I received an encouraging rejection the other day from a really great journal. Basically, the comments were: the paper is well argued and on a good topic, but a topic that is, nonetheless, a bit too narrow for the journal. Fair enough -- can't complain about that I suppose. But here's the problem. There are only a few journals out there for which the paper is a natural fit, the paper is about 13,000 words long, and the journals for which it is a good fit tend to have word limits of around 8,000 words (though one journal -- the one it is perhaps the very best fit for -- has a 10,000 word limit).
The most natural thing to do I suppose (the only thing to do?), is to try to cut the paper down. The problem, though, is that even though the paper is 13,000 words, it's a pretty darn "lean" 13,000 words. I just don't see how I can (A) do the things the paper needs to do, while (B) cutting out 3-5,000 words. I just don't see it. 3-5,000 words is a lot of words to cut out, and the way I see it, the only places to do it are at the level of a couple of cases I decribe in detail (which are really important to the paper), or in the part of the paper in which I raise and respond to objections (which is also really important, as there are a number of obvious and important-to-deal-with worries about my position).
So I'm rather stuck. What to do? And why in the world do so many journals have such strict word-limits? Although a few journals say "we don't ordinarily publish articles longer than X words", most of them (and just about all of them in the area my paper is in) say, "we absolutely don't consider papers longer than X." Hrumph.