Editor Chat

Have a question or comment you’d like to pose to an editor? Do you need help with a query letter? Concerned about your synopsis? Curious what it takes to catch an editor’s attention?

Go ahead and ask us. We’re pretty much open to anything…except financial advice, manuscript critiques, book reviews, nor are we interested in the thousands of dollars in your overseas bank account.

Please do not send in your submissions here either. Yes, we’ll answer quickly – with a simple “No. Not interested.” For submitting manuscripts, please follow the directions on our website at http://www.leucrotapress.com/submissions.html
Thanks

Leucrota Press

Leucrota Press

88 Responses

  1. Oh, come on guys. We’re not going to bite.

  2. K, so I’ll go first.

    I got a rejection letter about a week ago sayin that I overwrote, and that my manuscript was full of purple prose.
    What does that mean? And how do I fix it?
    Alisha

  3. How long should the ideal synopsis be? Some houses don’t specify, while others give an exact page count. But they want the synopsis to be detailed, explaining everything, so it can’t be too short. A recent one I had sent out (and was rejected) was a four page synopsis.

    What would you recommend, and what does your house prefer? A shorter condensed version, or one that describes everything so you’re not left to guessing?

  4. Alisha,

    Purple prose is a term used to describe “fluff.” In case you didn’t know, for the most part, fluff is not good. Repeat after me. “fluff no good.”

    A term of literary criticism, purple prose is used to describe passages, or sometimes entire literary works, written in prose so overly extravagant, ornate or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself. Purple prose is sensuously evocative beyond the requirements of its context. It also refers to writing that employs certain rhetorical effects such as exaggerated sentiment or pathos in an attempt to manipulate a reader’s response.”>

    Some of the most common examples: “every fiber of her being,” “Sapphire orbs of firey light” (describing eyes), instead of saying breasts authors write “mounds,” “globes,” or “luciously curved hills.” Instead of writing penis, there’s “member,” “manhood,” “manroot,” “throbbing love missle,” “his sword sheathed into her moist warmth.”

    Another example of a passage (rewritten to preserve copyright) in sentence form:

    She moved silently and stealthily across the fluffy carpet from the bathroom, naked as the day she was born, cooling water beading slowly down her perfectly sculpted shoulders from the shower, her recently trimmed bob of dark hair mussed around her angelic face as she began searching the tops of the dresser, the vanity, then bent at her fine waist and peered curiously under the bed. Delicate, petite, and fragile, that’s what she was. After four years she still captivated him, still easily made him as hard as hell, and made him think of pixies on a fantasy night. A sensual, firey, sexy pixie queen sandwiched between two muscular and ultra-masculine male bodies that gleamed with moisture from the aura of pure sex.

    …you get the picture. Overdone, overwritten, over-the-top. I also come from a journalism background, where shorter is better and you need to “write to the point.” Well, I’m not saying that’s the case all the time. It’s ok to be wordy in certain scenes. Make sure you’re descriptive in your writing and touch upon all of the senses. Don’t rush through your writing or scenes so that it leaves the reader breathless. But don’t over do it. You don’t need to keep your thesaurus open for every sentence, nor do you need to list 13 shades of “emerald” to describe a green tree. Just describe it.

    …there are other editors that may not agree with me. Mostly, romance publishers. Now that’s not meant in a derogatory sense or arrogant manner, it’s just that purple prose is more often found in romance novels than any other form of literature. For romance fiction, purple prose works. It’s just another style of writing, and in many cases for romance novels it is needed. But for other types of fiction you should avoid it. Knock it away with a billy club if you have to.

    The best way to avoid it, is to not try to edit as you write. Just write what comes to mind, just as long as you get it down on paper. Then, cut out the flowery fluff after you’re done on your first round of editing. Then, go it another round, cutting out more. Have a friend read it, and they should be able to catch areas in which you could use a little fine-tuning.

  5. Brian,

    A synopsis is meant to be a summary in which to tell an editor what happens in your book, who does what, who kills who, who comes out ahead, etc. It’s not meant to give the nitty gritty details, but rather an all-encompasing overview of the plot.

    Some publishing houses will state the maximum number of pages for their synopsis requirements. Usually, that will range from one to five. For our house, we like one page only. In our opinion, if a book is great, then the author should be able to sum it up in a few paragraphs, which will then make us read the enclosed three chapters, and then combined will make us want to request the rest of the manuscript.

    It really depends on the publisher you’re submitting to. But as a rule, I would say – unless specified by the submission guidelines – that you do not go over three pages. Try to keep it as condensed as possible without leaving out important details (like the hero dying in the tenth chapter with nine more to go…)

  6. I’ve been rejected by several publishing houses recently – though only one actually even read my synopsis and three chapters. The others, I had just sent a query to, but they said no before I was able to send anything off. While I thought my query letter was written just fine, I’m just wondering if I should just include my synopsis or chapters along with my query. Is this ok to do for the most part? I know most publishers say query first, but it’s frustrating when they don’t even get past the one page letter.

    Any comments are appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.

