Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Agent Answers... Again. Word Count Take 2

You have questions? Do you constantly miss #askagent sessions on Twitter? Is it impossible, despite a hundred Google searches, to find an answer to your question? Then you've come to the right place. Ask a question either on any "Agent Answers" post or on Twitter, and I'll answer as many as I can. My answers will be subjective and should not be considered applicable to every agent (though I do like to assume my opinions are the majority). 

A few days ago, I answered a question about rounding your word count--do it to the nearest thousandth. And suddenly I got an influx of people asking about too long, too short, what if this?

I'm going to go on the record here--agents (most of us) hate answering questions about word count. Writers are obsessed. Follow the rules so you know how to break them. Google it. Most agents go with the same guidelines (Colleen Lindsay's post on the subject is a good one, here). One conference I was at this past year, I was on a panel with many other agents, in a huge room filled with hundreds of people. It was open season on the agents--ask anything and we answer. And a few people wasted everyone else's time asking specifics about word count (well, my manuscript is yadda yadda, is 275K too long?). We got tired of it and it became a running joke that most of the writers, but not all of them, got.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on this. I will most likely reject anything over 140K. I *might* look at something over 110K. I won't look at anything under 50K for any genre. YA runs a little shorter, Adult a little longer, MG shorter still, best selling authors and Diana Gabaldon even longer.

Concentrate on writing the best you can. If that means writing 30K or 400K to achieve that, go for it!

Happy writing!

3 comments:

Eric Steinberg said...

This was helpful. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

We writers obsess about it because some pieces do naturally come in at something like 30k, as you mention. But that's too short for a novel. So we gnash our teeth and hope that if we can manage to get it up to 40k it might just be enough. Or something :)

It's really helpful to see posts like this that give a range of what is 'acceptable.' Thank you for being patient with us obsessed writers!

Aisyah Putri Setiawan said...


Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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