Fantasy Faction

Fantasy Faction => Fantasy Book & Author Discussion => Topic started by: Overlord on March 04, 2011, 08:18:50 PM

Title: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on March 04, 2011, 08:18:50 PM
Lord of the Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
The Fellowship of the Ring: 187k
The Two Towers: 155k
The Return of the King: 131k
Total: 473k

Wheel of Time - Robert Jordan
The Eye of the World: 305k
The Great Hunt: 267k
The Dragon Reborn: 251k
The Shadow Rising: 393k
The Fires of Heaven: 354k
Lord of Chaos: 389k
A Crown of Swords: 295k
The Path of Daggers: 226k
Winter's Heart: 238k
Crossroads of Twilight: 271k
Knife of Dreams: 315k
Total: 3M 304k (official count)

Stormlight Archives - Brandon Sanderson
The Way of Kings: 387k (official count)

A Song of Ice And Fire - George R. R. Martin
A Game of Thrones: 284k
A Clash of kings: 326k
A Storm of Swords: 404k
A Feast for Crows: 300k
Total: 1M 314k

Malazan Book of the Fallen - Steven Erikson
Gardens of the Moon: 209k
Deadhouse Gates: 272k
Memories of Ice: 358k
House of Chains: 306k
Midnight Tides: 270k
The Bonehunters: 365k
Reaper's Gale: 386k
Toll the Hounds: 392k
Dust of Dreams: 382k
The Crippled God: 385k
Total: 3M 325k

The Dark Tower - Stephen King
The Gunslinger: 55k
The Drawing of the Three: 128k
The Waste Lands: 178k
Wizard and Glass: 264k
Wolves of the Calla: 251k
Song of Susannah: 131k
The Dark Tower: 288k
Total: 1M 295k
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: pornokitsch on March 04, 2011, 08:21:45 PM
That's fascinating!
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on March 05, 2011, 04:24:41 AM
Demon Trilogy - Peter Brett
The Painted Man - 158,000.
The Demon Spear - 240,000.

King Killer Chronicles - Patrick Rothfuss
Name of the Wind - 259,000
Wise Man's Fear - 399,000.

Harry Potter Books
Philosopher’s Stone-77,325
Chamber of Secrets-84,799
Prisoner of Azkaban-106,821
Goblet of Fire-190,858
Order of the Phoenix257,154
Half Blood Prince-169,441
Deathly Hallows-198,227

Other Famous Books
Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe-36,363
The Hobbit-95,022
Moby Dick-206,052
Oliver Twist-155,960
Old Yeller-35,968
Anna Karenina-349,736
War and Peace-587,287
Jane Eyre-183,858
The Outsiders-48,523
Schindler’s List-134,710
The Red Badge of Courage-47,180
Gone with the Wind-418,053
The English Patient-82,370
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl-82,762
A Prayer for Owen Meany-236,061
Crime and Punishment-211,591
Treasure Island-66,950
Little Women (Books 1&2)-183,833
The Brothers Karamazov-364,153
Sense and Sensibility-119,394
Great Expectations-183,349
Watership Down-156,154
Ender’s Game-100,609
Moby Dick-206,052
A Separate Peace-56,787
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-30,644
Emma-155,887
The Wind in the Willows-58,428
The Hours-54,243
The Golden Compass-112,815
The Tenth Circle-114,779
My Sister’s Keeper-119,529
Crime & Punishment-211,591
A Tale of Two Cities-135,420
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea-138,138
White Teeth-169,389
Atonement-123,378
The Mouse and the Motorcycle-22,416
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn-109,571
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer-69,066
The Secret Garden – 80,398
The Grapes of Wrath-169,481
The Great Gatsby-47,094
One Hundred Years of Solitude-144,523
Memoirs of a Geisha-186,418
The Last of the Mohicans-145,469
Lord of the Flies-59,900
Cold Mountain-161,511
Cold Sassy Tree-145,265 F
The Color Purple-66,556
The Catcher in the Rye-73,404
The Joy Luck Club-91,419
Snow Falling on Cedars-138,098
1984-88,942
Black Beauty-59,635
Cold Mountain-161,511
Anne of Green Gables-97,364
Midnight’s Children-208,773
Brave New World-63,766
Gullivers Travels-107,349
A House for Mr. Biswas-198,901
All the Pretty Horses-99,277
A Suitable Boy-591,554(estimate)
The Yearling-128,886
White Fang-72,071
Wuthering Heights-107,945
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: OneChapterMore on March 05, 2011, 12:44:53 PM
May i ask where you got these from? They're great!
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Autumn2May on March 05, 2011, 05:35:58 PM
Very cool! :) I guess it is a good thing I broke my story into two books, or it would be a 200K + novel.  And I guess that's pretty long. ;D
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Zziz on March 05, 2011, 07:34:07 PM
Awesome! I also happen to know that Brandon Sanderson's Elantris is 202k, though he told me recently that when he submitted it to publishers for the first time it was 250k.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on March 05, 2011, 08:06:55 PM
May i ask where you got these from? They're great!

Mainly from Authors Blogs / Amazon / Fantasy Review Blogs :)
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: ChrisMB on March 05, 2011, 11:18:05 PM
I am both the impressed, and slightly intimidated now.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: missoularedhead on March 06, 2011, 07:56:08 AM
I know Tad William's series is long too…
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: pornokitsch on March 06, 2011, 08:06:06 AM
Kind of interested in the alternative - what great fantasy novels aren't super-long?

Historically, we know that Lovecraft, Howard, Smith, etc... all wrote their fantasies as short stories. And even in the modern era... Amber, Earthsea, Viriconium, Dying Earth... all short. Hell, I suspect that even Eddings had a lower word count in a 5 volume series than some of the modern guys do in 2 or 3.

Strange. Curious about the market forces behind looooong books (I kind of blame King & Tom Clancy for proving they're commercially viable).
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Nighteyes on March 06, 2011, 08:28:25 AM
Interesting that the Harry Potter book where the least happens is also the longest!
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: missoularedhead on March 07, 2011, 09:24:46 AM
I think some of this 'growth' is a matter of economics and perceived value. I know I have a tough time paying the same for one book at 300 pages when I can get a similar price on a book that's twice or three times as long.  That's not to say shorter books aren't worth it, but dang.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on March 07, 2011, 10:38:15 AM
I think some of this 'growth' is a matter of economics and perceived value. I know I have a tough time paying the same for one book at 300 pages when I can get a similar price on a book that's twice or three times as long.  That's not to say shorter books aren't worth it, but dang.

True. I think soon though with Ebooks and Ereaders coming into play we will see less of a 'need' for books to look huge. If you look at the top sellers on the kindle the word counts don't tend to be as high as the word counts of actual books. Like you said, when you go into a shop you are more likely to buy say 'Name of the Wind' at £7.99 than 'Gunslinger' at £7.99 because it is 3/4 times as long... Online if you like Stephen King more than Patrick Rothfuss you would probably go for King because the size of the book is not viable... I dunno, just a thought...

