9.01.2005

How much is too much? even of a good thing

A Snarkling gets out her yardstick:

Is it true that there's no point in querying a mainstream fiction manuscript that exceeds 100,000 words? Mine is currently quite a bit longer. (180,000) I don't think there's much fat in the story. Should I cut, quit, or query?

That's one big novel there!
Does it fetch and roll over too?

There are sweeping sagas, and huge novels published these days. Not many, but some. There was a story in the Times recently about a book that weighed over five pounds, and the author's website (tongue in cheek) offered "safe reading positions" for the tome.

My limit is about 100,000 words. I'm not a fan of sweeping sagas, and I'm not much on needing a trolley to whisk the manuscript off to an editorial lunch. Trolleys so seldom match one's shoes.

But, this is your work, your vision, and if you think it's at the correct weight...err...word count, then by all means, stand by your man.

Look for agents who have represented big books previously. Some of them love the darn things.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

How long does it take a publisher (on average) to get back to an agent on a novel submission? I've heard three months is average. Is that true? I know this is generalizing. There are some who call the next day and some who call a year later, but I'm curious as to what the "usual" timeframe is.

Anonymous said...

And is there such a thing as too short a word count? At what point to do the numbers by themselves start to make you apprehensive?

Desperate Writer said...

You know, I think Marsha Moyer's book, The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch, was a really long book originally, and when it sold, it was actually divided into two, the second one being The Last of the Honky Tonk Angels. I wonder if the author who posted this question to Miss Snark might find a place to divide it into two different but related novels?

Hmm...

Ben said...

Any book that requires more than one hand to hold infront of my face tends to get left on the shelf.
I need a free hand to shoo the wife away when she makes pointed remarks about housework and the such.

I only have two hands by the way, to be clear.
And no one else holds my books infornt of my face for me. Although, I don't think that would necessarily be a bad thing.
I could twiddle my thumbs!

Anonymous said...

Desperate WRiter is correct about Marsha Moyer! Good idea..........

Desperate Writer said...

Oh, Anon! You have no idea how much I love to hear someone telling me I'm right!*sigh* HAHAHAHAHAHA Just kidding. :P

Douglas Hoffman said...

Mine stands at 300,000. I like to think of it as a trilogy neatly packaged in one book.

Here's what keeps me from a state of blind panic: for John C. Wright's first novel The Golden Age, Tor broke the story up into three parts and sold them as separate novels.

I could live with that ;o)

Anonymous said...

I was told my novel was too long--172k literal count--by the agent who rejected it again after it was split into two. He didn't feel strongly enough about it, but that's okay--I wouldn't want it languishing in his drawer!

The way I see it, if I ever DO get that two-novel deal, I already have a second novel ready...

Rowan said...

I'm not sure about other fields, but SF&F has lots of multi-book epics. In fact, it seems to be the norm. Perhaps breaking it up a la Tolkein would work. (Apparently the LotR was one book in it's design, but broken up due to size, though anyone do correct me if that's in error)