1. slockmn
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    slockmn New Member

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    Good book size

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by slockmn, Nov 9, 2011.

    Hello;

    I am in the process of writing my first story and I am doing rather well.

    I haven't had writers block and I've finished my introduction.

    But I've been wondering what a good size for a book is.

    I'm just going to write untill I feel I've finished but I'd like some pointers on book size.

    I'm aiming at a A5 sized page with 12.5 sized font and I'd like to have a mimimum of 200 pages with the goal being over 300.

    Is this a good size for a first book?

    Thanks;

    -Jamie
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    The first thing I'll say is that the writing world doesn't use pages as a form of measurement. Rather, you should be measuring words. The length to aim for with a first novel is between 70k and 100k (possibly a bit longer if you're writing fantasy, and a bit less if it's Young Adult). Your 200-300 page target doesn't sound unreasonable, but the important thing is the word count.
     
  3. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    What Banzai said. Young adult can be as little as 50,000 words. A full-length novel is usually cited as 100,000 words, though this varies wildly. To give you some perspective, though most young adult novels are on the low side, Harry Potter novels, which are usually considered "young adult", but could also be considered mainstream fantasy, goes as high as 257,000 words (Order of the Phoenix), which, for that specific book, spans some 870 pages. 50,000 is, however, generally the lower limit, which generally corresponds to something like 170 pages (if I remember right).
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I think 50,000 only really applies for young adult. For anything else, it's too short, and verging on novella territory (which there is absolutely nothing wrong with, but novellas and novels are different).

    But Arathald has a good point about the wide span of word counts in fiction. You have some frankly vast tomes (usually fantasy), and some comparatively skinny ones. If you're serious about publication, you should aim for the sweet spot of around 80-100k. This is long enough for it to be of interest to publishers, yet not so long as to be seen as too risky or unprofitable.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all good advice above...
     
  6. Arathald
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    Arathald Contributing Member

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    Yep, this is true. I think we've already satisfactorily answered the question, but I have a couple more thoughts, and as it is 3AM, I simply feel like sharing them.

    Where I'm getting the "magic number" of 50k words is actually from the NaNoWriMo project. Chris Baty, its founder, explains why the seemingly-arbitrary (and it certainly is) 50k word mark was set for NaNoWriMo:
    • Yes, 50k words is short for a novel, especially adult fiction. Like any rule in writing though, this is made to be broken. Baty initially selected 50k words by going to the shortest novel on his shelf, Brave New World, and doing a quick-and-dirty estimate of the number of words in it. There are a few other well-known novels that hover right around this threshold.
    • He also says that "Novellas, as decreed by the World Literacy Council in its precedent-setting 1956 ruling, are 'weak-willed, half-hearted novels' that 'lack the gumption to make it to 50,000 words,' which they very accurately describe as 'the very precipice of novelhood.'" I have no idea how tongue in cheek this is, or if it's even made up, but he goes on to say that since you can get away with calling 50k words a novel, go ahead and do it, since it sounds more impressive than calling it a novella.
    All this to say, honestly, it doesn't matter how long of a work you write. Write it until it's done. If you squeeze out 200 words, then great, you're the proud author of some flash fiction. If it takes you 2k words, then awesome, you've got yourself a short story. If you've got 10k words in you, congratulations, you have created a novelette. If you can crank out 30k words, then excellent, you've just written a novella. If it takes you 100k words, then you have a novel. If you need more than 200k words, then you've likely got a series on your hands!

    All of these things are publishable (though, yes, some will be easier to publish than others, especially in certain media -- you're not going to release a hardcover edition of a flash fiction story or print a series in a magazine), so, my advice is to write whatever you've got your heart set on, and not for length. While it's certainly possible to write for approximate length, and do it well (as happens with many mainstream fiction writers), it's also a great way to hurt your story by cutting too much or by having too much padding.
     
  7. cobaltblue
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    cobaltblue Member

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    Helpful thread :D
     

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