Long ago, in a decade far past, an editor told me I had way too many words in my book. I didn't understand what she meant, but I trusted her expertise in the publishing business and I did exactly what she told me to do. It took another year to complete her request, but I divided one book into two. I learned a valuable lesson; publishers have a serious mindset on how many words they are willing to put in a book. I had never thought in terms of size and money before then. Foolish of me, I know.
Most publishing houses consider a novel worth 80,000 to 120,000 words. Not many are willing to publish beyond the normal size for a fictional book. I had grown up reading fat, detailed descriptive books and thought that was the norm. I hadn't realized the fad had changed to streamline wording with action, action, action to get the reader involved quickly.
I learned historical family sagas were no longer popular, but series were on the rise. Secretly I thought publishers were playing words games with each other, because, in my mind, a saga was pretty much a series. Series had become the new buzz word and saga had grown grey hair and was considered out-dated, which many times equated to the writer being out of touch with the publishing world if the word saga was mentioned within the query.
Regardless of what popular term is used, having too many words in a book can become a burden. To scoot around this pitfall, consider breaking your story into segments that could possibly become a series rather than one book. YA authors use this technique and have kids eagerly waiting for the next installment. Some of the endings are so abrupt I feel a bit cheated, but the writer in me kicks in and I understand how clever the author was stopping at a small pinacle with another larger obstacle looming ahead for the character to accomplish. Cliffhanger is what they used to be called. Undoubtedly that is an archaic term and __________ (please fill in your preference) is what they are called now.
Whether writing a single title or a series, word count is important. Before your book is ready for an editing session, consider your options if your work is action packed, but word heavy. Maybe you have more than you realize. In series, less is more. One large book versus two or three smaller ones could be an exciting discovery.
How do you deal with word count? Have you considered a series over a single title? Share with us today.
Til next time ~