Submissions always increase this time of year, and a few good things seem to be coming down the pike.
The conventional wisdom is not always wise, but when it comes to word count for a first novel, it is. Writers who are trying to get published: Do stay within the 70,000-75,000-word limit. If it comes in shorter than that (say, 65K) there is absolutely no need to pad! Short is good. Short is fun. Short lets you tell your story, introduce a few good characters, and not overstay your welcome.
The joke in my office is "Agatho has never seen a manuscript from which he can't cut 5,000 words." You might actually be surprised how easy it is to cut and slash. My brain immediately disengages when I get to passages, pages, paragraphs, chapters that don't further anything. If I'm asking myself "Why is this here?" the red pencil gets poised. And if the answer isn't "To further the plot or explore character," then down comes the red pencil. But remember that character can be drawn, conveyed, hinted at just as well in a sentence as in a page.
In cutting mode, I also get my snippers out when dialogue goes on too long. A philosophical discussion is nice once in a while, but if it puts people to sleep - that's not a good thing.
Keeping your manuscript to 70,000 words doesn't mean that your first draft can't be 80K or 85K. I can only imagine what would happen to writers if they had to keep track of their word count as they write. But during the revision process, my friend - be brutal with yourselves. You shouldn't keep in a scene, a paragraph, a line just because you like it. If you can switch off your writerly side for the revision and turn yourself into a reader or reviewer, you'll be much more likely to say to yourself, "What the heck is this doing here? Out it goes."
I do see a fair number of first novels that have the kernel of something good tied up inside something dense, wordy, unreaderly. Good stories and good characters are derailed when the author can't step outside him/herself and take a hatchet to his or her own work. When I get a manuscript that's been written by a good reviser (whether self-directed, based on feedback from a writer's group, or based on advice from an agent), I can tell immediately, because I get through the first 30 or so pages of the manuscript without once thinking, "This needs to go - this is pointless - it's way too soon for this." And those, my friends, are the people who get contracts.