Preparing for a writing conference is one of the scariest and most exciting things I’ve ever done. Exciting because I get to meet writers in real life, not just in my computer! But it’s scary because there’s always that pesky tendency to compare my work and success with theirs.
And then there’s the pitching part. I signed up to pitch my latest story to an agent. I don’t think I need to describe how intimidating THAT will be.
I submitted my query letter ahead of time and got it back last night. My WIP is unfinished and currently thirty thousand words. I don’t have a final word count goal; I never do. My stories end when I feel they are finished. After reading the comments on the query letter, though, now I’m starting to have doubts. My longest work is just shy of fifty thousand words, and according to the pro who read my letter, no agent will touch a manuscript that is not a minimum of sixty thousand words.
My first thought: What! They won’t even LOOK at it? That’s not fair! Novellas are a legitimate form of literature!
My second thought: Well, these people are professionals. They know it requires a minimum amount of words to tell a good, well-developed story. They know the publishing world way better than you, and they certainly aren’t idiots.
Like any writer, indie or otherwise, I enlist a great deal of trust in my beta readers to tell me if a story is ready for publication. Now I worry that, despite their honesty, I published half-assed, under-developed stories. The reviews overall don’t suggest this is the case. But that doesn’t mean I don’t worry. I am and will always be my worst critic.
I’m reminded of all those book reports I had to write in high school where there was a minimum of five required pages. This was annoying, since I could perfectly summarize the book and what I thought of it in half that amount of pages. The key, I thought, was choosing the right words and using them well.
So what do you think? Is there a required minimum amount of words to tell a good story, or is it highly subjective, depending on the subject and genre?