Thursday, December 18, 2008

Fantasy word counts

I am currently working a young adult fantasy novel that I would like to have published one day. I'm only on the second draft, so it's nowhere near ready to start sending into agents etc but of late I've found myself interested in word counts. What I want to know is if there is a standard range in the amount of words that agents/publishers look for in novels? Or will a book be looked at negatively if it's too long or short?

It's just that I have no idea what sort of range I should be looking at. My ms is currently a touch over 170 000 words and I don't know if that is way too long or just right? If it is the former then I can look to culling sections of the book whilst I'm working on my second draft. Or perhaps it doesn't matter?

Your word length reminds me of why I'm wary of taking on fantasy authors: too many words! That's a lot of words for a young adult book. Possibly not for grown-ups' fantasy novels, because fantasy readers are thinly disguised literary masochists, but I suspect you can only get away with 170 00 words for teens if (a) your story has a character called Edward Cullen or (b) it's set in a place called Hogwarts.

Consider making it a trilogy instead - trilogies are acceptable in fantasy land although strangely not in other genres. Even at half the length, it's still a tad too long for most publishers to consider.

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