manuscript

How many words is too many words?

For me, there’s nothing more cringe-worthy than when a first-time author announces that their manuscript is over 200,000 words, or worse yet, 300,000 words. The worst part is that they usually say with pride, like they’re looking for praise. I’ll admit, writing that many words is quite an accomplishment and for that reason, they should be proud, but announcing a single volume manuscript that long tells me that the writer has not done their research in regards to how long their novel should be to fit established guidelines.

Now, most word count guidelines are just that; guidelines. That said though, there are practical reasons why those guidelines exist. That’s not to say that a 200,000 word manuscript can’t be published that way, but it’s less likely to be and it will run into a few problems trying to get there.

First, let’s look at traditional publishing. First, a publisher (or agent) is going to be looking within a certain range for the length of books they’re willing to work on. One reason for this is that the longer the book is, the more effort and time it takes to get it ready for publication. A second reason is that for marketing purposes, each genre has an established word count range which readers expect to find when they pick up a book in their preferred genre.

According to ‘The Write Life’, here are the guidelines for most genres:

too-many-wordsFiction Genres

  • Mainstream Romance: 70,000–100,000 words
  • Subgenre Romance: 40,000–100,000 words
  • Science Fiction / Fantasy: 90,000–120,000 (and sometimes 150,000) words
  • Historical Fiction: 80,000–100,000
  • Thrillers / Horror / Mysteries / Crime: 70,000–90,000 words
  • Young Adult: 50,000–80,000

Now, what about self-publishing? You might think that if you’re not trying to get the attention of a publisher or an agent that word counts don’t matter, but you’d be wrong. Readers also have expectations and it is easier to market to people if they know what to expect. Not only that, but printing costs come into effect. If you’re book is monstrously long it’s going to cost waaaay more to print than your average book that that’s going to impact what price you set and therefore your bottom line.

So if you have a manuscript that’s way over or under the word counts suggested for your genre, I recommend taking a closer look to see if you can add or remove sections, or consider making your monster of a manuscript into several volumes. Trust me, you’ll thank me later.

keep-calm-and-edit-later

Here’s another handy breakdown:

General

  • Flash Fiction: 300–1500 words
  • Short Story: 1500–30,000 words
  • Novellas: 30,000–50,000 words
  • Novels: 50,000–110,000 words

What about you? Do you think about word counts when preparing your manuscript? Thanks for reading and please leave your thoughts below!

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Recipe for a good book

cookbook-02You will need:

1 fully realized setting (if making from scratch, see world building recipe on pg 42)

A unique narrative voice

1-2 well-developed main characters, add side characters as necessary6croyblzi

Conflict

An engaging opening

A satisfying conclusion

A dash of theme

Romance, optional

 

Prepare your work surface and clear your mind. Mix together the setting, voice, and at least one character to create your engaging opening.  Add atmosphere as needed. Introduce your conflict and any remaining characters. Stir until well developed. Throw in a dash of theme and romance, if you’re using it and write for 3-6 months until everything comes together. Finish off with a satisfying conclusion and let the whole thing sit for as long as you can stand before editing.

Once edited, bake with a publisher until done, and repeat.

Galabannerorange copy

Okay, this was just for fun. But for real, we’re opening our submissions this time next month. October 24th to be exact! Here’s what we’ll be looking for:

*imaginative settings, creative world building, other places, worlds, times, or versions of reality.

*believable and consistent characters who develop and change over the course of the story.

*mixed genres, genre bending, sci-fi/romance, historical/fantasy, adventure/mystery, speculative/poetry, books that don’t *fit* anywhere else.

*engaging writing with a strong opening that pulls the reader in and keeps them wanting more.

*any age group from children’s picture books to adult fiction. This is one area we’re not picky about.

*full length novels or novellas. For short stories, please take a look at our imprint Adventure Worlds Press.

For more detailed submissions information and requirements, please see our submissions page on our website. Thanks for reading and I look forward to receiving your submissions!

Editing 101

Mirror World News is back! That’s right, this week and next you’re being treated to two ALL NEW episodes of our YouTube Show. This week’s episode is about Editing in all its forms, so I thought I would supplement that with a blog post on the subject.

But first, here’s the video:

So let’s recap. Step one, write the first draft of your manuscript. Step two, edit. That seems simple, right?

Well, editing can really be broken into a whole bunch of steps. Or that is to say, you should edit multiple times for different reasons. It’s impossible to catch everything in one pass anyways and as you make changes, or have other people offer their feedback, you’re going to want to edit again.  

So what are the types of editing, or the things you should look for? Here’s my list In the order of how I usually approach it:mistakes

Self-Editing

I’ve written a whole blog post on this topic already. You can find that here, but essentially this is the part where you go over your own work and improve it to the best of your ability. I look to correct errors and my own particular weaknesses, while improving style, word choice, and pacing.

imagesBeta Readers

I’ve also written a whole blog post on this topic. That one’s here. This is where you let other people read what you’ve written and offer feedback and suggestions. It’s important to keep an open mind when being critiqued, but also to take the suggestions of your beta readers with a grain of salt. Their ideas of what would improve the story may not always coincide with your own, and in the end, it’s up to you to decide what to change and what not to.


Content Edit

Tinfo-dumptruckhis edit can be done by a friend, or a professional. The editor in this case is looking for content-related issues such as inconsistencies in the plot, characters, or details. They should watch for places where there is either too much detail or not enough, and comment on anything that is unclear or confusing. Style, voice, pacing, and descriptions should all be paid attention to as well.

Line Edit

No matter what order the other edits are undertaken in, the line edit should come last. Again, this can be done by a friend as long as they are very strong with grammar, but I would recommend a professional or semi-professional for this part. The editor at this stage will be looking to fix any technical issues including, but not limited to spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

 

Hope that helps! If you liked this post, please consider subscribing to this blog and/or our YouTube Channel for more publishing and writing advice. If you have any editing related questions for me, or would like to suggest a future topic for me to cover, let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading!