You may recall that I completed my rewrite a few weeks ago. After letting my manuscript “rest” for a week or so, I sat down and read the whole thing out loud beginning to end, marking and commenting for future revision as I went. I was pleased to discover how happy I was, overall, with the first draft. I only had a few spots that needed real revision, and I did a “soft” edit of those spots once I finished reading through the whole thing.
Then I started doing a bit of research on literary agents, and guess what I discovered?
The going word count for first-time novelists is 80-100k words.
My manuscript clocks in at approximately 240k.
I’m totally panicking.
On one hand, I can understand the need for a shorter manuscript. Publishers can sell more skinny books. I get that. But… but…
I could theoretically break it into two books with minimal revision, but the publication of a sequel is dependent on the success of the first book. Nothing is guaranteed.
There is always the indie book route, wherein one self-publishes with a service like CreateSpace. (I am seriously considering their copy editing service.) But I’m a traditionalist at this point, mostly because, unfortunately, there’s a lot of self-published drivel out there.
I, by no means, think I’m the next Margaret Mitchell. But neither do I believe my book is drivel. I’ve read some bad self-published stuff on my Kindle Fire recently (because it was free to download, mind you, and was in a genre I generally like). I don’t want to get lumped in and lost among the literary dregs.
So I’m panicking a little because, while I know I still need to do some more editing, I don’t see how I can cut out one hundred forty thousand words without ending up with a story that’s choppy, incoherent, and so bare bones anyone with half a literary brain would shudder over it.