for my money, and not something the author can sell for $2.99

You may have another opinion and I have no problem with that.
Yes, but shorter doesn't necessarily mean
cut down books that fit the cookie cutter mold that current publishers demand

I'm all for self-publishing, by the way. I just don't think that trade-published short books are short because cookie-cutters.

Marian Perera
11-18-2014, 09:22 AM
Yes, but shorter doesn't necessarily mean

"cut down books that fit the cookie cutter mold that current publishers demand"

Thank you. Exactly.

If a story can be completely told in 50K worth of words, then it's poor writing to stretch this out to 250K. And that has nothing to do with publishers' guidelines.

Thewitt
11-18-2014, 09:23 AM
Yeah I know. I'm wrong and you will all tell me so, but as an avid reader I hate short books.

Tell me I'm wrong, but it's an opinion and last I knew, my opinions by definition are by definition mine and the way that I feel about a book.

You may love a well crafted story of 80k words that you can read in three hours and you can purchase for $2.99. I am not interested in a book that I can read in one session.

Yes the writing has to be good. The story has to hold my attention and I have to enjoy where it's going and ultimately where it ends.

I will say that one of the authors I have recently abandoned now publishes 4-5 times a year. Her books - professionally edited and published through a major Fantasy publisher - are complete junk now. The last one had 22 typos in it per my count. Double words, missing words, word processor corrections that made the wrong word out of a misspelled word - one paragraph that was duplicated and placed roughly half-way through the next chapter.

Junk.

Shorter? Yep. Meets the cookie cutter length requirement and she can sell for $3.99. Yep. The last book I will read by that author - and I've let her know via email. Yep.

Shorter does not equate to well crafted.

Tell the story in as many words as it takes you to tell the story, and give your readers the chance to tell you whether you did the right thing or not.

Marian Perera
11-18-2014, 09:27 AM
Yeah I know. I'm wrong and you will all tell me so, but as an avid reader I hate short books.

As an avid reader I hate badly written books. I've found that books can be badly written whether they're short or long.


Shorter does not equate to well crafted.Neither does longer.

Yep.

Thewitt
11-18-2014, 09:36 AM
Which is why I say the length "rule" is foolish, and to be rejected by a published just because your work doesn't fit the cookie cutter is absurd.

Tell a good story. Tell it well. Let your readers decide.

If you believe your story is damaged by shortening it to the point where it meets an arbitrary limit imposed by a publisher, and you cannot find another publisher to print your book, then self-publish and let the reader decide.

Marian Perera
11-18-2014, 09:42 AM
Which is why I say the length "rule" is foolish, and to be rejected by a published just because your work doesn't fit the cookie cutter is absurd.

What is this "cookie cutter" you keep going on about?

To imply that publishers should publish anything regardless of length is absurd.

Thewitt
11-18-2014, 09:48 AM
I'm sorry the term "cookie cutter" is foreign to you. When a publisher rejects a book because it's too long, without reading it, that means it falls outside of their predefined format. Their cookie cutter.

Reject for the content, not simply the length.

Helix
11-18-2014, 09:50 AM
Which is why I say the length "rule" is foolish, and to be rejected by a published just because your work doesn't fit the cookie cutter is absurd.

Tell a good story. Tell it well. Let your readers decide.

If you believe your story is damaged by shortening it to the point where it meets an arbitrary limit imposed by a publisher, and you cannot find another publisher to print your book, then self-publish and let the reader decide.


Why do you think the length is arbitrary? Could there not be good commercial reasons for preferring MSS of certain lengths?

Also publishers do a little bit more than just print books.

Toothpaste
11-18-2014, 09:52 AM
Wait, didn't you just say above that anything under 80K was a book you would reject? Right here: "You may love a well crafted story of 80k words that you can read in three hours and you can purchase for $2.99. I am not interested in a book that I can read in one session."

So basically you are rejecting books based solely on their length not their content (hell you even say the book is well crafted, so it's not even badly written and you're still rejecting it). What makes you so much more special than publishers/agents? Why are you allowed to, but no one else is? (quite frankly I still don't believe the premise, I know, at least in my markets book length has grown hugely, in MG it is now twice what it used to be)

Marian Perera
11-18-2014, 09:53 AM
I'm sorry the term "cookie cutter" is foreign to you.

Given that you seemed to have a very different version of J. K. Rowling's success story than the rest of us, I thought it best to check your definition of this term too.


When a publisher rejects a book because it's too long, without reading it, that means it falls outside of their predefined format. Their cookie cutter.If someone sends a 600K romance to Harlequin's category line, which prints mass market paperbacks that are 60K, why should the editors spend their time reading this 600K manuscript when they know it cannot be printed as a category romance?

To expect them to do so would be absurd.

Likewise, if someone sent a 6K romance, I expect that to be rejected too, without being read, because it would be commercially unfeasible to print and market what's essentially a short story. That's why publishers have guidelines.

cornflake
11-18-2014, 09:54 AM
I'm sorry the term "cookie cutter" is foreign to you. When a publisher rejects a book because it's too long, without reading it, that means it falls outside of their predefined format. Their cookie cutter.

Reject for the content, not simply the length.

First, as noted by the duck, the reasons for preferring certain lengths are not arbitrary.

I also daresay most of the reading public doesn't hanker for nothing but 800-pg novels.

Second, where do you get the idea publishers reject books on length alone without reading them? That kind of doesn't happen so often.

mccardey
11-18-2014, 09:58 AM
derail

First, as noted by the duck, the reasons for preferring certain lengths are not arbitrary.

Helix - did the cereal just call you a duck?

Oh, I don't see this ending well....

/end derail

Helix
11-18-2014, 10:02 AM
derail

Helix - did the cereal just call you a duck?

Oh, I don't see this ending well....

/end derail


I've been called worse!

*quack*

mccardey
11-18-2014, 10:13 AM
I've been called worse!



Braggart.

RandyPendleton
11-18-2014, 10:16 AM
My replies are typically long, so I'll shoot a long reply in awhile (I need to start writing). I'll address/answer everyone. But I'd like to say this, as it's being debated: According to what I was told, long manuscripts are rejected without being read for the simple reason of cost. Paper is cheap, but ink isn't. If you submit a large manuscript, publishers won't take a chance on it unless you are a bankable writer. That's the explanation I was given, anyway. With eBook's popularity, that might change a bit. But the physical book might never die

Osulagh
11-18-2014, 10:35 AM
According to what I was told, long manuscripts are rejected without being read for the simple reason of cost. Paper is cheap, but ink isn't. If you submit a large manuscript, publishers won't take a chance on it unless you are a bankable writer.

Not exactly correct.

It's not that longer books are harder to publish because paper and ink costs money, but that it's a gamble for a publisher to take on a larger book because they have to charge more and pay more into it. Take that you're a writer with limited publishing experience--meaning you have a limited track record and fans--that gamble increases.

Although, good stories that are written well have been gambled with by publishers--even debut authors. Yes, you need to be "bankable", but "bankable" means your writing is worth a damn to the readers. You're not a cash cow to publishers, you're a producer wishing to use their resources to profit from.

I know cases where debut authors have been given six-figure advances, their series published consecutively within months, and more. Publishers have to take riskes, some of them greater than others because they think something greater can turn out. Who knows if that'll be you or not, but you'll never know if you don't try.

I still suggest you follow my suggestions in my first post. Cutting it down as much as possible--as far as you are comfortable will--might improve your chances.

Thewitt, any publisher who has rejected a book based off of a reasonably high word count without reading the synopsis or the first chapter made a terrible choice, IMO. But I highly doubt that any case like that exists. I could see cases where books were three times as long as the market standard is. But no smart agent would represent a book that will not sell in the genre's market, nor submit to publishers without having the slightest hint that the publisher would take their submission seriously. Agents have networks of people who trust them--if they submit something to a trusted editor, that editor will take it seriously no matter what.

And, the market is the market. Regardless of how the book was published, the market will react the same as it always has. Publishers don't decide the market's word count standards; the market--in other words, the readers--has through trail and error. Publishers are only following the market's standards.

Quickbread
11-18-2014, 10:38 AM
Paper is cheap, but ink isn't.

The reverse is actually true. Aside from covers and binding, paper is usually the most expensive component of printing books. That's why length matters so much to publishers. They know their markets, and they know what readers in their various publishing categories are willing to pay for books. And they can't charge the same price for a 320-page book as they do an 800-page one because the latter uses so much more paper, in print anyway.

Old Hack
11-18-2014, 11:42 AM
Randy, I've tried to read your sample chapter but it won't work for me either. The link in your signature takes me to your blog, I think; there's another link to click there which takes me to an automated book (?), which seems to work but it's set at such a small size I can't read what's there. I have read the other link in your signature, and I strongly suggest that you rewrite your book's description there: it's doing you no favours, I'm afraid.

There are limits--upper AND lower--to the length that publishers like to consider. For really great books they'll bend those rules, though, so it's not a reason to not submit. However, in my direct experience most books which go way over the usual limit could do with a severe cut. Books are rarely over-long because they're so full of good stuff: it's almost always because they're slackly-written, and are in need of tightening.

When you get to fifty posts it might be worth posting a section in our Share Your Work room to see what our good people come up with. You'd be surprised how helpful that can be. I've read the beginning of your book on Amazon and it is very over-written, and could do with a lot of tightening up.

As has already been said, a story which only needs 50k words to tell it properly won't be well-served if it's written to 250k; and I don't measure books by the length of them, but by the quality of the writing. But there are good reasons why we publishers have the requirements that we have, and here are some of them.

A book which is 200k words long will take a lot longer to edit, copy edit, typeset, and proof than a book which is only half that length.

It will cost a lot more to produce, and paper is expensive.

It will cost a lot more to ship around the world; it will cost a lot to ship to bookshops; it will take up extra room on bookshop shelves, meaning that the bookshops will be able to stock fewer titles if they choose to stock longer books.

As has already been said, most readers don't buy books because they have a lot of words in them: they buy books because they have the right words in them. If you prefer longer books and word count is what's really important to you, read the phone book. What do you mean, you don't find that interesting? Heh.

Finally, let's try to stay on-topic, and to be thoughtful and perceptive in what we say here. Making snap judgements and over-simplifying things so that they fit in with our own preferences isn't helpful. Thanks.

CathleenT
11-18-2014, 11:58 AM
So for what it's worth, I'll chime in for the original poster.

My book, Hans and Greta, is currently at 136k, and that's an achievement.

It used to be at 186k. (Aargh.)

First, I took numerous passes and managed to get it down to 156k by myself.

It's taken seven beta readers to get it down to where it is now. I've edited six other manuscripts in return.

And that doesn't even count the time I spent in QLH working on queries (plural, because you should really help other people, too, while you're at it.)

