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Quilliam
06-08-2015, 09:25 PM
My MS is 142k words. The story can be categorized as women's fiction/tragic love story. I've read that, in this category, the word count should be 125k words tops. I know those limits are not written in stone, but do you think I can be rejected solely on word count? I think I can cut some things out, but I'll reduce how realistic the story appears to be. What's your opinion/experience?

waylander
06-08-2015, 09:39 PM
This source suggests a smaller word count that the guidelines you are quoting.
http://www.literaryrejections.com/word-count/

The further you are from the guideline word count the better your novel has to be to stand a chance. Are you sure you can't trim it?

mayqueen
06-08-2015, 10:12 PM
It's very possible some agents might reject based on word count. Yours isn't like jaw-dropping holy f long, though. But it is too long, based on everything I've seen. You'd be better of closer to 100k. Now, if 142k represents the absolute, hands-down, tightest possible prose and plot you can do, then what you would want to do to counteract the word count is to write such a jaw-droppingly good query that no one notices. :)

madjack
06-08-2015, 11:32 PM
I've seen agents on twitter pass because of a too high word count. So it does happen. I agree with the others above to see if you can get closer to the typical word count for your genre if possible. :)

Quilliam
06-09-2015, 12:09 AM
That's what I was afraid of. Anyway, thanks guy. I'm on it. I've already started merging and cutting. My MS was at 198k words, and I'd thought hitting the 142k mark was adequate. Guess I was wrong! :(

Debbie V
06-09-2015, 04:52 AM
You might post a segment in SYW, scroll down the forums, and see if folks can give you some hints on what to cut.

Jamesaritchie
06-09-2015, 05:42 PM
Cut it down close to one hundred thousand words. Cutting can always be done without harming the story. The easiest way to cut a large number of words is usually to eliminate a subplot or a character, something that runs all the way through the book.

quicklime
06-09-2015, 06:14 PM
I suspect you can cut further, and you probably won't generally be rejected for word count alone.

Here's more what I expect happens when you're not ridiculously off the target but still over it by a solid margin:

agent reads query. agent notes your book is long. agent goes in EXPECTING to find issues with cutting, and not surprisingly, finds them. agent now decides, and probably fairly early in your book, if they want to invest the time trying to fix, or move on.

you don't maybe get an auto-reject, but the word-count will highlight any excess verbage from the very beginning.

blacbird
06-09-2015, 10:43 PM
The easiest way to cut a large number of words is usually to eliminate a subplot or a character, something that runs all the way through the book.

In addition to which is trimming fluffy verbiage. You may be surprised how much of this kind of thing burrows its way surreptitiously into narrative. Things like superfluous adverbs, adjectives and prepositional phrases, unnecessarily complicated verb constructions, redundant stuff, etc., may abound in ways you don't recognize. Post something in SYW and see if these kinds of things get noticed.

caw

blacbird
06-09-2015, 10:45 PM
you probably won't generally be rejected for word count alone..

Don't bet your firstborn pet skunk on this. 145,000 words is going to get a lot of queries tossed immediately.

caw

celoise
06-09-2015, 11:12 PM
My MS is 142k words. The story can be categorized as women's fiction/tragic love story. I've read that, in this category, the word count should be 125k words tops. I know those limits are not written in stone, but do you think I can be rejected solely on word count? I think I can cut some things out, but I'll reduce how realistic the story appears to be. What's your opinion/experience?

There was an agent I saw on twitter who posted that if the MS is right at100k words, she backs away slowly. If it's over 100k words, she runs screaming.
But, of course, that's just one among many.

J.Reid
06-10-2015, 04:35 AM
Just to throw a monkey wrench in the works, the biggest book at BEA this year is CITY ON FIRE and it clocks in at 900 finished pages, or somewhere around 250K words. And it's REALLY good. Which is to say if your story supports the word count, don't start slicing away. However. Most books DO NOT support that kind of word count.

When I get a query for something that's a plus-size ms, I look at the first five pages. If I can figure out how to pare out 50 words on the first page, and about that on the next few, it's a rejection (ms not ready to go out in the world.)

Find some beta readers. Get some brutal critiques. Guidelines are only that. Do what the novel requires.

Jamesaritchie
06-10-2015, 09:14 PM
I suspect you can cut further, and you probably won't generally be rejected for word count alone.

.

Being rejected for length is an extremely common occurrence. Writers are supposed to know the wanted length for what they're writing, and they're supposed to write books that fall within guidelines. Guidelines usually have a pretty generous range, so there's no reason not to fall within that range.

There are exceptions to everything, but most exceptions here happen because something else is going on that has nothing to do with length, such as an outside reason to publish the writer.

Rejection solely because of length happens on a regular basis, and there's simply no point in taking the chance. There is no book that can't be written in a way that follows guidelines.

wendymarlowe
06-14-2015, 10:54 PM
There are things you can get away with as an established author that you just can't do as a newbie. One of them is writing hugely long books. (I'm looking at you, Jo Rowling.) People were willing to buy an 800-page "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" because they'd already read the first three and trust that the fourth book will be just as good - but the first Harry Potter book is a much more reasonable 300 pages, which is well within normal limits for YA.

The main issue stopping agents and editors from acquiring long books is price - it costs more time (editing/proofing/etc.) and money (physical printing costs) to put out a long book, but readers aren't willing to pay THAT much more. They might pay $8 instead of $6 for something twice as long, and that doesn't work out in the publisher's favor. As a debut author, you want to be the very best bet you can be - that means writing a compelling story that readers will find easy to pick up and recommend to friends, something that fits their expectations based on where they find it in the bookstore and what the title and back cover copy promise.

If you can't cut your book down to 100K or less - and you might not - your next best bet might be to write another book and come out with that first. Once you have some sales success under your belt, you're in a better bargaining position to get a longer book published.

Toothpaste
06-15-2015, 02:38 AM
Tbut the first Harry Potter book is a much more reasonable 300 pages, which is well within normal limits for YA.

Actually the first book of Harry Potter is MG, not YA, and is almost twice the length of the average MG (especially at the time she sold the book). My first MG was also. And I'll tell you what my agent said about my writing in that book. She told me that since I wrote longer than average every single one of my words needed to count. There was more pressure with my book to prove that it deserved to be as long as it was.

But clearly from that story I got an agent with it and it also got published. You can absolutely find success with a work longer than the average, but it had better be longer for a good reason. And you will be held to higher expectations in that first read by an agent/editor. So just keep that in mind.