  7. Writebettah –

    Unless a publisher specifically says do not send anything but the query letter, I would feel safe to say send your synopsis along with it. If they want just a query letter, don’t send your chapters in with your query, because then you’re sending in a proposal package and may get you rejected without even being read.

    If the publisher doesn’t specify, or says “query or send submission packet” then I would send a submission packet rather than just a letter. The more you’re able to send up front is better – it allows the editor to get a better idea of your story, your characters, and your writing style in general – just be sure not to send more if the publisher doesn’t want it.

    I know it’s frustrating, especially when you feel that publishers don’t even read your query. But we really do. The problem with sending just a query though, is if we’re not impressed immediately, we tend to move on. Most houses get so many submissions daily that there is no time to read, reread, pause, and ponder the possibilities of each manuscript submission. It needs to wow the editor for them to quickly send out a letter or email saying “send me more.”

    You can check out my earlier posts regarding query letters here:
    https://leucrotapress.wordpress.com/2007/08/21/crafting-query-letters/

  8. Thanks. I just want to clarify again about sending in additional information. If the publisher listing or website says “query first,” “query with cover letter,” or “query with submission.” What is the difference? I just want to make sure so that I don’t do something wrong just to get my submission trashed.

  9. Writebettah,
    For all of the above, sending in your synopsis as well as your query should be fine. “Query with cover letter” I would definately send it in, and “query with submission” I would take as an invitation to include your synopsis and first three chapters. Though the last is an odd wording…

    You may also email the submissions or information line and just ask to clarify what they want. There’s no need to introduce yourself or your book at this point, just a simple “Dear_______, I am requesting some clarification on your submission guidelines. Would you prefer just a query or a query with synopsis?” would suffice.

  10. Okay, since you asked, here is my burning question (and thanks for the opportunity to ask!)

    I have mesmerized children with stories told off the top of my head. I have terrified child and adult alike around Halloween campfires. I have written countless stories on paper, and I’ve even had small stories meant to entertain friends in email circulate the globe and return to me in a forward! Yet I have no formal writing credit to mention. How does one handle this when submitting (finally!) to an editor?

  11. Storyteller,

    While many people believe that only writers with solid writing credentials and a plethora of published manuscripts make it past the readers and on to the editor’s desk, it’s simply not true. While of course it doesn’t hurt to say you’ve have nine short stories published in prestigious magazines, if your story is truely amazing, no editor will turn it away because of short publish list. In fact, many times (many, not all) submissions from writers with previous publishing experience end up in my shredder than those who have none.

    For example, I had an author email me about a week and a half ago regarding his fantasy trilogy he’d written and previously vanity published. As an “esteemed author with credible experience,” he apparently felt that he didn’t need to follow directions and sent me a link to his “reader interactive” website that hosted chapter excerpts and character profiles from his novels.

    …Not only was I extrememly annoyed with the submission, it immediately knocked several points off his first impression score. No, I did not take his book, despite the fact that he had sold a notable amount of books on his own, sold several stories to nationwide magazines, and was a regular contributer to a small e-zine. Why? Several reasons.

    One, because while editors – okay, scratch that, let’s get personal, so I – while I am very open to authors both new and seasoned, and welcome open discussion and communication, there are certain things (ie submission guidelines) that everyone needs to follow. I don’t care if they’re a newbie, or have been on the New York Times Bestseller’s list. If an author comes in with an attitude of “I am a published writer, therefore I will only write and pay no attention to rules or guidelines that don’t even apply to me,” it’s an immediate turn-off, and really shows how unprofessional they really are.

    Two, just because someone was published at another house, does not mean that their content, voice, style, or the author him/herself is meant for another publisher. I’ve skimmed the shelves of Borders and B&N and picked up books that I was appalled had made it to print. In the same sense, I received several submissions – a few which I have accepted – that I was astonished hadn’t been picked up yet, especially after the author thanking me for taking him after so many rejections.

    It really depends on the house, but I would say that while writing experience does lend a nice bit of weight to a query letter, if your story itself can not stand on its own or does not evoke an immediate (hopefully positive) response from an editor, then no amount of publishing background will help you. Listing experience in the area of which you are writing is a different story, which lends credibility to yourself as a writer, but you don’t necessarily need to be published to establish yourself as credible.

    I hope after all of this I answered at least part of your question….

  12. “I ask this because I’m trying to get some novel-length material polished enough for submission, but I wonder if it will be better to do this while I’m still in high school, or after I get some college credit under my belt. I know most people would probably go with the “Carpe deim!”-type advice, but I have a sinking feeling in my stomach that a minor trying to sell someone on a story that wouldn’t fit easily into teen lit. or teen fantasy wouldn’t fly, and it would be a lot easier if I just waited.”

    NearlyMello,

    What do editors, or rather I, think of young authors? Nothing. That is, I don’t think of them as any different than any other author, whether ten years my junior or thirty years my senior. And you shouldn’t think of yourself as different, either. If you’re able to have the patience and commitment to pen out a novel-length piece of fiction, then it really doesn’t matter how old you are, as long as the story warrants publishing. Yes, while the next epic fantasy trilogy for adults written by a 12-year old prodigy would turn heads and have a few critics give two thumbs up, I don’t really think it makes that much of a difference. As far as your example of Eragon, I…wait, I better stop there. I can’t post what I might say about that particular… Moving on.

