View Full Version : Word Count BS
September 8th, 2005, 02:35 PM
I have read other postings about what the 'acceptable' word counts are on new authors and their books, and also wondered the same myself before researching it. Basically, it seems to be 100k words, give or take. But anything over 100k becomes costly for the publishing house, or so I have read. Which leads them to push it aside, in search of smaller manuscripts (not always of course).
The whole idea of finishing my own peice at 100k words or less completely annoyed me, and eventually burdened me with the idea of it so much that I had stopped writing it entirely. 100k words is not very much space to fill a story into! Well it depends I guess, but in this case, it isn't.
Today I have come to terms with this fact, and have decided to throw caution out the bloody window...goodbye boundaries...goodbye expectations...and goodbye bullsh@t! Completely relieved, I am going to write it until it is done, which I have heard many other writers make mention of here and on the web.
Aaaaah...freedom at last. :D
September 8th, 2005, 02:55 PM
Yay! That's the spirit! :D
September 8th, 2005, 03:04 PM
Yeah! Down with the man!
September 8th, 2005, 03:14 PM
*Word Processor Anarchy*
September 9th, 2005, 01:21 AM
Agreed, take as many words as you need to tell your story.
BUT be aware of the following when submitting to a publisher.
Most will state a word range in their submission guidelines; say 100,000 to 150,000. IF your manuscript is way above this or below, it could be possible that it will be yanked off the slush pile with out a glance. The reasons for this could range from the fact that a small publishing house usually cannot deal with the printing of a larger book, due to costs or that it costs more to produce/ship/have a bigger book and taking such risks on an unknown they need to have the next J.K. Rowling sitting in front of them. ;) (there is a third reason, see below)
It is best when submitting to follow the submission guidelines to the letter, even if your book is the next best seller, you need to sell it.
A published friend of mine mused (tongue it cheek I would add) that he believed submission guidelines were a publisher's version of an entrance exam which proved the following.
1. You can read.
2. You know at least how to work mircosoft word.
3. You can do as you are told.
4. You have the ability to place pages in the correct order.
5. You know your own name, address and more importantly you know the publisher's name and address.
6. You can at least grasp that to the publisher this is his business and you are like any other business supplier, you have to sell your product without looking like a defrocked Avon lady.
7. The amount of paper you send him adds a large amount to his recycle bin, which not only helps global warming, he gets paid by the tonne when its collected.
September 9th, 2005, 04:35 AM
Well Holbrook, it was you *needing a big drink* that got me thinking about the size really. I read it when you posted it, thought about it for awhile, then decided- me too. Yours is 190k words atm, rough draft, which is a hell of alot of story telling. Sick with jeoulousy at your ability to do what you wanted, I decided to do the same. Though, in reality, I feel 130k words or so should be enough for what I had imagined in mine.
It hit a point where the hurdles were seeming to loom above me, but now they seem small again, and adding another to the row in front of me just doesn't matter at this point.
September 9th, 2005, 12:24 PM
There are two things I'd add. Here.
First, it is difficult to sell a first novel if it is a massive tome. However, there are exceptions... don't think Steve Erikson has ever written anything under 225,000 (ish) and that includes Gardens of the Moon, first of the Malazan books.
Which leads me on to my second point, if a book can genuinely carry its word count length because of its quality etc, a publisher will still buy it. They may want to edit it closely but, up to a point (250,000?), quality will outweigh length concerns.
I guess what I'm saying is, don't let worries about word-count affect you when you start to write. A book will find its own length. Part of the writer's art (and boy is this one lesson that none of us ever get quite right) is to know what should and should not make the final cut...
September 9th, 2005, 01:06 PM
Hmm, I started writing again last night, and now I'm wondering if I might actually be able to keep this at 95-100k. It's hard to say right now I guess. I really doubt I would peak 110-120,000 words at the most though, which still isn't too bad for size.
If I did hit about 110k, I would probably chopshop it a bit, and condense it down to about 99k. I'm sure I can find parts to do that with.
The writing I did last night was slow going, and when I finished I had only actually done about 1600 words, which surprised me for the time it took. But I'm quite happy with it, and it seems alot cleaner than some of the stuff I had written prior.
Taking a breather was definately a good thing.
September 17th, 2005, 02:46 PM
I wouldn't worry too much about word count for a first draft anyway. Stephen King's rule of thumb is that a second draft word count is that of the first draft minus ten percent. When dealing with 100k words, that's a factor of 10k that can be lost in just a self-edit.
As others have suggested, write your story first. Then figure out what to market it towards.
September 24th, 2005, 04:59 AM
Miller, how a avid a writer are you? What publisher had the page count limit?
It's true, that a first timer with a thick manuscript is viewed as an unknown risk by publishers. Larger books cost more to produce. However, there's many authors who had their first published book thick. Michael Stackpole's site discusses this, actually.
Then again, depends what you're offering them, right? The market here is littered repetitive cliches that has me mind boggled how it still gets published. In this day and age, with creative ideas few and far beyween, I think it's how you write than what you write.
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