And the time in SFF SYW getting my first chapter torn apart to the point that I started over. (I say this with deep affection and gratitude; it's better now.)

So I'm really hoping this last round with betas gets this silly thing below 130k, 'cause then I'm going to submit.

And the thing is, every time I take another pass, I'm a little dubious. It's been cut so many times, it seems like surely there can't be much left.

But tonight I went through beta critiques and found 600 more words in six chapters.

And even when I'm done, I might have to write a novel that's a more marketable length and get that one published before this one has a shot.

So to the original poster, what does it mean to you to try to get this book trade published? How much work are you willing to put into it? Are willing to write something else to make this happen?

These are questions only you can answer.

I will tell you this, though. Every time I've revised my book, it's gotten better. I love my story. It has totally been worth it to do this.

Toothpaste
11-18-2014, 07:08 PM
My own story is similar to Cathleen. In my market (MG) I wound up with a novel that was twice as long as the normal length (especially for the time). This means 97 000 when the book should have been closer to 40 000. I was asked by an agent to cut 10-15K.

Proportionally, that's a lot.

And I did it. I didn't think it was possible, I didn't know what I would cut, but I did it.

And I discovered several things. Cutting from a book doesn't mean cutting scenes or chapters from a book. When it came to me I only cut one chapter, everything else was just wordy stuff. I simply write long. There were extraneous words that could go and not change the story one bit. Well, I'm lying, it changed in one major way. It made it SO MUCH BETTER. So much. My book went from a fun story to an actual novel. It is hard to explain what I mean, I just know as a lifetime reader that the book I read before the edit and then after the edit were hugely different in terms of quality.

In the end I cut 10K for my agent, and it wound up being about 7K more with my editor. I LOVED the end result. And I truly did not think it was possible to cut that many words.

Also I want to point out, that still means my book was published at 80K which still makes it twice as long for its market. So not only does my story prove that cutting can make things so much better, my story also proves that publishers will publish longer books so long as they think every word counts. In fact something my editor said to me was, "You use a lot of words, and that's great, and I love it. But because you use more words than some, we just have to make sure every word counts."

So yeah. When people tell me they can't or don't want to cut down the first thing I think is of me and thinking the same thing. The second thing I think is how much I learned and how much better my book was for the cutting. And I'd hate to think you were missing out on a chance to make your book as awesome as possible because of, well, ego quite frankly. (not saying it isn't flawless as is, I can't say, I just know that there are patterns and almost all long writing authors *points to self* can definitely cut back)

tko
11-18-2014, 09:03 PM
Iíll tell you now: the book is full of stories, not fluff.

Maybe a novel should be one story? Just because it's not fluff, doesn't mean it shouldn't be cut. You can have great scenes, interesting subplots, dozens of characters, brilliant writing, but in my opinion, has to fit together tightly and drive towards a finish.

I did take a look at your sample book chapter. Yes, it could be tightened a LOT. Tightening is an art, and is not easy. A few well written phrases from a master can equal hundreds of words from a beginner.

At any rate, the problem is that 99% of unpublished writers have a problem with cutting and tightening, and agents see that all the time. Even if you're the exception, how do you show the agent?

But I do sympathize. I downloaded a dozen of my favorite, best selling novels and they averaged around 130K. But was I told I should keep my own works under 100K to even be considered. But so be it. To get started in this business, you have to play by their rules, and no one said they were fair.

Marian Perera
11-18-2014, 09:17 PM
There are some publishers who don't want sex in the novels they publish. I could say this was stupid, because sex sells. I could insist that their editors at least read sexually explicit stories and reject on the content, rather than on the fact that I've sent them erotica.

But the point is, the publishers' job isn't to publish every great manuscript that comes their way, regardless of length, regardless of sexual content, regardless of whatever. Their job is to please their readers. If their readers want clean romances, erotica will turn those readers off.

Likewise, if a particular publisher's readers are used to category romances they can finish over their lunch breaks, a 300K story won't sell. If the readers are used to paying four dollars per story, something significantly more expensive (because the story is three times as long) won't sell either.

MttStrn
11-19-2014, 01:32 AM
I will say that one of the authors I have recently abandoned now publishes 4-5 times a year. Her books - professionally edited and published through a major Fantasy publisher - are complete junk now. The last one had 22 typos in it per my count. Double words, missing words, word processor corrections that made the wrong word out of a misspelled word - one paragraph that was duplicated and placed roughly half-way through the next chapter.


I'm gonna derail here for a mo. I'd really like to know the author and book you are referring to here. I know that mistakes happen all the time in publishing but I'm just not sure I'm going to buy your example without the actual book.

RandyPendleton
11-19-2014, 10:03 AM
I’ve yet to do my day’s writing. This, however, should be typed out first. I’ve read the thread completely and wanted to reply last night. But now that I’m more awake and better prepared to type out a reply, I’ll do it now.

I signed up to this forum in the hope of learning more, to hone my craft the best I can by interacting with other writers. It’s fair to say I’ve learned so much in this thread. It makes the whole thing well worth my time registering. That said, I’ll address everything possible.

It seems that some people could read the link I had originally in my sig while others couldn’t. I’ve replaced the link to point at a .pdf file I have of chapter 2. Should anyone not be capable of accessing this, please let me know.


As for a book that's 135K and isn't epic fantasy or epic historical... you could try crafting the best query letter possible, tight and stripped down to show the word count is justified. Even then, it's a risk.

Or, if you've got your heart set on trade publishing, is it possible to write a leaner, meaner book - maybe set in the same world, same characters - and pitch that first? It could be the prequel, and then when that sells, the 135K word epic would have a foot in the door.

There are so many debates in this world that I couldn’t possibly list them all. Some are important issues (i.e. pro-life vs abortion) while others are silly (does this world really need a Yankees/Red Sox rivalry?). But the one that hits home to most writers is the struggle with self-publishing vs trade. There are pros and cons to both. From all I’ve researched, the stigma of self publishing no longer carries such a weight a la “This book sucked and could only be printed on demand.” Maybe this is the case these days/maybe not. (Remember my ink price vs paper price post. In fact, try saying that 3 times, really fast) Some people simply wanna get published quicker, necessitating the self-publishing route. Others see more pride into trade publishing. It’s all a game of preference.

With me, it is pride--to an extent. As my little autobiographical story/ (http://randypendleton.com/autobio/) discusses, I’ve gone through hell and back so many times, I have the route memorized, down to the countless Hitler and Michael Bolton billboards on the sides. I’ve lost my health, my sociality, my hopes of ever living a normal life… not to mention the loss of body parts and my hearing. I’m not an arrogant person, no. But writing is my life. I have no wife, no kids etc. I spend most of the day, everyday, in my room, typing out things on my laptop. For all of my sacrifices, I honestly feel getting my work sold via trade would be verification of my abilities, a vindication for the mess my life is--well, let me truncate this with simply: If I could write one book that will live on past my own life, nothing else would really matter to me (in a career sense). The short lifespan of a POD book isn’t feasible to me, not when I eat/sleep/love/breathe/live my work. It’s all I have.

You prequel idea is a good one. The bad thing is that neither my current book nor my first has any potential for one. My current book is wrapped around a certain event, and there is no plausible way I could shadow back on the characters in a way that wouldn’t seem like a “Dumb and Dumberer” money-grab. It wouldn’t do well. With the former book, it’s a coming-of-age thing. The main characters are already pretty young, and a prequel would be more or less chapter 1 of this story stretched out to book-length. Read the rest of this post: it has more insights for you.


You have nothing to lose my querying agents, but I would say you might need to query a lot more than six. Heck, I get six rejections before breakfast. Query a hundred if you have to or even more. It's not like you have written the longest book ever written. It is not impossible for you to find a trade publisher. More difficult maybe but not impossible.

That said, while you are editing really look for anything you can cut. This can be hard, but it might be necessary to reach your goal. Make sure you have an awesome query. That is going to be very important as it is with selling any book. But if you can make your query make your book sound irresistible, someone will take the bait. Don't be too quick to give up. Good luck!

Other than writing, I am a professional internet real estate (domain name) investor. My experience with it helps with the writing life. One good example: Some investors query 2, 3 potential buyers at a time--but why? When the majority of ppl will say no, there really wouldn’t be sense in contacting only one or so at a time. SPAMMING is bad and should never be done. But if you have 20 potential buyers, contact them all (or at least Ĺ of them) on the same day. Expedite the process, ya know? I only touched the waters last time I sought an agent. I’ll try harder this time. And yeah, that means contacting more than 6 agents.

An irresistible query letter is a must. Again, just going by what I was told, but I’ve read agents are pretty much hotwired/programmed to say ‘no’ before they even open your envelope. Your job is to convince them to reconsider. All of this is on a different subject but when the time comes, I’ll post about query letters. But you’re right: the letter has to make the agent want more.


Let me clarify a few things:

Success in genres likely formulate a word count. Publishers see this. Agents know of it. It's not like agents will frown upon a word count outside of the standard fair, but it makes for a hard sell on sight. They don't want word counts that go outside of the standard because publishers don't.




This is the reason I made this thread. Some genres are historically short while others are typically large. Upon replying to everyone, I will add a conclusion, the things I’ve learned and decided. You might wanna check that out.



Explain to me what "full of stories" means.
By this, I was just trying to assure people my work isn’t totally fluff. There is a little (is it needed? Should I remove it? I’ll have to look). I think back to Potter 5. It’s like, 890 pages, and over 400 could easily have been removed. I can’t speak for my new book--I’ve got to properly edit it--but my first could work better with at least 5-10 pages cut. It’s not 200 pages of story and 130 of fluff. That’s all I meant.



I can't tell you how many times I've heard this and those people have been proven that their books can be cut down. Yes, we all feel strongly for our books the way they are. Like we do for our own children. But many times parents are wrong and writers don't see the flaws that are holding them back.

This is the painful truth. Again, in domain investing: a person might have 10 .com’s that are ugly/could never sell yet are held because the owner has a personal affinity with them. Sure, it’s okay to be attached to 1 or 2, but holding 10 pointless/worthless .com’s eventually will take a large bite out of you, as yearly renewal fees are $10-15 PER DOMAIN. If something is bad or merely an anchor, it’s best to sever ties with it.



It seems like you're very defensive in the paragraph which tells me you're more unwilling to change your book than you are willing to see where it could be changed. Whatever, I'll just say: I read a few pages into the second chapter listed in your signature and the first page can be boiled down to a single paragraph is you got to the point of the conversation from the get-go and didn't let it dawdle. That is just an example.

