Monday, June 6, 2011

Word Count - - Who Cares?!

Do you really care how many words are in your manuscript? Do you think every word you've written is absolutely necessary? Do you think agents care? Editors? Publishers?

One of my favorite quotes:
I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard

Well. If your word count is too high (based on industry standards) for your chosen genre, you are giving agents a reason to reject your WIP before they consider any other aspect of your project. Agents are busy. They may be more willing (based on blogs I've read) to consider a ms within the standard word counts than they would be one that exceeds those numbers. For one reason, their time is limited. They may not have the time to read your 100,000 word picture book (haha). For another reason, many agents consider an excessive word count to be evidence you haven't mastered editing your own work, yet.

Curious what those "industry standards" are? Here's a great resource: Guide to Literary Agents - Word Count

Do you think your word count matters?


  1. word counts, like most rules, only apply to unpublihed authors. Once you're in the club you can 'defy convention' and do what you want. Also, I suspect it depebds on what mood the agent is in on that particular day.

    Moody Writing

  2. Most publishers won't touch a book from an unknown writer that's over 100,000 words. I've even heard the new standard is 80,000.

  3. I think it matters only in terms of staying within general guidelines for your debut novel. Agents may look at very high and very low word counts and not take you quite as seriously (on the assumption that you don't know your genre standards).

    I don't stress about it, but I try to stay out of controversial territory :)

  4. Yep my word count definitely matters. I aim for a comfy 80,000.

  5. I always try to remember that quote when I write, and when I revise.