Is 90,000 Too Short For a Fantasy Novel?

So the other day I got a rejection for Defender that said “most publishers require a word count of 100,000 or more from a fantasy novel”.  And that got me thinking, is that what’s been stopping me?

I’ve sent 46 e-mails since January and only gotten two bites, no acceptances.  Is it just that agents/publishers are expecting something longer?  And that no one’s been telling me because they send form rejections?

This is why I hate the query process.  You get rejected, but no feedback on why.  Probably most of them are just “it didn’t grab me/interest me”, but it’d sure be nice if they could be a little more specific.  Was it the character?  The setting?  The hook?  At least something that I could point to and fix for next time.

If it’s the character, I can certainly make him more jaunty.  If it’s the setting, I can flower up the description.  If it’s the hook, well… that’s the entire book, so less I can do there.  But the length?

And my biggest beef is that I could easily made 100,000 words. I can still make it 100,000 words.  Did I waste the last 6 months because all I needed to do was make my manuscript longer?  I would love to add back in that character and put back in that confrontation with the princess’s secret.  But I took those out so I could have it be a reasonable 90,000 word count.  I spent days contemplating how to glue back the gaps I made excising that junk.

But the forumites I’ve posed this question to seem to think that this isn’t what’s keeping me back.  And it makes sense — you’d think if they really thought they could get an offer they’d ask for modifications — make it longer or shorter, more of this character and less of that.  All stuff that I’m perfectly willing to do and is reasonable to ask for to make it commercially successful.  Unfortunately, it also means I don’t have a firm lock on why this, my third novel, isn’t fetching the bites.

And to top it all off, I have a cold. Blah.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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