Have you ever been put off a potentially good read by the length of the book? Similarly have you dismissed a much lighter offering as probably not being informative enough?  If you have, then you will appreciate the importance of getting the length of the book right. Although this might seem to be a relatively straightforward question as an authorpreneur entering the field of self-publishing there are a few things to be aware of:

  • Publishing costs will vary depending on the length and size of the book dictating the retail selling price. You don’t want to price yourself out of the market nor do you want your work to be “under-valued”.
  • Know your genre and your target market and do your research.  Broadly speaking, try and keep within an accepted limit for your genre.  
  • Non-fiction books are typically much harder to estimate an optimum length for than fiction.  However, as a rough guide most non-fiction works fall into the 40,000-60,000 word count category.
  • Memoirs or biographies will often be longer 100,000-150,000 words or more. Self-help books typically fall into the 30,000-40,000 word categories.
  • Pictures, photos, tables, diagrammatic drawings, and reference notes can also eat up pages and therefore printing costs.
  • Remember that the length of your book will impact your cover design and printing. Typically 130 pages is the minimum for enabling text to be printed on the spine of your book. Print consultants can advise you in this regard as well as providing a whole range of other services to help you.
  • The importance of editing. Good editing will produce a refined outcome.  If you find self-editing hard to do then it is well worth hiring a professional editor.

Finally, never put the cart before the horse! In other words don’t let the quality of your writing be dictated by the number of pages.  You have a story to tell and this should never be compromised over concern that it is too long. As long as it’s within reasonable lengths, good writing speaks for itself.

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Mary Vaux-ClarkMary Vaux-Clark is a freelance editor, proof-reader and writer. Her areas of interest include current affairs, travel, history and sport. She has travelled widely and worked in Hong Kong as an editor and ESL teacher for over ten years.