There is a long story to it, but I’ll be brief. It goes by what we’ve said above about holding onto unneeded things just because you have an affinity with it. Personally, I like it. I truly do. But it seriously needs to go. In a 6*9 book format, the passage is about 7 pages. Here is a structure I tend to use on page counts:

(These are using MS Word defaults)
Chapters 1-2 should be around 10 pages, no more than 18
Chapters 3-about halfway through could be around 22-26 pages each
The rest, up to the last/2nd to last should be 24-30
Last 2, as they have the climax and resolution, could top out at 35

Using this, I can see the chapters I have that I feel are on par with norms and those that are WAY too verbose. I found 2 chapters of this current book that are 39 & 40 pages, while the rest are at or close to my specifications. Chapter 2 of the 1st book--the one in my sig--goes way beyond what I allot such early chapters. I simply liked it and felt it was needed for the story. I still think it would be good, but it’s not needed. And of course, readers won’t wanna go through 50 pages just to get to the crux. Just like an ugly domain I feel for, I’m gonna have to let this passage go. It’ll free up almost 2,000 words and will get the reader to the crux a lot quicker.



Action, crime, mystery, drama and whatever aren't exactly genres because most stories have some form of those elements in them. A genre is a marketing label where you put your book into to find readers who'll likely read similar content. Probably best to ask beta-readers and the forums when you've completed the book.


I know this. My post was a “melting pot of elements” of the story. I’ve never really stated what the genre is for my new book.



I like your suggestions and will keep them in mind. Thanks


My feeling in this is 135k isn't long enough to buy any more. I'm sick and tired of buying cut down books that fit the cookie cutter mold that current publishers demand and I'm boycotting short books and letting my favorite authors know exactly how I feel.

Self publish

Stepping down off soapbox

There are a few posts in reply to this. My own reply? I don’t want to see a lame 90 minute movie when I can instead see a 2 1/4 hour epic. I want something that’ll take me somewhere, and I don’t feel like 90 minutes will do the job. The issue, of course, is: how can we be sure this 2-hour blockbuster is worth our time? And: How could we readily say the 90-minute flick was a waste? Critics don’t count--they are usually wrong or biased. If only we have the Comics Code Authority to tell us a book is a quality read. Even then: quality to whose standards?


If a story can be completely told in 50K worth of words, then it's poor writing to stretch this out to 250K.

I believe this is true to an extent. If the reader loves what he is reading, then stretching 50k to, say, 75k or even 100k doesn’t seem truly bad. But the additional text would need to be something worth reading, not a 7 page description of a lake or car. If you could stretch 50k into 250k words worth reading, you’d have to be extremely talented. But that’s not a challenge anyone should ever take.


Not exactly correct.

It's not that longer books are harder to publish because paper and ink costs money, but that it's a gamble for a publisher to take on a larger book because they have to charge more and pay more into it. Take that you're a writer with limited publishing experience--meaning you have a limited track record and fans--that gamble increases.


Hmmm That’s basically what I said. Otherwise you misunderstood me, or I didn’t phrase myself right. It might have been the latter.



I still suggest you follow my suggestions in my first post. Cutting it down as much as possible--as far as you are comfortable will--might improve your chances.


You are wise. Before I started this thread, I thought of my first book as being complete. “It’s what I’m comfortable with,” I told myself. But now that it’s been awhile, I think I’m more comfortable weeding it a bit more


Randy, I've tried to read your sample chapter but it won't work for me either. The link in your signature takes me to your blog, I think; there's another link to click there which takes me to an automated book (?), which seems to work but it's set at such a small size I can't read what's there. I have read the other link in your signature, and I strongly suggest that you rewrite your book's description there: it's doing you no favours, I'm afraid.

The link in my sig now takes you to the .pdf of the chapter. Even I can’t read this flip-book all that well. The print’s too small.

I do wonder about the description. It’s no light and cheery, no. The reason is to alert potential readers of the nature of the story. There is no knight-in-shining-armor in it, and it has its unpleasantness. I know of the whole my mom-thinks-it’s-great syndrome: you can’t take the words of family/friends as gospel. That said, I’ve had perfect strangers read the book & they loved it. Now, that’s not to say my book truly is good. The point of what I typed is that people read the description, knew what they were getting into, and still chose to read it. “False advertising” is a terrible thing to do: ppl want to know what they’re getting into. If I tried to make my story sound hopeful or optimistic, I’ll only earn frowns and pissed-off readers. (Did you know that back in the late 60s, Black Sabbath was hired to do peace/hippie music by a club who heard the band’s then-name [Earth] & saw a hippie flier with balloon letters? The manager actually paid them to NOT perform their heavy music) My 2nd book might appeal to a lot of ppl, but my 1st likely has a smaller audience. I’m all in for rewriting things as needed. Is there something other than tone that you feel should be reworded?




When you get to fifty posts it might be worth posting a section in our Share Your Work room to see what our good people come up with. You'd be surprised how helpful that can be. I've read the beginning of your book on Amazon and it is very over-written, and could do with a lot of tightening up.



I shall. This one thread alone had been immensely helpful. About the over-written thing: I’ll address that in a moment



If you prefer longer books and word count is what's really important to you, read the phone book. What do you mean, you don't find that interesting? Heh.

Nice to see ppl here have a sense of humor :)


Cathleen has an interesting story. But to save space in this, I’ll just quote a few parts




So to the original poster, what does it mean to you to try to get this book trade published? How much work are you willing to put into it? Are willing to write something else to make this happen?

These are questions only you can answer.

I will tell you this, though. Every time I've revised my book, it's gotten better. I love my story. It has totally been worth it to do this.

Am I willing? Let me say this: the book I’m working on now was written around 2006. It was my first novel. I got looking through it a few years ago and ugh… Amateurism was there. In 2006, it was basically: I wrote a great book, one everyone would love. I need no help, and this thing is like, GOLDEN! Flash-forward several years and a 2nd book later, and I realized: I was dead wrong. The book sucked. I’ll be hard on myself: it really, really sucked. It was like the Gigli of novels. I needed help, but I refused to ask. I thought I understood how to build a story and, well… it’s best to say: good idea, terrible execution. I’ve spent the last few years rewriting it. Not revising--rewriting. Once this draft is done, I estimate about 70% of the book will be rewritten and less than 10% of the original book will remain.

That, I hope, shows my dedication. And I learned one of the greatest truths of writing: arrogance never pays off. In fact, it hurts. To answer your other question: I’ve addressed it at the front :)

I’m gonna skip a few sine their questions will be answered in my little summary.


There are some publishers who don't want sex in the novels they publish. I could say this was stupid, because sex sells. I could insist that their editors at least read sexually explicit stories and reject on the content, rather than on the fact that I've sent them erotica.

But the point is, the publishers' job isn't to publish every great manuscript that comes their way, regardless of length, regardless of sexual content, regardless of whatever. Their job is to please their readers. If their readers want clean romances, erotica will turn those readers off.

Likewise, if a particular publisher's readers are used to category romances they can finish over their lunch breaks, a 300K story won't sell. If the readers are used to paying four dollars per story, something significantly more expensive (because the story is three times as long) won't sell either.

Just to note: the book I have out now has no sex. I don’t care for writing of it. Sex is known to have happened a time or 2, but it’s always “tell, not show.” There are no narrations or whatnot about the act being done. My current book has 1 (it’s needed for the plot to work) but it’s not graphic. I wouldn’t do that.

-----------

I have an overload of information. Thanks to each and every one of you. Now I see a few truths, and these need to be rectified. My original plan was to finish this 2nd book by the 22nd or so, revise it through the rest of the year, and work on another draft while writing my 3rd book (a memoir). But I see now that I’m not really as done as I thought I was. “When You Leave This Way” requires at least one more draft. I’ll finish this 2nd book as planned, but then I’ll need to look back into “Leave.” The first passage of chapter 2 WILL BE ERASED. It’s just holding things down. I do wonder, though, how much tightening would be needed. Test readers (the few I’ve had) plus a few strangers said they loved it as-is. But I can’t go by that. Even if I did, the only ones that hold weight are the strangers (they have the ability of indifference). Two strangers just won’t cut it.

I want to post this real quick, to solidify many comments here in this thread: Kevin Smith handed the script for Clerks 2 to a few producers. They said, “Eh, this is uh… sorry, but you really should revise it.” Smith did, cutting a few pages worth out. He resubmitted it and: “Wow, this is a friggin’ awesome script!” Smith later said (I’m paraphrasing), “I didn’t have the heart to tell them, ‘It’s the same f***ing script, just a few pages smaller!’ But sometimes, that’s all ya really gotta do.’”

For my current book, I need to focus on finishing it. That’s #1. After that’s done, I’ll need to remove EVEYTHING I’m comfortable with, which should easily knock it from 170k words to 120k or less. If it’s still pretty big, I’ll just have to take my chances. I’ve got a few other things I’d like to ask about it; I’ll save those for another thread, later on.

For book #1: I’m thinking of just going out & trying to get that elusive trade deal. I suppose I won’t know until I try. I should make a thread for this but for now, I’ll just post it here: You are all strangers to me, thus you have the gift of indifference I need. I’m in need of a few testers for my entire manuscript/1st book. I can’t post anything public (I’m still under 50 posts), so nothing can go into the SYW area just yet. I need up to 10, and I will personally purchase the eBooks to those who are willing to read it. You needn’t love it. The book might not be your cup o’ tea. But I need an idea of what readers think is too long/wordy. That chapter 2 passage is, I know. But what else? I need to know these things in order to tighten. It’d also give me ideas for editing this 2nd book. Visit the url in my sig if you want to know what the book is about. Post below or shoot me a PM if you’re interested.

All of this said: once again, thanks to you all. For the first time in a loooooooooong time, I feel like I’m on the right track.

Old Hack
11-19-2014, 11:50 AM
It seems that some people could read the link I had originally in my sig while others couldnít. Iíve replaced the link to point at a .pdf file I have of chapter 2. Should anyone not be capable of accessing this, please let me know.

I'm not going to download a PDF from someone I don't know. (With all due respect.) You should put a warning in your sig that clicking that link will trigger a download.


But the one that hits home to most writers is the struggle with self-publishing vs trade. There are pros and cons to both. From all Iíve researched, the stigma of self publishing no longer carries such a weight a la ďThis book sucked and could only be printed on demand.Ē

There's much more to self publishing than POD. And some trade publishers use POD too, so. Yep. I wonder what understanding you have of the different routes.


If I could write one book that will live on past my own life, nothing else would really matter to me (in a career sense). The short lifespan of a POD book isnít feasible to me, not when I eat/sleep/love/breathe/live my work. Itís all I have.

Trade publishers put books out of print every day. If you want to ensure your book is available forever, you're probably better off self publishing it. And again, "POD" is not the same as "self publishing".


Again, just going by what I was told, but Iíve read agents are pretty much hotwired/programmed to say Ďnoí before they even open your envelope.

No, they're really not. Agents and editors want to find good queries. It's like treasure for us.


By this, I was just trying to assure people my work isnít totally fluff. There is a little (is it needed? Should I remove it? Iíll have to look).

