October 5th, 2005

books

(no subject)

I'm now working on my column for RTB - we'll see who was the winner in the suggestion pool. If the article comes out. I may have to change my mind on the topic if I get too stuck.

Meanwhile batdog03 commented:
I am writing a large book (estimated 285K), and I am constantly told that it is too large, and as a first time submitter that it will not get picked up. Is this true? It is the genre fantasy. What are the basic lengths for novels and can first time writers get away with writing larger than average books?

I don't want to sound too flippant... but I developed a query-letter drinking game a while ago, and one of the rules is to take a drink if someone pitches a novel over 250K; drink twice if that's the first book of a trilogy. Seriously, the average length for a fantasy novel is between 100-150K. If they go much longer, this makes the arcane equation which is used to determine the cost per unit and cover price give back very angsty answers, or so I understand. There are exceptions, of course (Susanna Clark's Strange & Norrell, for instance -- Amazon's text stats for the book show it to be approximately 330K words). But - to put it bluntly - it's unusual to make those exceptions for a first time author. In my opinion, it would be advantageous to find a natural breaking spot in the middle of this story and make it a two-volume package.

Here's a couple factoids to go along with this:

*DAW's submission guidelines sites their average book length as 80K.
*Harlequin's fantasy line LUNA lists 100-150K for word-length.
*Betsy Mitchell, editor at Del Rey, has said that 120K is the average word-length for a fantasy manuscript.
*Jennifer Brehl, editor at Eos (HarperCollins) gave 125K.
*Warner Aspect's guidelines (not online) give 80-100K as the suggested word length.
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