I do think though 'long books' have become a kind of aspect of the fantasy genre that we look for... a long book seems to call out to us... maybe it's something of a challenge too? I don't know... hmm.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: OneChapterMore on March 07, 2011, 01:21:42 PM
'Other Famous Books' in alphabetical order by Author:

Richard Adams - Watership Down - 156,154
Louisa May Alcott - Little Women (Books 1&2) - 183,833
Jane Austen - Emma - 155,887
Jane Austen - Sense and Sensibility - 119,394
Charlotte Bronte - Jane Eyre - 183,858
Emily Bronte - Wuthering Heights - 107,945
Francis Hodgson Burnett - The Secret Garden – 80,398
Olive Ann Burns - Cold Sassy Tree - 145,265
Albert Camus - The Outsider - 48,523
Orson Scott Card - Ender’s Game - 100,609
Beverly Cleary - The Mouse and the Motorcycle - 22,416
John Fenimoor Cooper - The Last of the Mohicans - 145,469
Stephen Crane - The Red Badge of Courage - 47,180
Michael Cunningham - The Hours - 54,243
Roald Dahl - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - 30,644
Charles Dickens - Great Expectations - 183,349
Charles Dickens - Oliver Twist - 155,960
Charles Dickens - A Tale of Two Cities - 135,420
Fyodor Dostoevsky - The Brothers Karamazov - 364,153
Fyodor Dostoevsky - Crime and Punishment - 211,591
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby - 47,094
Anne Frank - The Diary of a Young Girl - 82,762
Charles Frazier - Cold Mountain - 161,511
Steven Gipson - Old Yeller - 35,968
Arthur Golden - Memoirs of a Geisha - 186,418
William Golding - Lord of the Flies - 59,900
Kenneth Grahame - The Wind in the Willows - 58,428
David Guterson - Snow Falling on Cedars - 138,098
Aldous Huxley - Brave New World - 63,766
John Irving - A Prayer for Owen Meany - 236,061
Thomas Keneally - Schindler’s Ark - 134,710
C.S Lewis - Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - 36,363
Jack London - White Fang - 72,071
Cormac MacCarthy - All the Pretty Horses - 99,277
Gabriel Garcia Marquez - One Hundred Years of Solitude - 144,523
Ian McEwan - Atonement - 123,378
Herman Melville - Moby Dick - 206,052
Margaret Mitchell - Gone with the Wind - 418,053
L.M. Montgomery - Anne of Green Gables - 97,364
VS Naipuaul - A House for Mr. Biswas - 198,901
Michael Ondaatje - The English Patient - 82,370
George Orwell - 1984 - 88,942
Jodi Picoult - My Sister’s Keeper - 119,529
Jodi Picoult - The Tenth Circle - 114,779
Philip Pullman - The Northern Lights (The Golden Compass)-  112,815
Kinnan Rawlings - The Yearling - 128,886
Salmna Rushdie - Midnight’s Children - 208,773
J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye - 73,404
Vikram Seth - A Suitable Boy - 591,554(estimate)
Anna Sewell - Black Beauty - 59,635
Zadie Smith - White Teeth - 169,389
John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath - 169,481
Robert Louis Stevenson - Treasure Island - 66,950
Jonathan Swift - Gullivers Travels - 107,349
Amy Tan - The Joy Luck Club - 91,419
J.R.R. Tolkien - The Hobbit - 95,022
Leo Tolstoy - Anna Karenina - 349,736
Leo Tolstoy - War and Peace - 587,287
Mark Twain - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - 109,571
Mark Twain - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - 69,066
Jules Verne - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - 138,138
Alice Walker - The Colour Purple - 66,556
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: quippley on March 07, 2011, 01:50:19 PM
there's definitely a trend for modern fantasy (or novels in general) to be incredibly long. but i'm of the opinion that these longer books don't have better stories or more intricate plots, than older books.  they usually just pad the story with unnecessary description, dialogue and sometimes plot.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Sensei on March 07, 2011, 02:05:04 PM
This is so useful. Nice one
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Gothos on March 07, 2011, 02:19:02 PM
There is a warm and fuzzy feeling that comes over me at the site of a BIG book. Being a lover of history I enjoy a book crammed with information. Throw a wizard into that equation and a 400K word count and you have a winner.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: pornokitsch on March 07, 2011, 04:25:40 PM
there's definitely a trend for modern fantasy (or novels in general) to be incredibly long. but i'm of the opinion that these longer books don't have better stories or more intricate plots, than older books...

I tend to agree. I see the market forces involved (I'll buy the theory that consumers demand more pages for their buck, I guess), but I'm reading too many books that could easily lose hundreds of pages without it making a bit of difference to plot, story or character development.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Nighteyes on March 07, 2011, 05:07:38 PM
The quest for the perfect fantasy epic reminds me of the quest for the perfect epic poem in english literature history.all the poets were obsessed with writing epic poems that would be their legacy like homer before them. . . But as a result you got lots of unfinished masterpieces like the canterbury tales, paradise regained and best of all "the prelude" a prelude to a epic poem wordsworth never got round to writing!
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: shigzeo on July 05, 2011, 08:56:06 AM
I got bored of the Wheel of Time after book 2, though I went on to read all of book three and four. They were too long and too much of the same story pasted onto different boards.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Toc the Youngest on July 05, 2011, 10:08:12 AM
Me being a huge Steven Erikson fan, I'm used to huge books...after you read them you can do some arm curls with them or use them to hold open a really big door.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: James Barclay on July 06, 2011, 02:39:57 PM
I've gone long and short in my career so far. When I started out, I was averaging around 160K for The Raven novels. Heading into the Ascedndants I went totally tonto and the first one was 305K and I swore I'd never write a book so long again. Don't get me wrong, I loved writing the book, I just think that I'm at my best with shorter counts (that might change in the coming years). To that end, with the Elves series, I've settled on 120K as a target. It is for others to say if I've got it right but it's a length I'm enjoying working with.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on July 06, 2011, 03:28:25 PM
I've gone long and short in my career so far. When I started out, I was averaging around 160K for The Raven novels. Heading into the Ascedndants I went totally tonto and the first one was 305K and I swore I'd never write a book so long again. Don't get me wrong, I loved writing the book, I just think that I'm at my best with shorter counts (that might change in the coming years). To that end, with the Elves series, I've settled on 120K as a target. It is for others to say if I've got it right but it's a length I'm enjoying working with.

Oh! Great to have you on the board James, I recently finished 'Elves Once Walked With Gods' - very good read. Should be a review up soon actually :)
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: James Barclay on July 06, 2011, 03:41:25 PM
Fabulous stuff, Mr Overlord... glad you enjoyed it. Since you did, I am looking forward to the review very much.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Tiffany Kysis Tackett on July 06, 2011, 05:53:47 PM
Oh goodness.  Well, at least it is nice to see what the epic fantasy trend is looking like, since that's the battle I am wading into. x_x  Guess I need to start shooting for a much higher wordcount, though from the plot markers I've got, I'm already heading towards one.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: WizardofWestmarch on July 06, 2011, 07:56:12 PM
I could be wrong (shocking I know) but I expect there will be a bit of a backlash against longer epic fantasy works in the next few years (say over 200k). I love long works to a point, but stuff like Way of Kings is freaking ridiculous. Not to mention Erikson's entire Malazan series :P
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Nighteyes on July 06, 2011, 08:13:50 PM
If the quality is there, long word counts are fine.but sadly its too often the sign of a poorly edited book. IMO Harry Potter went down hill after Rowling started writing them as tomes.Though I still love Way of Kings. Dont think that was too long at all! 
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: WizardofWestmarch on July 06, 2011, 10:23:33 PM
More often than not many of the plot threads are not connected enough to need to be in the same book, which is where most of the length comes from is sheer number of plot threads being woven.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Toc the Youngest on July 06, 2011, 10:59:48 PM
I've gone long and short in my career so far. When I started out, I was averaging around 160K for The Raven novels. Heading into the Ascedndants I went totally tonto and the first one was 305K and I swore I'd never write a book so long again. Don't get me wrong, I loved writing the book, I just think that I'm at my best with shorter counts (that might change in the coming years). To that end, with the Elves series, I've settled on 120K as a target. It is for others to say if I've got it right but it's a length I'm enjoying working with.

RAVEN!!!  I'm halfway into book 2, love the series so far!
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Corvus on July 06, 2011, 11:51:35 PM
I've gone a complete 180 on those monster epics - I don't read them any more.  Having to wait 20+ years to find out is rediculous.