I've read the first couple of pages of your book on Amazon and there's a lot of fluff. A huge amount. It could be cut back by half and would be better for it, I bet.


I think back to Potter 5. Itís like, 890 pages, and over 400 could easily have been removed.

Unless you're JKR you're not going to get away with this.


(These are using MS Word defaults)
Chapters 1-2 should be around 10 pages, no more than 18
Chapters 3-about halfway through could be around 22-26 pages each
The rest, up to the last/2nd to last should be 24-30
Last 2, as they have the climax and resolution, could top out at 35


Nope.

Chapters should be as long as they need to, and not a single word more.

Don't use formulas like this: it won't help you.


Critics donít count--they are usually wrong or biased. If only we have the Comics Code Authority to tell us a book is a quality read. Even then: quality to whose standards?

There are several reviewers whose work is insightful and spot-on. Please don't dismiss all critics just because you've read a few reviews you don't like.


I believe this is true to an extent. If the reader loves what he is reading, then stretching 50k to, say, 75k or even 100k doesnít seem truly bad. But the additional text would need to be something worth reading, not a 7 page description of a lake or car. If you could stretch 50k into 250k words worth reading, youíd have to be extremely talented. But thatís not a challenge anyone should ever take.

Stretching a book past its optimum length is rarely a good idea. I'm surprised you suggest it can be.


I do wonder about the description. Itís no light and cheery, no. The reason is to alert potential readers of the nature of the story.

The book description on your website doesn't alert me to the nature of your story: it just uses a lot of long words and alludes to grand themes, without telling me anything significant about your plot or characters. It doesn't actually make sense. And if it's indicative of the quality of prose in your book, it actively puts me off reading it, I'm afraid.


Just to note: the book I have out now has no sex. I donít care for writing of it.

I think you missed the point there.


For book #1: Iím thinking of just going out & trying to get that elusive trade deal.

My advice would be to spend some time improving your craft first.

RandyPendleton
11-19-2014, 12:06 PM
It's very late here, so I'll give a full reply to you after I get some rest. For now: I wasn't thinking of that issue, the prospect of ppl not wanting to download things. I'll look into this once I get up. If nothing else, I might just put the full text on the page. Thanks for the heads-up!


I'm not going to download a PDF from someone I don't know. (With all due respect.) You should put a warning in your sig that clicking that link will trigger a download.

cornflake
11-19-2014, 12:20 PM
Iíve yet to do my dayís writing. This, however, should be typed out first. Iíve read the thread completely and wanted to reply last night. But now that Iím more awake and better prepared to type out a reply, Iíll do it now.

I signed up to this forum in the hope of learning more, to hone my craft the best I can by interacting with other writers. Itís fair to say Iíve learned so much in this thread. It makes the whole thing well worth my time registering. That said, Iíll address everything possible.

It seems that some people could read the link I had originally in my sig while others couldnít. Iíve replaced the link to point at a .pdf file I have of chapter 2. Should anyone not be capable of accessing this, please let me know.



There are so many debates in this world that I couldnít possibly list them all. Some are important issues (i.e. pro-life vs abortion) while others are silly (does this world really need a Yankees/Red Sox rivalry?). But the one that hits home to most writers is the struggle with self-publishing vs trade. There are pros and cons to both. From all Iíve researched, the stigma of self publishing no longer carries such a weight a la ďThis book sucked and could only be printed on demand.Ē Maybe this is the case these days/maybe not. (Remember my ink price vs paper price post. In fact, try saying that 3 times, really fast) Some people simply wanna get published quicker, necessitating the self-publishing route. Others see more pride into trade publishing. Itís all a game of preference.

With me, it is pride--to an extent. As my little autobiographical story/ (http://randypendleton.com/autobio/) discusses, Iíve gone through hell and back so many times, I have the route memorized, down to the countless Hitler and Michael Bolton billboards on the sides. Iíve lost my health, my sociality, my hopes of ever living a normal lifeÖ not to mention the loss of body parts and my hearing. Iím not an arrogant person, no. But writing is my life. I have no wife, no kids etc. I spend most of the day, everyday, in my room, typing out things on my laptop. For all of my sacrifices, I honestly feel getting my work sold via trade would be verification of my abilities, a vindication for the mess my life is--well, let me truncate this with simply: If I could write one book that will live on past my own life, nothing else would really matter to me (in a career sense). The short lifespan of a POD book isnít feasible to me, not when I eat/sleep/love/breathe/live my work. Itís all I have.

You prequel idea is a good one. The bad thing is that neither my current book nor my first has any potential for one. My current book is wrapped around a certain event, and there is no plausible way I could shadow back on the characters in a way that wouldnít seem like a ďDumb and DumbererĒ money-grab. It wouldnít do well. With the former book, itís a coming-of-age thing. The main characters are already pretty young, and a prequel would be more or less chapter 1 of this story stretched out to book-length. Read the rest of this post: it has more insights for you.



Other than writing, I am a professional internet real estate (domain name) investor. My experience with it helps with the writing life. One good example: Some investors query 2, 3 potential buyers at a time--but why? When the majority of ppl will say no, there really wouldnít be sense in contacting only one or so at a time. SPAMMING is bad and should never be done. But if you have 20 potential buyers, contact them all (or at least Ĺ of them) on the same day. Expedite the process, ya know? I only touched the waters last time I sought an agent. Iíll try harder this time. And yeah, that means contacting more than 6 agents.

An irresistible query letter is a must. Again, just going by what I was told, but Iíve read agents are pretty much hotwired/programmed to say Ďnoí before they even open your envelope. Your job is to convince them to reconsider. All of this is on a different subject but when the time comes, Iíll post about query letters. But youíre right: the letter has to make the agent want more.




This is the reason I made this thread. Some genres are historically short while others are typically large. Upon replying to everyone, I will add a conclusion, the things Iíve learned and decided. You might wanna check that out.


By this, I was just trying to assure people my work isnít totally fluff. There is a little (is it needed? Should I remove it? Iíll have to look). I think back to Potter 5. Itís like, 890 pages, and over 400 could easily have been removed. I canít speak for my new book--Iíve got to properly edit it--but my first could work better with at least 5-10 pages cut. Itís not 200 pages of story and 130 of fluff. Thatís all I meant.


This is the painful truth. Again, in domain investing: a person might have 10 .comís that are ugly/could never sell yet are held because the owner has a personal affinity with them. Sure, itís okay to be attached to 1 or 2, but holding 10 pointless/worthless .comís eventually will take a large bite out of you, as yearly renewal fees are $10-15 PER DOMAIN. If something is bad or merely an anchor, itís best to sever ties with it.


There is a long story to it, but Iíll be brief. It goes by what weíve said above about holding onto unneeded things just because you have an affinity with it. Personally, I like it. I truly do. But it seriously needs to go. In a 6*9 book format, the passage is about 7 pages. Here is a structure I tend to use on page counts:

(These are using MS Word defaults)
Chapters 1-2 should be around 10 pages, no more than 18
Chapters 3-about halfway through could be around 22-26 pages each
The rest, up to the last/2nd to last should be 24-30
Last 2, as they have the climax and resolution, could top out at 35

Using this, I can see the chapters I have that I feel are on par with norms and those that are WAY too verbose. I found 2 chapters of this current book that are 39 & 40 pages, while the rest are at or close to my specifications. Chapter 2 of the 1st book--the one in my sig--goes way beyond what I allot such early chapters. I simply liked it and felt it was needed for the story. I still think it would be good, but itís not needed. And of course, readers wonít wanna go through 50 pages just to get to the crux. Just like an ugly domain I feel for, Iím gonna have to let this passage go. Itíll free up almost 2,000 words and will get the reader to the crux a lot quicker.



I know this. My post was a ďmelting pot of elementsĒ of the story. Iíve never really stated what the genre is for my new book.



I like your suggestions and will keep them in mind. Thanks



There are a few posts in reply to this. My own reply? I donít want to see a lame 90 minute movie when I can instead see a 2 1/4 hour epic. I want something thatíll take me somewhere, and I donít feel like 90 minutes will do the job. The issue, of course, is: how can we be sure this 2-hour blockbuster is worth our time? And: How could we readily say the 90-minute flick was a waste? Critics donít count--they are usually wrong or biased. If only we have the Comics Code Authority to tell us a book is a quality read. Even then: quality to whose standards?



I believe this is true to an extent. If the reader loves what he is reading, then stretching 50k to, say, 75k or even 100k doesnít seem truly bad. But the additional text would need to be something worth reading, not a 7 page description of a lake or car. If you could stretch 50k into 250k words worth reading, youíd have to be extremely talented. But thatís not a challenge anyone should ever take.



Hmmm Thatís basically what I said. Otherwise you misunderstood me, or I didnít phrase myself right. It might have been the latter.



You are wise. Before I started this thread, I thought of my first book as being complete. ďItís what Iím comfortable with,Ē I told myself. But now that itís been awhile, I think Iím more comfortable weeding it a bit more


The link in my sig now takes you to the .pdf of the chapter. Even I canít read this flip-book all that well. The printís too small.

I do wonder about the description. Itís no light and cheery, no. The reason is to alert potential readers of the nature of the story. There is no knight-in-shining-armor in it, and it has its unpleasantness. I know of the whole my mom-thinks-itís-great syndrome: you canít take the words of family/friends as gospel. That said, Iíve had perfect strangers read the book & they loved it. Now, thatís not to say my book truly is good. The point of what I typed is that people read the description, knew what they were getting into, and still chose to read it. ďFalse advertisingĒ is a terrible thing to do: ppl want to know what theyíre getting into. If I tried to make my story sound hopeful or optimistic, Iíll only earn frowns and pissed-off readers. (Did you know that back in the late 60s, Black Sabbath was hired to do peace/hippie music by a club who heard the bandís then-name [Earth] & saw a hippie flier with balloon letters? The manager actually paid them to NOT perform their heavy music) My 2nd book might appeal to a lot of ppl, but my 1st likely has a smaller audience. Iím all in for rewriting things as needed. Is there something other than tone that you feel should be reworded?


I shall. This one thread alone had been immensely helpful. About the over-written thing: Iíll address that in a moment


Nice to see ppl here have a sense of humor :)


Cathleen has an interesting story. But to save space in this, Iíll just quote a few parts




Am I willing? Let me say this: the book Iím working on now was written around 2006. It was my first novel. I got looking through it a few years ago and ughÖ Amateurism was there. In 2006, it was basically: I wrote a great book, one everyone would love. I need no help, and this thing is like, GOLDEN! Flash-forward several years and a 2nd book later, and I realized: I was dead wrong. The book sucked. Iíll be hard on myself: it really, really sucked. It was like the Gigli of novels. I needed help, but I refused to ask. I thought I understood how to build a story and, wellÖ itís best to say: good idea, terrible execution. Iíve spent the last few years rewriting it. Not revising--rewriting. Once this draft is done, I estimate about 70% of the book will be rewritten and less than 10% of the original book will remain.

