Most literary agents, publishers and veteran authors hand out the following advice to newbie writers:
- Don’t get hung up on word count just write a complete story.
But at the moment is this really the best advice?
There is a major choice an author must make when they decide to publish a book and that is whether or not to go the traditional route or to self publish. Most of those who go the traditional route end up toiling over word count issues because the current trend in books has proven more is better as long as it is not ridiculously more. Even young adults are shopping for thicker books these days. In case your curious most publishers are turning out YA’s at 60-80K words. Adult genre books are between 80-100K words. Historical fiction, sci-fi and fantasy are still running higher at between 110-130+K words. These figures are much higher than in earlier years. First time authors are usually advised to start with word counts on the lower end of the ranges.
The creation of e-books has allowed more authors to go the self publishing route. Add a publishing company like Lulu to the mix and you can have your e-book and paper copy too. Recently, I have come across several blog posts and articles about e-books and what their readers want. In addition to visual and audio files being integrated into the books it seems there is a high demand for authors to change the length of their books as well. It appears the most enthusiastic e-book readers want shorter reads but more of them. If they like a story and an authors work they want to see them write more often, push out more stories in a series and are willing to pay a smaller price but more often for these smaller books. This drive for shorter e-books has spawned new publishing format options such as 40K books. The Savvy Book Marketer says there is Profit from Short Ebooks, perhaps even more than from publishing a single e-book novel and Kindle Singles has launched to make it easier for people to shop for these shorter works.
Does all this change how writers write their stories? I am not so sure. In my case I am still writing my novels for the traditional publishing route. I am however considering dusting off some of the stories that I have written that only amounted to 30,000 or 40,000 words and seeing if they are worthy of e-book status.
How about you? What do you make of all these changes brought on by e-books? Are you going with the trend or sticking with the traditional? Do you worry about your word counts?