Tuesday, August 18, 2009
So Many Wasted Shoes!
And so many wasted words. Yesterday, I talked about querying too soon. Okay, mostly, I talked about my encounter with the trash man, but still, I made reference to querying too soon, didn't I? At any rate, I thought I'd spend the rest of the week (and possibly the rest of the year) talking about why my ms wasn't ready when I first queried it. And today's topic is...WORD COUNT. When I first queried my completed ms, it weighed in at 110,000 words. Whoa! That's a lot of words for Young Adult! According to the SCBWI, of which I'm a proud member now, the maximum word count for YA is 65,000. Unfortunately, I did not know this back then because I hadn't even looked into it. (Other sites will tell you it is 80,000, so that's what I'm going with. 30,000 is easier to cut than 45,000, isn't it?) Out of those five agents I queried, only one responded. And it was a form rejection. I have a feeling they all saw my word count and laughed out loud. I'm so glad I only sent it out to five before learning the rules. I spent the next three months cutting words, scenes, and even entire chapters. I got it down to 85,000 words. Close enough, right? We'll see... It may seem unfair, but as a new writer, it's important to play by the rules. Unless you are an established author like Jodi Picoult or Stephen King, or an exceptionally lucky novice like Stephanie Meyer, agents will look at your word count. Why else would they want it specifically stated in the query letter? This is just my yet-to-be-published opinion. What are your thoughts? How important do you think word count is?