Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Is my ms. too long????

Kawaguchi has written the story of her mother's life as fiction, though it is very much fact-based. It is the tale of a woman left with three little girls to raise alone in the depths of the great depression.

Memoirs, Great Depression, Historical, Appalachia

Question from the e-mail:  I have just completed my historical novel and want to submit it, but I can't even get the members of my writing class to read past the first couple of scenes. They all say it is "too long to sell, anyway." Well, it is pretty long -- 650,000 words.  But aren't there any agents who will take on a book this long?

Answer: I can't say it has never happened, so I guess anything is possible. If you have invested the time and energy to write a book that long, clearly you have made a committment.

Back in the day, my friend Diana Gabaldon posted a scene from her "practice book" in an online writer's forum and the next day had responses from some Very Well-Known romance writers...

Because she mentioned that in her query letter, an agent agreed to look at it and for a long time she didn't hear anything. Finally she called him and admitted that the 350,000 word ms. she had sent wasn't the WHOLE book, but only the first third or so of her planned story.

"Oh," he said. "I'll get back to you..."

Another few weeks crept by. Finally, he called and said,"You'll have to make it a series of books.  You have enough here for the first three, after that we'll see how it goes."

The first book in her series was OUTLANDER and the three book contract he got her brought in an advance just short of a million dollars. There have been seven or eight more since then. In fact Starz just signed them for a cable TV series. 

So in publishing, ANYthing can happen. But as a publisher, if I received a query on a 650,000 word book, I would start off by saying, "No thanks. With paper costs today, I can't print anything longer than 80,000 and come out. That, too, is an economic fact of life, Jenna.

So look at it as a possible series. Look for sub-plots that you can cut.  Tighten it up any way you can, and see what happens.

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