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Monday, July 23, 2012

Tidbits They Don’t Tell You In Author’s School, Part 1

By Stephanie Osborn http://www/stephanie-osborn.com


I’m a pretty decent writer. And well before I decided to submit a novel manuscript for publication, I did my homework. I knew about query letters, slush piles, and house formats. I knew some publishing houses don’t take unagented submissions and some do. I knew how to find the correct name and address for a submission, and to address the query letter TO that person. I knew how to make my query letter POP.
But once I got into the industry (translated – I had a manuscript under contract), I discovered that there are a few little details they don’t tell you in author’s school.


Sub-tidbit: Everybody knows not to trust spelling and grammar checkers, right? They don’t know there from they’re from their… (finish the statement on your own). Good. ‘Nuff said. On to the serious stuff.


Tidbit One: Different publishers have different definitions of what constitutes novel length. For some, it’s anything over forty thousand words. For others, it’s sixty, and for most in my genre (science fiction and mystery, often combined) it’s around one hundred thousand. This is a rough rule of thumb, and generally the bigger the number, the more leeway you have, plus or minus, in your word count. But make sure you know what the definition is for your genre, and MAKE IT LONG ENOUGH, or you could run into problems.


Yep, been there, done that. Nobody gave me a t-shirt though. Should have.




-Stephanie Osborn
http://www/stephanie-osborn.com

2 comments:

fallingdownthecreativewell said...

That was another thing I learned last weekend. The amount of words that constitute a book change depending on genre and whom you are talking to. I had always assumed the very minimum was 50,000 words. It's funny how you don't know that you don't know something until someone points it out. (That made sense in my head, but I'm not sure the idea carried over.)

Stephanie Osborn said...

This is very, very true. And that's one reason I included it in the blog tips.

And of course then there's the novella, which is shorter than a novel for a given genre, and again has its own word count range.

You have to know what you're writing and who you're writing it for, then aim for that target.

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