Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Agent Answers: Word Count

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). 

Question: Do you like to be given the exact word count in queries?

Answer: Please don't. It looks amateurish and we don't care that much about those 253 words. Round it to the nearest thousandth. We get the picture from there. So, 60K, 72K, 105K, 193K, etc.

That said, please don't query me with a 193K word project. I will reject you.

Happy writing!


Emily said...

What about the other direction? What's the lowest word count you'd be likely to accept?

Dr. Cheryl Carvajal said...

I just finished editing a manuscript for another YA author (no, really, it isn't some "friend" who really is me, but it really is another author). Her first novel was 65,000 words, but the second was around 140,000 words.

Was I out of line to suggest she cut down the novel CONSIDERABLY?

Eric Steinberg said...

For YA sci fi, over what word count would give you pause or be an automatic no?

Carrie-Anne said...

I love writing long, sweeping historical sagas, so some of my books have word counts over 300,000. Given the modern-day attitudes about deliberately long books, I'll probably have to pursue some kind of indie or e-publishing for them.

I have seen some people in contests giving the EXACT word count, and it always strikes me as newbie. Although I do wish we'd get back to the old idea that telling a story is more important than fanatically counting words and stressing out if a book ends up at barely above novella-length or stretches to 400,000 words. A good writer knows how to write a book at the length that works for it, instead of trying to plan a story around a certain length in advance.