Author Topic: Word Count for Debut Novels  (Read 1022 times)

Offline SincerelySinclair

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Word Count for Debut Novels
« on: September 08, 2019, 02:06:07 PM »
I've been debating myself about this issue for some time but I can't decide if 65K is too short or too long for a debut novel.

I understand perfectly that agents don't want a 100k plus novel from a new author (too risky for starters) and that new writers get rejected all the time due to their excessive length but what about novels being too short? Is 65-60K too short for an agent to take interest in or is it just right? I'm still editing my novel so things may get shorter or longer depending on how I think each chapter flows, but I would like to know everyone's opinion.

My main concern is how each chapter flows. I don't want to add on unnecessary paragraphs to appease some golden rule of novel-length if it compromises the story.

Online jcwrites

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Re: Word Count for Debut Novels
« Reply #1 on: September 08, 2019, 03:57:01 PM »
My experience from surfing publisher websites indicates that 60k is the minimum. Agents may want a heftier count to allow room for editing, so 70k might be their norm.

fwiw

Offline Johnny 5

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Re: Word Count for Debut Novels
« Reply #2 on: March 27, 2021, 10:25:55 AM »
Late reply but in case others come this way, I am told 70k to 80k is the sweet spot.

The Notebook was only 52k but still exploded.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2021, 10:27:41 AM by jonny_555 »
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Offline littlewritings

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Re: Word Count for Debut Novels
« Reply #3 on: March 27, 2021, 03:05:17 PM »
I will say this: Agents will absolutely reject you if your novel is too long or too short for the genre you're writing in. No agent will take on an 80k MG novel, no agent will take on a 30k romance novel, or a 300k novel in literally any genre. If you're close to the expected work count, it likely won't make a huge difference, but if you're way over or way under, an agent won't touch it, because the work it'll take to get the book to a point where they are able to sell it may not be worth it.

While there are outliers (like The Notebook, although I'll also note that this book was published about 25 years ago and genre conventions change), a word count that is massively off the mark will often be an easy rejection for an agent.

As for the 60k question: You might get away with it if it's YA contemporary, but in any other genre, that'll probably be too short.

Offline Johnny 5

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Re: Word Count for Debut Novels
« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2021, 04:56:09 AM »
Haha @littlewritings - my first version of my MG fantasy book was 84K and I was told off for that too. My very first personalized rejection said that it was too long. When I read your comment I instantly recalled my mistake with that one :)
« Last Edit: April 01, 2021, 12:45:12 PM by jonny_555 »
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Offline Donnettetxgirl

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Re: Word Count for Debut Novels
« Reply #5 on: April 03, 2021, 11:09:38 AM »
I think if an agent really likes the story, even if it has less of a word count than normal, they will accept it. Unless their website states otherwise.

You never want to add words just for the sake of bringing up the word count. If you are really in doubt you could always add a few scenes, but if you do, I'd make sure those scenes pushed the story along. But I really think you're okay.

I do know there are a lot of publishers out there that call for a 60K word count for certain series. Carina Press and Harlequinn are two.