That would be an interesting topic to look into further… though to survey enough books to prove it definitively would take a lot of time! Like Like. Reblogged this on mariasjostrand. Very interesting article! Book length is not something I am overly concerned about but I guess subconsciously I do take it into consideration. I had no idea about most of these facts either. Very interesting post! I only dabble in writing, but I love fantasy. After all, the tales are the best part! That lets me add some extraneous backstory without being too pedestrian while following the familiar three-act trilogy.
Yes I tend to prefer books to be K or under too. I am k into my epic and am also thinking of splitting into three parts. It does leave scope for further world building and a less challenging look on the shelf, however having said that I have never been put off by large works and actually seek them out rather than smaller works, depending on my reading needs at the time. The whole of Lord of the Rings in about four days. Epic fantasy junkie.
Once my book is finished to my satisfaction I will then talk to an editor about content and such, I am only human though some may suggest otherwise. This is my debut novel, as I had only ever written poetry before, and short excerpts for my own purpose.
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It was gratifying to see some of those works held up as an example of, high standard. I had thought about a novel before and now am really enjoying the journey, even learning about a thing called grammar. My mindset is to write well enough that large word count is not a handicap, that is the standard I hope to achieve. Great article, very useful, another tool in my writing kit. Thank you. I think fantasy readers, especially epic fantasy readers, are used to longer works in general — I just personally tend to more readily pick up shorter reads.
But the main thing of course is that the story is holding my attention and told well, regardless of length. Anyway, best of luck with your novel! One of my story ideas is fantasy I think. If there are Fairy Frogs it sounds like a fantasy! A picture or chapter book will have a lot less words than the counts I mentioned above though almost all the figures and guidelines I listed are for fantasy books aimed at teenagers or adults.
These Fairy Frogs are compassionate and are artists. The protagonist, Sparkle, is 12 and is rebellious and her talent in art is drawing and because of how much she is invested in her craft, that is what is what makes her rebellious. The toads are rather disrespectful and rather rude and not compassionate at all. But look what happens when Sparkle befriends one of them, Marge, which is against the rules and so is going beyond where the toads live.
Marge is one of the nicer toads in the batch. But many of the older toads are the rude ones. Amazingly excellent! It currently weighs in at k words hence the editor. World-building is tricksy.
Children's Literature Section 5: Fantasy and Speculative Fictions
Pierce Brown is a perfect example of a writer who immediately dragged me into his world with just a few words. This is a delightfully organic process, but it can take you down too many cul-de-sacs. My editor gave me holy hell, and I love her for it. When your ms. Yours is a fabulous article and I thank you for it! I made the mistake once of worrying too much about my word count toward the end of an early draft of a manuscript when I saw it creeping into behemoth territory!
Pingback: Amazingly Awesome! It seems to me that you can enjoy most of the benefits and avoid most of the drawbacks by writing a series of 90 — k books. Or, at least keep book 1 to less than k. Like Liked by 2 people. Pingback: How long should epic fantasy be? You are commenting using your WordPress.
You are commenting using your Google account. You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. What could be more exciting than reading a story based on a topic you are unfamiliar with. Would you have to be a sailor to enjoy Moby Dick? Nothing wrong with a book that appeals to the working class. Are we so convinced that John Steinbeck would not sell, if he were trying to publish today? Kit, give this man some encouragement, please.
I do aim to respond to every author who writes in to us. Apologies Scott! Stories of sea life in any form usually find an audience of sorts, and there are many publishers who take interest in such manuscripts. Publishing opportunities also rely heavily on timing — when you submit your manuscript, who you submit it to, what is going on in the wider social sphere etc. If you feel that your MS is different to all else on the shelf, that can be wonderful…but it can also be scary for publishers these days because there is no proof that something like it will sell.
With memoir-type writing it can be hard to know what you have related on paper, and what is still floating about in your head. And external reader can help you with this, and also help you with the overall structure, as well as the sentence-level errors etc. Some novels take years to find a publishing place. All the best with finding an agent or publisher, it can be a gruelling process for many authors.