Now days I much prefer shorter stories - the shorter the better.  Short stories and novellas - or stand alone novels - are what I want to read.  It means going back to the classics like Howard and Lieber but that is no bad thing.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: deejrandom on July 07, 2011, 07:32:05 AM
I love big epic books with many volumes and massive word counts.  However I've recently started to realize the fact that I like short books too - ones I Don't have to take a month to read.   I also like books that take place in the same setting but may not necessarily be a sequel/prequel to one another.  I Dunno - maybe I've just been reading to many epic fantasies lately. I won't stop reading 'em but I do like having a bit more variety in book length. 
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: James Barclay on July 07, 2011, 11:07:05 AM
The word count debate will rage on but I think an important point has been made in that the quality has to be there to support a high count. For instance I could have read double the count in 'The Name of the Wind', such was the quality of the prose and the nature of the plot and characters. I think the backlash, if there is one, will come against new authors trying to sell massive doorstep novels as a first go. I encountered this when trying to sell the Ascendants series in the US - though publishers were warm to it, because I was a new author to them, they felt the risk was too great because the investment risk was too high. Since then I've published The Raven series in the US so maybe the Ascendants will follow. Time will tell. If it was hard for me and I'd already published six novels here in the UK, for a new author it is going to be harder. Having said that, publishers will still take on the debut big book if it is, in their opinion, utterly fantastic.

If I was a new writer now, I'd target lower word counts because it is an easier sell to publishers and when on the shelves it is easier to persuade a reader to try you out if your book is relatively narrow rather than looking like the foundation stone of Fort Knox.

Thanks Toc - I hope you carry on enjoying The Raven. Don't forget to tell all your friends  ;)
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on July 07, 2011, 12:59:53 PM
I always sigh when I see an epic because I know it is a huge investment and it means I won't be reading my next book for a long while, however once I start I find them far more encapsulating and rewarding once you are done. Saying that, I can think of some good 5* 300 word novels too, so take that for what it's worth :P
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Toc the Youngest on July 08, 2011, 04:44:30 AM
@James Barclay is your Ascendants series available in ebook format somewhere?  I'm in the U.S. and since it isn't published here I'd love to be able to download it.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: ScatteredK on July 08, 2011, 12:02:34 PM
I like any length for a novel as long as the writing is good. I can't say that I've been disappointed (yet) by a long book, however I can say that I've been left a little short by a smaller one. I'd rather have the extra details then lack them :)
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on July 08, 2011, 03:00:08 PM
I like any length for a novel as long as the writing is good. I can't say that I've been disappointed (yet) by a long book, however I can say that I've been left a little short by a smaller one. I'd rather have the extra details then lack them :)

Good point - I really enjoyed Wise Man's Fear, Way of the Kings and Desert Spear too :)
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: pornokitsch on July 08, 2011, 05:43:53 PM
Good point - I really enjoyed Wise Man's Fear, Way of the Kings and Desert Spear too :)

Some day we will be in the same room and IT WILL EXPLODE ;-)
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Nighteyes on July 08, 2011, 05:51:04 PM
Thing is sometimes long books dont feel long. I can rip through a Sanderson, Rothfuss, Brett etc door stopper in a day or two. They are very light reads really.But a Zelazny, Meilville book at just 400pages can take me a week cos the prose is much more carefully constructed, the ideas more complex etc. . . 
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Funky Scarecrow on July 09, 2011, 02:37:48 PM
I like my novels how I like my women. Second hand  Well fingered  Smelling faintly of must  With broken spines  Cheap  Slightly foxed  Organised by genre rather than alphabet  In large numbers and sprawled across every flat surface in the house  With the larger ones wearing loose fitting jackets I can use to mark my place if I get distracted - You know what? I'm going to abandon that analogy and say this instead...

My natural instinct is to read shorter novels first. If volume one of a series clocks in at 180k, and the volumes get progressively longer after that, my own experience has been that in the majority of cases either writer, editor or readers forgot rule#1: "Omit unnecessary words". It's a rare 180k+ epic fantasy novel that doesn't spend entirely too long describing one, some, or all of the following: lots of tasty food - gorgeous architecture - magnificent outfits - pert boobies and long legs (Don't look at me like that, you all know certain writers fall prey to it!) - intricate and exacting descriptions of the many and multifarious rules for the magic system (We get it, you thought things through. Drop hints and keep the specifics for the d20 source book of your universe) or else long passages of exposition on the history of a person, people, place or political landscape.

I'm not saying that all huge volumes of epic fantasy fall prey to the above, but that the thicker the book is, the greater the likelihood of it becomes. That being said, I'm willing to admit that I'm in the minority amongst fantasy fans in preferring to read the same story told in 10 volumes of 90k words rather than three volumes of 300k.

Reinstate multiple releases from the same author in a single year! Bring back paperback originals! Reinvigorate serial fiction! Riot! Revolution! Citation needed! etc., etc., etc....
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on July 09, 2011, 03:23:21 PM
Good point - I really enjoyed Wise Man's Fear, Way of the Kings and Desert Spear too :)

Some day we will be in the same room and IT WILL EXPLODE ;-)

I look forward to telling you why you are wrong and I'm right :P ;) I'm also going to try really, really hard to hate Eddings :P
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Nighteyes on July 09, 2011, 03:29:00 PM
As always an intelligent contribution to the debate by FS.but a lot of fantasy fans enjoy the guff. Look what happened on this forum when Kraken was the choice of the book club.People were confused and couldn't cope with the fact that China didn't include 20or so pages detailing the history of alternative magical London.he threw in magic without 5 pages before explaining exactly how the magic worked! And people couldn't cope with it.     
For me personally I enjoy both sorts of fantasy and can see the appeal of both.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: deejrandom on July 09, 2011, 03:33:33 PM
I like my novels how I like my women...

...I like my women like I Like my coffee - sweet and creamy.  So if I liked my novels like I like my women I'd be reading what...romance? Heh.

...carry on with the normal discussion.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: WizardofWestmarch on July 09, 2011, 03:48:54 PM
As always an intelligent contribution to the debate by FS.but a lot of fantasy fans enjoy the guff. Look what happened on this forum when Kraken was the choice of the book club.People were confused and couldn't cope with the fact that China didn't include 20or so pages detailing the history of alternative magical London.he threw in magic without 5 pages before explaining exactly how the magic worked! And people couldn't cope with it.     
For me personally I enjoy both sorts of fantasy and can see the appeal of both.
While I don't think Kraken is a bad book, my problem with it was nothing felt IMPORTANT, it had a very "so what" feel to everything. The main character's emotional appeal was low and it just... didn't seem to matter. But some authors are like that, not bothering to create immediate emotional appeal. I figure I'll give Kraken another spin at some point.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: James Barclay on July 09, 2011, 08:29:43 PM
Toc - yes they are. Both available on kindle via amazon.com. Titles are: Cry of the Newborn and Shout for the Dead. Thanks very much for asking...
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: ScatteredK on July 10, 2011, 02:56:31 AM
I like my novels how I like my women. Second hand  Well fingered  Smelling faintly of must  With broken spines  Cheap  Slightly foxed  Organised by genre rather than alphabet  In large numbers and sprawled across every flat surface in the house  With the larger ones wearing loose fitting jackets I can use to mark my place if I get distracted - You know what? I'm going to abandon that analogy and say this instead...


This made me laugh! Funny way to put it!
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: pornokitsch on July 10, 2011, 09:49:52 AM
I like my novels how I like my women. Second hand  Well fingered  Smelling faintly of must  With broken spines  Cheap  Slightly foxed  Organised by genre rather than alphabet  In large numbers and sprawled across every flat surface in the house  With the larger ones wearing loose fitting jackets I can use to mark my place if I get distracted - You know what? I'm going to abandon that analogy and say this instead...

Win.

Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Mark Lawrence on July 10, 2011, 07:24:45 PM
Interesting to note that 'War and Peace' is significantly longer than all the fantasy doorstops we've had over the past decade.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: pornokitsch on July 10, 2011, 08:17:30 PM
Interesting to note that 'War and Peace' is significantly longer than all the fantasy doorstops we've had over the past decade.

Except it is a standalone... the doorstops travel in packs!
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Ixtila on July 10, 2011, 10:47:28 PM
Great thread. Word count is a big issue these days. My question is - how do people feel about self-published paper and kindle books? Should they be shorter?
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: WizardofWestmarch on July 10, 2011, 10:51:29 PM
Great thread. Word count is a big issue these days. My question is - how do people feel about self-published paper and kindle books? Should they be shorter?

