What is a novel?

I sent out an agent query for my novel WEEKEND GETAWAYS, OR ADVENTURES IN CONTRACT KILLING.  Got a response within an hour indicating that the word count (just over 52,000 words) was too short for a novel.

I sent out a query to a small press that published Bizarro fiction.  The submissions editor was impressed, but said he was only dealing currently with novellas from between 15,000 and 30,000.

NaNoWriMo uses the mark of 50,000 as their guideline.  this from their website:

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.  (My boldface.)

50,000 words is a novel, is not a novel, is a novel.

What is a novel?


  1. borablee said,

    June 9, 2010 at 7:49 am

    In my opinion, it’s for business that the publishers want you to keep writing ever more. You can choose to self-publish, but from my experience there’s really not much money there.


    • tikiman1962 said,

      June 9, 2010 at 8:54 am

      I would also imagine that most agents, editors, and publishers think that there is a lot of padding and tripe in most authors’ work. So therefore it becomes necessary to have more available for cutting or revision. (Hey, what do I know? I don’t have an agent, editor, or publisher.)


  2. lawrenceez said,

    June 13, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Don’t know. I heard that novels shouldn’t be any less than 70,000 words.


    • tikiman1962 said,

      June 14, 2010 at 8:32 am

      At this particular point, I am going to write a piece that is as “complete” as possible regardless of the word count. I can’t afford to alter my rasion d’etre


  3. David I said,

    July 11, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    I think I may blog on this topic…

    50 K used to be a novel, but more publishers are now looking at 70 or 80 K as being the floor.


    • tikiman1962 said,

      July 11, 2010 at 9:32 pm

      On the one hand, I have read that most agents and publishers don’t want to put the time, money, or effort into a work that wind up being thin on the shelves. on the other hand I have read enough “contemporary” fiction to detect a great deal of padding. granted, these well respected authors can get away with anything because their name sells. Nevertheless (and perhaps this is personal bias) I like the old-time pulp writers who seemed to get straight to the point. Granted, they wrote words to make money but at least their padding was interesting.


  4. January 4, 2011 at 3:50 pm

    […] The busiest day of the year was June 9th with 37 views. The most popular post that day was What is a novel?. […]


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