That, I hope, shows my dedication. And I learned one of the greatest truths of writing: arrogance never pays off. In fact, it hurts. To answer your other question: Iíve addressed it at the front :)

Iím gonna skip a few sine their questions will be answered in my little summary.



Just to note: the book I have out now has no sex. I donít care for writing of it. Sex is known to have happened a time or 2, but itís always ďtell, not show.Ē There are no narrations or whatnot about the act being done. My current book has 1 (itís needed for the plot to work) but itís not graphic. I wouldnít do that.

-----------

I have an overload of information. Thanks to each and every one of you. Now I see a few truths, and these need to be rectified. My original plan was to finish this 2nd book by the 22nd or so, revise it through the rest of the year, and work on another draft while writing my 3rd book (a memoir). But I see now that Iím not really as done as I thought I was. ďWhen You Leave This WayĒ requires at least one more draft. Iíll finish this 2nd book as planned, but then Iíll need to look back into ďLeave.Ē The first passage of chapter 2 WILL BE ERASED. Itís just holding things down. I do wonder, though, how much tightening would be needed. Test readers (the few Iíve had) plus a few strangers said they loved it as-is. But I canít go by that. Even if I did, the only ones that hold weight are the strangers (they have the ability of indifference). Two strangers just wonít cut it.

I want to post this real quick, to solidify many comments here in this thread: Kevin Smith handed the script for Clerks 2 to a few producers. They said, ďEh, this is uhÖ sorry, but you really should revise it.Ē Smith did, cutting a few pages worth out. He resubmitted it and: ďWow, this is a frigginí awesome script!Ē Smith later said (Iím paraphrasing), ďI didnít have the heart to tell them, ĎItís the same f***ing script, just a few pages smaller!í But sometimes, thatís all ya really gotta do.íĒ

For my current book, I need to focus on finishing it. Thatís #1. After thatís done, Iíll need to remove EVEYTHING Iím comfortable with, which should easily knock it from 170k words to 120k or less. If itís still pretty big, Iíll just have to take my chances. Iíve got a few other things Iíd like to ask about it; Iíll save those for another thread, later on.

For book #1: Iím thinking of just going out & trying to get that elusive trade deal. I suppose I wonít know until I try. I should make a thread for this but for now, Iíll just post it here: You are all strangers to me, thus you have the gift of indifference I need. Iím in need of a few testers for my entire manuscript/1st book. I canít post anything public (Iím still under 50 posts), so nothing can go into the SYW area just yet. I need up to 10, and I will personally purchase the eBooks to those who are willing to read it. You neednít love it. The book might not be your cup oí tea. But I need an idea of what readers think is too long/wordy. That chapter 2 passage is, I know. But what else? I need to know these things in order to tighten. Itíd also give me ideas for editing this 2nd book. Visit the url in my sig if you want to know what the book is about. Post below or shoot me a PM if youíre interested.

All of this said: once again, thanks to you all. For the first time in a loooooooooong time, I feel like Iím on the right track.

I didn't click the links, but I went to Amazon to see if I could find the first book. Assuming you're you - everything is too long and wordy.

I'd wager it could easily be cut in half, just by stripping adjectives. There's way, way too much description, of everything. Sometimes writers think describing stuff in depth will make things clear and engaging, but generally, it does the opposite. It pulls the reader away from what's actually happening in the actual story.

Also, the blurb is really confusing; I read it twice and I've still got no idea what the book is about, or even what genre it is.

If you're interested in improving your writing and learning about all types of publishing, this is an excellent place. There are experts of all kinds, and plenty of readers and writers in the community who are more than willing to help.

Osulagh
11-19-2014, 01:38 PM
An irresistible query letter is a must. Again, just going by what I was told, but Iíve read agents are pretty much hotwired/programmed to say Ďnoí before they even open your envelope.

The only reason why agents read query letters is that they want clients. They want business. They are not defaulted to "no" but out of thousands upon thousands of queries they get, they can only choose a few and can only say "yes" when they truly mean it. Think of it as getting a hundred love letters delivered, and only being able to say "yes" to one. You'd probably love them all and are hopeful to do so, but can only choose the one you love most.



By this, I was just trying to assure people my work isnít totally fluff. There is a little (is it needed? Should I remove it? Iíll have to look).

I asked, more focused on "stories" because you spoke of multiple stories. If the books you're trying to sell has stories instead of a story, that can be complicated.


I think back to Potter 5. Itís like, 890 pages, and over 400 could easily have been removed.

See, you say this, but perhaps Rowling thought she couldn't cut a single word. Perhaps she thought it was absolutely perfect the way it was, perhaps even cut down farther than she's comfortable with. But you're saying this--you've said it twice now--so what if someone said the same of your book? This is the view of an outside observer. You feel like the book could be 'this' way, but the author has designated against you--perhaps with better judgement or not.


(These are using MS Word defaults)
Chapters 1-2 should be around 10 pages, no more than 18
Chapters 3-about halfway through could be around 22-26 pages each
The rest, up to the last/2nd to last should be 24-30
Last 2, as they have the climax and resolution, could top out at 35

Using this, I can see the chapters I have that I feel are on par with norms and those that are WAY too verbose. I found 2 chapters of this current book that are 39 & 40 pages, while the rest are at or close to my specifications. Chapter 2 of the 1st book--the one in my sig--goes way beyond what I allot such early chapters. I simply liked it and felt it was needed for the story. I still think it would be good, but itís not needed. And of course, readers wonít wanna go through 50 pages just to get to the crux. Just like an ugly domain I feel for, Iím gonna have to let this passage go. Itíll free up almost 2,000 words and will get the reader to the crux a lot quicker.

Please don't force yourself to tedious, needless word count standards in chapters. Seriously, write the chapters how you wish, with how many words. Don't focus on page counts. Focus on breaking chapters up accordingly to the contents of the chapters and the final word count of the entire book.


Critics donít count--they are usually wrong or biased. If only we have the Comics Code Authority to tell us a book is a quality read. Even then: quality to whose standards?

Book reviewers and book critics are two different things. Critics, by definition, should be unbiased. If people are trying to help readers make a smart buying decision, they are reviewers. If they are analyzing a piece of work for the better of the community, the are critics. I'll agree that most reviewers are simply bad, sell-outs, or otherwise tying to make advances through some means by misleading others--knowingly or unknowingly--but that's why you weed out the good reviewers from the bad.

Although, IMHO, book reviews are only good for knowing if the book is worth a read. Everything else you should be able to tell from the sample pages you get. For example, with video games today, knowing how a game plays an be hard to figure out since there's no such thing as demos any more. Reviewers are very important here. For books, not so much.


Hmmm Thatís basically what I said. Otherwise you misunderstood me, or I didnít phrase myself right. It might have been the latter.

I'm talking the overall cost, not just the cost of paper and ink. The physical copies aren't that expensive when you look at the entire price of a book. Many layers of editing, advertising, working with distributors, setting prices.

With books larger than the market norms, there's a lot of pressure put on. For example, if your book is twice as long as the norm (which can happen with SFF) you'll have to pay the editors twice as much, ship less books per truck, earn less profit because the margin is smaller to encourage a lower price, it's harder for a retailer to sell, and you'll have to market more to hope that your gamble pays off more. All of this is more expensive than paper.


Iíll finish this 2nd book as planned, but then Iíll need to look back into ďLeave.Ē

What do you mean? A lot of people suggest taking a break away from a work so you can return with fresh eyes. Several months in fact. In that time, you can write something else and let that rest while you return to the previous work.


You are all strangers to me, thus you have the gift of indifference I need. Iím in need of a few testers for my entire manuscript/1st book. I canít post anything public (Iím still under 50 posts), so nothing can go into the SYW area just yet. I need up to 10, and I will personally purchase the eBooks to those who are willing to read it. You neednít love it. The book might not be your cup oí tea. But I need an idea of what readers think is too long/wordy. That chapter 2 passage is, I know. But what else? I need to know these things in order to tighten. Itíd also give me ideas for editing this 2nd book. Visit the url in my sig if you want to know what the book is about. Post below or shoot me a PM if youíre interested.

I always suggest this for those looking for beta-readers: Hang around the forums, post a lot in your respected genres, and make friends. People who agree with you. People who you like their way of thinking. People who'll be interested in reading your style of work. People who might want to owe you, or perhaps would like to read your work (several of my beta-readers read my work just because they learn from it). Go to the SYW section and critique and comment on work there. You can do that while under 50 posts. Earn your posts that way, while collecting credit from others so they can return the favor. When you do post your work, refine it until you've got a few others who say they'd love to read it. Ask them.

Marian Perera
11-19-2014, 05:20 PM
Also, the blurb is really confusing; I read it twice and I've still got no idea what the book is about, or even what genre it is.

I agree. I looked up the book description of When You Leave This Way (http://www.amazon.com/When-Leave-This-Unfairytale-Book-ebook/dp/B00LW0JZIU/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416402191&sr=1-1&keywords=when+you+leave+this+way) on Amazon and I couldn't tell what it's about either. The blurb is trying so hard to be "writerly" - to express concepts with literary flourishes - that it's not clear.

I read the start of the novel on Amazon, and there's a hint of something potentially intriguing below the surface, but it's buried under excessive description and overwriting. The book could lose a lot of that and be better for it.


If you're interested in improving your writing and learning about all types of publishing, this is an excellent place. There are experts of all kinds, and plenty of readers and writers in the community who are more than willing to help.

This.

Old Hack
11-19-2014, 07:53 PM
I think we should now move on from telling our OP about his work. It's a valid point and given the context of the thread it's not too off-topic, but this isn't Share Your Work and he has neither invited nor qualified for critique here.

Toothpaste
11-19-2014, 08:56 PM
I still don't understand why the OP and that other poster think it's perfectly okay to judge a book by its length when it's short, and in fact insult books (okay in this case movies) that are short as "lame" and unable to transport people (which astonishes me of course because almost all of the classic Disney animated musicals are under 90 minutes and even if you do not personally enjoy that style of film, one cannot deny the power those films have had to transport, enchant and move audiences. Heck the first 10 minutes of UP were able to move people more than some over two hour films). But others judging a book by being too long are just being foolish.

Anyway, I know that isn't the major point of all this, but the idea that the longer equals better, well it has always totally confounded me. Whatever happened to that classic saying, "Quality over Quantity"?