Take care, Kit. Your article is very helpful, however I was hoping you might be able to help me with a specific question. I used to weigh over kg and in the last 6 years I finally managed to win the weight battle and lose kg. I am in the process of writing a book about my story and will also include tips and things that I have learned over the course of my journey in the hopes that it helps others who are trying to lose weight.
So I guess it is also a self help book. I am currently at about 12, words and probably half way through if I were to guess. Is words too short for this kind of book, or is shorter better in this case? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Well done on the weight loss, I am certain it took a lot of determination, resilience and emotional resolve to lose kg. It is no small task, so a huge amount of respect goes to you for this!
In terms of self-help titles, there is no hard and fast rule about word length as the content can vary so much and the audience expectations of this content varies also. I would start by looking in bookshops or on Amazon and looking at comparative titles to see how long they are. It also depends on whether you are self-publishing or seeking traditional publishing.
Traditional publishers might be happy to look over what you already have along with a strong synopsis and covering letter and view it as a framework for what they could develop the work into. For instance, do you include recipes, exercise regimes etc? I am afraid it is tricky to provide concrete advice on certain genres, because there are so many variables. Good evening. I have been rather forthright in my search of the Internet this last couple of weeks in search of guidelines regarding word counts. I would hazard a guess and state that word counts will be no problem for me as i have always been somewhat of a day dreamer.
However, my query merely rests upon one question if I may? My curiosity compels me now to query such as its fast becoming clearer that the old proverb of Tempus Fugit tells no lies. Your article was very informative, and revealed the exact information I have been searching for, and thankfully falls in line with other sources I have stumbled across. Many thanks indeed! Hi Steven, Thanks for your comment. I would always suggest writing your manuscript in the first instance and then considering the word count after you have redrafted your work several times, through self-editing.
It is a rare occurrence for me to find an author who needs little to no editing, either self-editing or editing from an external editor. I think any writing can be improved upon from its first drafting — particularly with manuscripts. In fact, I think the magic really happens when you edit and start adding the layers. Writing is a series of layers, adding more depth, taking out aspects that detract from the narrative, seeing where your plot can be refined.
The beautiful thing about being a writer is that life, age and experience all work together to help us become better at the craft. It is a job that many get better at as we get older and wiser. And although its a very solitary pursuit, our work often only reaches the pinnacle when we work collaboratively with others ie editors , who can see our work objectively and help to shine the light in the right places in our manuscripts. I hope this helps to answer your query.
Thanks for some great ideas. If so, must this cover letter be a short story of your book or what info will the editors require to take note of your book? Hello Shani, I am glad you have found all the information helpful. And, yes, you are right, you need to submit a cover letter and synopsis to agents and publishers along with your MS. I would argue that these two documents are more important than your MS in the first instance, just to get the agent or publisher to read your work.
Happy writing! Hi Sarah, Thanks for visiting our blog. In terms of a reviewer, what are you wanting to achieve? What kind of reviewer are you looking for? Are you looking to self-publish or seek out traditional publishing? I would suggest writing a framework of what you want to include, and then consider the audience you wish to target, then see what the current competition is in that market. Then you will have more of an idea of what that audience expects, and also how to stand out from what is already in the market.
Understanding who you are writing for and what you wish to write about is the first port of call though. Thank you for this article. I have a question, I recently re-edited my novel from 80, words to 94, words. Is this okay for a Young Adult coming of age story or should I start cutting? I hope this makes sense! Let me know if you have any further questions I can help with. The yellow headers on the white background in this article are hard on the eyes. The content of the article is excellent. Thank you for not just throwing facts, but also providing context and reasoning.
The tough part is which chapter do you pick…. Thanks for the feedback, Ethan. I started off writing a short story. Hi Steven, It is a tough question. I would suggest focussing on one MS and finessing that. Then I would consider working with an appraisal agency, such as mine to get some independent, professional feedback. It is impossible to know if it is worth the time and money, to be honest. You really have to do it because you love it. The best manuscripts can be overlooked for years, simply because the audience they are pitching at is not ready for their work, or they find they have competing titles on their desk at that time.
