Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

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commando8
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Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by commando8 » December 8th, 2009, 1:58 pm

Looking for some good fantasy books under 150K. Why? Because I've never read a good straight fantasy novel under 150K, and with that being kind-of the soft limit for first time novelists, I want to know how some authors are making it work. Just FYI, my first attempt at writing a full length fantasy book ballooned to 275K. I thought it was great, and so did a few others, but had no takers as far as agents go. I somehow cut it to 160K and still had no takers. The more I cut, the worse I think it is, so I'm just looking for some good examples. Any suggestions would be welcomed...

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marilyn peake
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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by marilyn peake » December 8th, 2009, 3:58 pm

Holly Black http://www.blackholly.com writes short YA fantasy novels. Neil Gaiman http://www.neilgaiman.com writes some amazing short fantasy - I love The Graveyard Book - really excellent! There's also Bones of Faerie http://www.simner.com/bonesoffaerie by Janni Lee Simner http://www.simner.com. Another book that's supposed to be excellent is Eyes Like Stars http://lisamantchev.com/main.php by Lisa Mantchev http://lisamantchev.com - I haven't read it yet, but I bought a copy and sent away for a signed bookplate. I'm not sure if all of Paulo Coelho's books http://www.paulocoelho.com/engl are classified as literary or not, but his books are also short and filled with the fantastical.

I've also written a trilogy of middle grade fantasy novels: The Fisherman's Son, The City of the Golden Sun, and Return of the Golden Age. They're all published by small press and are available in paperback and eBook, including eBook for the Kindle and Nook. The first book in the series was also recorded by a professional voice actor on a soundstage and is available as an audio book. Reviews, awards and other information about these books are available on my website: http://www.marilynpeake.com.
Marilyn Peake

Novels: THE FISHERMAN’S SON TRILOGY and GODS IN THE MACHINE. Numerous short stories. Contributor to BOOK: THE SEQUEL. Editor of several additional books. Awards include Silver Award, 2007 ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards.

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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by Tzalaran » December 8th, 2009, 10:51 pm

Jhereg by Steven Brust (turned into the Taltos series, but Jhereg easily stands alone)
Sword Dancer by Jennifer Roberson (another stand alone that went series)
The Elric books by Moorcock are all short reads as well (from what i recall, haven't read them in 10+ years)

Most fantasy novels i've read that are under 150k are generally in a series, but each novel stands alone (at least the first 2). Perhaps instead of cutting things, you would be better off treating the novel as a 2 or 3 part series, and just try to make each able to stand alone. This is what i had to do with my work. initially it would have been 250,000ish words, so i stripped one plotline from the first book, and refocused it on the first main antagonistic force. The plotline that was cut is now the focus of the novel i'm working on, while i let the first simmer before revising. Perhaps something like that would work for your book as well.
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Mira
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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by Mira » December 8th, 2009, 11:39 pm

Oh gosh. Why would anyone want to read a fantasy book that was under 500 pages....and not part of an 12 book series? I thought that was the whole point of fantasy. :)

But....you might try YA fantasy. Alot of it is just as good as adult fantasy (although maybe alittle less gritty and bloody...less sex....but still imaginative) and tends to be much shorter. Also some of Terry Pratchett's books aren't too long - if you like fantasy humor.

commando8
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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by commando8 » December 9th, 2009, 11:13 am

Oh gosh. Why would anyone want to read a fantasy book that was under 500 pages....and not part of an 12 book series?
Yes! That's the same question I've been asking myself for awhile...

Seriously, though, that way of thinking seems to dominate both writers and readers in the fantasy genre. When was the last time you saw a true fantasy bestseller that wasn't lengthy or part of series? That's where I get confused with the 150K agent soft limit. But then again, what do I really know about the market and what publishers want compared to the people who's job it is to figure such things out?

Anyway, I appreciate the suggestions from all. Thanks.
Most fantasy novels i've read that are under 150k are generally in a series, but each novel stands alone (at least the first 2). Perhaps instead of cutting things, you would be better off treating the novel as a 2 or 3 part series, and just try to make each able to stand alone. This is what i had to do with my work. initially it would have been 250,000ish words, so i stripped one plotline from the first book, and refocused it on the first main antagonistic force. The plotline that was cut is now the focus of the novel i'm working on, while i let the first simmer before revising. Perhaps something like that would work for your book as well.
To be quite honest, about 50K of the original 275K went into "Book 2" which is now growing massive as well. Guess that's fantasy for you...

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knight_tour
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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by knight_tour » December 30th, 2009, 4:13 am

I honestly can't understand why agents keep listing fantasy limits at 125,000 or so words. I can't recall many fantasy books I have read that are that short, except the Earthsea books. When I go to the bookstore looking for fantasy, I look specifically for long books, because that is what I like in fantasy. It is my favorite genre, and when I love something, I want it to go on and on.

