Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Word Count Warning

A word of advise to would be aspiring authors out there . . . if you're serious about getting published, make sure you pay close attention to word count for the genre you are writing in.  I read way too many blogs telling me to ignore word count and to just write the story, to just let it naturally unfold. Well, that's what I did with my first novel, Finding Home, targeted toward young adults, and the final word count ended up being just over 145,000 words.  If you've got the clout of J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer, then you can maybe get away with this, but as a non-published author, I have since learned that I have almost no chance of getting this published.  The cost of paper is up, and most publishers have a very specific word count ranges they require a novel to be in for a specific genre, to even be considered.

Middle Grade books are typically in the 40,000 - 70,000 word range.
Young Adult books are typically in the 60,000 - 90,000 word range.

You'll find publishers who will go a little higher or lower depending on the book.  If you're on the high end, you're book has to have considerable commercial value to it for a publisher to want to take the risk of the added cost it will take to print.

This means that I am now in the oh so painful process of cutting almost 60,000 words from my first novel.  The process is making me a much better writer, but I would not recommend it to anyone, so if you're starting a new novel or even in the middle of one, make sure you have a publishable word count target in mind and that you are pacing/structuring your story towards that goal.  I did this with my second novel, and it has made the editing process infinitely more enjoyable.

As for Finding Home, I've cut about 5,500 words from the first three chapters. . . only 54,500 more words to go.  Ouch.
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