How long does a Memoir have to be?

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Little Red Barn

haz own threads
Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 27, 2006
Messages
2,839
Reaction score
3,668
Hi, Pamster, I love your turtle too. : D

Mine is at 65,000, I believe. I've seen some longer and some shorter.
 

Susan B

Accordion Dreams
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 8, 2006
Messages
1,210
Reaction score
315
Location
California
Website
www.blairkilpatrick.com
Hi Pamster,

We have a turtle at our house, too!

My memoir was 85,000 when final ms was submitted to my editor. He was very happy that I was able to trim a couple thousand words during editing. I'd guess the word count in the final published version is around 83,000. 250 pages.

Good luck!
 

sherry8661

Registered
Joined
Nov 12, 2008
Messages
6
Reaction score
0
Location
Glendale, AZ
Hi, I'm a newbie but my memoir "White Coffin, Pink Roses" was picked up by Polygon Publishing. My book is a little over 100K and when I had to reformat it from 8.5 X 11 to the 8.5 X 5.5 for my 6X9 book it added a lot more pages. My contract was for 225 pages and I ended up with 274 pages. It is in New Times Roman and I had to pay the difference in cost which was minimal.
 

Wayne K

Banned
Joined
Dec 3, 2008
Messages
21,564
Reaction score
8,082
I like turtles!

ETA: I had "Out of touch old man" trouble finding your memoir, and I have to say that it's wonderful.

And I like turtles.:e2steer:
 
Last edited:

SusanH

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Messages
447
Reaction score
98
Hi, I'm a newbie but my memoir "White Coffin, Pink Roses" was picked up by Polygon Publishing. My book is a little over 100K and when I had to reformat it from 8.5 X 11 to the 8.5 X 5.5 for my 6X9 book it added a lot more pages. My contract was for 225 pages and I ended up with 274 pages. It is in New Times Roman and I had to pay the difference in cost which was minimal.

Are you self published? I can't see paying anything with an agent.
 

SusanH

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 1, 2008
Messages
447
Reaction score
98
Yeah, I thought so. No one can be excited like that about having to pay.
 
Joined
Aug 29, 2008
Messages
174
Reaction score
2
The how-to's books suggest, I believe, 75-80k. The physical size of the book has to be substantial enough that it doesn't get 'lost' between the other titles. Enjoy and best wishes. Plat
 

Makampfe

Registered
Joined
Aug 10, 2017
Messages
2
Reaction score
0
I received a rejection from a literary agency, and it was from the Submissions Coordinator -- not from the person I was querying. She "flagged" my query letter because I had written a memoir totaling 56,700 words. She said that unpublished authors need to have at least 70,000 words in a memoir (70,000-90,000 is optimal) or literary agents won't even consider it. She invited me to re-submit after I reach at least 70,000 words. Since I consider my manuscript quite complete, I wanted to scream. When I calmed down, I realized she had done me a huge favor. I have been receiving nothing but rejections, so I will be adding detail and dialogue, as well as making better time/place transitions throughout my manuscript. I already wrote 56,700 words -- so I am telling myself, what is the big deal about 15,000 to 20,000 more. I plan to keep pushing through.
 

Desertphile

Banned
Joined
Dec 17, 2016
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Location
New Mexico
Website
davidmichaelrice.com
Because there is no robust market for memoirs, you will almost certainly not find an agent unless your memoir is vastly superior to everyone else's memoir.

72,000 to 82,000 is a good target, but if the memoir is superior to most memoirs one can go as much as 120,000 words which the agent will then whittle down (if she also suggests editing), and an editor will whittle down the word count more.

My well-selling memoir is 99,900 words after editing, and readers still wrote that they wished the book had "never ended." That is your goal of course, but it is not reasonable to expect.

A memoir needs to state clearly and eloquently what your story is, as lean as possible, with as few words as possible. That means the story dictates the word count.
 

Desertphile

Banned
Joined
Dec 17, 2016
Messages
10
Reaction score
0
Location
New Mexico
Website
davidmichaelrice.com
She said that unpublished authors need to have at least 70,000 words in a memoir (70,000-90,000 is optimal) or literary agents won't even consider it.

A good target is at the upper end of word count for memoirs: editors need enough material to work with (i.e., delete) to make a manuscript into a book. My memoir was 110,000 words and was edited to 99,900 more or less, but I edited as I wrote.