    Age really has nothing to do with it. Experience, on the other hand, does. And many times, unfortunately, the two do go hand in hand. As it would be hard for an adult to think back and accurately portray a depressed or outcast freshman highschooler, it would be equally as hard -probably harder – for a young teen to accurately portray an adult, intimate relationshp, marriage, divorce, politics in the workplace, the struggles of parenthood…You get the idea. To write upon something so detailed and realistic to be able to put your reader there in your story, you need to have either been there and done that, or done a helluva lot of research, and even research is limited. So yes, in a sense, you do need more experience in order to write on certain topics, though I wouldn’t necessarily say college credits “under your belt” is the answer. I remember college. A few sememsters in and you realize it’s just a bigger, older version of highschool. It’s not the college that makes you grow, but the interaction and activities that you involve yourself in that make the experience of college memorable and benefitting.

    So to get back to your question, an author’s age means nothing to me if their story is something I believe is going to be a great novel, and is one that would be best represented by our house. Then, and only then, do I consider demographics, author age, publishing credits, etc.

    As a tip, when initially submitting a query or submission packet, you are not required to put your age or grade level in your letter. So don’t put it in. Talk about your experience as a writer, why you’re a credible writer on that topic/genre, and then focus on your book. If the editor bites, and startes delving in and asking questions, then let it out. At that point, if the editor is really intersted in your manuscript, chances are they won’t let you go because they need to add a “parent’s signature” line on the contract.

    If you’re that confident in your writing, have a few friends look at it and be as critical as possible, edit it, and send it in. At the worst case editors say no, and you have to keep submitting. Even if you’re still submitting through your first few sememsters at college and reach the “legal” age. To quote a favorite professor and friend of mine, your manuscript “belongs in the mail, not in the desk drawer.” So, go for it.

  13. Hello, Your site is awesome. I can’t wait to see what kind of books, (AND graphic novels! Wow!) you guys put out.

    Anyways, I’d like to ask a question that affects myself and a few of my friends.

    What do editors really think of young (as in under 18 ) authors? If you’re a minor, is this a fact you should mention in the letter that goes with your submission? I know you can’t offer a statment on every company’s behalf, but I’m just curious as to what your personal opinion is. Do you approach with caution, due to their lack of worldly experience, approach it just like any old submission, or see it as a selling point? (as with Eragon, for example.)

    I ask this because I’m trying to get some novel-length material polished enough for submission, but I wonder if it will be better to do this while I’m still in high school, or after I get some college credit under my belt. I know most people would probably go with the “Carpe deim!”-type advice, but I have a sinking feeling in my stomach that a minor trying to sell someone on a story that wouldn’t fit easily into teen lit. or teen fantasy wouldn’t fly, and it would be a lot easier if I just waited. I’m very curious on how you’d handle this.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my (silly? maybe… ) question.

  14. Ha ha ha… It’s good to know I’ll be treated normally here at least. (erk… Eragon…) This is the first (or mabye second… hmm…) place I’ve looked into. I need to get up the guts to give some copies to my friends now, too.

    Thanks for the great advice! I really didn’t expect such a long answer. Now all I need to do is edit my manuscript until it screams uncle, and then some. Well, easier said than done, but I feel pretty motivated now!

  15. NM-
    Not a problem. Glad that I could help.

  16. …you never say it’s “not a problem” when I ask you for help, Danielle.

  17. Maybe if you came up with some intelligent questions rather than the spewing of incessant claptrap I’d be inclined to put up with you.
    No, wait, you’re just my devoted toady, I don’t need to put up with you…

  18. Anyone else, other than Casey, who’d like to chat?

  19. Hi again,

    I had another question real quick. About editing.

    I’m going through my manuscript, trying to edit and polish it up to send out and about, and I was wondering what you thought on the “polishing” of manuscripts. What I mean is, do editors make decisions based on what the manuscript looks like, or the potential? I’m not saying if the writing is horrible, but if there is grammar mistakes, typos, spelling, maybe it’s not descriptive enough, etc.

    Not all of us can afford to have our manuscript professionally edited before sending it off, so most of the time (and in my case) it’s just friends or family that look at it first. Does that hurt my odds? If it does, what can I do to help it?

  20. Writebettah,

    Take a look at the post I just listed for some tips on checking your plot https://leucrotapress.wordpress.com/2007/09/10/plot-questions-to-ask-yourself-before-submitting/

    For the most part, yes, editing and polishing does make a difference. Just because an unedited manuscript, or one that’s full of bad grammar or poor sentence structure is distracting, and takes away from your storyline. As I’ve said before, editors get so many manuscripts each day that they only have a short time to dedicate to each one. Poor writing will cause an editor to skim the rest or to quit reading alltogether.

