Noah Lukeman, President of Lukeman Literary Management and author of The First Five Pages, answers aspiring authors' questions about writing and getting published.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Should I break up my long novel into several shorter novels?
I have completed and polished a 277,000 word manuscript of mature adult fiction. It is obviously large for one book, but I am unsure if I should break it into two or three smaller novels. Would I be wrong to offer it as one large submission to a literary agent and let their expertise determine the best way to handle the manuscript?
A tough question to answer without actually reading the book. Of course, one can point to many longer novels throughout the course of history that needed to be as long as they were. But those tend to be the exception.
In general, the average novel is 75,000 words, so what you are proposing is nearly 4 times as long, with nearly 1,000 manuscript pages. This is sure to intimidate most agents so, especially given that it's a first novel and especially given it's genre (mature adult) I would indeed suggest breaking it into multiple works, each approximately 75,000 words, give or take. Of course you must find a natural place to break and begin each book. You may also find you need to add new chapters to end each book properly and/or to begin each new book properly.
Finally, because this is the mature adult genre, you may want to consider first trying to self publish as an ebook original and see how it performs. If the sales are astronomical, then you may decide not to find an agent. And if not, then you can always find an agent then. And if you break it into 4 books, then you will of course earn a far greater income.
Please feel free to ask Mr. Lukeman your questions about publishing (or about the craft of writing) by posting them in the "comments" section of the blog. He cannot answer every question, but will pick questions to respond to periodically. Please be advised that he is providing this service simply to give back to the writing community and that he is not accepting new clients, so please don't use this blog to query him.
To give back to the writing community, Mr. Lukeman has made several of his books available for free, including How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, How to Write a Great Query Letter and Ask a Literary Agent (Year One). Feel free to visit www.writeagreatquery.com to download the e-books.
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Noah Lukeman is President of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd, which he founded in 1996. His clients include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, finalists for the National Book Award, multiple New York Times bestsellers, major celebrities, and faculty of universities ranging from Harvard to Stanford.
Mr. Lukeman is also author of several books on the craft of writing, including The First Five Pages (Simon & Schuster), The Plot Thickens (St. Martins Press) and A Dash of Style: (W.W. Norton). He has also authored two e-books: How to Write a Great Query Letter and How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, which he gives away for free as a way of giving back to the writing community. He has also made available over 100 pages of free advice for authors from all his books, which you can read on his site.
Mr. Lukeman has been a guest speaker on the subjects of writing and publishing at numerous forums, including Harvard, Columbia University, The Juilliard School, Stanford University, and the Writers Digest Panel at Book Expo America. He earned his B.A. with High Honors in English and Creative Writing from Brandeis University, cum laude.