Size matters

Size typesetting gaugeSize matters; just ask the G’Gugvuntt and the Vl’hurg (a Douglas Adams Hitchhiker’s Guide reference, see here). Size also matters when you’re writing – even if books are no longer physical, word count is an easy to use measure when considering a title. I have some theories about what this means in an electronic world, but evidence is against them.

Printed world

Market’s have certain expectations, and if you scan around you can find any number of suggested word counts by genre, all derived from publishers and experience. One post I’d like to summarise is the post Word Count from the blog Literary Rejections, a site well worth exploring for many reasons.

A summary table would include:

Genre Word count range
Minimum Maximum
Literary / Commercial / Women’s 80,000 110,000
Crime 90,000 100,000
Mystery, thriller, suspense 70,000 90,000
Mainstream romance 70,000 100,000
Fantasy 90,000 100,000
Paranormal 75,000 95,000
Horror 80,000 100,000
Science fiction 90,000 125,000
Historial 100,000 120,000
Young Adult 50,000 80,000

There is a lot more information in the article I refer to; my main take away is in most cases aiming at 90,000 words gets to most categories.

My theory

My thoughts have centred around the move to electronic books would mean buyers might be less inclined to focus on size. This is why I have put various short stories and novellas on Kindle (including Three Drops in Time and The Marylebone Magician). I also have a hope buyers might collect cheap short stories, such as they did in the weekly / monthly magazines in Victorian times. If it worked for Conan Doyle and Dickens, who knows?!

Sadly the evidence is size sells.

The Smashwords survey

If you want some credible, quality (and free) insight into sales of electronic books, there is an annual Smashwords surveyI’ve read the 2014 Survey (and there is also a 2013 Survey and 2012 Survey). I think these are all well written, and should encourage us all to read the free book The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success.

The nutshell is longer titles sell better. There is also some interesting material on price points that don’t sell as well as they should.

Other views

Derek Murphy on CreativIndie has a contrary view: go for volume of 10,000 word books to get a portfolio on the go. As ever his post is worth a read: How to Write and Publish a Non-fiction Book This Week.



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