Saturday, December 10, 2005

Standard Word Length For Novels

As a Fiction Acquisitions Editor, I’ve been asked this question a bazillion times (or so it seems).  How long is a particular type of novel? For example, how long is a novella? How long is a short contemporary novel? How long is a long contemporary novel?

Lori Copeland is a bestselling novelist and she’s given an excellent answer (and where I’m going to refer people in the future).

Why is the word length important? Editors are busy people. They receive a massive amount of material and are looking for a reason to say “no thank you.” Last week I sent these words to a number of people through a form rejection letter.  I’ll admit Howard Publishing has limited opportunity—but I continue actively looking for excellent manuscripts.  Yesterday in the mail, I received a submission from a literary agent—who should have known better than to waste his postage. The cover letter pegged the novel as a short one. It was an instant rejection since I’m looking for only full-length manuscripts. If you want your work to be seriously considered, make sure you cover all of the basics. Word length is one of those basics.

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