Friday, March 27, 2015

The Importance of Knowing Typical Word Count Ranges by Rachel Brooks

You may have heard other agents discuss the importance of knowing the word count range for your genre before. But after going through another batch of queries, I think it could stand to be said again.

You need to know the typical word count range for your book’s genre and age group, or you’re hurting your chances of success by not knowing it.

This includes looking at books in your genre, for the age group you’re writing for. For example, simply reading and comparing science fiction word counts because you wrote a MG sci-fi manuscript is not enough. It needs to be MG sci-fi—not adult, not YA—that you look at.

When I see queries for a 180k young adult fantasy novel, I wonder if the writer realizes this is way over the typical word count for a YA fantasy, even more so for a debut author.

On the other hand, when I see a query for a 30k young adult contemporary novel, I wonder if the writer realizes this is far under the typical word count for a novel and is actually novella length.

An issue like word count is something these writers could have taken note of, and trimmed or added accordingly, before sending out queries.

So is a word count above or below the typical range an automatic rejection? Maybe for some agents, maybe not for others. I can’t speak for all.

But what it does do for most of us…signal that a LOT of revising is ahead for this project before it would be submission ready. This makes an agent seriously evaluate whether, at this point for this novel, it’s ready to be taken on with representation.

So in a nutshell, doing your research will help. Check out reputable resources and articles online. Look at the date of these articles, as the information could be outdated. Compare books in your own genre and age group to the one you’re writing.

It’s homework, but well worth it in the end!