My novel is not about Santa Claus, nor does it address the question about whether or not there is one. It is not about the famous query from Virginia O’Hanlon in 1897, nor is it about The New York Sun newspaper. The thought appeared in my mind because I am extremely concerned about my book’s length.
I was positive that after editing my book for the third time, that the word count was down around the 150,000 word mark. I was shocked, upon doing a recount, to discover that it was closer to 200,000 words! And why does this even matter?
Well, if you’re a new, previously unpublished author, you have almost zero chance of having your debut novel published if it exceeds 120,000 words. I say ‘almost’, because there are always exceptions to the rule, such as Elizabeth Kostova, for example. Kostova’s long literary novel, The Historian, was published in the United States on 14 June 2005 by Little, Brown and Co.
When talking about ‘word-count’ for novels, people refer to Elizabeth Kostova, among others, simply because there are so few other examples out there of first-time novelists having a book published that exceeds the limit the market insists upon. Another recent example is City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg.