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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Advice Regarding Word Count

Hello Fellow Writers!

Yesterday I didn't get as much done on my revisions of my WIP as I had planned. Tomorrow, however, I will be going to the last NaNoWriMo write-in and I will get a lot done then. I'm sad that the official write-ins will soon be over, but I have plans to continue meeting on the weekends with a couple of the other girls.

I read a great Silhouette Desire book by Jennifer Lewis yesterday, called "The Maverick's Virgin Mistress". I read that book so fast because it was just so much fun! I won't spoil the ending for you, (well, we all know they live happily ever after) but I literally squealed at the ending and then read it out loud to my husband.

I know a lot of people have questions about word count. We've established that Harlequin category romances have very specific guidelines on their tip sheets, and they use computer word count. Here is an excerpt from a wonderful article by Jessica from one of my favorite blogs, Bookends, LLC, about word count. Read the whole article here.

First and foremost, what length should your book be? My answer is when in doubt think 80,000 words, give or take. I don’t think that you can ever go wrong with 80,000 words whether you’re writing mystery, romance, fantasy, literary fiction, or nonfiction. Okay, sure, it’s never going to work for children’s books or poetry, but since I don’t rep those it doesn’t matter (to me anyway). In fact, I think 80,000 words even works for YA. Sure, with some of these genres you’re going to be on the long end and with others the short end, but again this is the “when in doubt word count.” 80,000 words is pretty much safe everywhere.

What about range, I’ll be asked. Can you give us a range or can you be genre specific? I suppose I can, to the best of my abilities.

Mystery: I think that for mysteries you often have the freedom of writing a book that’s a little shorter. In the case of mysteries 70,000 to 90,000 words will likely work for you.

Romance: 80,000 to 100,000, and no, I’m not counting category. If you’re writing category you’ll need to follow the very specific word count requirements of that line.

Fantasy or SF: Here you can go a little bit longer. Some publishers will accept books in the 80,000 to 125,000 range.

YA: 50,000 to 75,000, and yes, this is an area that can get really fudgy (I made that up), but again, in the 80,000 range is good. **I corrected these numbers after feedback from others (and comment from Kim) although I do think with YA these days you can still be safe in 80,000 words although maybe a tad high. Fantasy YA of course can be higher.

Women’s fiction, literary fiction or anything I failed to mention above: 80,000 to 100,000 (sometimes 125,000, especially in the case of literary fiction).

Now all of these are ranges and estimations. You are unlikely to be rejected simply because you’re at 78,000 for your women’s fiction or 110,000 for your romance. That being said, if you start coming in at 175,000 words, 200,000 words, or 41,000 words, you better take a close look at your book. No one in their right mind would think you’re somewhat close to range. Let’s put it this way, we give a range so that you know what the fudge factor is. We’re all smart people and we all know that when we ask something to be within a range we’ll allow for some leeway. Just think about how much leeway you’d allow and keep it at that.

Today I am going to see the movie "The Road", which is based on the book by the same name. I'll let you know it goes!

Yours Truly,
Shoshanna Evers

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