Last Friday I spent the day with new writers at #WDC18. At the end of my workshops I was able to meet one-on-one with quite a few people who had questions.
young man in cheerful blue print shirt sat down and although I forget
the question he started with, the problem was that his novel was 274,000 words.
And no, it couldn't be cut. Not at all. Plus, an editor read
it, and she loved it. A lot. Not an editor from a publisher that
acquired his genre (fantasy) sadly.
You know what I said: it's too long.
But but he spluttered, this editor doesn't think so! She loved it!
I explained that the reason it was too long had nothing to do with love; it was all about money. It would cost more to print a book that long, and a debut trade paperback novel priced at $30 was a dealbreaker for most publishers who profess to want to turn a profit.
He literally could not hear what I was saying.
He said goodbye, and thank you (he was a nice guy!) and off he went.
Several more people came and went than another lovely lady sat down, and I squinted a bit; she looked familiar. "How do we know each other?" I asked.
"I met you here last year, and you told me my novel was too long."
Now this can go one of two ways. I have been known to tell writers that if they discover my advice was wrong (usually about how to pitch something) they should email me and tell me "neener neener." After all, unchecked, I will continue to think I'm right 100% of the time.
"How long was it?" I asked, with trepidation.
"I spent the last year cutting it down to 175,000 words," she continued. "I don't have question, I want to thank you. Telling me to cut was the best and hardest advice I got at the conference."
And of course, how I wished that Mr. BlueShirt could meet Miss Chopping Block.
But it gave me an idea I have for the next seminar: what's the most difficult advice you've ever gotten that actually helped you? And how long did it take for you to realize it was actually good advice.
Tales from the trenches!
Feel free to chime in with comments!