#03 - How many words?


Historically, most agents and publishers would look for around 100,000 (100K) words or more in a good length novel. Within the psycho of the publisher is firmly engrained the all important 'cost' of a printed book, especially the first edition which, until recently, would normally be a hard cover version. He needs to get your book out there with the lowest production costs and the best selling price. Publishers are always playing this juggling act and that's one of the reasons they employ highly paid editors whose job it is to slash as many words as possible out of your novel, without losing the storyline or affecting the style of writing. If, of course, you are self publishing, then you can plan the length of your novel to suit you. In the twentieth century, it was generally common for a regular reader of books to buy a printed work in hard cover or paperback and read at home during the weekends, in the bath and on the train to the office. If it was a particularly appealing book, many would read it from cover to cover in one session … and some still do! However, in this modern world where readers look to finish a novel much more quickly by reading it in small, regular slices on electronic media, a novel will now be regarded as a work of around 60K or more; a Novella at between 20K and 40K with a short story clocking in at something below 20K. These figures are not cast in stone but are simply an accepted average. You would therefore be well advised to make the length of your novel part of your plan; it will save you lots of time at the edit stage and stop you getting 'carried away' at the writing stage. Remember, less is more and is it better to produce a fast paced 60K novel that readers will flock to purchase … or a 150K epic work that possibly lacks pace, and will probably lack readers?