    Though not in all cases – if you story is so great and unusual that it catches attention on its own, then sometimes we will look past mistakes. But just to be sure, you should try to clean it up as best as you can before submitting.

  21. Greetings!

    When a writer submits those all-important first 3 chapters – does a prologue count as a first chapter?
    And are there any general guidelines for how long a prologue should or shouldn’t be, from an editor’s viewpoint?

  22. MasRogue,
    Nice to see you again!

    We don’t count the prologue as one of the three chapters. As far as I know, neither do most other houses. Some publishers prefer either three chapters or 20 pages, whichever is shortest/has an easier break.

    As far as the length of the prologue…I personally don’t think it should be longer than any of your other chapters. It should actuall be quite shorter. In my opinion, the purpose of the prologue is to sort of “set the stage” for the novel itself. Give information, background history, bring in a character, or create foreshadowing. It’s not meant to be a short novella before the novel. When it comes to background history, it also does not need to be so explicity detailed that it runs 20 pages.

    A few pages is ideal – three to five – though you could occasionally go a page or so over that if need be.

  23. Hehe, well I hope I catch you in a better mood than youseemed in your post yesterday……..

    I had another question – about another post you made. You said that paper submissions might get more attention (at least when it comes to rejections). So to clarify, do you want paper manuscripts more than email submissions? Are most houses like that as well? (Meaning, as far as writing comments, writing moer comments on paper instead of emailed)

    Thanks!

  24. Each house is different. While some may make comments in the margins of the first few pages, others won’t even pick up a pen as they’re skimming. Regardless of whether they do make comments or not, it makes the opportunity to do so easier, but it doesn’t mean they’ll do it. Sometimes it depends on house rules, others just on the editor and what kind of day he/she is having.

    For Leucrota Press, we don’t have a preference to submissions. Email subs are easier on our desk space and mail runs, but paper subs are easier to read, and do tend to get a bit more attention.

    Either submission way is welcome, it really depends on what is easier for the writer.

  25. Hey is there really something known as a blacklist for writers?
    I’ve heard of it, but get different feelings from different people on the subject…

  26. Erin,

    This is a very interesting question. Instead of putting my response here, I’m going to put together an actual post and put it up on the main page in the next day or so.

    Thanks,
    Danielle

  27. Wow, I apologize for not thanking you earlier. Sometimes I get to writing, and I don’t come up for air for a few weeks.

    So, thank you very much for your response to my question (which you answered completely, by the way).

  28. You should have an author chat tab too…that way if anyone have a question for one of your authors, they can have a place to reply, if so inclined.

    Will.

  29. I think an author chat is an awesome idea!

  30. An author chat…an interesting idea.

    If I get enough responses from other bloggers/readers, it might be a possibility.
    Any suggestions on how you would go about it / what you would like to see?

  31. It was a thought.

    I for example, even though just starting, wouldn’t mind answering questions. If there is a question about something in a work of mine that confuses someone, I wouldn’t mind clarifing. It would point me to perhpas cloudy areas I need to work on. My history, other stories, other subjects are open and things I don’t mind talking about. Even if it is to say I haven’t time at the moment and will come back to it, hey, why not?

    Also, it could be a good community situation. if an author is stuck on a project and perhaps feels that others can help, he/she can ask if anyone would to collaborate on a piece. Some writers don’t mind partnering…

    As I said, it was just a thought.

    Will.

  32. No, no, it’s a good thought.

    It’s something we can think about, but will probably only pursue if there’s enough interest. So if anyone else thinks this is a good idea, please leave your comments/suggestions.

    Thanks

  33. I think this is an idea with promise, however I can see a conflict of interest for the publishers having the authors here perhaps seeking help on an individual basis for their work from editors. Would anyone be interested in a Live Journal community? That could serve the same purpose. Then the editors could come as themselves if they wanted too and we could help each other too.

  34. The other possibility is that the authors just get their own blog here at wordpress (they’re free) and then just link them off of the author tab. This way the publisher’s are responsible for any content, nor are controlling, etc. And like Jtthomas said, the editors can go there to visit, if they like.

  35. Linking them is like the function already available, isn’t it? Difference being that instead of to an author’s web page it would be to the blog…

    I think in the back of my mind when I suggested it was a bit of fan/writer coming out. Over the years I have often wanted to let my favs know how I liked their work, or wondered what might be coming up, or things like that. And as a person, myself, I wouldn’t mind hearing things like thisregarding my creative efforts.

    Eh, it can be interesting, no matter how it can work out.

    Will.

  36. Oops, sorry. I meant so the publishers are NOT responsible for the content, and don’t have control of what’s said. This way I think you’d fix the problem of conflict of interest

  37. Will,

    Leucrota is planning on setting up an email system for it’s authors (novelists only, though) so that fans can contact the author without knowing the author’s personal email, contact info, etc.

    I know it’s not quite the same as to what you were talking about, but it’s a step we’d already planned on taking, which will be implemented early next spring. Many of our novelists and artists also have or are working on their own web pages, that we do list links to our on website under Author Links.

