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I'm currently writing a book that goes much, much more than the average word count. (My children's novel is at least 80k words). My targeted audience would be 8-13 years old.

Will an agent reject a well-written story with a unique concept just because it's too long?

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  • This is a really short description of my problem, but there really aren't much more details to say. Does this question need more details? Jan 20 at 20:22
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    "...much, much more than the average word count (my children's novel is at least 80k words)." Auctually, the first Harry Potter book (and the smallest) was Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone which is 76,944 words. Your book is not actually that long, some children's books can go up past 100,000 words.
    – Nai45
    Jan 20 at 20:37
  • A literary agent will often give a word limit for works and exclude anything outside it. If there is a hard line for the genre, THAT could be a problem, but generally not.
    – DWKraus
    Jan 21 at 1:45
  • @Nai45, that's good to hear. However, most of the Children's books I used to read(btw, my book's targeted audience would be 8-11) are much shorter than 80k words. Jan 21 at 2:00
  • Could you add the age range (8-11) to your question? It makes it easier to answer.
    – Nai45
    Jan 21 at 3:35
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They shouldn't.

If your story is high-quality, entertaining and unique, it won't matter how long it is because the children reading it would want to continue reading it, and they wouldn't care how long it is because they would be enjoying it.

And if your agent rejects your novel solely based on word count, my recommendation is just to get a new agent, preferably one who sees the value in your work and cares about the quality of your work rather than the quantity.

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Not universally. Quite regularly, first novels significantly longer than average are published. But the further away from "normal" your book is, the higher the risk to the publishers (especially with being longer, because that also increases production costs), so the better the book has to be for them to be willing to take a bet on it.

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It depends.

The more your word count differs from the 'average' for that genre the more likely that you will have problems selling it.

The farther away you are from their target (which is often a range not an exact number) the worse your chances.

So if you are going to deviate you had better have a much better plot and a much better written novel. Especially if you are previously unpublished.

And when they do list a range for wordcount you should be in that range and not higher/lower.

There is a reason for word counts by agents and that is because they have to sell your mss to a publisher. And they know what makes it most likely to make the sale for you.

So to answer your question in the OP, yes, if your mss is much much more than the typical book you have pretty much ensured that no agent will take that mss and no publisher will buy it.

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  • But is 80k words really that much? Most publishers would not refuse a well-written 80k wordcount book.
    – Nai45
    Jan 21 at 3:34
  • Depends on the genre. Could be too long could be too short.
    – pro writer
    Jan 21 at 3:44
  • My genre would be fantasy, but it's not too much into the magical world, so I'll say it's realism fantasy. However, I didn't add that in my question, because I wanted this question to be general. Jan 21 at 4:07
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Yes

Publishing within a certain word count is essentially the publishers setting up a hurdle to see if you are capable of following the rules that someone gives you. As a new writer, you are an unknown. The onus of proof is on you to demonstrate that you are a good writer, and that means metaphorically coloring within the lines of the coloring book until you have proven your trustworthiness. A lot of authors have great ideas before they publish their first work that have been vindicated by history, but they had to pitch absolutely trite, garbage ideas to a publisher to get the publishing clout necessary to publish their big experiment.

If you are a well-established author with a good agent and a good track record with your publisher, they will be more likely to make exceptions or bend the rules for you. Not if you are an unknown writer.

Think of it this way. Someone asks you to sum something up in five minutes. If you fail to do so and continue talking after the five minutes have passed, even if the person tries to leave the conversation and walk away, is that appropriate?

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