I've kept my first fantasy novel down to 130,000 words, though it would have been much longer if I could have written it the way I feel it should have been. I already worry that no agent will bother looking at it, and I find that ridiculous.

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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by RiayNight » December 30th, 2009, 10:20 pm

knight_tour wrote: I've kept my first fantasy novel down to 130,000 words, though it would have been much longer if I could have written it the way I feel it should have been. I already worry that no agent will bother looking at it, and I find that ridiculous.
I feel you. With the edit of my novel, it's growing dangerously close to 125,000 words... I'm so nervous that an agent will see that in a query and be like, 'Nope. Not worth it.' There is no way it will ever be 100,000 but I'm hoping I can at least keep it at 120K if I get rid of some of the extraneous stuff.

As for you, commando8, I can't think of any good fantasy suggestions--I stopped reading new fantasy when I started my novel, and most of what I read before that was young adult. But I would recommend going to a bookstore and just browsing the shelves--that's what I do when I want to see what kind of work is as lengthy as mine and so on. I would definitely try to break the novel into several books--I know it's hard because there is never a clean breaking point, but I'm sure you can do it!

Best of luck to you!

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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by trini » December 30th, 2009, 11:04 pm

I don't know much about the new fantasy stuff coming out but if you haven't read Greg Bear's Infinity Concerto you could give that a go. It has a sequel, The Serpent Mage. I also quite liked Raymond E Feist's Faerie Tale. I may be showing my age but as well as some of her weightier tomes Anne McAffrey put out a few slimmer ones.

Edited to add: Neil Gaiman has some beauties actually. Neverwhere, The Graveyard Book also anything by Terry Pratchett. For a quick but eminently satisfying fantasy fix I like to indulge in Graphic Novels; Neil Gaiman again and his Sandman series and Neverwhere too, The Preacher series, Red Star...all sorts of mind bending goodies from Vertigo.
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knight_tour
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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by knight_tour » January 1st, 2010, 2:05 pm

For short but good, I would go with the Earthsea books and McKiernan's Iron Tower trilogy and Silver Call duology. The McKiernan books are only for those who actually like and want more Tolkienish/D&D-type books, like myself.

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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by Alexandra Little » January 5th, 2010, 2:58 pm

Lisa Shearin's novels are right around 100k I think. Magic Lost, Trouble Found is the first book.
WIP #1: young adult fantasy, rewriting/editing
WIP #2: young adult fantasy, first draft
WIP #3: young adult fantasy, twinkle in the author's eye

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RebeccaKnight
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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by RebeccaKnight » January 8th, 2010, 2:42 pm

I really enjoyed ARIEL by Steven R. Boyett, and it's about 115k. Also, FIRE and GRACELINE by Kristin Cashore are stand alones, about 100k each, and fantastic!

I have to admit loving long fantasy, too, but sometimes it's nice to have a stand alone shorter one in there for variety's sake :).
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commando8
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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by commando8 » January 9th, 2010, 6:59 pm

Looks like I have a lot to read! Thanks to all for the suggestions!!

On a separate note, perhaps there is somebody wandering through these forums (maybe even Nathan himself!) that could enlighten us all as to the word limit cap for fantasy submissions. I've never been able to find a good answer...

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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by Tzalaran » January 9th, 2010, 7:55 pm

commando8 wrote: On a separate note, perhaps there is somebody wandering through these forums (maybe even Nathan himself!) that could enlighten us all as to the word limit cap for fantasy submissions. I've never been able to find a good answer...
There is no hard set limit, and it varies from agent to agent from what i've read. the longest i've seen is 250,000, but most seem to want around half of that.

my initial outline for my completed novel would have weighed in at 250-300k. i've split the outline in half, and the first novel now weighs in at 100,000. It was suggested to me that i go with something in this word count range for a first novel, and then in subsequent manuscripts you are given a bit more leeway with word count.

hope this helps a little.
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Bryan Russell/Ink
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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by Bryan Russell/Ink » January 9th, 2010, 7:59 pm

100K would be a good target number. Cross 150K and you're scaring agents away.
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commando8
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Re: Recommended Fantasy Under 150K

Post by commando8 » January 11th, 2010, 10:44 am

Concerning the above two posts, my main reason for finding a good answer is the because of the inconsistency that exists between agent word limits and historical sales of fantasy literature. Again, my limited experience to the publishing world may be what's putting me in the dark, but I don't think I've ever seen a fantasy novel under 150K that cracked the NY Times top 10. So why limit? Why not look at historical sales to determine what that segment of the market wants? Why even look at word limits for fantasy novels in this transitioning digital age (Yes, I am one of those people that think books will all be digital at some point in the near future)?

Just curious....

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