Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Chasya's Questions Corner: On Word Count

by Chasya


Does your agency set a limit on how long a work of fiction should be? Does it make a difference whether it's science fiction or historical fiction?


The short answer to this is no, there’s no limit. The number of pages it takes to tell your story is the number of pages the manuscript should be. In fact, a while back I did a blog post on this very question, and to paraphrase myself, which is kind of a weird thing to do but I’m going to do it anyway, what we’re looking for is material that we fall in love with, and that’s a pretty intangible thing that wouldn’t be limited by the length of a manuscript. That said, it’s also important to know your genre as well. Most commercial fiction runs between 80-100K, whereas epic fantasy, for instance, is 250K. I’m not going to lie, if you send in a query for your hard-boiled mystery and tell us your manuscript is 250,000 words, we will be taken aback since it’s unusual for us to see a word length that high for that type of manuscript. But at the end of the day, if the word count is higher than average and we like the query, we won’t balk at the length.

Please continue to send us questions at news@dystel.com!

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