    I’d have to think about an author chat, but like I said, it is a possibility. Another, is to advertise for a specific time/date on which to have an author chat, where the author would be on the temporary blog page and answer questions as they come in.

    Again, they’re just thoughts, and would definately need more thought and input. If anyone has more input on this topic, or other questions in general, please don’t hesitate to comment.

  38. I was emailed a question the other day about the difference between cover letters and queries, and whether there was a difference.

    The answer: yes, there is a difference. A huge difference.

    A query letter is meant to be an “advertisement,” or a “grab” to send to an editor in hopes they’ll want to read your work. A cover letter is meant to accompany your submission packet, giving pertinent information about yourself and your manuscript.

    For further details, please click on “query letters” and “submissions” in the topics listed on the left hand side of the page.

    Thanks.

  39. I noticed in your past blog posts that you said you and the other editors hated the movie SAW and others like it, but the box office just released that SAW has done exceedingly well since its opening.

    Care to shed some light on why you feel the way you do, despite there being an audience for such films?

  40. JC-
    I think this would be better answered as an actual post…
    Let me think about it for a day or two, and I’ll get back to you.

  41. I have a question. A friend of my informed me he was taking part in the Nano contest. I was like wtf is that. Turns out it’s this
    http://www.nanowrimo.org/ It seems rather strange to me. Just thought I’d see what someone else thinks of it. One way to write something, I guess. I have no idea why I feel so ambiguous about it. Don’t even know if anyone cares. My problem is I’m terminally nosy.

  42. Pssst! Hey, Ed!

    Didja know that the second word, “novel”, on the updates page, submissions update line, is spelled “novle”?

    Thought I’d mention it…

  43. Have the contributer copies been sent yet?

  44. Joshua,
    They should be going out this weekend.

  45. Awsome! (I was thinking I gave you the wrong address or something)
    Thanks kaheaku

  46. Sorry to bother, but are the contributer copies out yet?

  47. Just received mine — my story is first in it, and with my name mis-spelled, to boot!

    Still, a nice tight book, hardcover.

  48. Cool. Hopefully I’ll get mine monday.
    Congrats Willis

  49. Got ’em! Sweet!

  50. …not according to my copy, Will. Email me and we’ll talk…

  51. Will do….

  52. …done.

  53. Hmmm….

    Haven’t had anything posted here for a while. *Gasp!* Does that mean that there are no questions or gray areas regarding the publishing world? Has every potential writer suddenly learned everything there is to know about getting their manuscript published and now don’t need any clarification or advice????

    …hmph. Doubt it. Hell, I find out new things all the time, and I’ve been doing this for a while.

    Come on guys, I know you’re out there…

  54. We are the lurking legions, ready to pounce forward upon the unwary…

    Question: With Abaculus are you planning to keep the same text design each year to maintain a “series” look, or are you going to use just the cover year for that?

  55. Hmm…really haven’t decided yet. Most likely the text style will stay the same, maybe change the coloring depending on the artwork, but nothing is concrete at the moment.

    Having some kind of continuous look might not be a bad idea, so that it would be easy to immediately identify the series. Then again, using the same text may not fit the cover illustration chosen for that year.

    Suggestions?

  56. Personally, I am all for a uniform series style. However, I’m sure others would prefer a spontaneous design, and yet others wouldn’t care one way or another.

    I can see the Abaculus text becoming more a logo, with color and year changing each time. It would be a series, the style would show that, and it would still have a bit of change with each release.

  57. Considering the cover illustration would be new each edition, technically there would be plenty of change with each release.

    I’ll pass it on to my designers. I myself like the idea of creating an iconic image/text style to continue from year to year.

    I’m assuming you’re asking because you’ve finished your second part story?? 😉

  58. Not finished, but planned, plotted and begun. Need to get a little more research in the lifestyle of the Atakapas under my belt before I dive full force into it.

  59. Time’s ticking.

  60. True – June is just around the corner!

    I made a New Year’s Resolution to get a story a month done. Finished the January on 2/1, and this one was gonna be March. (Just ’cause I remember to old April open date).

    I can pop this puppy out in around 3-4 weeks. For some reason this sstyle of story flows better for me than when I write my SF. Feels more homey, and the fingers are more comfortable, I’m thinking.

  61. Hello All:

    New to the site, and very impressed with what I’ve seen so far. I am greatly looking forward to submitting my latest project for consideration with Leucrota.

    One question I have concerns chapter length. Are there any hard and fast rules regarding this, or is it more a matter of personal preference?

    The novel I am currently in the process of polishing has roughly nine chapters that run between twenty and sixty pages. (the larger will probably be split by the time its all said and done.) Each chapter consists of four to seven sub-chapters that run about four to six pages in length. Does this sound like a viable format to you, or should I consider reformatting before moving ahead with my finalizations of grammar and sentence structure?

    By the way, thanks for providing such an informative Q&A section. Its nice to have readily available access to the inner-workings of a publishing editor to run things by.

  62. Phantom-

    There really is no hard and fast rule regarding chapter lengths. While it’s best to try to keep the length consistent throughout, sometimes with the plot structure and story flow it’s just not possible.

