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MorningGlow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 07:52 AM
Original message
Question about word count
So my novel is THISCLOSE to being totally done--enough that, within days, I will be able to safely query agents and publishers without frantically writing at the same time. H'ray, huzzah, and all that.

Trouble is, I'm about 14K over the usual top word limit for my genre (100K). Conundrum: Should I hold back on querying until I get the word count down, or should I take a chance that some agent or publisher out there won't mind a few thousand extra words?

I've been pretty brutal so far, and I think I could probably cut a couple thousand more without the story sounding like...well, like I cut thousands of words from the plot just to reduce the word count. But I'm sure I won't get down to 100K.

Thoughts? :hi:
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sybylla Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 09:59 AM
Response to Original message
1. I've been told both - but I would recommend editing first.
Edited on Mon May-30-11 10:00 AM by sybylla
I had an agent who I pitched in person tell me, "Why fuss over cutting it now? Wait until an editor gets a hold of it."

But every book I've ever read on querying says that you should only offer finished works that fit the agents' parameters - including word count,etc.

I started querying with a high word count and got nowhere. I cut it down and started getting a better response - even had a request for a manuscript.

My advice - edit it now. Get it down close to the target number. I know cutting 14,000 words is terrifying. I've been there. I cut 40,000 from my first draft (which would never have gotten that big had I been paying attention earlier in the process).

The way to approach editing is to believe that you owe it to the story to present it in the best shape possible.

The best friend I had while I was editing was the book, Writer's Little Helper by James V. Smith. It's full of very good advice on the little tweaks and adjustments and 101 things every writer needs to fix or trim from their novel. It also has great tools for analyzing scenes and chapters so that when you're done editing, it really is that can't-put-down novel.

Once I could envision my story in a better form, editing became much easier.
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MorningGlow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon May-30-11 07:02 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Exactly the issue--I've heard both sides as well
Sticklers for Da Rulez say one must, must, MUST fit into the accepted word count range before approaching agents and/or publishers, or it's query suicide. But even my former editor (magazine editor) said "Who cares? Editors are going to cut. Don't worry about it." So I don't know WHAT to do.

I'm also not sure what else to cut. When it was a rambling first draft (okay, second or third draft), it was 135K, so I have cut quite a bit, and it wasn't as painful as I expected. However, I'm getting down to the bone now. I'm considering reducing the main character's relationship with her dad, even though I think it's pretty important (she starts out a doormat, and her father is one of the people in her life wiping his shoes on her--figuratively speaking).

I was so proud of myself last night--I cut a scene that I adored. Tough love and all that. Did a word count...it lost me less than 1,000 words. Sheesh. :banghead:

Thanks for the book recommendation--I will check it out! :hi:
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue May-31-11 10:33 PM
Response to Original message
3. My guess is that if you're not already
an established writer, you really should get your novel down to the normally accepted word-count.

I also guess that your manuscript should be, in your opinion, absolutely ready to be set in type exactly as is. Of course, that's not what will happen, but the closer you are to a "perfect" manuscript, the happier the agents and publishers will be. There's a limit to just how much editing they're going to be willing to do.
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MorningGlow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-01-11 06:36 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. True nuff
The good thing is that I'm already a professional published writer, although not a published novelist. I'm also an editor, so my current editors love me because my pieces are always "layout ready" (need barely any work on their part). But yeah, publishing folks are skittish about "new" authors, and I get the sense that one false move and it's Rejection City. :(
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-01-11 11:45 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. I'm under the impression
that if you haven't already published in a particular, specific genre or kind of writing, you're a "newcomer", unless perhaps you are one of the already really huge names who is guaranteed to sell large numbers of books no matter what. Merely being published in one area seems to be of little help otherwise. Except that you already know about proper formatting and how to behave around editors and so on.

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MorningGlow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jun-01-11 02:16 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Oh yes, of course
Edited on Wed Jun-01-11 02:17 PM by MorningGlow
I didn't mean to imply that I "expect" to get a fiction book deal just because I get paid for writing other types of stuff--not at all. My fiction must be taken on its own merits; I am a newcomer not to the profession, but to the genre (attempting to get it published, at least--I've been writing fiction all my life).

What I meant was that if an agent or publisher gives it a read, they'll find that it's well-written--no errors (or very few, and those of the typo sort) on top of decent style/grammar/story structure/etc., which is attractive to an editor (less work required on their part). I cannot tell you how BADLY some people write, yet get published because they have a good idea. (O the things I have seen as an editor--!) If a publisher decides to take on a poorly written book with a good idea, s/he is well aware that a LOT of collaborative work has to go into it before it's ready for that first printing. Some publishers take that gamble, usually on established writers, as you said, but some don't want to bother investing the time and effort.

And, of course, a publisher is less likely to take a chance on a manuscript by a newbie who's also a poor writer, albeit with a good idea. So at the very least, my skilled writing will elicit a "phew" from an editor if they read a sample. Hoping that gives me at least a little bit of an edge! :)
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Orrex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-04-11 07:37 PM
Response to Original message
7. Eliminate the spaces between half of your words and you cut your wordcount by 25%
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MorningGlow Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Jun-10-11 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. ...
:spank:
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