This article was really useful, thank you. Hi Mike, I am very happy to be of assistance! Well done on writing both fiction and non-fiction! Thank you so much for writing this, I have been looking for a clear article like this for a long time! I am just reaching the end of my novel, and it is just under 60, words. It is teen fiction, meant roughly for year old, perhaps younger. I am very happy with my story, however I do have a slight problem.
I am quite young, and still only at secondary school, and I do wonder whether it will be possible for a young author to get a book published? Is it possible for a young girl to get her novel published, or will publishers and agents be put off by my age? Hi Jessica, Well done on completing your manuscript — many adults never achieve this! I feel you could do one of two things when submitting your work for publication or to agents: you could choose to own up to your age and cite it as an advantage because you understand the demographic you are writing for, or simply make no initial reference to your age and let your work speak for itself.
The main issue a publisher will be concerned with is whether you are in a position to market your own book — ie do the author circuits and speaking tours etc. In fact, your age could actually be an interesting selling point for your book — a teen fiction, written by a teen. Either way, your work needs to speak for itself and be able to do the selling, so I would suggest that you ensure that the manuscript you submit is the best version of itself that it possibly can be — this means asking someone who is not your family or friends to look at it critically.
There are obviously paid services for this sort of thing like my agency , but you might have a supportive English teacher who would be willing to cast a critical eye over it. I wish you all the best with your quest for publication!! Oh hi there! I was looking for a bit of reassurance about a novel I am currently writing. As it is progressing, I am noticing that it is becoming increasingly dark in tone and the subject matter involves some pretty dark stuff as well e.
Thanks in advance. Also, thank you for the helpful article too. Hi Chloe, I would love to provide you concrete feedback to your query, however it is hard to say until I read the MS. What I can say though is that audiences are much more open to being challenged by dark material than they once were. However, the delivery of the material would determine how it might be received.
The content and the delivery go hand-in-hand. At the moment there are just over 22, words, and not even a quarter of a way through the storyline. Just focus on writing the manuscript. You can work out genre details later, and tweak the MS, if necessary. Once you have completed the first few drafts you will get a better sense of what it might be. All I want is to be able to share my story in a tangible form. This novel is very important to me. But I have no idea how marketable it is.
All I know is that I want to make this story as engaging and polished as it can possibly be, and I want to one day see someone else holding it in their hands.
How Long Should a Fantasy Book Be?
Hi Liam, thanks for your message. I would be happy to chat further. I will shoot you an email today, and hopefully I can provide a little guidance. Great article, now I know where I went wrong. My novel, which originally started out to be a boy beats girl romantic thriller based on true events, finished up by being an erotic thriller with a ,word count. The word count is too high, especially for a first-time writer. Although initially I was very excited when I was accepted by a publisher, and even signed a contract, unfortunately, they went into liquidation just before printing.
So my question to you is this, with a little adjustment my story can easily be presented as two books with a word count of roughly 80,word each. Now, how do I write my synopsis? Do I write it describing the first book only, or do I write it incorporating both. Hello Brian, Well done on completing your manuscript, and also for the publishing opportunity!!
I assume you would be submitting your MS as a series, so then you would submit the overview synopsis and perhaps the extended single-book synopses also, on request. Does that all make sense? Please do feel free to call or email me and we can chat further about this. All the best, Kit. Make sure you edit this in any cover letter you submit… I am not sure publishers want manuscripts about boys beating girls….
The writing phase is all about words on the page; plot, narrative development, character development, world-building. Came across this article trying to figure out the rules for this lazy bum of a writer. Very informative. Hi, I have completed my first novel, the first in a series, and I am currently in the process of revising it.
I would need to see your MS to be able to provide manuscript-specific feedback. It all depends on the world building, the narrative development, plot development, character establishment, series establishment, writing style etc. I would be happy to chat more if you would like to email me at kit manuscriptagency. Hi kit, Not sure if you would follow up on this but thanks a lot, your article has taught me a lot.
