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Sunday, May 17, 2009


One common question asked by many writers is: "How long should my story be?"The simplest answer is: As long as it takes to tell the whole story.However, there are certain word lengths that editors prefer to see when submitting work.Here is an approximate guideline for story lengths.Micro-Fictionup to 100 wordsThis very abbreviated story is often difficult to write, and even harder to write well, but the markets for micro fiction are becoming increasingly popular in recent times. Publishers love them, as they take up almost no room and don't cost them their budgets. Pay rates are often low, but for so few words, the rate per word averages quite high.Flash Fiction100 - 1,000 wordsThis is the type of short-short story you would expect to find in a glossy magazine, often used to fill one page of quick romance (or quick humor, in men's mags) Very popular, quick and easy to write, and easier to sell!Short Story1,000 - 7,500 wordsThe 'regular' short story, usually found in periodicals or anthology collections. Most 'genre' zines will features works at this length.Novellette7,500 - 20,000 wordsOften a novellette-length work is difficult to sell to a publisher. It is considered too long for most publishers to insert comfortably into a magazine, yet too short for a novel. Generally, authors will piece together three or four novellette-length works into a compilation novel.Novella20,000 - 50,000 wordsAlthough most print publishers will balk at printing a novel this short, this is almost perfect for the electronic publishing market length. The online audience doesn't always have the time or the patience to sit through a 100,000 word novel. Alternatively, this is an acceptable length for a short work of non-fiction.Novel50,000 -110,000Most print publishers prefer a minimum word count of around 70,000 words for a first novel, and some even hesitate for any work shorter than 80,000. Yet any piece of fiction climbing over the 110,000 word mark also tends to give editors some pause. They need to be sure they can produce a product that won't over-extend their budget, but still be enticing enough to readers to be saleable. Imagine paying good money for a book less than a quarter-inch thick?Epics and SequelsOver 110,000 wordsIf your story extends too far over the 110,000 mark, perhaps consider where you could either condense the story to only include relevant details, or lengthen it to span out into a sequel, or perhaps even a trilogy. (Unless, of course, you're Stephen King - then it doesn't matter what length your manuscript is - a publisher is a little more lenient with an established author who has a well-established readership)Page CountsIn most cases, industry standard preferred length is 250 words per page... so a 400 page novel would be at about 100,000 words. If you want to see what size book is selling in your genre, take a look on the shelves. If the average length is 300 pages, you're looking at a 75,000 word manuscript (approximately)One reason it's harder for a new author to sell a 140,000 word manuscript is the size of the book. A 500+ page book is going to take up the space of almost two, 300 page books on the shelves. It's also going to cost more for the publishers to produce, so unless the author is well known, the book stores aren't going to stock that many copies of the 'door-stopper' novel as compared to the thinner novel.Remember, these word- and page-counts are only estimated guides. Use your own common sense, and, where possible, check the guidelines of the publication you intend to submit your work to. Most publishers accepting shorter works will post their maximum preferred lengths, and novels are generally considered on the strength of the story itself, not on how many words you have squeezed into each chapter.

Send questions, submissions and e-mails to I wish you good luck and good wishes for your writings.

PS; My first book was 240,000 words @ 1157 pages of which the first 235 pages were hand written. I followed that with nine books @ 70k to 90,000 word concept novels. My first book I sell as an epic, a series, and as a sequel. This combination gives me seven sellable titles of which I now sell at least a book a day every single day. With my new contract with Amazon, if someone even just previews one of my books, I will receive ad commission for ever page viewed, so can you… Send me your content and you can as well… thank you…

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