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Jordygirl
05-29-2007, 08:58 PM
I've been noticing that a few people on these boards don't like books that are short - under 200 to 300 pages I'm assuming. Personally I don't care how long a book is as long as it's good, but wondering what everyone else's thoughts on this are. Would you buy a "short" book or not? Do you like longer books? Shorter books?

ccarver30
05-29-2007, 09:09 PM
My novel is 101 pages and 60k words- it is considered short. :( I wish it was 100k, but it just isn't!

Will Lavender
05-29-2007, 09:11 PM
Short books are very hard to sell to publishers. My contract with Crown, for example, was set at 85,000 words, then negotiated by my agent to 80,000, and I finally finished at 82,000 or so. So it's a big deal.

Personally, however, I like short books. Especially thrillers, which is the genre I work in. I think thrillers are generally too bloated, too long; writers tend to put in 40 switchbacks in the last 100 pages when just 1 or 2 would do. (An example: The Poet, by Michael Connelly, was a fine book, but it was 50 or 60 pages too long.)

I think a good, tight, taut mystery is very pleasing. But, you know, people like a solid chunk of entertainment if they're plopping down $25 for a hardcover. It's the same reason movies run almost 4 hours now when 90 minutes would suffice most of the time.

Will Lavender
05-29-2007, 09:12 PM
My novel is 101 pages and 60k words- it is considered short. :( I wish it was 100k, but it just isn't!

That's funny.

Mine is about 83K, as I said above, and I've got over 300 pages in Microsoft Word.

ChaosTitan
05-29-2007, 09:12 PM
*looks at the books on my shelves*

*sees the variety of thicknesses*

*doesn't much care*

Story trumps all for me. Excessively long or annoyingly short novels are more difficult for agents to sell to publishers, but once they hit the shelves, it's all up to the readers. If it's a page-turner, I don't care if it's 200 pages or 900.

Jordygirl
05-29-2007, 09:15 PM
*looks at the books on my shelves*

*sees the variety of thicknesses*

*doesn't much care*

Story trumps all for me. Excessively long or annoyingly short novels are more difficult for agents to sell to publishers, but once they hit the shelves, it's all up to the readers. If it's a page-turner, I don't care if it's 200 pages or 900.

Agreed.

I get that it's harder to get a short (or overly long) book published but once they're out there... I don't see why anyone would care how long it is.

Sean D. Schaffer
05-29-2007, 09:21 PM
I've been noticing that a few people on these boards don't like books that are short - under 200 to 300 pages I'm assuming. Personally I don't care how long a book is as long as it's good, but wondering what everyone else's thoughts on this are. Would you buy a "short" book or not? Do you like longer books? Shorter books?


For me personally, if the book is long or short is irrelevant to my enjoyment of it. What matters to me is story.

That said, I know there are a lot of people who, when they buy a book, want to get 'more bang for their buck', if you will. Also, a 'short' book depends partially upon the genre in which it is written. My present WIP, as it sits at 70,250 words, would not be long enough to market successfully (I've asked agents about slightly longer ones in the past) if it were presently finished. On the other hand, for my genre, my target word count of 90,000 words would be more acceptable to publishing houses or agents.

So page count (actually word count) does matter. Depending upon your genre and, from what I've heard your own experience level in the business (newbie writer versus long-time author), length definitely matters.

Claudia Gray
05-29-2007, 09:38 PM
I've read excellent books that were slim and tightly written. That said, I admit that when I go bookstore-browsing, I am more drawn to books that seem meatier -- that is as much about premise as length, but length seems promising too. I like for even my light reading to last me more than a day or two.

That's my reaction as a reader. As a writer, I know that word counts are important to editors, b/c they're important to marketing people.

ccarver30
05-29-2007, 09:50 PM
That's funny.

Mine is about 83K, as I said above, and I've got over 300 pages in Microsoft Word.

You must have a lot of dialogue!! ;)

johnrobison
05-29-2007, 09:54 PM
My 92,000 word book is just about 300 pages when typeset. I'd imagine it could be set up anywhere from 285 to 315 pages, depending upon how tight it was laid out.

Jack Nog
05-29-2007, 10:23 PM
My WIP is 35k and change right now and sits at 142 pages according to MS Word.

I think if it came to be published this would be MUCH shorter by the 250 method.

I don't think it matters. Write your story, worry about it when it's done.

I'm more for story. If the story is good, It could be 17 pages for all I care (but I'm not dropping $7.99 on that :) ).

Hell, look at those old "Choose Your Own Adventure Books". Short, but Damn GOOD! HAHA

kristie911
05-29-2007, 10:37 PM
I'm more for story. If the story is good, It could be 17 pages for all I care (but I'm not dropping $7.99 on that :) ).


It does come down to price for me. I'll admit if I have two books in my hand, both paperback, both $6.99, both by authors I love...I'll pick the thicker one everytime. If I'm paying for it, I want all the words I can get.

