Sunday, June 20, 2010

Your Manuscript is Too Appropriate. I Hate Appropriate!

If I've written a YA novel over 100,000 words, will agents/publishers reject it right out simply because of word length before even reading my query? Or if my query is only so-so (which it probably is), could the word count tip the scales for tossing it?
Don't be silly. The Amulet of Samarkand? The Hunger Games? These ring any bells?

...Unless by "over 100,000 words" you mean "200,000 words". If you're going to get into Deathly Hallows / Breaking Dawn territory, you better be J K Rowling or Stephenie Meyer, and I think I would have noticed that in your email address.


Josin L. McQuein said...

That last line cracked me up for some reason.


Anonymous said...


Considering countless other agents and editors have said they automatically reject novels with word counts over 100,000 words, I really don't think the OP was being silly.

OP, make every word count. YA novels over 100,000 words are a much harder sell. It's certainly not impossible, especially if you write sci-fi or fantasy, but it is harder.

Editorial Anonymous is one of my favorite websites, but EA, sometimes your advice contradicts advice of other agents/editors. That's fine, except that you often present your opinions as fact. Every agency/publisher is different.

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

ha ha! that last line cracked me up too.

a different anon said...

I have to say I'm with Anon at 2:21 on this. EA, not to lecture your sweet ass or anything, but if a 100k ms gets submitted to you by an agent it probably is fantastic. It would have to be, because most 100k YAs will never GET an agent -- agents take a look at that long ass word count and don't even bother asking for a partial. It's super hard to place that unless you are already a "name' author.

PARE THAT SUCKER DOWN. I bet you can slice out at least 25k and it'll be all the better for it.

Editorial Anonymous said...

To the anons:
I appreciate you adding to this post with your own experience.
I agree with you both that most novels of that length could be shorter, and the fact that there are long novels on the bestseller lists shouldn't be taken by anyone as permission not to edit their own work.

However, I see novels of that length sold, and for good money, so I don't think anyone should be making rules about how long something MUST be.

And I don't feel I should need to point out in every post that I am one person, with one person's experiences, and one person's opinions. That ought to be fairly obvious, yes?

a different anon said...

It's just that I get a sense that the OP already knows the ms is too long and instead of doing the super hard work of cutting, just wants to be justified (EA says it's OKAY!!)

She stated her query is only "so-so" AND her novel is 100k, well, hell. That's one tough road to travel, isn't it? I'd hate to see her burn up all her query options by a simple word count. It's REALLY though out there right now.

Anonymous said...

"And I don't feel I should need to point out in every post that I am one person, with one person's experiences, and one person's opinions. That ought to be fairly obvious, yes?"

Yes, it ought to be obvious, but still I frequently come across writers who latch onto one blog entry in support of their ginormous novel.

"My query isn't getting any bites. I don't get it!"

"Well, your contemporary YA novel is 120,000 words. Perhaps that's the problem?"

"No, no! Fat books are fine. EA says so!"

Sigh. "Best of luck to you."

I agree that there are no definite rules regarding word length, and that there shoudn't be. But writers need to be aware of the realities of the business, and 100,000+ word novels are a harder sell, according to many agents and editors.

-anon #1

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