Just because a book is self published it doesn't have to be shorter. However any self-pubbed author who goes down the cheaper is better (2.99 or .99 being the norm) for price probably SHOULD write shorter books to offset the decreased income by putting out more stories.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on July 11, 2011, 01:04:38 PM
Great thread. Word count is a big issue these days. My question is - how do people feel about self-published paper and kindle books? Should they be shorter?

Just because a book is self published it doesn't have to be shorter. However any self-pubbed author who goes down the cheaper is better (2.99 or .99 being the norm) for price probably SHOULD write shorter books to offset the decreased income by putting out more stories.

It's quite expensive to print a book though and certain printing houses have a tight limited as to how long a book they will bind without fees being chucked on. The digital popularity will certainly allow self-published books to get longer and longer though I believe... not sure if that is a good or a bad thing really.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: WizardofWestmarch on July 11, 2011, 02:16:45 PM
Great thread. Word count is a big issue these days. My question is - how do people feel about self-published paper and kindle books? Should they be shorter?

Just because a book is self published it doesn't have to be shorter. However any self-pubbed author who goes down the cheaper is better (2.99 or .99 being the norm) for price probably SHOULD write shorter books to offset the decreased income by putting out more stories.

It's quite expensive to print a book though and certain printing houses have a tight limited as to how long a book they will bind without fees being chucked on. The digital popularity will certainly allow self-published books to get longer and longer though I believe... not sure if that is a good or a bad thing really.
At that price i'm talking ebooks, which is where most of the indy income is coming from. Paper copies of the same books (POD'd) tend to be $12+
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: dtconklin on July 11, 2011, 04:46:51 PM
Woah, this is a great thread.  Answers quite a few questions I've had.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on July 11, 2011, 07:06:33 PM
Great thread. Word count is a big issue these days. My question is - how do people feel about self-published paper and kindle books? Should they be shorter?

Just because a book is self published it doesn't have to be shorter. However any self-pubbed author who goes down the cheaper is better (2.99 or .99 being the norm) for price probably SHOULD write shorter books to offset the decreased income by putting out more stories.

It's quite expensive to print a book though and certain printing houses have a tight limited as to how long a book they will bind without fees being chucked on. The digital popularity will certainly allow self-published books to get longer and longer though I believe... not sure if that is a good or a bad thing really.
At that price i'm talking ebooks, which is where most of the indy income is coming from. Paper copies of the same books (POD'd) tend to be $12+

Does anyone else think that ebooks are pushing people (indy authors) into not considering the editing down of a novel enough? It seems to me a first draft is about 1/3 longer than it should be. From there an author edits out the blab and the overly descriptive bits that slow down the pace to really build a fast moving novel. Most ebooks I've read by indy authors have been very, very, very slow. Granted I've only read about 6 this year - but it certainly is a trend I've noticed.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: jdiddyesquire on July 11, 2011, 07:24:26 PM

Does anyone else think that ebooks are pushing people (indy authors) into not considering the editing down of a novel enough? It seems to me a first draft is about 1/3 longer than it should be. From there an author edits out the blab and the overly descriptive bits that slow down the pace to really build a fast moving novel. Most ebooks I've read by indy authors have been very, very, very slow. Granted I've only read about 6 this year - but it certainly is a trend I've noticed.

I don't think you can understate the importance of professional editors.  It's the one real reason I can't see the traditional publishing world ever going away completely.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: WizardofWestmarch on July 11, 2011, 07:36:23 PM

Does anyone else think that ebooks are pushing people (indy authors) into not considering the editing down of a novel enough? It seems to me a first draft is about 1/3 longer than it should be. From there an author edits out the blab and the overly descriptive bits that slow down the pace to really build a fast moving novel. Most ebooks I've read by indy authors have been very, very, very slow. Granted I've only read about 6 this year - but it certainly is a trend I've noticed.

I don't think you can understate the importance of professional editors.  It's the one real reason I can't see the traditional publishing world ever going away completely.

For reasonable prices editors are quite hireable, and GOOD/smart Indy authors use editors to help their books. It is the poor and/or stupid ones who don't.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: deejrandom on July 12, 2011, 05:47:17 AM

Does anyone else think that ebooks are pushing people (indy authors) into not considering the editing down of a novel enough? It seems to me a first draft is about 1/3 longer than it should be. From there an author edits out the blab and the overly descriptive bits that slow down the pace to really build a fast moving novel. Most ebooks I've read by indy authors have been very, very, very slow. Granted I've only read about 6 this year - but it certainly is a trend I've noticed.

I don't think you can understate the importance of professional editors.  It's the one real reason I can't see the traditional publishing world ever going away completely.

I'm considering putting some stuff up for sale on the self publishing front. Luckily though I know a gal that is a great editor.  She is also straight forward and rather blunt - which helps.  I think of the Writer/editor as a team and a self published author really needs to make sure he has a good team member to back him up.  Just my two cents.  Carry on...
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on July 12, 2011, 08:59:24 AM

Does anyone else think that ebooks are pushing people (indy authors) into not considering the editing down of a novel enough? It seems to me a first draft is about 1/3 longer than it should be. From there an author edits out the blab and the overly descriptive bits that slow down the pace to really build a fast moving novel. Most ebooks I've read by indy authors have been very, very, very slow. Granted I've only read about 6 this year - but it certainly is a trend I've noticed.

I don't think you can understate the importance of professional editors.  It's the one real reason I can't see the traditional publishing world ever going away completely.

Completely agree. There is a reason editors get good money and are thanked so heavily in a books opening pages.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Tiffany Kysis Tackett on July 13, 2011, 02:49:35 AM
deejrandom- sounded like you were talking about me for a moment. XD  Then again, my lack of sugarcoating really makes a lot of writers shy away... and my horrible schedule and editing backlog at the moment.  OOPS!

As for how I feel about long books.... while I loved the prose of The Name of the Wind, it was too frakking long.  Seriously, I couldn't stand how long it was, then how rushed and badly tied up the last bit of it was, despite how long it took to get there!  UGH!  That is my one fear with Game of Thrones right now: the length.

I like a good 400 page book.  500 is okay.  You get above that, and you start taking up WAY too much time. *sigh*  However, I will give them a try anyway if enough people say they are good.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Overlord on July 13, 2011, 10:19:08 AM
deejrandom- sounded like you were talking about me for a moment. XD  Then again, my lack of sugarcoating really makes a lot of writers shy away... and my horrible schedule and editing backlog at the moment.  OOPS!

As for how I feel about long books.... while I loved the prose of The Name of the Wind, it was too frakking long.  Seriously, I couldn't stand how long it was, then how rushed and badly tied up the last bit of it was, despite how long it took to get there!  UGH!  That is my one fear with Game of Thrones right now: the length.

I like a good 400 page book.  500 is okay.  You get above that, and you start taking up WAY too much time. *sigh*  However, I will give them a try anyway if enough people say they are good.

400 is about right for me... Assassin's Apprentice was probably the best length book I've read recently. Way of the Kings, Desert Spear, Storm of Swords, Wise Man's Fear have all been read the last few months and as much as I love all those titles - they take a lot of time!!! Dresden Files 1 - was then too short... so yeah, I'm happy to give a thumbs up to 400-500 page novels :)
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Ixtila on July 15, 2011, 11:37:51 PM
Great thread. Word count is a big issue these days. My question is - how do people feel about self-published paper and kindle books? Should they be shorter?

Just because a book is self published it doesn't have to be shorter. However any self-pubbed author who goes down the cheaper is better (2.99 or .99 being the norm) for price probably SHOULD write shorter books to offset the decreased income by putting out more stories.

It's quite expensive to print a book though and certain printing houses have a tight limited as to how long a book they will bind without fees being chucked on. The digital popularity will certainly allow self-published books to get longer and longer though I believe... not sure if that is a good or a bad thing really.
At that price i'm talking ebooks, which is where most of the indy income is coming from. Paper copies of the same books (POD'd) tend to be $12+

Does anyone else think that ebooks are pushing people (indy authors) into not considering the editing down of a novel enough? It seems to me a first draft is about 1/3 longer than it should be. From there an author edits out the blab and the overly descriptive bits that slow down the pace to really build a fast moving novel. Most ebooks I've read by indy authors have been very, very, very slow. Granted I've only read about 6 this year - but it certainly is a trend I've noticed.