Putputt
11-19-2014, 09:21 PM
I have two books: one that Iíve self-published and one Iím in the revision stages of. I didnít feel as though book 1 would have found an agent, thus I didnít try much at all to land one. Book 2, on the other hand, is special to me (itís dedicated to my mom, RIP). I spoke to a publicist who agreed with me: the length of my work would likely be frowned upon by most agents. The book I have released (I canít post the url here, as Iíve under 50 posts) is 132,500 words. Itís been edited thoroughly, edited to as fine sheen as I could make it. But from all Iíve read, agents get scared senseless with novels over 100k words. Iíve queried about 6 agents for that one, receiving replies to 3 (all negative). After that, I decided to just self-publish it, just to get the book outta my way. Note: this didnít quite work as planned, seeing as I spent long with promoting it.

Now, Iíve got book 2 to worry about. It is 16 chapters--15 of which are complete. It will require an extensive edit, but I estimate it will be 172,900 words once Iím finished with this draft. Being a calculative guy, I believe the final draft will be around 135,000 words. But itís the same: Iím not sure if any agent would even consider this from such an unknown writer. From all the traumas incurred during the writing process of this book--spanning 8 years--I want this to have all that it deserves. The word-count is too restrictive, though, for much other than self-publishing.

Iíll tell you now: the book is full of stories, not fluff. Like my other book, this will be revised as close as I can make it (this time, I might even pay an editor to ensure itís as perfect as possible). Agents seem to fear that ďbloatedĒ books are not revised properly and are full of rigmarole. Itís not as easy as writing into a query letter that ďThis is edited extremely well, and the fat had been cut off.Ē Sure, EVERYONE says that in the pursuit of representation. That option doesnít exist. And this is a story that requires a rather large word count to tell. If I weeded this down to 100k words, the entire book would be destroyed. This is more like the concise Harry Potter 1, opposed to the fluffed-up, unnecessarily bloated Harry Potter 5. So editing far enough to sate most agents isnít practical, either.

Now, Iím simply lost. Should I take my chances with agent-querying, or should I just self-publish? I donít want to do the latter but at this length, Iím not sure what I should do.

Iím not totally sure which genre I should classify this as, but Iíll go with a boiling-pot of elements, namely: action/crime/mystery/drama Plus itís fiction. I heard books similar could go up to about 120k, but even that was trying. So really, I just dunno

Hrmm, well let's see...

1. To query agents, you do need to decide what genre the book fits into, simply because you won't query a children's book agent with erotica, for example. ;)

2. I have heard of hefty books selling, but they are the exception rather than the norm. Do you have beta readers? It's worth sticking around here and finding a couple of betas who can crit your work and help you tighten the book if it needs tightening.

3. If all your betas agree that the book is as lean and mean as it can be and it's still 130K, then make sure your query is as tight as it can be too. This way, you'll SHOW agents that your book is long because it needs to be, not because it's filled with fluff. Janet Reid said on her blog not too long ago that she requested a 200K-word MS because the query was really awesome, so it happens.

4. Based on your post lengths, however, my guess would be that the book can be cut down significantly. :D (I say this without judgment, because I've been there, and it took a very patient beta to sit through my MS and cut about 10K worth of fluff from my 75K-word long MS. That left me room to focus on and enrich the parts which I have glossed over previously, and the MS ended up being 90K by the time my agent subbed it to editors, but it was a great case of cutting out the fat to make room for more good stuff.)

5. 6 agents is way too few to query. I sent our my query in batches of 10 and got up to...I think around 47 to 50 before the offers started coming in. Not sure how many agents rep your genre, but depending on the size of the agent pool, you'll probably want to send out in batches of 5 to 10.

Sheryl Nantus
11-19-2014, 10:22 PM
I still don't understand why the OP and that other poster think it's perfectly okay to judge a book by its length when it's short, and in fact insult books (okay in this case movies) that are short as "lame" and unable to transport people (which astonishes me of course because almost all of the classic Disney animated musicals are under 90 minutes and even if you do not personally enjoy that style of film, one cannot deny the power those films have had to transport, enchant and move audiences. Heck the first 10 minutes of UP were able to move people more than some over two hour films). But others judging a book by being too long are just being foolish.

Anyway, I know that isn't the major point of all this, but the idea that the longer equals better, well it has always totally confounded me. Whatever happened to that classic saying, "Quality over Quantity"?

I'm a little gobsmacked at this. There's plenty of powerful short stories that kick butt.

I'd like to hear more about the source of these statements other than "I hear"...

Toothpaste
11-20-2014, 12:13 AM
And short films. And is a sonnet less powerful than a epic poem?

It's one thing to have a preference for something, I don't fault anyone for that. But the idea that longer is just plain better, well, it just plain doesn't make any sense to me. Unless the only value you place on something is its length. If there is no merit given to word choice, to sentence structure, to description, to character arcs, to emotional journeys, to humour, to incisiveness, to a bon mot. If the only value is length, then yes, I suppose then you can objectively say that which is longer is better. I guess.

Old Hack
11-20-2014, 12:45 AM
I think I've said it before in this thread, but you can't make value judgements about writing on length alone. A book isn't going to be better or worse because it's shorter or longer: it'll be good because it's good, and that's that.

So yep, I agree with you, Toothpaste.

Quickbread
11-20-2014, 02:12 AM
I agree with you, too, Toothpaste, and the many others in this thread who've voiced similar feelings about length vs. quality.

I think a "longer is always better because it's more words" position underestimates readers' intelligence and also overestimates their willingness to stick with excessively overwritten prose, particularly when that verbosity clouds the story.

Lillith1991
11-20-2014, 02:46 AM
I agree with you, too, Toothpaste, and the many others in this thread who've voiced similar feelings about length vs. quality.

I think a "longer is always better because it's more words" position underestimates readers' intelligence and also overestimates their willingness to stick with excessively overwritten prose, particularly when that verbosity clouds the story.

Quoted for truth!

RandyPendleton
11-20-2014, 03:30 AM
I'm not going to download a PDF from someone I don't know. (With all due respect.) You should put a warning in your sig that clicking that link will trigger a download.

I plan to render this in HTML & upload it to my server. I’ll do that in a few hours, when my time permits.


There's much more to self publishing than POD. And some trade publishers use POD too, so. Yep. I wonder what understanding you have of the different routes.

I know the difference between the two, but I tend to use the terms (incorrectly, I’m aware) interchangeably. I need to keep in mind that I’m at a real writing forum, not merely posting on Facebook. These swaps are likely frowned upon here.




Trade publishers put books out of print every day. If you want to ensure your book is available forever, you're probably better off self publishing it. And again, "POD" is not the same as "self publishing".

“Live” and “available” are different terms. I hope you get that ;) No one said I want my work available forever.



No, they're really not. Agents and editors want to find good queries. It's like treasure for us.



The only reason why agents read query letters is that they want clients. They want business. They are not defaulted to "no" but out of thousands upon thousands of queries they get, they can only choose a few and can only say "yes" when they truly mean it. Think of it as getting a hundred love letters delivered, and only being able to say "yes" to one. You'd probably love them all and are hopeful to do so, but can only choose the one you love most.

Ah. Good way to put it. Thanks for clearing that up



I've read the first couple of pages of your book on Amazon and there's a lot of fluff. A huge amount. It could be cut back by half and would be better for it, I bet.



I can’t refute this. It’s why I need some serious testers. Could you possibly tell me a # of a page with a lot needed to be cut? If it could be cut by half, I’d like to read the page over to myself, to see what I should give the ax to. It’d benefit me greatly





Unless you're JKR you're not going to get away with this.


-----

Stretching a book past its optimum length is rarely a good idea. I'm surprised you suggest it can be.

So Potter 5 going ever so long, far beyond the optimal length, is a bad thing--and you think I was wrong? Fans knew how long the book was and still read it like gospel. It’s what they wanted to read--they wanted more of the world of Harry Potter. So I’m not quite sure what surprises you about my reply. If you give a fan more of what he wants, he’ll be happy. (It is an obvious note: this is book 5 of a series, not the first. If Potter 1 was extremely long, I doubt anyone would have gone for it)

But you also stated that unless you were Rowling, it’d be impossible to cut 400 pages of a book. Now why is that? If Rowling went out and announced a 890 page Potter book, only to retract the statement with “I changed my mind--it’ll only be 490!” how do you think fans would have reacted? Everything goes back to what I said: As Rowling proved, you CAN stretch a story to a grotesque length so long as you give the ppl what they want. It is NOT ADVISABLE to do, but it is possible.






Nope.

Chapters should be as long as they need to, and not a single word more.

Don't use formulas like this: it won't help you.


At first, NO ONE knows how long a chapter should be. Had this been false, the concept of editing wouldn’t be as needed as it is. I’ve written full passages (2-5 pages each) and saw they just ballooned my work. These were removed after test readers told me the dreaded, “I had to read a lot just to get so little…” I think it’s best to have a guideline, omething to tell you, “If it’s something you’ll need to cut out, don’twrite it at all.

I see nothing bad about this formula. It keeps me from adding paragraphs that I know woul be of interest for the reader but aren’t truly necessary. But to each his own. These formulas help me greatly. What works with some ppl doesn’t always help others. Maybe this only helps me. I dunno.
If most of the formula is “wrong,” at least the beginning has its roots to the right side. Why? Simple: readers do not want to read 50 pages just to get to the crux of the matter. If my formula is bad, at least the start is right: you can’t make each chapter “as long as” needed, not when it comes to the start: if it takes you 75 pages to get to the point, you’ll lose the reader. He might not make it past page 30.




There are several reviewers whose work is insightful and spot-on. Please don't dismiss all critics just because you've read a few reviews you don't like.


I study films & film reviews. If these reviews are a different beast than book reviews, please dismiss this. There are many unshaken trends out there. Among the biggest is: the worse a critic says a film is would typically be the more it makes at the box office/has the most fans. On the flipside: the better critics say a movie is, well, is the worse it tends to do monetarily/the more ppl shy away from it. You might be saying, “Randy, that’s illogical and untrue!” My response to such a claim: the evidence is @ RottenTomatoes, IMDB, and BoxOfficeMojo. I welcome you to look. The rare movie critics and fans BOTH like are extremely uncommon (we don’t receive an “Avengers” every year). It reminds me of the loss Tipper Gore had--the one she thinks she actually won. Yes, she managed to get the parental-advisory label made, to limit album sales, but sales records show these restricted albums started selling BETTER. She turned the foul albums into forbidden fruit, making them more desirable to kids. Kids, in turn, had older relatives ie siblings buy the CDs for them. It’s not a critic’s job to intentionally hurt things. They are paid to give their true opinion, good or bad. A critic can pan a story, and it will become lucrative in most cases. The opposite is true, too. My statement is as it is: critical opinions mean very little. Yes, there are good critics out there (I was a fan of Ebert), and I’m not belittling anyone. But there is no correlation between a movie’s lifespan and a critic’s opinion. Again, if movie & book reviews are different, then I suppose this is nil. All the same: critics are critics.




