Monday, October 09, 2006

Q & A 88 Should I lie about how long my book is?


I have written, re-written, and polished my urban fantasy novel. The problem is that, according to MS Word, it runs a little over 62,000 words (350 pages). It is the first in a series. When I query I don't want to seem like a novice because I do realize that most fantasy is at least 80,000. Should I count it differently?

Standard policy is to multiply the total word count MS Word gives you by 1.2903225, which is known as the Literary Augmentation Factor, or LAF.

By the way, what font size are you using? Your figures work out to 177 words per page. I was under the impression 250 words was reasonable for a page.

Seriously, it doesn't matter what most fantasy is, it matters what range the publisher you're targeting accepts. Check submission guidelines and find a publisher that takes 62,000.

23 comments:

Virginia Miss said...

EE: Are you sure that seven decimal points is accurate enough?

Literary Augmentation Factor -- I love it!

Anonymous said...

Should I lie about how long my book is?

I would hope, after EE rephrased the question that way, the answer would be obvious. You don't want people you're trying to do business with to think you're dishonest, right? As extra disincentive, keep in mind that it would be a lie you would certainly be caught in. People in the publishing industry can tell the difference between 65 000 and 80 000 words, even from just reading the manuscript.

And EE, I use 12 pt bold-face Courier, and a page with quite a bit of dialogue could certainly come in at 177 words. However, I doubt the manuscript would average that low.

Anonymous said...

My recommendation: lie. Tell 'em it's 100,000 words of the most compelling prose since Tolkien. It is fantasy, after all.

No, wait; it's urban fantasy. So tell 'em it's 100,000 words of f**king good writing.

Anonymous said...

Should I lie about how long my book is?

Oh, book! I misread that the first time around. I'd go with the truth in this case.

Anonymous said...

Evil Editor forgot the most important point. Never lie to an editor or agent. If your writing is good, they can get over the fact it's short. But they will never want to work with a liar, and they'll tell other business relations about you (not in the way you want).

Gerb said...

"it's urban fantasy. So tell 'em it's 100,000 words of f**king good writing."

LOL

Meanwhile, if the story is compelling and the writing is good, I suspect an editor/agent would be happy to ask you to add to your tome to meet the guidelines. Or... just a thought... you could consider meeting wordcount guidelines before you submit.

Malia said...

80,000 is the norm for Fantasy??? Yanno (tm pending), I've been fighting to cut my 150K down to 100K -- there ain't no way it's going down to 80.

OTOH, I'm certain there are markets for smaller trade size books that a little research will uncover. Before that, make certain your 60K isn't void of layering, plot, conflict, characters.

FYI -- if you're doing the 250 word per page thingy then your 60K is really 80K. Just to confuse things. But I believe that the only house that calculates that way is Harlequin, et al.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone! But I did not ask EE if I should lie, I just asked was I calculating it correctly. He ad-libs for fun people! Anon 2, cute joke, but you do realize what urban fantasy means, don't you? :P```

Anonymous said...

Thanks EE! Anon 1, I also use 12pt. Courier, although I didn't know bold was acceptable for a manuscript. In any case, I have an agent and a publisher interested in the premise, and I haven't even submitted yet. These are just through referrals, so we'll see.
Gerb, I don't want to add crap to a story just to make it long. If I am forced to, I may change ALOT of things.

Chumplet said...

I am such a dweeb - I actually googled Literary Augmentation Factor.

Desperate times call for drastic measures, or measuring in this case. My novel's only 64,000 words, and an agent suggested that I should bring it up to 75,000 to 100,000 words. Not impossible. I can DO it!

Anonymous said...

Chumplet,
Does the agent rep you, or did they suggest the increase for possible representation? Good luck! I need to increase mine as well...

Chumplet said...

Anonymous: Does the agent rep you, or did they suggest the increase for possible representation?

Nope on both counts. But it would be nice. Rep or no rep, I'm taking her advice and fleshing it out. It's worth it. I'll certainly query her again for my next project.
Thanks for the luck wish!

Anonymous said...

Anon 1, I also use 12pt. Courier, although I didn't know bold was acceptable for a manuscript.

Hi; Anon 1 here again.

Courier looks a little threadbare on the page and I find it hard to read because of that. The one thing a manuscript has to be is readable, so I bold-faced all the text uniformly, to make it show up well. Since the bolding is applied to the whole document, I doubt anyone will have a problem with it.

Some people use Courier Dark instead, but I couldn't be arsed to download the font. :-/

andrea said...

Oh dear. You want to shop an entire manuscript in boldface? Actually, I think people WILL notice that and find it looks amateurish. I'd leave in Courier New or Times New Roman regular - the two fonts agents regularly mention they're used to reading. Once the page count goes down I think you'll see that how short your manuscript really is - even for standard literary novels <70K is unusually short. There are probably elements you could add, like Malia said.

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous Author,

Hmmm... perhaps if you viewed meeting the word count requirements as "fleshing out" rather than "adding crap" it would be easier to contemplate?

GutterBall said...

Oh, book! I misread that the first time around. I'd go with the truth in this case.

Well, there went the Hawaiian punch out the nose again. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

You would think there would be a market for short(er) fantasy books. The main reason I rarely read fantasy is because of the length. Please show me a 62,000 word fantasy. -JTC

Malia said...

JTC -- there are quite a few fantasy books that fall in the range of 80k. The entire slew of the Dragon Quest, et al series (I could be seriously wrong on the title here) that's based on Dungeons and Dragons probably fall around 80K. I think it would be practically impossible to properly world-build in 62K, but then again I happen to like "big" books.

And whichever anon is sending out boldface type -- STOP IT! You'll look like an idiot, not to mention the amount of ink you're using. Courier New 12/Times New Roman are the standard fonts. It is my understanding that editors prefer CN12. At least that's what my agent told me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, malia. I'll give it a look. The only thing I know about D&D is we made fun of the kids that played it. That may make the books even better, though. -JTC

Malia said...

LOL, JTC. Same here. And when I first picked up one of those books (I started with the Ancient Heroes lien), I had no idea that they were based on D&D. Color me clueless.

Anonymous said...

Malia and Andrea,

Open a document in Word. Switch the font to 12pt Courier and bold-face everything. Now look at your page.

It doesn't look like it's in bold-face. It just looks dark.

Times New Roman, all in bold-face, would look stupid. Courier doesn't.

All agents/editors really want is something readable and easy on their eyes. Thank you for your concern, but I don't believe using bold-face Courier is going to be a deal-breaker. You're free to disagree with me, but please try it out on your own computer so you can see what I mean. Bolding everything makes Courier - a scarecrow of a font - look much better.

As for saving ink, I don't think any agent/editor would thank me for saving ink at the expense of their eyes. They like us to use fresh printer cartridges for a reason. :-)

~Anon 1

Anonymous said...

Ok. I'm an idiot. I actually googled that LAF bit.

It would make things a lot easier though. Seriously.

Wishful thinking...

Evil Editor said...

You weren't supposed to Google it; you were supposed to multiply it by the author's word count.