I am known primarily for my sexy football romances, so discussing length could mean many things. Get your mind out of the gutter! I am referring to the length of a book. Current wisdom says no novel over 120,000 words will be published today due to the atrophied attention spans of readers contracted from television viewing, computer use and tweeting. An agent at a recent conference declared she wouldn't look at anything over 100,000 words. One of my e-publishers is constantly urging their authors to produce 50,000-60,000 word Harlequin-style romances, not easy to do as I have tried it and failed. Supposedly, people using e-readers won't order anything longer. Forget classics like Gone With The Wind. Margaret Mitchell would be advised to cut that length in half or issue her story as three back-to-back novels. Sad. Okay, I will admit I've only gotten a quarter way through Northwest Passage, but it was the unrelenting dialect that made me put it down, not the length.
Length has cost me some contracts as my two best books both ran over 100,000 words. They have found a home at L & L Dreamspell. My first historical, Queen of the Mardi Gras Ball at 113,560 words, will be coming out in early 2012. Wish for a Sinner, already published, was originally 108,700 words. I cut it back to 103,000 in a vain attempt to get it under that magic 100,000 word barrier, but could not go the rest of the way. Its length was one reason it kept getting turned down. Thank heaven, the lovely ladies at Dreamspell feel length doesn't matter. It's what you do with it that counts. No, no, don't bombard them with your 700,000 word tomes. They are a small press and aren't accepting manuscripts right now. But know that here and there, people who like a good, long story do exist even if we are headed toward extinction. As for me, I did manage to bring the manuscript of Kicks for a Sinner in at 90,000 words. That was a close one!