What do publishers prefer?

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by P. R. D., Apr 15, 2008.

  1.  
    P. R. D.

    P. R. D. Such a charming lad!

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    Is it a long novel (more than 300 pages), or a short one (100 pages) ?
    If I go to a publisher and ask him if he would publish my stuff, do I have a better chance with the short one?
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    ctg

    ctg weaver of the unseen

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    I believe it depends on the country, and publisher. In UK anything less then 110 000 (SF) / 140 000 (Fantasy) words is no good. If you want to know more, then please, read Mister Jarrold's multiple replies on the subject.
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    P. R. D.

    P. R. D. Such a charming lad!

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    Well, Harry Potter has less than 80000 words :). Are you sure that this 140000 policy is 100% true.
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    Scarfy

    Scarfy Stephen J Sweeney

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    Yes, but Harry Potter is a children's novel and they tend to be a lot shorter.

    True that the first three HP books were short, but the fourth was longer than all the previous ones put together.

    ctg is right - Fantasy books tend to me at least 130,000 words and science fiction about 110,000 and up.


    (Although, in the US, they can be a little shorter; but not by much).
  5.  
    P. R. D.

    P. R. D. Such a charming lad!

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    So, my 50 000-words story doesn't have a chance to be published?
  6.  
    Scarfy

    Scarfy Stephen J Sweeney

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    Well I've never had anything published myself, so I'm probably not the best person to ask...

    It depends on a lot of things though: Genre, country, target audience...

    A general science fiction novel comes in around 120,000 words. Fantasy are 130,000 at least. From what I understand.

    My first draft of my own novel was 75,000 words and I was informed it was too short. It's now 126,000. Still hasn't helped me to secure a publisher or agent though... ;)
  7.  
    P. R. D.

    P. R. D. Such a charming lad!

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    UK, fantasy, everyone. 50 000. Is that so bad? It's impossible to make it longer.
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    Overread

    Overread Direwolf of the chrons

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    ((advice from a moderatly insane and sane mind - not one who has actual experience in the publishing world though)
    I think you have to remember that the word limits stated are an average and ideal number that publishers like - you might have a shorter story, but marketing and finance departments are saying that longer is better at the moment. This is not to say that shorter stories are not worth the effort though, but you might need to focus on a differnet target publisher.
    If you really and honestly cannot add to your story (with quality additions, not waffle) then I would say keep applying to publishers, but don't be too hopeful - instead I would either try working on a longer novel or a serise of shorter stories and try to get those into print. Once you have something into the publishing world you have a foot in the door (so to speak) and then could try to run a shorter novel by - possibly)
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    P. R. D.

    P. R. D. Such a charming lad!

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    OK, thanks a lot (the three of you). Now, I have an off-topic question, might be a little stupid.
    Is there a problem that I'm not from the UK? Will publishers "avoid" me or what? I'm sorry for asking that, but I really need to know. Is it a problem that I don't even have a citizenship?
  10.  
    Teresa Edgerton

    Teresa Edgerton Goblin Princess Staff Member

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    Bad? No, it may be a very good book. Likely to be published by a large publisher in the UK or US? For a new writer it would just about require a miracle -- unless the book is intended for children or young teenagers. (In which case, you would submit it to children's publishers.)

    In Australia, I think the chances would be a little better, but still pretty dismal for a book of that length.

    Practically speaking, you have three choices if you wish to sell a fantasy novel to a UK, US, or Australian publisher -- find a way to fill this one out without compromising the quality, start looking at small press publishers, or start a new project that has a better chance of reaching 100,000 words.
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    Doctor Sax

    Doctor Sax Battling the world snake

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    Your novel might actually be a novella or a novelette (I always forget which is the longer and which the shorter) - there are some independent presses which do specialise in works of that length.
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    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    No chance of being published by any mainstream adult publisher in the UK - or the US, I think. 100,000 is the low end for SF over here. I understand some SF novels around 80,000 are doable in the US - but only if they are terrific, as is always the case, no matter what the length. And yes, fantasy usually starts about 120,000.

    Research your market, go into your local bookshops and look at recent novels by authors who've come up in the last five to ten years. If you don't know who they are - you should. No one writes in a vacuum and it's a commercial market.

    I didn't publish a novel as short as 300 double-spaced pages (I assume you're talking double-spaced, since that is the industry standard?) after about 1990, let alone 100. It ain't going to happen.
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    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    Not at all. UK publishers take on authors from the US, Canada, Australia, and other countries. When English isn't your first language, it can be a problem if there has to be a translation involved, because no UK publisher is going to pay for that, with an unknown author.

    Teresa's options make great sense.

    Know your market.
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2008
  14.  
    Robsia

    Robsia Masterharper

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    I'm glad to hear that longer novels are preferred at the moment as mine is about 140,000, and I was about to start drastically editing to make it shorter as I thought that was too long!
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    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    100,000 to 140/150,000 is okay. Above that, publishers start to worry about the cost of producing a book, if the author is new.
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    Ruin

    Ruin Determined inevitability

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    I have to admit I am not too up to date on type jargon. Is double spaced two spaces between words or double distance between lines?

    I estimated 50,000 words as about 80-100 A5 pages, is this about right or am I underestimating the length?
  17.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    Double spacing between lines.

    I have no idea about A5 pages (A4 is the industry standard for submissions in the UK). It depends on font size, number of lines on the page, etc. Use the Microsoft Word word-count.
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    Ruin

    Ruin Determined inevitability

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    I was doing so, but I tend to write my work in A5 to gain a better perspective on how it would appear when published. I would image it would be just under half the number of words in the same A4 format.

    Do you know how to set word to the double spacing setting?
  19.  
    John Jarrold

    John Jarrold New Member

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    Click on 'Format' at the top of the page, then 'paragraph', and you'll see 'line spacing'. The drop-down menu from there includes 'double'.
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    Ruin

    Ruin Determined inevitability

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    Right, I'll try that next time I write, cheers.

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