In today’s literary world, competition is stiffer than ever. With so many books being published each year, it can be difficult for your voice to be heard above the noise. So how can you make sure that your book stands out? One way is to pay attention to word count. While there is no hard and fast rule for how long your book should be, knowing the average word count for your genre can give you a good starting point.
Think about it this way: if your book is too short, readers may feel like they didn’t get their money’s worth. On the other hand, if your book is too long, readers may lose interest or become bogged down in unneeded details.
Word count can also affect your book’s sales potential. For example, many literary agents and publishers have specific word count requirements for the type of book you’re writing. If you don’t meet those requirements, your book may not even be considered for publication. This is less important in indie publishing, but you still need to cater to reader expectations for the genre you are writing in.
The key is to find that sweet spot in terms of length.
The Benefits of a Longer Book
Many people believe that a longer book is always better, but this isn’t always the case. While a longer book gives you more space to develop your characters and plot, it also means that you have to pace well and keep the reader’s attention for a longer period of time. This can be difficult, especially if your book is slow-paced, risking the reader not being invested in the story.
That being said, there are some definite benefits to writing a longer book. For one thing, it allows you to really flesh out your world and make it feel real to the reader. You can include more detailed descriptions, backstory, and deeper subplots, which can make the reader feel like they’re truly immersed in the story. Additionally, a longer book gives you more room to play with your pacing and structure, so you can experiment with different techniques and styles.
The Benefits of a Shorter Book
A shorter book can be a great way to get your point across without dragging out the story. It can also be easier for readers to digest in one sitting, leaving them wanting more, rather than feeling like they need a break after finishing a longer book. In addition, a shorter book can be less expensive to produce, making it a more viable option for indie authors and small presses.
Why You Should Care About Word Count
Here are a few reasons to pay attention to your word count:
1. Word count can affect the price of your book. If you’re self-publishing, you may be charged by the page, so a longer book will cost more money. A longer book will usually require more pages and more binding, which can add to the cost.
2. Paying attention to word count can help you stay on track with your writing goals.
3. If you’re submitting to a publisher, they may have specific word counts they like to work with.
How to Make Sure Your Word Count is Effective
The right word count will grab your reader’s attention and keep them engaged throughout the entire book. But how can you be sure you’re using your words effectively?
Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your word count:
1. Start with a bang: Your first few sentences are crucial in hooking your reader and making them want to read more. Make sure you grab their attention from the very beginning.
2. Keep it interesting: A good story is always engaging. That means using active voice and avoiding unnecessary filler words. Every sentence should move the story forward and keep the reader engaged.
3. Watch for crutch words and phrases: These are overused words or phrases that writer’s aren’t usually aware they overuse! Scan your pages and flag any words that repeat more than twice a page, and then do a full-document search for these. You might be surprised at the words you lean on that could be cut or phrasing that could be shortened.
So, research what a good word count is for your genre, and try to keep to it. Make sure every word in the book is needed, and you don’t fluff out your story in order to make it to the required word count.
How long is your book going to be?
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