I agree it seems indy tends towards lower quality, but I think as the market matures the better stuff will rise to the surface. It's too easy to write something and put it out there without any checks and balances so anybody can do it, and unfortunately it's hard to be critical about your own work, so a lot of stuff that should never see the light of day is posted up as the next great thing.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Roojets on July 16, 2011, 10:17:16 AM
I do get annoyed by really long books, partly because they are two heavy to carry around in my work bag.
I have recently started reading big books at home only and taking thinner ones to work.

Also I'm not one for long descriptions I prefer to let my imagination fill in the blanks.

I don't know the word counts but David Gemmel's John Shannow Books are pretty thin and they are mind blowing. I think if they were published now it would probably be as one volume.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Wizard Police on July 09, 2012, 09:17:43 AM
Sweet mother of pearl, I found this topic in the search engine cause I was curious on the word length of some of these novels. The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy is like slightly longer than some of these books alone, and that's just one novel in an entire series. And just looking at the list there seems to be a trend of each book getting progressively longer and longer until it hits an insane word count. I'm reading The Name of the Wind and I think it's already long enough, and then it's sequel The Wise Man's Fear is like 150k words longer. That difference is like a novel in itself! Not that I'm complaining because I'm thoroughly enjoying it, but jeez it almost feels like these authors are in an arms race of word sum!
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Seven on July 09, 2012, 01:31:39 PM
there's definitely a trend for modern fantasy (or novels in general) to be incredibly long. but i'm of the opinion that these longer books don't have better stories or more intricate plots, than older books.  they usually just pad the story with unnecessary description, dialogue and sometimes plot.
But almost any extra detail is going to contribute toward the worldbuilding, setting, characterisation, or one of the plots. I don't think most authors "pad" their story at all, but then, I'm the type of person who finds the most minute, irrelevant detail about a setting fascinating.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: AnneLyle on July 09, 2012, 03:36:44 PM
This is why I don't read epic fantasy much - so often it feels like the writer is indulging his own love of the secondary world at the expense of pace. I prefer books where the worldbuilding serves the story and not the other way around...
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Wizard Police on July 09, 2012, 08:44:22 PM
Yeah, sometimes shorter is better even if it's less informative. That's a lesson I've learned from the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy. No doubt the extended version is packed in with much more characterization and depth, but the theatrical version is more effective that is conscious of pacing and always keeping things fresh.

I think this is something that is lost on some epic fantasy novelists; bigger doesn't always mean better.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: simonster on July 10, 2012, 08:32:37 PM
This is why I don't read epic fantasy much - so often it feels like the writer is indulging his own love of the secondary world at the expense of pace. I prefer books where the worldbuilding serves the story and not the other way around...

Worldbuilding adds to a good story.  It just adds pages to a bad one. ;D

I've often thought that authors should have to earn some kind of licence before they're allowed to write a book that's longer than 250 pages.  (A friend had a similar idea about being allowed to write poetry that doesn't rhyme.)  I read quite slowly and don't like giving up on books part way through, so I'm very wary of reading anything long if I'm not familiar with the author.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: J. Mark Miller on July 10, 2012, 08:52:47 PM
Hmm...I love me some door stops.  ;)

I love being able to get lost in a story, and if it's a good one, the longer the better.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Nestat on July 10, 2012, 09:12:07 PM
Well, you certainly get value for money in fantasy - £9 for 900 pages is so much more than than £6/7 for 300 you find in most other fiction.

I don't mind getting lost in a world - Rothufss being a prime example there. But speaking as someone who sat down and actually tried to write a first draft, I don't understand how people can take up so many words telling their stories! I barely got up to 100,000.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Fallen One on July 10, 2012, 09:55:38 PM
jeez it almost feels like these authors are in an arms race of word sum!

 Hahahaha, that was my exact reaction when I saw the extension of A Storm of Swords. I read it in the kindle, so A Game of Thrones was around 11.500 "sections", and I was like "ok, a long book". Then I started with A Clash of Kings, with 14.000 and I was all "CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!". Finally, I saw the 22.000 sections on A Storm of Swords and I was like "Oh god, why? I'll never finish this" :P
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: AnneLyle on July 11, 2012, 09:24:55 AM
But speaking as someone who sat down and actually tried to write a first draft, I don't understand how people can take up so many words telling their stories! I barely got up to 100,000.

The only reason mine are 130-140k is because I write multi-viewpoint narratives - not as sprawling as GRRM, of course, which is why my books are a third of the length of his! How someone writes a 1000-page book with only one PoV character, I cannot fathom...
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Carl on July 11, 2012, 12:03:36 PM
I prefer average length books. I'm finding that newer ones are often longer but many of them would benefit from a good cut. Besides, I'm always anxious to get to the next book. :D

The second time I read Lord of the Rings it struck me that it was a lot more tedious than the first time through. I want books that I can re-read without investing weeks of my life every time.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Fallen One on July 11, 2012, 04:10:21 PM
 Just realized, A Storm of Swords alone has 75% of the total wordcount of the whole LOTR trilogy :|
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: AnneLyle on July 11, 2012, 04:20:47 PM
OTOH LotR isn't really a trilogy - it's one huge book in six sections, packaged into three volumes by the publisher.

And it's still shorter than War & Peace...
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: J. Mark Miller on July 11, 2012, 04:22:31 PM
Just realized, A Storm of Swords alone has 75% of the total wordcount of the whole LOTR trilogy :|

Yeah. LOTR was meant to be a single volume in six "books", but the publisher broke it up into three volumes of two "books" each.

Imagine if it were published today. It would be one volume, and not considered too long in comparison to many other works on the shelf. o.0
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: stevenpoore on July 11, 2012, 07:11:08 PM
ouch. just come across this thread. (call me the Late Steven Poore - like the Freys, I'm always last to the battle...)

- my own project (the finished one, anyway) runs to 150k, which I thought was horrendously long until I saw these figures. All but 4k of it is told from one character's POV - it's alarming how involved you can get inside one character's head...
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: AnneLyle on July 11, 2012, 08:10:30 PM
150k is long for a debut in pretty much any other genre you can name, but I think epic fantasy gets a free pass because of reader expectations. 150k is a nice length, I think - long enough to look substantial on the bookshop shelves, but short enough not to put people off. I think Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch's first books were a bit longer, but not by much.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Lor on July 11, 2012, 09:23:51 PM
Wow, just looked back at the original post - I never realized the Catcher in the Rye was longer than Treasure Island! :O

Back on topic...I think if you can tell a compelling story and keep the reader interested then you can go ahead and make your book as long as you want. If it's just fluff you're gonna lose people half way through, and that kinda defeats the purpose.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Elfy on July 12, 2012, 12:44:15 AM
I know this sounds really weird, and it's probably stupid, but I can't help thinking that the invention of the word processor and advances in publishing helped enable authors to write a lot more in terms of volume. I know I certainly find it a lot easier to write more on a word processor as opposed to a typewriter or by hand.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Fallen One on July 12, 2012, 01:03:08 AM
I know this sounds really weird, and it's probably stupid, but I can't help thinking that the invention of the word processor and advances in publishing helped enable authors to write a lot more in terms of volume. I know I certainly find it a lot easier to write more on a word processor as opposed to a typewriter or by hand.

 I think it makes quite a lot of sense. It's a lot easier not write and, I think even more important, to correct. There are still people who writes by hand, but I don't think there are a lot of people who takes their originals and uses them after the first draft. If you only have paper, and notice a description is a bit on the short side, you can't extend it much without the space getting cramped in the sheet, but with a simple word processor you can go on as much as you want.

  Pretty good point, I think ^_^.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Wizard Police on July 12, 2012, 02:31:50 AM
To add on, writing on a computer makes it much more efficient to edit notes and go through them. All that time that writers in the past spent writing new notes, finding old ones, are more organized and gives them a lot more time to construct their story.

