When I’m working with clients, one of the questions that I get asked is: “How long should my book be?”, and to be honest, it depends on the book, but there are a couple of things that you need to take into account.
1. What is the purpose of your book?
If the purpose of your book is to entertain, for example, a romance or crime-thriller type of book, then you’re looking for between 70,000 and 100,000 words, or 150 – 250 pages long. There are some books that are longer than this, but if you can keep your reader on the hook and and enthralled, then it doesn’t matter.
Saying this, I’ve read some good books that I nearly gave up on because the author spent so much time creating an atmosphere the story was like a hamster in a wheel, going nowhere!
Think quality, not quantity.
2. What type of book is it?
Again, how long your book should be may depends on the type of book it is.
A page a day diary for example should have at least 365 pages, whilst an epic saga may well be over 400 – 600 pages long.
Alternatively, there are a series of books teaching various aspects of guitar that are under a 100 pages each. It’s sufficient to teach what the author wanted to teach. Some self-help books are short too. They get to the point and cover what you need to know quickly. Others spend the first 10 or 25% of the book going on about how good the author is before they’ve even written the first chapter. (Some books are so full of fluff, the whole book could be summarised in a couple of pages!)
Textbooks tend to be large in size, small in print and very detailed whereas, some of my notebooks are around 120 pages. Any bigger and they become unuseable as they are too thick.
3. How old is your reader?
In general, the younger the reader, the small the attention span and the larger the print.
Books for pre-school children may be under 40 pages long, have a few words per page but be beautifully illustrated, or if the book is a storybook, then it might be a series of short stories that can be read by an adult at bed-time.
Older kids will enjoy books with a longer story, but may prefer a book series, where each story is shorter.
As you can see, these are just 3 questions for you to think about as your write your book, so what can you do?
The best piece of advice I can give you is to get to know your reader.
Look at the books your audience is reading, and not just the number of pages but also font size, how many illustrations are in the book, line spacings and so on.
There are a lot of factors that will determine how long a book is, but don’t let that stop you or limit you. When you know your reader, you’ll know what they like, what they don’t like and what they will tolerate.