    Try to space your chapters out out so that there is not too much time between smaller subchapters or that each subplot gets forgotten; divide the chapters up so the plots balance each other out. When breaking the chapters up, put smaller scenes together but do not add them to the end of a long scene.

    The easiest way to break chapters up would be to put each subplot into its own chapter. Then, once you have those divided and rearranged, you can always go back and combine a few here and there to even out the length of the chapters.

    Your structure is interesting, but you need to be careful. A sixty page chapter is quite daunting, and nearly a novella in itself. You may want to label them “Part One,” “Part Two,” etc, rather than chapters, and so each part of “book” has chapters within it. Even then, nine is quite a large number. Two to Four parts should be your goal limit.

  63. Thanks for the prompt reply. I am rather fond of the structure I am using in my current project, but wanted a professional opinion on the idea.

    As I said in my original post, I believe the meatiest chapter, which runs on for about sixty-three pages, is going to be cut in half. After all, there are two central sub-plots within it and they are fairly well-defined.

    I toyed with the “Part One,” “Part Two” arrangement that you suggested, but the sub-chapter situation suits better I think. Each chapter focuses on one of the main characters, and the POV shifts with each full chapter until all the characters meet somewhere toward the last third of the story.

    Anyway, thanks for the input. ‘Tis much appreciated!

  64. Hi there, I just came across this site and I love it.
    I have two questions, which I hope you can shed some light on.

    1) I am British, but I live in Japan. I am currently looking for an agent in England but I want to know if my location will hinder my chances, and what (if anything) I can do about it. My mother is kind enough to send stuff out for me, to save on postage and time, but I would, for example, have trouble attending interviews or book signings etc.

    2) I have written a children’s book of around 60,000 words. What exactly are the age ranges and approximate word counts. There seems to be little information out there, and what there is seems conflicting. Do the ranges change across territories? Do they matter that much?

    Thanks very much.

  65. Daley-

    As far as your fist question, it’s a little out of my range to give an answer, as you’re overseas in Japan (and potential agents are in England), and the fact that you’re looking for an agent and not a publisher.

    The biggest thing you’d have to do would be to find an agent that will represent international clients. Once you do that, I myself don’t see much difficulty in him/her representing you. And when it comes to signings…. honestly, they’re nice, but if your book is that good and you can’t make the signings–it won’t hurt you as much as you think. The majority (and I really mean majority) of books are not sold at signings, but rather through word of mouth, online venues, newspaper/magazine reviews, etc. If your book is that great it will sell on it’s own, whether or not people can put a face to the author or not.

    I’m also not an expert on children’s books, as we focus on adult novels only. There are a few good websites out there that give a lot of information, such as:
    http://www.writing-world.com/children/genres.shtml
    where it describes some of the different lengths and age groups for children. And yes, I think the age ranges really do matter, especially if you’re trying to get the book into school libraries or other school-age children facilities. There are many different “rating” systems and conditions that librarians and teachers consider when selecting new books, and you need to make sure the genre, length, and overall content is considered appropriate for that age range.

  66. Thanks very much for your prompt, comprehensive response. One of my reasons for asking the second question was that I wondered if the age groups might be changing. Recently there have been a few long books like Harry Potter with its complex themes like war and death still being enjoyed by very young children. And the fact that kids are growing up faster these days I wonder what the current state is. Also, I like to write SF, and I wonder if a similar change is happening there regarding word count. It seemed like just a few years ago the average length was 70,000 words. Now it seems rare to find books under 120,000. What is your take on it all?

  67. 120,000 words…. it’s a bloated monstrosity of an excuse for a….

    Sorry, lost my cool there for a moment.

    There is no set rule for word counts. In my opinion (opinion people, opinion. So no hangings…) a large number of books that are that length are in fact that long because of a lack of editing–mainly if coming from a small to medium press (though I have read several books turned out by larger publishers, and I could have used a third of the book to line the bottom of my bird cage–had I a bird…)

    It might be a little harsh of me to say that, but I really think it’s true.

    There are several long and very successful “epic-like,” or at least epic-length stories that have come out in the last several years, such as George R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire, and Tad Williams “Otherland.” Both examples are excellent books that are quite long, but are so well-written that the reader is drawn in for the entire length of the book, and can’t wait until the next installment/book is released.

    Then come the copycats…

    The same as the ones that tried to imitate Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” style writing and magnitude, the Hemmingway wannabes that try harder than those Elvis worshipers down in Vegas… The problem is that a few great writers churn out an epic-length piece that sells well, and the idea for a lot of new writers is “THAT’S what I need to do! Write an 800 page blockbuster!” They believe that since it worked for those popular and well established authors that it should work for them too. Right?

    Nnnnnooooooooo……..

    The second half of that is the growing number of small presses that think on the same wavelength, and will publish a lot of “fluff” in the book just to try to keep their book as an “epic.” Well, epic as in big is not always better. You could get a 90,000 word book that has a lot tighter writing, faster subplots, and more developed characters than a 140,000 word novel. More length does not equal more quality. In fact, unless done correctly, a longer work can actually hurt you.