Another theory of mine of why high fantasy novels are so epic in word length; when I read fantasy novels compared to contemporary literature novels, or hell even romance, there is a significant amount of time that goes towards world building. That's a bit obvious, but I feel like it gets to the point that the story starts feeling "world driven" rather than character and plot driven. IN A Song of Ice and Fire, my current favorite fantasy series, is it always necessary to describe in exact detail the material of the jerkins and breeches, the history of the sigils that the noble is bearing, the food they eat and which countries they come from, like every single little detail fleshed out? It's nice, it gives the world life, but there were a couple of times throughout reading the series I felt it was interrupting my reading pleasure. It's the characters I cared for, not the authenticity of the world.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Elfy on July 12, 2012, 05:17:02 AM
I think with ASoIaF and it also happened with Wheel of Time, the author has become very invested in the worlds that they have created and enjoy going into detail about it. It's something that really should be worked on during the editing process.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: AnneLyle on July 12, 2012, 05:22:56 AM
Another theory of mine of why high fantasy novels are so epic in word length; when I read fantasy novels compared to contemporary literature novels, or hell even romance, there is a significant amount of time that goes towards world building. That's a bit obvious, but I feel like it gets to the point that the story starts feeling "world driven" rather than character and plot driven. IN A Song of Ice and Fire, my current favorite fantasy series, is it always necessary to describe in exact detail the material of the jerkins and breeches, the history of the sigils that the noble is bearing, the food they eat and which countries they come from, like every single little detail fleshed out? It's nice, it gives the world life, but there were a couple of times throughout reading the series I felt it was interrupting my reading pleasure. It's the characters I cared for, not the authenticity of the world.

I totally agree. Epic fantasy (and historical fiction for that matter) needs more description than a story set in the present day, because you're talking about stuff that either doesn't exist any more or never existed in the first place. I think that's where a lot of writers get carried away, trying to give their readers as accurate and detailed a picture as possible, until the story starts to drown under the weight of detail.

My feeling is that you should put in just enough detail to enable the reader to imagine the scene for themselves and no more. Tolkien at least had the good grace to relegate a bunch of his world-building material to appendices - why not do the modern day equivalent and put it on your website? That's what I intend to do!
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Francis Knight on July 12, 2012, 10:48:07 AM
Another theory of mine of why high fantasy novels are so epic in word length; when I read fantasy novels compared to contemporary literature novels, or hell even romance, there is a significant amount of time that goes towards world building. That's a bit obvious, but I feel like it gets to the point that the story starts feeling "world driven" rather than character and plot driven.

I totally agree. Epic fantasy (and historical fiction for that matter) needs more description than a story set in the present day, because you're talking about stuff that either doesn't exist any more or never existed in the first place. I think that's where a lot of writers get carried away, trying to give their readers as accurate and detailed a picture as possible, until the story starts to drown under the weight of detail.


I get that feeling at times, and tbh, a reader doesn't need a hellish lot of detail to get a feel, if you give them the right detail. However, some readers love as much detail as possible (like my other half). I prefer as much as I need to get a feel for the world and no more. I did give up on one book where everything was described. A lamp wasn't just a lamp, it was a tallow lamp with four glass panes of the X era and a wick made of... etc etc ad infinitum, ...., even if it was just used once and we never saw it again. The point I gave up was an 182 word description of a lancet. Yes, I counted. I got its full history, with sidenotes, when actually all I needed was a few words and then have the MC stab someone with it. After the fifty page Tom Bombadil (nice pretty scenes showing nice pretty bits of the world, for no real plot progression.), it was the last straw

But that series of books is pretty popular, so I suspect I'm in the minority when I prefer a bit of subtlety about the worldbuilding I read (Possibly because of my memory - if there's too much description, I forget where the story is!)

Authors write what their fans want to read. Sadly, it's often not what I want to read! I've always been awkward like that....Ofc it does mean when I find an author who doesn't go over board, I tend to slavishly follow them. :D
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Carl on July 13, 2012, 06:26:03 AM

Back on topic...I think if you can tell a compelling story and keep the reader interested then you can go ahead and make your book as long as you want. If it's just fluff you're gonna lose people half way through, and that kinda defeats the purpose.

Speaking as a reader, I haven't yet found a Fantasy book over 100k with the sole exception of Lord of the Rings that I didn't feel would benefit from big cuts. The most recent self-pub I tried to read had be bored out of my mind and giving up by chapter 3.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: AnneLyle on July 13, 2012, 07:01:29 AM
100k is very short by current standards. What are you reading? Urban fantasy? Most of the non-epic stuff I read is in the 120k-150k range (~400-500 pages in paperback), which is what I prefer. Meaty but not steroid-bloated :)

Also, no offence to self-published authors, but the vast majority are not of publishable quality, which is why their creators are self-publishing in the first place. There are a few gems amongst the dung-heap, but they can be hard to spot now that you can't even trust Amazon reviews to be genuine any more.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Wizard Police on July 13, 2012, 07:54:09 AM
Yeah, the way M.R. Mathias and Robert Stanek have self promoted their books with sock puppeteering, it makes it hard to trust ANYTHING that self publishers say about themselves, which is a shame because not all of them are like that. Honestly most of them are good hearted people with honest intentions, but it's always the few that ruin it for everyone else. I came really close to buying some of M.R. Mathias' books, fortunately he had sample chapters of his books up and saw that his reviews are not what they make him seem like.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Fallen One on July 13, 2012, 06:17:32 PM
the vast majority are not of publishable quality, which is why their creators are self-publishing in the first place.

 I beg to disagree. Not only I don't think publishing houses are necessarily a good guide for what is good reading and what isn't. CS Lewis was rejected many times before selling his first piece of work; even JK Rowling had to go to 13 different publishers to finally get Harry Potter published... And so on and so forth. How many brilliant writers has the world lost because they didn't have the hear to go on beyond the third, fourth or fifth rejection? I shudder at the thought. So saying that just because someone doesn't make it through the filter of publishing houses means he/she isn't a good writer doesn't seem like a good reasoning to me.

 Besides, if passing through a publisher means something is of at least medium quality, the amount of flops on the industry should be a lot less than it is.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Dan D Jones on July 13, 2012, 07:05:48 PM
the vast majority are not of publishable quality, which is why their creators are self-publishing in the first place.

 I beg to disagree. Not only I don't think publishing houses are necessarily a good guide for what is good reading and what isn't. CS Lewis was rejected many times before selling his first piece of work; even JK Rowling had to go to 13 different publishers to finally get Harry Potter published... And so on and so forth. How many brilliant writers has the world lost because they didn't have the hear to go on beyond the third, fourth or fifth rejection? I shudder at the thought. So saying that just because someone doesn't make it through the filter of publishing houses means he/she isn't a good writer doesn't seem like a good reasoning to me.

 Besides, if passing through a publisher means something is of at least medium quality, the amount of flops on the industry should be a lot less than it is.

I don't think your points contradict the point you're answering.  Most people who aspire to write are not very good writers.  The same is true of any other skill, and that certainly isn't meant to discourage anyone who feels the urge from trying.  But writing is both a skill and a talent.  It's takes hard work but hard work isn't always enough in and of itself.  It's not a judgement but a simple factual observation that most of the stuff that gets self published is of poor quality.  That doesn't mean that everyone who is rejected is crap.  Succeeding in the traditional publishing industry generally requires not only quality but luck as well.  You can find some self-published gems out there that were rejected multiple times by publishers.  But those gems are the exception, not the rule.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: AnneLyle on July 13, 2012, 07:55:14 PM
How many brilliant writers has the world lost because they didn't have the hear to go on beyond the third, fourth or fifth rejection? I shudder at the thought. So saying that just because someone doesn't make it through the filter of publishing houses means he/she isn't a good writer doesn't seem like a good reasoning to me.

Most of the self-published books out there have not been through the filter of publishing houses - they are the "straight to video" of the literary world.

