Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Newbie Question #8

8. How do you decide how long a book should be?


I stop when I get to the end of the story.

But I suspect this is actually a question about industry standards, so here's what they are, according to the Nebula Awards:

Novel: a work of 40,000 words or more*
Novella: a work of at least 17,500 words but under 40,000 words
Novelette: a work of at least 7,500 words but under 17,500 words
Short story: a work of under 7,500 words

I should note that for anyone other than the Nebula judges 40,000 words is actually a really, really short novel. I don't think many publishers would accept a novel that was only 40,000 words -- though readers of this blog should feel free to prove me wrong.

My sense is that the average novel length these days (which, during the course my career to-date, has actually grown a lot shorter) is 80,000 words or longer (with the exception of young adult novels which can be as short as 60,000.)

I know that a lot of newbie writers have a hard time visualizing how many pages 80,000 words is -- but you can pick up any of my Tate Hallaway books and see how it translates into a printed book. A manuscript will, if you follow manuscript format, be a lot longer.

Questions? Comments? Spam?

1 comment:

Mari Adkins said...

what drives me nuts is that i'll mention something i've done is x number of words long and they'll ask me how many pages that is. i tend to just stand (or sit) there staring at them never knowing how to answer. if i start explaining that it "all depends" on how the manuscript is laid out - and then on how the actual book is laid out - the questioner's eyes start glazing over ...