Since March 2020, I actively decided to stop querying my book and take a break to make some very deep edits. I hired an amazing editor, (thank you Brianna!) and with her guidance, added a lot of depth to my story. I was invigorated and excited by everything I included until I looked at my word count; 95,000+! How did this happen, and I didn’t even notice? Before I started editing, it had been 73,000 words. How did I add in 22,000 words?!
This was very distressing to me; young adult contemporary books should normally be 80,000-85,000 words at a maximum if you want to get it published. Agents and publishing houses can reject your query automatically if it isn’t in that range. It’s hard enough to get noticed and even worse if your story is over the recommended limit.
That meant one thing; I was going to have to cut over 10,000 words. I was so mad for putting myself in that situation. I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t been checking my word count, and I let it get so lengthy. Plus, I’d already spent so much time editing it that the prospect of revising even more made me sick to my stomach. I really had been itching to start writing my next book, but now I found myself in a conundrum where I didn’t have the time to edit this one while simultaneously writing another one. I also dreaded deleting words that I had written. It felt like I was deleting a part of my main character’s life, like I was erasing her experiences.
I was complaining about my predicament on Twitter when one of my writer friends (thank you, Alicja!) suggested that instead of permanently deleting everything I was cutting I could put it in a separate document and save it for later, just in case I ever want to use it again. I LOVED this idea. It made me feel so much better that I had those scenes tucked away; that they were not permanently erased from memory, but something that remained for me to revisit if I ever wanted to. Something my husband said also made me feel better; even though my book got a lot longer in the initial re-write, the new scenes I wrote might work better, and that this presented an opportunity to clean up some of the old material that might not necessarily advance the plot. Once I started the ‘cutting’ process I couldn’t agree more. It really made me decide what was important versus side stories that were never revisited. It also made me realize that I really valued the new stuff I added and that maybe if I had been checking the word count more regularly, some of those new ideas never would never have materialized.
President’s Day weekend, which also happened to be Valentine’s Day weekend, I spent editing the entire three days (sorry Matt!). At one point I was using three screens and my lower back started hurting from not moving enough. But, I somehow I accomplished my goal! I’m proud to say the novel is down to 83,900 words, and I have restarted the querying process. Big thank you to all my family, friends, and husband for encouraging me to take that final step to make it ‘querying ready’! I’m so excited to dive back into the querying trenches and to see the opportunities that come along with it. Crossing fingers!