    *takes a deep breath*

    So, to answer your question simply, I think the trend of longer works is based on the availability of new technology which allows more small presses to turn out more badly edited books. I don’t think it necessarily reflects the “real” trend of the “good” portions of the market. But I guess you’d have to consider the overall number (including the bad portions) in the end….

  68. Thank you editorkaheaku. Looks like I touched a nerve there 😉 hehe
    OK, since I am on a roll, I have another question if you don’t mind. What, in your opinion, will be the hot topics in the next few years in the different genres? I mean, which way will the wind blow in horror, scifi, fantasy, romance, children’s, etc. For example, Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings films saw a boom in fantasy and wizardry, right?
    Recently we had Beowulf, which seems to be setting the tone at the moment and I am eager to learn more about James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’. Do you think that such things affect the market and should people try to conscious of potential fashions when they write?
    Any ideas what might be hot in the coming years, and out of interest, what exactly is in fashion now?

  69. My advice–never follow fashions. Granted, if you have a fantasy book finished or nearly complete just sitting around the house and suddenly fantasy is the big craze, then by all means spend all your free time trying to promote it, because it just MIGHT make it easier to sell.

    On the other hand, don’t decide to write something because of the market; with as long as it takes to write and edit a novel, pitch it, and get it accepted and published, there’s a big chance you’ll miss “the craze” period.

    I myself don’t follow trends. Books aren’t movies, and while movies have big hit time periods, loyal genre readers will read regardless of what’s at the theater. So I focus my attention on whether the submitted manuscript is great or not, and whether I believe that the genre readers would love that particular book, regardless of what’s “popular.”

    As far as what’s “hot” right now, I really can’t and won’t say for books. For movies, it’s obvious that fantasy has taken off in the past few years, with Harry Potter, the LOTR triology, and new kids movies such as the Waterhorse, the Spiderwick and Narnia chronicles. But how long that will last it’s hard to say. And remember–these movies took a few years each to make. So the writing aspect of the production was done even before that–so if you’re hoping to land a fantasy script in Hollywood, technically it needs to be done BEFORE the market is really “hot” for that genre.

    Again, I wouldn’t focus on trends or what’s happening around the world. Instead focus on the writing. Leave the trend-acolytes to those sanctimonious non-fiction writers who try to cash in immediately after major tragedies by writing so-called novels…

  70. Hi there,

    I submitted my manuscript about a week and a half ago, and haven’t heard anything back yet. I just wanted to make sure you got it??? And when to expect a response back. Thanks!

  71. Hi there
    Another quick question if I may. There is a lot of conflicting information out there about how to get published, so I would like to ask you your opinion on it. Should you get an offer from a publisher first, before seeking an agent, or should you just target agents first and get them to do all the hard work? How are simultaneous submissions generally regarded in the industry? Does it change between regions? What, in your opinion, is the very best route to publishing?
    Thanks.

  72. This thread is very informative. Thank you for your time editorkaheaku. I’m getting so many questions answered just reading this blog. I have an additional follow up question on word count.

    I went looking on the Internet for an agent a few months ago and wound up at the Cypher Agency’s website in New York. There, the very interesting owner/agent gave, aside from his reasons why he no longer handled the fiction he had worked with for 30 years, (He called it a “cosmic crapshoot”, a “swamp”, etc), some advice to new authors in fiction.

    He gave a rule of thumb for newbies on word count as somewhere around 80,000 words for a first book, but he reccomended against using the program “Word’s” auto- count function saying it was wildly accurate. Instead he recommended calculating the word count using a formula;

    He said with 1-1/2″ borders, using Times New Roman 12. Multiply the page number by 225 to get the word count.

    The reason I ask is that about a month ago, using “auto-count”, I got 212,213 words for my book, but with the formula I got 107,100. I have at this point using Times New Roman 12 a book of about 347 pages. I have a number of characters separated at first by geography and distance who will eventually come together, but after reading the advice on word count here and elsewhere I am considering separating the book into one complete at about 280 pages and the other perhaps a third to a half done at 77 pages.

    This is giving me a headache, but I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

  73. Gary,

    In my opinion, both methods are not foolproof. Word picks up on items that aren’t really words, many giving you a larger word count, but overall it’s fairly accurate. The other method–multiplying your page numbers by 250 (not 225 like the agent advised) is also inaccurate as far as word count because of the way text is laid out on the page.

    For example, when it comes to dialogue, many times you will have several lines of only a few words each in an exchange that can last three to ten lines. This would skew the word count with the manual count because while the sentence “Are you serious?” is only three words, it takes up an entire line on the page, as opposed to a tight sentence of description. Both take up one line on the page, but their word count is very different. Make sense?

    Honestly, you can use either one. In my opinion, the exact word count doesn’t matter when a book first comes to us. Granted, we want an estimate so we know whether it’s a novella or a freaking epic that should be cut into four volumes, but that’s about as far as it goes. Especially, since no manuscript comes through our edit-happy fingers without going through some tweaking and multiple rewrites, the original word count doesn’t really apply anyway.

