How important is word count?

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Brian_H
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How important is word count?

Post by Brian_H » February 10th, 2010, 4:04 pm

Hi,

I'm fairly new to this site and apologize if this question has been answered somewhere already.

I have written two books, almost back to back (I had a great idea for a second during the first).
The first one is only about 53,000 words long, so it's a pretty quick read. The twelve or so people I've had read it all told me that I should not add content and that it's great as is, but they're all friends and family so I doubt I'm getting a completely objective opinion.

I like it, I think adding to it would damage the overall story, but it is pretty linear and it does read quickly. I guess my question is: If 53,000 words is how long it takes me to tell this story, is it too short to try and publish it?

As a sidenote, my second story is 93,000 words. I wondered at first if my enthusiasm for writing the second book made me chew through the first plot quickly to get to it. Now that they are both done however, I still do not want to change the length. Any suggestions or advice would be welcomed.
It always seems impossible until it's done.

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E McD
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Re: How important is word count?

Post by E McD » February 10th, 2010, 4:41 pm

So that I can feel even worse about myself, how long did it take you to write these two books?

Sorry I can't help with the word count question - I'm new at this myself. :(
-Emily McDaniel

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christi
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Re: How important is word count?

Post by christi » February 10th, 2010, 4:49 pm

Word count is kind of subjective, and it also depends on what sort of story it is. Fantasy and historical fictions tend to be longer, while mystery or suspense is shorter. Also the age group it is geared towards is an issue. If the story is awesome at 53,000 and adding to it makes it convoluted or strays from the tale, then don't change it. If an agent likes it, they might have ideas on how to strengthen it if it needs anything.
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Brian_H
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Re: How important is word count?

Post by Brian_H » February 10th, 2010, 5:15 pm

Thank you for your replies.

To answer the first question: The first book took me about eight weeks to write the story, then about three to four months editing and rewriting a part or two. Most of the rewrite time was because I had to wait for people to give me constructive feedback. I spent a lot of time doubting whether or not it was long enough. Before the rewrites, it was not even 48k words long. To be fair however, I have been thinking about writing that story for a long time before I actually began, and the entire book was in my head before I began putting it to "paper."

The second book I started last year on Oct 28th, and I finished it the end of this January. So, about three months. Once it was down, I spent about another month revising, fixing typos. That story just fell out of my head. I had almost 70k words writen before I knew how I was going to end it, but when I got to where my ideas trailed off, something clicked and the ending just came to me. I have a long drive to and from work, and much of my time is spent at least pasively coming up with ideas.

To answer the second reply: Both books are adult fiction - suspense/conspiracy novels. The first one deals with religion, and the second paranormal activity. The idea that an agent might have suggestions on how to strengthen it is a good one, and partially why I am here. I find the query letter process insanely intimidating and was also looking for a place where I could bounce ideas off like-minded people. Luckily, I stumbbled onto this forum.
It always seems impossible until it's done.

jnduncan
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Re: How important is word count?

Post by jnduncan » February 11th, 2010, 11:50 am

It all depends on the type of story. If the short one is geared toward younger readers, then 53k is likely fine. If this is adult fare, it's likely too short. Not to say that books of that length haven't been published before, but I think an agent will balk at that word count. The only books I'm aware of that regularly publish at that length in the adult realm is category romance. However, if the story is great, you stand a better chance of getting interest and then being told to flesh the story out more. My two cents, for what it's worth.

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