1. Goethe
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    Goethe New Member

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    Hello! some help would be nice please

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Goethe, Jun 14, 2009.

    Hello I have just joined!
    I am currently writing my first book, it's not a story book but more like the lives and works of the romantic artists, poets and philosophers in Germany.
    My question is: how long should the book be? what word/page count?
    I have a list of 13 people I'm writing about at the moment and have nearly finished their biographies and the word count is 38524 with 60 pages and I have not yet started on the works of the people...
    Thanks, I look froward to talking with lots of you writers, feel free to send me a message (I don't mind what you say in it)!
     
  2. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    Welcome Gothe. Is your book nonfiction? I've heard 90k - 100k word is a normal range for first-time unpublished authors, but it might differ a little for nonfiction books.
     
  3. Goethe
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    Goethe New Member

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    Hello
    Yes it is nonfiction... sorry have I posted in the wrong place?
     
  4. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    No no, you're in the right spot for word count questions. I was just curious. :-D If you're interested specifically in critiquing/reviewing for nonfict, there's a board in the Review Room. Make sure to follow RR rules though, or they'll close your post down. (I.e., post a minimum of two good, thoughtful crits for every piece you post--ideally more.)
     
  5. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Depending on the genre and publisher, the range is actually 80-100,000, but that guideline is really for fiction. With non-fiction, it could be very different, I don't know. You really have to look at what publishers are asking for.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    From what I've read, non-fiction publishers generally prefer to recieve proposals for projects (along with writing samples, resumes, etc) as opposed to completed manuscripts, so maybe approach a lit agent or a non fiction arts publisher and see what they need from you.
     
  7. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    There's an immense range for nonfiction, in particular, depending upon the purpose and genre of nonfiction you're writing (e.g., educational? scholarly? info tidbits? humorous, etc.). What I'd suggest is that you go browsing a bookstore for books that are similar to the one you envision. Count the words on a single page and multiply that by the number of pages, and you'll get a feel for how your manuscript might compare. Your agent will be your best resource to be helpful, because he or she will know what publishers publish what kinds of work (but if you check this out for yourself, you'll know who publishes the nonfiction books that you think are like what you have to offer). Assuming you produce a terrific manuscript (and I'm assuming you will), don't be surprised to hear that you need to cut the length by a third or half--which you can easily do by simply omitting or lumping together some of the folks you're writing about (why not publish Part I and Part II, or even a single book on each one?--your agent may love you for that). For that matter, cutting a complete manuscript usually improves it (so don't despair if that's where you end up). So write it whatever length you see fit, and then (or simultaneously, once you've got something to show), find yourself an agent who can help you target the most marketable length. Maybe you can get an advance on Part II!
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    this section is ok...

    the length range quoted is just for fiction, though 80-100k is what's preferred by most publishers... for non-fiction the ms can be shorter or longer, depending on the subject...

    for what you're proposing, i'd suggest you check out the length of similar works... that will also give you some publishers to query, when you're ready to do so... you should know that for a non-fiction book, agents and publishers will want a full proposal...

    and only word count matters, not page count... from what you say, it sounds like you'll have a mammoth work, by the time you get finished... are you an authority on this subject?... what's the premise of the book?... considering how many renowned german artists, poets and philosophers there were, how did you choose which ones to include?... are you comparing their lives and works, or is there some sort of theme you're focusing on?...

    what's your intended market, who do you think will want to buy it? ... this and all the other questions i'm asking will help determine how long the book could be and should be, to have the best chance of being published... it's a monumental task, so i have to ask why you chose this for your first attempt at writing a book...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  9. lipton_lover
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    lipton_lover Contributing Member

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    I think this question is possibly being over thought.
    Write as much as you need. No more, no less. Why shoot for a specific word count? You may end up having to cut necessary bits, or throw in useless clutter to make that quota.

    Good luck, Nate
     
  10. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    Because publishers demand that your MSS be in specific range....its not really an option...you need to write to a specific word count if you want to get published....
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not really... as you yourself said, one must only be within the preferred 'range'... not be restricted to a 'specific word count'...

    however, that applies much more to fiction, than to non-fiction, where quite short books and very long books are acceptable, as long as the length is commensurate with the subject...
     
  12. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd like to re-emphasize one of mammamaia's points -- the single most important criterion for getting published in non-fiction is your proven expertise in the subject. Are you a recognized expert? Are you previously published in this area? Do you hold an advanced degree in the subject? No credentials = no publication. After a publisher feels you have credibility on the subject, then your proposal will be seriously considered.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    not necessarily, though i suspect what you really meant was only that no attention will be paid to one's proposal, if the book has not yet been written... and only for some types of non-fiction, where expertise is a requisite...

    in fact, many non-fiction books by non-credentialed writers have been published... the key is the subject matter... non-fiction covers lots of genres that don't require the writer to be an expert or degreed... such as the many personal experience [memoirs/autobiographies] type books... for those, a proposal may do the trick, however some written parts, such as the first couple of chapters, would have to be included...
     
  14. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    But a book like this about German artists, poets and philosophers? You better hold at least a BA in one of those fields, or I doubt (unless you've devoted yourself to a lot of research....a whoooole lot) that you will understand the topics with enough depth to be able to convey them a layman reader. Besides which, those categories are very broad on their own, and all three together covers an insane amount of information...it certainly seems to me that the ability to write well about all three would take decades of academic research...
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I have been a software engineer for thirty years. I finally got around to getting a degree last year. Does that mean I couldn't possibly be qualified to write a textbook on developing software before I attained the paper?

    That's a rather elitist attitude.

    You don't need to be an enrolled student to perform extensive research.

    Some fields do require credentials. But really, a degree to write about the Humanities?
     
  16. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    And I'm elitist? :p

    In art history at least (one of my majors, english lit being the other), nothing you write will be taken seriously (at least by other art historians, critics and artists) unless you hold an MA or PhD. It sounds harsh, but its true. A BA in art history will give you a basic overview of all art history and allow you to go into some depth in a few specific areas, but a real understanding of a given area takes more study than that, and true, you could probably gain it on your own after years of reading and researching on your own, but all you have to account for then is your word that you know what you're talking about, and when you're only able to give a proposal to a non-fiction publisher as is usually the case (at least, again, with art publishers....full mss's are not generally accepted unsolicited) its not going to do you any favours if you don't have the proper credentials. Obviously with something like software engineering, which is a relatively recent field with few barriers to entry, expertise is more about a practical knowledge, but art history (and most of the humanities) are about more than practical knowledge...the history bit is easy, its the understanding and extending of knowledge that is why higher education is important. Anyone with a book can tell you that Picasso painted Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon in 1906, but to fully understand the implications of it takes a degree of understanding that is best obtained by being taught by people who have studied those kinds of things their whole careers, not by reading a few books.
     
  17. Laverick
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    Laverick Member

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    The non-fictions I've read have been around 200 pages. I'm not sure what that is in a word count, but I've found most of what I've read to be under what a fantasy or sci-fi novel would be.

    That is, for the sort of non-fiction it sounds like you're writing. With references and research I've found that they might be anywhere from 300 to 500 pages.

    I believe it's already been mentioned, but you should check on what publisher(s) you want to go with and see what they want in non-fiction. For your subject, I'm not sure what kind credential they require.

    I've mostly read memoirs and research in the non-fiction arena, so I can't give much insight in regards to historical biographies.
     

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