I am writing my first novel, which has gathered about 150000 words. I guess it will be around 170-180k words when it is finished. Assuming that it will loose 20% after the first draft, it will have around 150k words when it is finished.

Is this too long for a first novel?

It depends on the quality of the writing, on the story and on a thousand other factors, but I am worried that publishers will think the book is too long for the market, especially if there is no known name on the cover.

Edit: The genre of the novel is soft science-fiction.

  • What's ya genre?
    – Mac Cooper
    Apr 30, 2016 at 18:51
  • Soft science-fiction.
    – Alex
    Apr 30, 2016 at 19:52
  • 2
    If you use a beta-reader group, you may lose more than that. Agents, grossly on average, read 20-30 pages before deciding to read the rest or not. One would guess the longer your submission, the more impressive those thirty pages must be to ask for a week of someone's time who's on commission.
    – Stu W
    Apr 30, 2016 at 23:07
  • That is a good point, Stu W
    – Alex
    May 1, 2016 at 10:53

2 Answers 2


It probably is, but what you can do instead is rework it as two books, and then when shopping for an agent, present it as book-plus-sequel. Science fiction (and fantasy) in particular are forgiving of long works and love series, so length and sequel would be features, not bugs.


2 books deals are not common; better develop the present book into a trilogy. Each book should be 80-100K words. I know you are almost done, but you can add various subplots to lengthen the story.

For now, only concentrate on the first book, find an end point, weave in subplots and flesh it. Only after polishing and publishing, continue developing books 2 and 3.

Another way to go is to stay with a single novel is by mercilessly editing and pruning your story to under 100 000 words, some novels have been greatly improved from extreme editing.

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