As Dan says, I'm not making a value judgement, merely an objective statement based on the general standard of manuscripts submitted to agents and publishers, at least half of which are very poor indeed and most of the rest very average. Yes, a few geniuses may be discouraged by rejections, but they are in the minority, I promise you. The rest just think they are geniuses because of the Dunning-Kruger effect:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect)
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Francis Knight on July 14, 2012, 01:16:21 AM
Quote
That doesn't mean that everyone who is rejected is crap.

I'd just liek to touch on his

No, just because you are rejected doesn;t mnea you are crap. It may mean

You aren't quite ready yet
Your writing is fine, but you've ripped off the plot/world building of Bestseller X
You can write nicely but can't plot
You can write nicely but the characters don't work
You can write nicely in a genre/style that was dead 50 years ago
You queried a fantasy about evil spiders to an agent who has a spider phobia
The agent had a bad day (hey they are human - like you say, some bestsellers got rejections because this is, past a certain point, subjective - think of all the books that you can imagine. Some you know are well written, you just didn't fall in love? Agent is same)
If you queried one more agent..bang, you'd be there
The agent thinks 'I love this, I can't sell it/don't know who to sell it to'
Agent loves it, but thinks they are not right agent for book


Try reading this. http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html (http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html)


It's not always about the actual writing. You could write like a dream, but if your plot is Tolkien 101 you probably won't get picked up. And it's not always about the premise

This isn't to say SP stuff is universally rubbish - it certainly isn't. But there is certainly a large element of books that could not get past. -Sometimes these books will be good and sell well. This is because the people in publishing are human.
Like that guy who turned down the Beatles...








Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Wizard Police on July 14, 2012, 01:25:12 AM
You queried a fantasy about evil spiders to an agent who has a spider phobia

This made me laugh because of the absurdity of it, but it's also true. Maybe not to that extreme, but factors that normally shouldn't be factors apply anyways. That's just reality, nothing is ever judged on a universally equal standard. It's not fair, but that's life.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Francis Knight on July 14, 2012, 01:37:39 AM
It's true, but it also highlights a very salient point

Agents are human

They are also pretty good and knowing what will sell (they wouldn't make any money otherwise)

Yes, many agents turned down (or offered and were themselves turned down) on many bestselling books

Rowling was rejected, yes. BUT it has also been noted that the pubs that turned her down, mostly turned down her original opening, not the one she finally signed with. She took advice from those turning her down, changed and improved, and got a deal.


The main points toy take from this are:

Agents are human. They turn you down, it doesn't mean your writing is cra
But it may mean, if you are repeatedly rejected one of several things: Your book might be fine, but your query sucks - query writing is like distilling your writing into 200 words.
Your writing is fine, but no one wants to read in the genre/style you have written - know your market!
Your query needs work, and so does you MS.

Think, hard, about which you think it might be. Take steps to change it - to hone your craft and make it better. .





Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: EvieManieri on July 14, 2012, 04:48:21 PM
My feeling is that you should put in just enough detail to enable the reader to imagine the scene for themselves and no more.

I'm in Anne's camp here. I like to experience the world through the character's relationship to it, and I quite enjoy being left to connect some of the dots for myself. I find a book much more compelling when it engages my intelligence as a reader.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Xiabei2 on July 18, 2012, 04:02:44 PM
they usually just pad the story with unnecessary description, dialogue and sometimes plot.

I was just about to say this. I realize "epic" seems to have certain requirements, but too often I think it's just too "fluffed". I love the idea of "epic fantasy" but the execution often leaves me wanting. I prefer a story to move, not sitting gazing at its belly button.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Ros on July 19, 2012, 02:45:35 PM
With epic fantasy, I do expect a certain length. But the pages should be drawn out by deep characterisations and good plotting rather than too much description. It's a long genre because the stories are usually character-driven, as well as because of the unfamiliar setting. It takes some time to set up the necessary immersion in someone else's world, and to adopt an alien way of seeing things.

That said, I'm currently querying an epic fantasy at 149K, but I have a feeling that's too long for a debut author. That list of books and MS lengths is interesting, but what matters is what editors and agents want in 2012.

Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: AnneLyle on July 19, 2012, 04:21:08 PM
That said, I'm currently querying an epic fantasy at 149K, but I have a feeling that's too long for a debut author. That list of books and MS lengths is interesting, but what matters is what editors and agents want in 2012.

Well, given that it's epic fantasy, I don't think that's impractically long, even for a debut. If you said 200k+, then yes, that's going to scare off a lot of agents unless you're beyond brilliant, but I reckon you might struggle to sell a short epic fantasy just as you'd struggle to sell a long urban fantasy. Agents and publishers have to pander to reader expectations :)
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Fallen One on July 19, 2012, 05:01:50 PM

 What do you think is the lower limit in epic fantasy? I'm translating my novel from spanish, and english uses fewer words. The original is 68k long, and I think the translation will end at 55k, more or less. Would that classify as a novella, or as a proper novel?
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Nyki Blatchley on July 19, 2012, 05:45:50 PM
With epic fantasy, I do expect a certain length. But the pages should be drawn out by deep characterisations and good plotting rather than too much description. It's a long genre because the stories are usually character-driven, as well as because of the unfamiliar setting. It takes some time to set up the necessary immersion in someone else's world, and to adopt an alien way of seeing things.

Exactly.  Epic fantasy should be longer because it tells bigger stories, not because it's padded.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Dan D Jones on July 19, 2012, 05:55:00 PM

 What do you think is the lower limit in epic fantasy? I'm translating my novel from spanish, and english uses fewer words. The original is 68k long, and I think the translation will end at 55k, more or less. Would that classify as a novella, or as a proper novel?

The SFWA's Nebula awards set a novella's maximum length at 40k words.  There's no "official" definition and other organizations use up to 70k words.  It's a bit short for a stand alone novel but shorter books have been published in the past.  I wouldn't expand it unless doing so made the story better - in other words, I wouldn't just add a bunch of description or other fluff. 
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Jian on September 25, 2012, 06:28:07 PM
Well. I'm currently at about 100+ thousand words in my book, and I believe it'll be about 20 more thousand words before I'm done telling my tale. Do you think is it too much? I mean, would you read a debut book going at possibly 150k+ words with glee, or avoid it like the bubonic plague?
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Idlewilder on September 25, 2012, 06:31:54 PM
Well. I'm currently at about 100+ thousand words in my book, and I believe it'll be about 20 more thousand words before I'm done telling my tale. Do you think is it too much? I mean, would you read a debut book going at possibly 150k+ words with glee, or avoid it like the bubonic plague?

I'm really not an expert (so please no one shoot me down, if you can help it) but with most fantasy debuts, the typical word count is significantly higher than those in other genres. The general fantasy readership expects slightly longer novels (I'm not saying everyone) - usually to account for worldbuilding, magic systems etc etc. As far as I know, the typical fantasy debut is between 130k and 160k. So 150 is probably fine. But I think the nearer you are to the low end of the spectrum, the better.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Arry on September 25, 2012, 06:32:49 PM
Well. I'm currently at about 100+ thousand words in my book, and I believe it'll be about 20 more thousand words before I'm done telling my tale. Do you think is it too much? I mean, would you read a debut book going at possibly 150k+ words with glee, or avoid it like the bubonic plague?
I would give it a go. I personally dont think that is too much in this genre. If there is much world building, that always adds some length. I would rather get the depth of the world/magic than get it stripped down. Honestly, since I read e-books, I quite often dont pay notice how long a book is or is not until after I purchase it. ... so maybe I am not the best one to give an opinion. :)
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Jian on September 25, 2012, 06:37:32 PM
Great. I keep getting told by my sister that I've got too much already, and one of the people that have liked by Facebook page concerning it says so, as well, so I was getting really worried about it.

Btw, Like or ELSE: http://www.facebook.com/TheUnsung (http://www.facebook.com/TheUnsung)

Oh, I also came upon a problem in my Word document. When I'd reached the iconic 100k, my word count blanked out. It didn't go to 0000, thankfully, but it simply went blank. It no longer counts words. It still saves whatever I write, but it's quite strange. Anybody come upon a similar problem? I have a Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac. Aye, I'm going old school, I know. xD

Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Idlewilder on September 25, 2012, 06:39:13 PM
Great. I keep getting told by my sister that I've got too much already, and one of the people that have liked by Facebook page concerning it says so, as well, so I was getting really worried about it.