    Once a book is edited and goes into production, word count doesn’t matter. The layout guys don’t really give a damn whether there is 81,209 or 94,659 words, they’re just going to make it look nice on the page.

    So in all honesty, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If it makes you feel better, when submitting you may include both word counts on your cover letter so that the editor can go by whichever he or she feels most comfortable using.

  74. Editorkaheaku,

    Thanks for the response. I believe you are correct about the 250 number. (225 was for a different border size and I got confused when I posted).. So a first book of around 110, 000 words or so is not the bloated !@#$% you blurted out earlier?

    I admit as I self edit my story, even my query letter, I now look for wordiness and redundancy, along with poor sentence structure. In the first write getting the basic story down seemed more important initially but ease of reading and interesting turns of phrase (without resorting to “purple prose” as you put it) take time and work. Repeated examination of my dialogue, narative and plot line required extensive rewrites. Not to mention the characters themselves “coming alive” and saying and doing things I did not expect.

    I’ll take your advice and rely on your “edit happy” people to make word count issues mostly irrelevant if I even get that far with your Press. Thanks again for your time and thoughts.

  75. Heh,

    Gary, 110,000 is not necessarily “bloated” if it has been edited and “written down” so that there is not a lot of excess crap floating around in the manuscript.

    The problem is, a lot of new authors (for some reason especially fantasy writers) tend to write these “epic” stories that are 600 pages and 198,000 words because they almost “think” that epic means long, so they drag out descriptions, have conversations that last six pages, and put so many unneeded adjectives in that yes, it becomes bloated.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, exact word count is not important, but a rough estimate is. Like I said, there is a difference between a novella and a short story, just as there is a difference between a novella and a novel (and a novel and a manuscript that would eat up a redwood… ) and we do need to know what type of book we are looking at. A rough word count gives us an automatic general idea on how long the book will be, page count wise, in the finished product in multiple sizes (trade, paper, hard), which is something we do take into consideration.

    We don’t take novellas, and we don’t print 800 page paperbacks (which, in my opinion, is a bit bloated however you look at it). If you’re only talking a few thousand words, it’s not going to make much of a difference to us. But if you fall in either of the two categories above–it most definitely will.

  76. Editorkaheaku,

    I believe I understand. on the program Word, with the default 8-1/2″ by 11″ page size, (default 1-1/2″ left and right borders, 1″ header and 1-1/2″ footer) and Times New Roman 12 font; the page count is 347. I calculate

    I persisted on this point because I wish to be as accurate and informative as possible even in my query letter, and the wildly different totals from auto-count and formulae concern me. To make myself feel better in that regard I will carefully calculate and include both as you advise.

    Thank you for your patience.

  77. Editorkaheaku,

    BTW does Leucrota Press wish the word count in the query letter, or not until the cover letter stage?

    Gary

  78. I am considering submitting my novel via snail mail (after a bit more polishing) but am unsure of which editor to address the query letter to. Do specific editors at Leucrota cover different genres? What are the chances of a submission getting past the first readers to the actual editors? Thanks for the help!

  79. Rondalynn,

    Our editors are listed on our submissions page, which will tell you who to address what to.

    As far as the chances of getting past the readers, it really varies. If you book is good, it has an excellent chance. If your manuscript is full of errors, poorly written, has flat characters, and is not in the genres we represent, there’s almost no chance that it will get through to the next level.

    Just be sure to write the best story you can, and edit, edit, edit. A few typos here and there isn’t going to kill your chances, but repeated misspellings and terrible grammar is distracting and may stop a read halfway through.

  80. Is it a bad idea to send out query letters before your manuscript is finished and/or has been submitted for copyright approval as well? I’ve read conflicting points of view on this topic.

  81. A new writer recently finished a novel. It is well over 100,000 words. He edited it down from 150,000 words. He loves his story and has cut it down to 110,00 words and isn’t sure what to cut next. Is it okay to submit as is. Will an editor cut what they think is needed to make the book flow-without taking away the integrity of said story.

    Thanks

  82. I have a copyrighting question. I just finished my work but plan on letting some friends read it proir to me submitting it. Out of fear of it getting passed to the wrong hands in some way, should I consider preregistering, registering, or sweat it out. I want to feel safe without hindering the publishing process later on?

    Thank you

  83. hi there its Aaron and i posted a comment on your guy’s web page about maybe contacting you about my story that i am writing but i am very new to the writing world whicth is as im finding out very competitive and you have to a very outgoing person to succeed in the writing world. so i was just wondering if i could send you the title of my book and a quick summary of the book and a description of 1 or 2 characters and to see if it would be somthing that you guys would want to publish. thank you so much for being so hopeful already with your guys web site. i am really looking foward to some day working with you guys. so if you just email me back at sGtswink@yahoo.com i would really apreacate it. so thank you again and i really hope to hear back from you. (kep in mind this is not a submision all i have so far is the first 2 chapters i just need feed back please 🙂 )

  84. I have read so many articles or reviews
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