Is My Book Long Enough?

Publishing 101-Phase 2
[Your Manuscript] Manuscript Length

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Is Your Book Long Enough? How to Tell

dreamstimefree_3943668A few years ago a client hired me to help publish a book. The client told me the manuscript was finished–and sent me a five-page document as the book. That was not long enough.

Granted, every book doesn’t need to match up to the length of War and Peace, but a book needs to be long enough to tell a story (not a short story).

How do you know if your book is long enough?

Here’s how to tell:

If you are distributing through Amazon’s CreateSpace (which is the perfect place for a new author to begin), they do have a minimum page requirement for a book: It must be at least 24 pages long. The good news is, this is not 24 MS Word® pages.

The most common book size for an Amazon/CreateSpace book is 5.5” wide and 8.5” tall. The books I design and produce have approximately 375 words per full page (in a standard 11 point font). So if you want your book to be at least 24 pages, you must have at least 9,000 words in your story.

With this simple math, you also have a little wiggle room because the pages for your copyright information, dedication, endorsements, forward, and/or author bio will increase your final page count, making your book long enough.

Want to figure out about how many pages your manuscript might be as a book? Just plug your numbers into this equation*

Number of words (divided by) 375 = approximate number of pages for a printed book.

*Disclaimer: I am such a word person that the math equation above is about as fancy as I get when it comes to numbers! =)

What’s that? You are only publishing an eBook?

Well, that’s easier. An eBook can be as long or short as you want it to be.

The only direction I have for you on that is make sure it is priced accordingly. I’ve never been a more frustrated customer than when I paid $5.99 for an eBook that only took me 10 minutes to read because it was so short.

Can your manuscript be too long?

Yes, it can. Your story needs to be long enough to tell a good story, but not so long that you lose your readers with irrelevant side plots and unnecessary verbiage.

It also needs to be the right length for your target reader.

When I wrote my book, Notes from the Margins, I knew that someone grieving would be intimidated by a book that was more than 200 pages, so I was sure to keep my story less than 200 pages.

If you are writing for Millennials, you want to stay on the shorter side of your word count because they have a shorter attention span and are used to reading bullets and short paragraphs online.

If you are writing for kids or YA, obviously your book will be shorter according to their reading level.

If you are writing for a Gen X or Gen Y or Baby Boomer reader, you have a little more leeway with length because they are used to reading longer passages in magazines and books (vs. the younger generations and their propensity for technology-based reading).

The bottom line is, usually your story will tell you when it is finished and it will be as long as it needs to be–and that makes a book long enough–usually.

But these guidelines can help you manage your story so it has the best opportunity for success.

taking stepsAction Step:

Do The Math:
Review your manuscript. How many pages would it be as a book? Do you think that is long enough? Do you think you need to add to or subtract from your story?

Consider your Reader:
Does your story fit the expectations of your target reader? Is it short enough for a younger generation? Is the book long enough for an older reader?

Consider your Competition:
Finally, (I didn’t cover this above because it is just a quick little research project) look at other books in your genre that have similar themes as your book. How does your book compare to those competing books?

Review your manuscript with these tips in mind, and you will be another step closer to being ready to publish!

Your Turn! What is the longest or shortest book you’ve ever read? Was it satisfying or disappointing? Please comment below!

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