The book description on your website doesn't alert me to the nature of your story: it just uses a lot of long words and alludes to grand themes, without telling me anything significant about your plot or characters. It doesn't actually make sense. And if it's indicative of the quality of prose in your book, it actively puts me off reading it, I'm afraid.


On this, you are probably onto something. This isn’t indicative, no. Truth be told, I think I was trying too hard. Thanks, truly. I’ll have to look at it again and find something better. It worked for some ppl, but you’re a pro. If this didn’t work for you, I’ll assume I didn’t do it right.



I think you missed the point there.


I think I did, too. Exactly, what was the point? Maybe I missed something.




My advice would be to spend some time improving your craft first.


Absolutely. I’ve gotta put my best product out there. Right now, it’s not all I thought it was.


I didn't click the links, but I went to Amazon to see if I could find the first book. Assuming you're you - everything is too long and wordy.

I'd wager it could easily be cut in half, just by stripping adjectives. There's way, way too much description, of everything. Sometimes writers think describing stuff in depth will make things clear and engaging, but generally, it does the opposite. It pulls the reader away from what's actually happening in the actual story.

Also, the blurb is really confusing; I read it twice and I've still got no idea what the book is about, or even what genre it is.

If you're interested in improving your writing and learning about all types of publishing, this is an excellent place. There are experts of all kinds, and plenty of readers and writers in the community who are more than willing to help.

A 2nd comment on my blurb. Hack was right: I seriously need to rewrite it. Well, now I have other writers’ eyes, so maybe I could get something better out.

I’m good with adjectives. I guess, though, this isn’t such a grand thing. Okay, I know I need to go back and try to describe less. If it helps, I’ll do it. If I may ask: aside from this fluff, how would you say the writing itself is? Like, if I cleaned up the fluff, do you think the quality of the actual writing would improve? I just wanna see if the sentences would need a huge reconstruction or if they just need a little scrubbing


I think we should now move on from telling our OP about his work. It's a valid point and given the context of the thread it's not too off-topic, but this isn't Share Your Work and he has neither invited nor qualified for critique here.

I’ll use SYW once I can. For now though, I’ve found many useful things here that’ll help me put something better on SYW once I hit 50 posts.


I still don't understand why the OP and that other poster think it's perfectly okay to judge a book by its length when it's short, and in fact insult books (okay in this case movies) that are short as "lame" and unable to transport people (which astonishes me of course because almost all of the classic Disney animated musicals are under 90 minutes and even if you do not personally enjoy that style of film, one cannot deny the power those films have had to transport, enchant and move audiences. Heck the first 10 minutes of UP were able to move people more than some over two hour films). But others judging a book by being too long are just being foolish.

Anyway, I know that isn't the major point of all this, but the idea that the longer equals better, well it has always totally confounded me. Whatever happened to that classic saying, "Quality over Quantity"?

I don’t believe so, not in any capacity. In fact, it’s the opposite. Longer doesn’t mean better IMO. Using HP5 again as an example: I’m sure some ppl loved it, but it bored me having to read several hundred pages of fluff just to get somewhere.


Hrmm, well let's see...

1. To query agents, you do need to decide what genre the book fits into, simply because you won't query a children's book agent with erotica, for example. file:///C:\Users\RANDYP~1\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtml1\02\c lip_image001.gif

2. I have heard of hefty books selling, but they are the exception rather than the norm. Do you have beta readers? It's worth sticking around here and finding a couple of betas who can crit your work and help you tighten the book if it needs tightening.

3. If all your betas agree that the book is as lean and mean as it can be and it's still 130K, then make sure your query is as tight as it can be too. This way, you'll SHOW agents that your book is long because it needs to be, not because it's filled with fluff. Janet Reid said on her blog not too long ago that she requested a 200K-word MS because the query was really awesome, so it happens.

4. Based on your post lengths, however, my guess would be that the book can be cut down significantly. file:///C:\Users\RANDYP~1\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtml1\02\c lip_image002.gif(I say this without judgment, because I've been there, and it took a very patient beta to sit through my MS and cut about 10K worth of fluff from my 75K-word long MS. That left me room to focus on and enrich the parts which I have glossed over previously, and the MS ended up being 90K by the time my agent subbed it to editors, but it was a great case of cutting out the fat to make room for more good stuff.)

5. 6 agents is way too few to query. I sent our my query in batches of 10 and got up to...I think around 47 to 50 before the offers started coming in. Not sure how many agents rep your genre, but depending on the size of the agent pool, you'll probably want to send out in batches of 5 to 10.

1.) Absolutely. There is no sense in trying to sell to the wrong ppl :)

2.) I’ve heard of a few, as well. But I’m not an exception, I know.

3.) This is helpful. I’ve read things from many agents. Some have said they’d see the word-count in the query letter and throw it away. Others remain intrigued. I was looking for insight into this. Thankfully, this thread succeeded in it.

4.) I try to address many things. So yeah, my posts are long. :p It’s no indication of my MS (I do confess that I can be wordy. I need to cut that down a good bit)

5.) This is a good book, but I had 2 books to work on at the same time. I only sent six before I decided to self-publish, figuring that would have freed up my time. lol I was dead wrong :(


I think I've said it before in this thread, but you can't make value judgements about writing on length alone. A book isn't going to be better or worse because it's shorter or longer: it'll be good because it's good, and that's that.

So yep, I agree with you, Toothpaste.

VERY true. Not all agents are the same. I’m pretty sure most have the same qualities but like no 2 ppl are identical, agents don’t come off a conveyor belt birthed from the same mold. I’ve always known agents read a query letter to gauge one’s writing abilities (this isn’t the only reason, I know). Some agents, however, see a large word-count and shake their head. This is why I started this thread: to get insights on the subject.

Lillith1991
11-20-2014, 06:18 AM
Randy, having read your post and the fact that you keep bringing up Rowling. I have to say that I do not think you know the difference between what is marketable for someone new on the scene and someone for whom publishing is an old hat in this day and age. Yes, ALL the books in the series are exceptionally long, and I really do mean all. In fact, if I'm remembering correctly, the first one is 77K which was at the time considered unreasonably long for Middle Grade. And it is, in fact, still considered long by MG standards to this day. The difference between you and Rowling, or any of us and her for that matter, is that she was able to make it with such a long first story. But she is the exception, and by the time she got to book five fans didn't care how long the book was. She was already world famous, and for many fans the 5th book is actually their least favorite of the seven. One of the things my fellow fans cite as the reason it is their least favorite book? The excessive length.

So don't think fans don't ding favorite authors on their ridiculously long books either, the do. And to get away from Rowling into the world of adult fiction, which I presume you're writing. Let's talk about Stephen King. It's one of the complaints people who read Stephen King's longer works have, that they're sometimes overly long for the taste of his fans.

RandyPendleton
11-20-2014, 06:46 AM
It could just be the way I'm wording it. I dunno. But I AM AGREEING WITH THIS STATEMENT. I'm saying that I'm NOT an exception. Pretty much everything you said is what I said, as well. Maybe I'm just not wording it right or perchance, I have such long replies that my point is diluted (if not, lost). Rowling can do things most of us can't.

(This is another reason my formula is beneficial: It gets ppl to get to the point opposed to adding long, tedious passages.)

All the same though, I appreciate your reply.


Randy, having read your post and the fact that you keep bringing up Rowling. I have to say that I do not think you know the difference between what is marketable for someone new on the scene and someone for whom publishing is an old hat in this day and age. Yes, ALL the books in the series are exceptionally long, and I really do mean all. In fact, if I'm remembering correctly, the first one is 77K which was at the time considered unreasonably long for Middle Grade. And it is, in fact, still considered long by MG standards to this day. The difference between you and Rowling, or any of us and her for that matter, is that she was able to make it with such a long first story. But she is the exception, and by the time she got to book five fans didn't care how long the book was. She was already world famous, and for many fans the 5th book is actually their least favorite of the seven. One of the things my fellow fans cite as the reason it is their least favorite book? The excessive length.

So don't think fans don't ding favorite authors on their ridiculously long books either, the do. And to get away from Rowling into the world of adult fiction, which I presume you're writing. Let's talk about Stephen King. It's one of the complaints people who read Stephen King's longer works have, that they're sometimes overly long for the taste of his fans.

Quickbread
11-20-2014, 07:08 AM
I’m good with adjectives. I guess, though, this isn’t such a grand thing. Okay, I know I need to go back and try to describe less. If it helps, I’ll do it. If I may ask: aside from this fluff, how would you say the writing itself is? Like, if I cleaned up the fluff, do you think the quality of the actual writing would improve? I just wanna see if the sentences would need a huge reconstruction or if they just need a little scrubbing

Definitely share some work in SYW once you get to 50 posts. But in the meantime, it's wise to learn more about how to edit yourself. No one can tell you how something will work before you do it. The only thing to do is try it and see what you yourself think of the result.

A good exercise would be to take a few sections and challenge yourself to cut them down by half without eliminating essentials. Find the ways that make the most sense for you and for the work. I can promise you that regardless of what you think of the result, you'll gain greater awareness for economy and efficiency in prose, and that will serve you well in both drafting and editing.

And I think that's what everyone else here is saying. If you have a 135,000+ word manuscript, every single word of that had better be necessary, and it ought not be a work that should really be 85,000 words but suffers from severe bloat. Long is fine ... when warranted. It is not always. (And FWIW, Rowling is also excessive sometimes, especially with adverbs and dialogue tags. She only gets away with it because her stories are so inventive and delightful, and sell millions of copies.)

Also, "writing" = story + plot + characters + pacing + voice + prose + structure + meaning + probably some other aspects I forgot. Asking how the writing would be if it were different is an impossible question to answer on a short sample. But I can tell you for sure that getting rid of fluff ALWAYS makes what's left better. And again, there's only one way to tell. Cut the fluff and see what you've got. It's just words. You can always make more. :)

William Haskins
11-20-2014, 07:31 AM
randy you've had a hell of a journey and you're obviously focused, ambitious, bright - and perhaps talented.

but you're long-winded as hell and it's been apparent from your first post. it persists and insists throughout your linked sample.

pay attention to these nice people. they have no reason to lie to you.

Fruitbat
11-20-2014, 07:51 AM
Randy, I think you'll do fine because you do seem to thoughtfully consider what others have to say. It's the ones who think they know it all, even with little experience, who never seem to progress. From what I saw, you have a good story. It just needs some tightening up. It needs those other eyes on it. Good luck!

RandyPendleton
11-20-2014, 08:04 AM
Thanks to you both. Yeah, after a reader PM'ed me a good critique, I NOW truly see what I've done wrong. Cutting this by 50%, I'm not sure. But weeding out at LEAST 25-30% looks both necessary and doable. I'm taking everyone's advice: this is getting a new draft. I'll pull it from sale and as I now know what I need to do, I won't post the 2nd chapter as planned. I'll work up to 50 posts and use the SYW forums. I'll also rewrite the blurb... or at least I might. If this goes into the hands of agents, we'll just have to see where the chips fall.