That said, I think we, as writers, get too caught up in stressing about word count...how do we count it? Do I use the 250 method? Do I use Microsoft Word's count? What if I'm 1000 words over? What if I'm 2000 words under? AAAAHHHH! Bottom line...if it's a good story, someone, somewhere is going to buy it! :)

pollykahl
05-29-2007, 11:11 PM
Apparently it matters to publishers because of the high costs of paper and the expenses involved in the actual book-making process. Here's a good discussion about it.
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=65016&highlight=how+important+is+length%3F

jenfreedom
05-29-2007, 11:15 PM
One of my favorite books EVER is:

The World's Shortest Stories: Murder, Love, Horror, Suspense, All This and Much More in the Most Amazing Short Stories Ever Written, Each One Just 55 Words Long (http://www.amazon.com/Worlds-Shortest-Stories-Suspense-Amazing/dp/0762403004/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/102-0826412-0338527?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1180465873&sr=8-1)

Edited by Steve Moss

I suggest that anyone who think great writing needs to be long should go get and read this book right away. It's honestly amazing. I tried it too (to write an entire story in 55 words) it was hard, but a great lesson.

Take care
~ Jennifer

alisarish
05-29-2007, 11:29 PM
After reading opinions of so many authors and readers, I have decided to add at least 10k words to my 55k ms.

ChaosTitan
05-30-2007, 01:23 AM
You must have a lot of dialogue!! ;)

Will's length (83k = 300 pages) is pretty standard for a double-spaced manuscript.

I have 99k and 384 pages.

60k and 101 pages sounds like a formatting error. :Huh:

scarletpeaches
05-30-2007, 01:27 AM
That's what I was thinking. I've printed out something I wrote before not for submission, but so I had a hard copy and it was 120 pages in 12pt Trebuchet, single-spaced. No way could you fit 60k into 101 pages unless it was single-spaced and a tiny font.

scarletpeaches
05-30-2007, 01:30 AM
Okay, just tried. I can make 60k fit in 109 pages if it's single-spaced 12pt Garamond.

Dave.C.Robinson
05-30-2007, 01:32 AM
Will's length (83k = 300 pages) is pretty standard for a double-spaced manuscript.

I have 99k and 384 pages.

60k and 101 pages sounds like a formatting error. :Huh:

60k and 101 pages is about right for single-spaced. It's just something we don't think of for manuscripts.

Jamesaritchie
05-30-2007, 02:36 AM
What readers like in great books by proven doesn't matter. Publishers have sold billions of books, and they know the preferred length for the average reader in a given genre by a new writer. Darned few fantasy readers want 50K books, and darned few mystery readers want 180K books.

The painful truth is this. Just because you sell a novel does not mean any reader, anywhere, is going to like it. Publishers will almost certainly lose at least some money on the effort. Most novels lose at least a little money. Very few of the rest make enough to matter. Rightfully, they want to lose as little as possible. This means giving as many readers within a given genre and sub-genre the length book they buy most often.

Once you've proven you can write a book the majority of readers love, you'll then be given leeway to write short, to write long, or to write anywhere between.

But until and unless you prove you can do this, publishers would be silly to take a chance when billions of sales and two hundred years research show them they'll probably lose even more money if they do.

Many people love short books in the right genre. Many people love very long books. Neither means anything when you're a new writer. First you have to prove you can write something that anyone likes, and that won't break the budget, or cost an editor his job, when it flops, as it probably will.

It simply is not about whether some readers like short novels, or whether some like long novels. You have to break things down far more than this to even have a notion what matters. It's about business. It's about money. And it's about knowing how long the average reader prefers the average novel within a given genre, particularly by an unproven writer.

I love short novels, but as an editor, I'm not going to buy one from a new writer if it doesn't fit genre requirements.

ChaosTitan
05-30-2007, 02:42 AM
60k and 101 pages is about right for single-spaced. It's just something we don't think of for manuscripts.

Single-spaced = formatting error. ;)

justpat
05-30-2007, 04:38 AM
Publishers think bigger is better because its hard to justify $25 for a thin book. I do wonder about one thing though. To me it seems the attention spans of people just gets shorter and shorter, so why aren't short books more popular?

scarletpeaches
05-30-2007, 04:40 AM
Because I think if someone's attention span is THAT short, they're not gonna read a book anyway!

justpat
05-30-2007, 05:07 AM
Because I think if someone's attention span is THAT short, they're not gonna read a book anyway!

Hmm, good point. What was that you were saying?

kristie911
05-30-2007, 06:15 AM
Just out of curiousity...how long are James Patterson's books? His seem short, are thrillers and very, very popular. I guess if it works, it works.

Danger Jane
05-30-2007, 06:47 AM
*looks at the books on my shelves*

*sees the variety of thicknesses*

*doesn't much care*

Story trumps all for me. Excessively long or annoyingly short novels are more difficult for agents to sell to publishers, but once they hit the shelves, it's all up to the readers. If it's a page-turner, I don't care if it's 200 pages or 900.

Most definitely. I guess sometimes a 600 page book with 10 point font is a bit...intimidating...but if the story's good I don't care, I'll read it anyway.

Will Lavender
05-30-2007, 08:21 AM
Just out of curiousity...how long are James Patterson's books? His seem short, are thrillers and very, very popular. I guess if it works, it works.

I only own one (I don't care for him), but it seems from just seeing his books (and the books he, er, "co-authors") on the shelves that they're average-sized.

However, he writes chapters that average about two and a half pages, so I'd say his word counts are pretty well below the average of most books in his genre.