And to be honest I learnt more from the comments section. I love writing myself but not sure if my writing is good enough my english. I am working on a fiction novel and my autobiography am just 29 by the way. I am halfway on both the books. I would like you to take a look at my sample writings on my blog and review my writing style and my grab on english. Dear Aga, Thank you for your message.
Chat soon, Kit. I like to keep my books short and sweet. The problem is…. Dear Christine, At this point of writing I would be concentrating on the writing itself and not worrying one bit about the word count. The word count will change as you write and edit your work. Focus on getting the narrative structure working and make sure your characters are doing their job first, before worrying about length. In terms of your age, it is hard to say. I would be inclined to let your work speak for itself in the first instance.
Once it has done that then your age could come into play. A young writer, such as yourself, can be a good selling point for publishers! Well done on being so proactive in your writing! I am curious, it is set around the lives of several average teenagers, and touches on many issues they face today. I am currently at 26k words and am running into writers block. In your opinion, would a publisher even consider a 26k word first novella? Or should I try to continue to expand the story.
I mean my target audience is the average teen. What would you recommend? Thank you. I would focus on ensuring your manuscript was complete, with a sufficient beginning, middle and end — and with all the necessary developments in plot and character — before even considering the word count. In terms of garnering feedback, there are professionals like us who deal in providing feedback. But there are also lots of beta readers out there and writing groups where you can gather feedback on your writing — this is especially helpful in the early days of writing.
Thanks for touching base. I currently have a 26, would book definitely need an editor I was told I only needed 40, words and now that has changed a need about 55, I had the whole ending planned out drawn out and now I need to add an extra 15, words to that Might just go into self publishing that way I can have it published either way. Hi Joe, I would focus on the content of the manuscript and the development of the narrative before considering the word count. It is good to keep in mind, but better to think about it in the self-editing phase.
Dear Kit, Thank you so much for the article; it shed light on a lot of obscure details; however, I would like you to guide me with the next step. I am writing a novel which I am dividing into three parts, I somehow have the plot in my head and I am developing as I proceed.
The first part was finished and it was 66, words. I started with part two a month ago and I just checked your website regarding the word count…which got me worried.
Should I completely ignore the word count at this point and continue with the flow of ideas and then if it is too long, I decide to make it two novels part one alone ,and part 2 and 3 together or should I start restricting myself, I kind of drift with descriptions and settings but it is my poetic way I am originally an architect … Please advice…Thank you….
Dear Dana, Apologies for my late reply. The mechanics of writing at this point can inhibit your creativity, just enjoy writing the narrative at this point. I hope this helps! Hi Kit. Your article really helped put a lot of things into perspective. But to be honest, it feels a bit unclear to me when I think about my story. This is why. I am writing a novel at the moment and it is generally fantasy; more urban fantasy which is actually a category of YA because it is focused on teenagers and magic.
This is where it gets confusing with respect to the word count. You highlighted that Fantasy is generally between 90 — words while YA is 50 — 80 But can you clarify the right approach with respect to word limit to my particular genre? Should I stick to the 90 word limit or otherwise? To give you an idea of the story setting, think Harry Potter. A fantasy world that exists within the real world and there is some back and forth between the two. I would really appreciate it. Thank you very much! Dear Asad, Apologies for the delay in my response and thank you for your message.
Fantasy writing, even for YA, has a little more scope. Readers of fantasy understand that the narrative will be longer, because of world-building aspects etc. Readers of fantasy are also usually more committed to reading longer texts. However, I would simply focus on finishing the manuscript and then potentially have it assessed.
At the end of the day, the word count parameters are simply a guide — the narrative will be the thing that will dictate the appropriate length. Does that make sense? I have been rereading it, fixing it best I can before I look into finding editor. It word count , and page count So should I stay with this word count, or try to bring the word count down. It very frustrating though. Hi Pamela, I am afraid it is impossible to answer that question without seeing your manuscript.
It is not a black and white situation. At the end of the day, your narrative will dictate what the appropriate word length will be. I did not see any mention of these kind of books above.