To conclude about the issue of length: my problem SEEMED to be whether or not to try sell a 132k or so word MS. As it turns out, it might be closer to the generally-accepted length with another edit or 2. I'll do that.


randy you've had a hell of a journey and you're obviously focused, ambitious, bright - and perhaps talented.

but you're long-winded as hell and it's been apparent from your first post. it persists and insists throughout your linked sample.

pay attention to these nice people. they have no reason to lie to you.




Randy, I think you'll do fine because you do seem to thoughtfully consider what others have to say. It's the ones who think they know it all, even with little experience, who never seem to progress. From what I saw, you have a good story. It just needs some tightening up. It needs those other eyes on it. Good luck!

Marian Perera
11-20-2014, 08:44 AM
I'm really pleased you found a solution that worked for you. :)

And the fact that you read the critique and will apply it to your manuscript says a lot about your professionalism and commitment to putting out the best possible book. As a previous poster said, you'll do fine.

RandyPendleton
11-20-2014, 08:55 AM
I honestly didn't want to have to. You're right though: I want the best product possible. Hate to say it, but I was wrong: this book was NOT ready when I thought it was. My biggest regret is not signing up here years ago :( But I'm close to being finished. I'm not giving up :)


I'm really pleased you found a solution that worked for you. :)

And the fact that you read the critique and will apply it to your manuscript says a lot about your professionalism and commitment to putting out the best possible book. As a previous poster said, you'll do fine.

mccardey
11-20-2014, 09:13 AM
I honestly didn't want to have to. You're right though: I want the best product possible. Hate to say it, but I was wrong: this book was NOT ready when I thought it was. My biggest regret is not signing up here years ago :( But I'm close to being finished. I'm not giving up :)

Oh, bless you - the damned things are never ready when we think they are! It's the price you pay for being a writer who wants a reader.

Old Hack
11-20-2014, 04:37 PM
I know the difference between the two, but I tend to use the terms (incorrectly, Iím aware) interchangeably. I need to keep in mind that Iím at a real writing forum, not merely posting on Facebook. These swaps are likely frowned upon here.

It's not that they're frowned on, Randy: it's confusing when you do that.


ďLiveĒ and ďavailableĒ are different terms. I hope you get that ;) No one said I want my work available forever.

This is what you wrote, Randy:


For all of my sacrifices, I honestly feel getting my work sold via trade would be verification of my abilities, a vindication for the mess my life is--well, let me truncate this with simply: If I could write one book that will live on past my own life, nothing else would really matter to me (in a career sense). The short lifespan of a POD book isnít feasible to me, not when I eat/sleep/love/breathe/live my work. Itís all I have.

A self-published book is more likely to remain available for purchase for a long time than a trade published book.

Assuming you mean "self published" and not POD there, then why do you think a self-published book would have a short lifespan? Are you referring to the physical quality of a book produced by digital printing, or is there something I'm missing here?


Could you possibly tell me a # of a page with a lot needed to be cut? If it could be cut by half, Iíd like to read the page over to myself, to see what I should give the ax to. Itíd benefit me greatly

I've just read through the Amazon sample of your book and there's no one page I'd single out. It all needs cutting. There's extraneous detail and overwriting on every page, I'm afraid.


So Potter 5 going ever so long, far beyond the optimal length, is a bad thing--and you think I was wrong? Fans knew how long the book was and still read it like gospel. Itís what they wanted to read--they wanted more of the world of Harry Potter. So Iím not quite sure what surprises you about my reply. If you give a fan more of what he wants, heíll be happy.

You're not JKR, though, and so you can't apply this to your own work. It's not a reliable indicator.

When you've sold as many copies as Ms Rowling you'll be able to write books to whatever length you want and publishers will snap them up. Meanwhile, if you want a trade deal you have to give publishers what they know they can sell, which means books of specific length depending on genre. And there is still no correlation between quality and extent, in that a longer book is not automatically a better read than a shorter one. Frankly, I think we've beaten this point to death.


But you also stated that unless you were Rowling, itíd be impossible to cut 400 pages of a book.


I didn't.

I suggest you reread my comments because I now wonder if you've misunderstood anything else I've said.
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Fruitbat
11-20-2014, 06:09 PM
I wouldn't even consider Harry Potter or any other teensy-tiny percentage that breaks all the rules and miraculously, against all odds, somehow becomes a big hit anyway. That's a pipe dream, not a plan.

cornflake
11-20-2014, 11:20 PM
Rowling has said at least some of the later books should have been cut. She was given a very free hand, for obvious reasons, and in retrospect apparently would have preferred she and/or her editors took another look or six and cut stuff way down, as the work would be better for it.

Toothpaste
11-20-2014, 11:43 PM
Yes, I was going to say the same thing. Rowling got away with something, but that doesn't mean she should have. She herself even admits she wishes she had trimmed down especially Book 5. That's what editors are for normally. Sometimes we authors really don't know what's best for our own work.

Which is what you are acknowledging and which I think is truly fantastic. Also, don't you go worrying about some arbitrary timeline. I say this a lot, but I'll say it again, as an actress I spend most days worrying about my age and if I'm past my prime and if I should even bother keeping on trying. Age matters when it comes to acting. Even though it's easier for men, it still matters to them too.

But in publishing, ah what freedom! Age doesn't matter! You can publish at any age, have success at any age, it's wonderful! There is no timeline. All that matters is you produce the highest quality of work you can. You're on the right path when it comes to that so just be like Finding Nemo and "just keep swimming".

RandyPendleton
11-21-2014, 01:53 AM
I'm honestly not sure why ppl think I'm comparing myself to Rowling. I've said specifically that I'm nowhere close to her, an I'm not an exception to the norm. Anyway, all of your opinions are still welcome.

RandyPendleton
11-21-2014, 01:54 AM
BTW Rowling was rushed with the last 2 or so books. That's according to her. This might explain things

Toothpaste
11-21-2014, 02:48 AM
Because you used it as an example of how some authors get away with writing long. We assumed the reason you brought her up was to show that since she was allowed to get away with it, you should be too. Just like when you said you wouldn't watch a shorter lame film we assumed that you therefore thought short books were also lame.

You have corrected those misperceptions, but that's why. Words make a difference to your message. We are just trying to figure out what you are trying to say. We understand better now, but it took a little time.

ETA: Also I said a lot more than just the Rowling stuff. Hopefully you read it too because I was trying to give you a nice little pep talk there! :)

Little Ming
11-21-2014, 03:23 AM
I'm honestly not sure why ppl think I'm comparing myself to Rowling. I've said specifically that I'm nowhere close to her, an I'm not an exception to the norm. Anyway, all of your opinions are still welcome.

It's not all about you. Many people read these forums, and maybe someone saw you mention Rowling and thought "See! Exception!" and we're just saying "but that's because she's Rowling."

Though I will say when I read the beginning of this thread I wasn't sure how it was going to play out. I'm glad you're taking all the advice here so well. And that is about you. :)

RandyPendleton
11-21-2014, 03:24 AM
Ah, that makes sense :) I suppose my earlier messages just weren't clear. Honestly Rowling is a rare exception. If I ever tried to replicate her, I'm pretty sure I'd fail :p


Because you used it as an example of how some authors get away with writing long. We assumed the reason you brought her up was to show that since she was allowed to get away with it, you should be too. Just like when you said you wouldn't watch a shorter lame film we assumed that you therefore thought short books were also lame.

You have corrected those misperceptions, but that's why. Words make a difference to your message. We are just trying to figure out what you are trying to say. We understand better now, but it took a little time.

ETA: Also I said a lot more than just the Rowling stuff. Hopefully you read it too because I was trying to give you a nice little pep talk there! :)

RandyPendleton
11-21-2014, 03:27 AM
Just like in the domaining industry: ppl see the sales figures @ sedo.com and say, "Wow, this is easy money!" Then, they go broke buying worthless domains. It's never as simple as seeing one's success and thinking it can be easily replicated :)


It's not all about you. Many people read these forums, and maybe someone saw you mention Rowling and thought "See! Exception!" and we're just saying "but that's because she's Rowling."

Though I will say when I read the beginning of this thread I wasn't sure how it was going to play out. I'm glad you're taking all the advice here so well. And that is about you. :)

Karin1130
12-03-2014, 08:56 PM
Hi everyone. I am an experienced writer (27 years), but this is my first nonfiction book. I have written what I originally thought was a memoir but now realize it is an autobiography. The book starts in my adolescence and continues through my 50's. It tells of being brought up by my Al Capone era Mob grandparents and alcoholic parents. It details overcoming sexual abuse, a brutal beating and hospitalization, life in an orphange, and abandonment. It culminates in how I learned to forgive and overcome my past through spirituality and by discovering that I could talk to angels. The book is 120,000 words. It has been rewritten and edited many times. Is this an acceptable length for an autobiography or memoir? I have researched similar books and lately they are running anywhere between 300 and 400 published pages. Thanks in advance for your help. P.S. Hope I posted this correctly.

CathleenT
12-03-2014, 10:00 PM
Karin, I'm afraid I don't have enough experience to give you an intelligent answer to your question.

I posted this to say that if you don't get many responses on this thread, it's probably because people thought you were responding to the original poster, not that you had a length question of your own.

You may get responses; sometimes threads evolve to where there are many posters on them with the same question. But if you do not, go ahead and start a new thread. You can call it 'Another question of length - nonfiction, 120,000 words' or something like that.

The way you start a new thread is to go to the upper left hand corner. Underneath the User CP link on the toolbar is a button for new threads. It will post on the correct forum.

When you're done, you might want to click on the User CP link. That shows 'rep points,' which are essentially just nice little messages that we send each other that aren't too long. If you click on it, you'll find one from me.

Welcome to AW! :)

Old Hack
12-03-2014, 10:29 PM
There's no need for Karin to start a new thread as I've done it for her. Karin, follow this link and you'll find your thread (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=299947).

RandyPendleton
12-23-2014, 02:05 AM
It's been awhile. I figured it'd be a good iea to post a little update on my progress. I would have opened a new thread, but this seemed better.

I want to thank everyone for their opinions. I have two books to edit (after reading this thread, I chose to edit my other book again). I've yet to do the other one, the book this thread was in reference to. But from editing my current book, I truly see my error. I've had ppl in here tell me, "This seems verbose." Old Hack even said a substantial amount could be removed. At first, this seemed impractical. But I've found/erased a load of unnecessary text from the current book. I have a better idea now of what I need to do. If I wrap this book's edits up by new years (it's a good possibility), I'll use January to PROPERLY edit the other book. Who knows? I might have my 50 posts by then & could finally add some of my work to be critiqued :p


But again, thanks to all. And happy holidays!