Btw, Like or ELSE: http://www.facebook.com/TheUnsung (http://www.facebook.com/TheUnsung)

Oh, I also came upon a problem in my Word document. When I'd reached the iconic 100k, my word count blanked out. It didn't go to 0000, thankfully, but it simply went blank. It no longer counts words. It still saves whatever I write, but it's quite strange. Anybody come upon a similar problem? I have a Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac. Aye, I'm going old school, I know. xD



Haven't come across this myself. Plus - I highly recommend you give Scrivener a go. Free trial for 30 days, and it is fantastic.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: visoin6425 on September 25, 2012, 06:44:22 PM
Well. I'm currently at about 100+ thousand words in my book, and I believe it'll be about 20 more thousand words before I'm done telling my tale. Do you think is it too much? I mean, would you read a debut book going at possibly 150k+ words with glee, or avoid it like the bubonic plague?
Personally, I don't care how long a book is, or if it's the authors first or 50th book. If the premise is good and catches my attention, I'll read it.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Yora on November 09, 2014, 03:04:26 PM
I've been looking up the word counts of some Sword & Sorcery writers, and thought these numbers might be of interest to some of you here:

Conan by Robert Howard:

    The Phoenix on the Sword: 8,823
    The Scarlet Citadel: 15,446
    The Tower of the Elephant: 9,726
    Black Colossus: 14,346
    The Slithering Shadow: 12,897
    The Pool of the Black One: 11,252
    Rogues in the House: 9,676
    The Frost Giant’s Daughter: 3,284
    Iron Shadows in the Moon: 12,123
    Queen of the Black Coast: 11,334
    The Devil in Iron: 12,292
    The People of the Black Circle: 30,890
    A Witch Shall be Born: 16,337
    Jewels of Gwahlur: 17,167
    Beyond the Black River: 21,799
    Shadows in Zamboula: 12,146
    The Hour of the Dragon: 72,375
    Red Nails: 30,946
    Complete Conan Saga: 323,000

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser by Fritz Leiber:

    The Jewels in the Forest: 14,215
    The Bleak Shore: 4,272
    The Howling Tower: 5,855
    The Sunken Land: 6,900
    Thieves’ House: 12,235
    Adept’s Gambit: 31,901
    Claws from the Night: 9,410
    The Seven Black Priests: 9,523
    Lean Times in Lankhmar: 15,400
    When the Sea-King’s away: 9,806
    The Cloud of Hate: 4,929
    Bazaar of the Bizarre: 9,653
    Their Mistress, the Sea: 1,316
    The Wrong Beach: 2,267
    The Circle Curse: 3,596
    The Price of Pain-Ease: 4,650

Elric of Melnibone by Micheal Moorcock

    Elric of Melnibone: 47,954
    The Sailor on the Seas of Fate: 23,753
    The Weird of the White Wolf: 39,064
    The Sleeping Sorceress: 98,000
    The Bane of the Black Sword: 45,000
    Stormbringer: 71,000

The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski

    The Witcher: 10,213
    A Grain of Truth: 10,418
    The Lesser Evil: 12,764
    A Question of Price: 13,105
    The Edge of the World: 14,395
    The Last Wish: 18,349
    The Voice of Reason: 12,495

Also, a couple of the most famous stories by H.P. Lovecraft

    Dagon: 2,216
    The Lurking Fear: 8,164
    The Rats in the Walls: 7,974
    The Shunned House: 10,742
    The Call of Cthulhu: 11,905
    The Case of Charles Dexter Ward: 51,112
    The Colour out of Space: 12,457
    The Dunwhich Horror: 17,524
    The Whisperer in Darkness: 26,624
    At the Mountains of Madness: 40,881
    The Shadow over Innsmouth: 27,026
    The Thing on the Doorstep: 10,954
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Roxxsmom on December 06, 2014, 04:34:43 AM
150k is long for a debut in pretty much any other genre you can name, but I think epic fantasy gets a free pass because of reader expectations. 150k is a nice length, I think - long enough to look substantial on the bookshop shelves, but short enough not to put people off. I think Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch's first books were a bit longer, but not by much.

I think they were both in the neighborhood of 190k. Here in the states, we're told not to go much above 120k words for any fantasy genre http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/03/on-word-counts-and-novel-length.html. There are some exceptions, of course (Scott Lynch, for one), but the conventional wisdom is that epic fantasy is a hard genre to debut in and you have to have something truly exceptional (and even then, a large number of agents will just see that word count and not even look at the query).

Of course, I've also been told that this is pretty much the case for any genre.

Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Lady_Ty on September 06, 2016, 02:25:45 AM
This thread deserves a bump as it is interesting and some new members may not know it exists. Hopefully may be inspiring to our writers.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Lanko on September 06, 2016, 02:45:30 AM
A while ago I found a website that seemed to contain the word count for every novel, but I can't find it again...

EDIT: I managed to find it!

http://www.readinglength.com
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Ryan Mueller on September 06, 2016, 04:53:41 AM
A while ago I found a website that seemed to contain the word count for every novel, but I can't find it again...

EDIT: I managed to find it!

http://www.readinglength.com

You have just made my day. As an aspiring writer, I like to know the word counts of what's getting published.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Ryan Mueller on September 06, 2016, 04:59:16 AM
Unfortunately, I think it is more of an estimate than an actual word count. I looked up some books for which I already knew the word count, and it usually overestimated the length.
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Lanko on September 06, 2016, 06:18:31 AM
Unfortunately, I think it is more of an estimate than an actual word count. I looked up some books for which I already knew the word count, and it usually overestimated the length.

I just had the same experience in Goodreads right now. Binti was displayed as having 94 pages, but it was over after 47. While not the same thing as word count, that was quite a difference...
I guess it also doesn't help how they are calculating it. Can't know if it's a version with previews of the next book, a new intro, etc... 
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: JamesLatimer on September 07, 2016, 02:32:37 PM
It would be nice in the days of different formats if Amazon et al. listed things by wordcount rather than pages. Oh well.

As for me, this list gives me hope because even though I've trimmed my WIP down to 155k (from about 190), I don't think it will go any further, and it may even have to get longer again depending on feedback...
Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: JKyleMcNeal on September 12, 2016, 06:34:04 PM
This thread deserves a bump as it is interesting and some new members may not know it exists. Hopefully may be inspiring to our writers.

Thanks much for "bumping" this.  My initial manuscript was close to 175K words and I was told repeatedly that this length would doom any chance I had of being published (was told to cut chapters until I hit 120K words).  Ultimately, I was able to refine it to under 150K but still had the impression the book was overly long for a debut.  It's set to be published next June (2017), but I've still been worried the length might turn off some readers.  I didn't really have a good feel for how thick the book would be at publication (since the layout has not yet been completed), but seeing other series at or well above the word count of my manuscript brings me comfort.

Title: Re: Word Counts of Epic Fantasy Novels
Post by: Ryan Mueller on September 13, 2016, 03:49:54 AM
This thread deserves a bump as it is interesting and some new members may not know it exists. Hopefully may be inspiring to our writers.

Thanks much for "bumping" this.  My initial manuscript was close to 175K words and I was told repeatedly that this length would doom any chance I had of being published (was told to cut chapters until I hit 120K words).  Ultimately, I was able to refine it to under 150K but still had the impression the book was overly long for a debut.  It's set to be published next June (2017), but I've still been worried the length might turn off some readers.  I didn't really have a good feel for how thick the book would be at publication (since the layout has not yet been completed), but seeing other series at or well above the word count of my manuscript brings me comfort.

I'm curious. What's the book title, and who's the publisher? I'm always interested to find new writers.

And I don't think the length will put off readers. The biggest hurdle is getting an agent and a publisher. Readers tend not to care too much about the length of the book, as long as every word counts.