Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Book Length - Where Do I Go From Here?

By Carol Denbow

Some writers plan ahead as to how many pages their complete book will be. Others simply start writing and end when they feel their work is completed. Either way, before publishing, the number of pages will need to be decided.

The Averages:

Most commonly, the length of your manuscript determines what type of publication you have.

• Short story – under 15,000 words
• Novella – 15,000 to 29,999 words
• Short novel – 30,000 to 44,999 words
• Novel – 45,000 to 69,999 words
• Plus or super novel – over 70,000 words

There are some exceptions to these numbers. If you are writing a children’s book, you may have as little as 500 words, but many more illustrations, which might add to the total number of pages in the finished work. If your manuscript is less than 8 pages, it may not be worthwhile to publish as a book. In most cases, a minimum of 32 pages is needed for a hard cover book to have a solid “backbone.”

How length may affect printing cost:

If you self publish and have your book printed, your layout and printing costs may vary depending on the books length. Many printers prefer a book to be set up with a particular amount of pages. Most books are printed on large sheets of paper which are folded into sections containing 8, 16, or 32 pages. Since printers generally set up the pages in segments of 8 at a time, keeping your book at an even number devisable by 8 can save you some money on printing costs. For instance, if your book is 144 pages in length, the printer may use 18 sheets to copy it (144 divided by 8 = 18). Printers may vary on the number of pages per sheet so it is important to discuss this with your specific printer.

When calculating the total number of pages in your finished book, don’t forget to add up the extra pages needed for components such as, your table of contents, introduction, index, etc. And by all means, don’t forget that book pages are two-sided.

Suggested Reading: Modern Matriarch, The Ideal Length for Your Book, McGraw-Hill, Book Length

Carol Denbow is the author of Are You Ready to Be Your Own Boss? (2006 Plain & Simple Books, LLC). She has two new books coming in the summer of 2008: Stress Relief for the Working Stiff (Publish America), and A Book Inside, Writing, Publishing, and Selling Your Story (Plain & Simple Books, LLC). Please visit Carol’s new website at: or blog with her at

No comments: