Guide for authors
Preferred Book Length
Preferred Book Length
Julie Roberts Towe
Posted on December 22, 2015 at 5:22pm
I have been giving a lot of thought to the length of books I write as well as those I read. I'm wondering if the shorter attention spans of readers, brought about by the plethora of distractions on the the internet, will lead readers to buy shorter works. What do you think the future holds in terms of preferred book length? And has your own reading/writing reflected the changes (or stability) you expect to see?
Personally, I enjoy writing novels with near 100,000 word count (often including a sequel) or novellas of under 40,000 more than books in between.
I prefer reading longer novels because if I'm enjoying the story I don't want to leave the characters. But I have been reading more short stories lately because I find it easier to support more authors by reading more short works. (The difference being whether I read for myself or am reading for others.)
I'm curious to know what others have noticed (or anticipate) changing about our collective reading habits.
Posted on December 26, 2015 at 10:12am
This is a really interesting topic, because I've heared from my friends that sometimes they choose shorter books just to meet their reading challange on Goodreads :) I myself usually read something from 150-300 pages, but it's never something that takes part in my reading decision. Especially on OB where I usually download an eBook, read few first pages (same thing I do in bookstores) and judge if the author have put enough effort in the language and details. However I really think that only very talented people should go for short stories, because you really need to have a great skill to make so little pages amazing. I would never go for something like 700 pages crime story... but I am very happy with the popularity of book series. Stanley Laine has written amazing detective series about adventures of Philippa K. Dick. Each eBook is a perfect lenght (i.e. for a train journey). I think it's always better though to focus on quality because there is so many poor written books on the web... people produce books quickly, make them short... but these pieces are just boring, common, repetitive... If you manage to write something special, something new, something with loads of interesting details, edited perfectly, it can have 1000 pages (in Poland Olga Tokarczuk won the most important litherary price this year and her book has 1000 pages and can be bought evrywhere - it really looks like a Bible on steroids:)).
I think that avarage book reader is not the same person that has a short reading span... because although we do read a lot of FB posts, blog posts, Tweets etc. we always come back to books and we love to sink in them for anhour, two, three... or few days if it's worth it :)
Posted on December 28, 2015 at 2:56am
I'm all for short stories and novellas. Less than 20,000. Hook me early with an interesting concept and see how much story you can tell in a compact space. I am also a fan of shorter movies. Fun fact: the director's cut of Blood Simple is actually shorter than the theatrical release.
Posted on December 29, 2015 at 11:34pm
Always a fascinating topic, this one, and I think very much a matter of personal preference. As an author I really appreciate the flexibility I get with being able to write stories of just about any length. Sometimes you start writing a story and come to realise it isn't going to stack up as a novel, but it would be so disappointing if I had always had to drop it, so it's very pleasing to have the option of completing it in a shorter form.
Interestingly, since I have taken to writing more short fiction, I have also found myself reading more of the same. I have also come to appreciate more the challenges and skill involved in writing shorter works, something which it is easy to take for granted.
Posted on January 8, 2016 at 7:28pm
It seems that the average book is now 25 % bigger than 15 years ago:
But I guess it is really relative and subjective: personally I'm not afraid of long books but I more appreciate the short stories as to me writing a piece that would be interesting, full and concise enough to read on one sitting is more challenging than a longer work where the author has more "space" to fully develop and express his or her ideas. And definitely when I read an e-book I prefer it to be shorter. Longer works are better to read in paper at home when I have time and can easily check if I've forgotten something read pages before.
Posted on March 28, 2016 at 10:38pm
I love long books. I hate it when I am reading a great piece of novel, get used to characters, their adventures etc. and then BOOOOOM everything ends after 300-ish pages. I guess that's a flaw of my character or something like that, for example I did love the whole "Dune" series (even those books considered worse - like written by Herberts sons) but I had really mixed feelings after Assimovs "Foundation" books (yes, I was more into Fantasy than Science Fiction as a teenager so now I am trying to make up for it). Eventho "Dune" spanned hundreds of years during its history all the characters seemed familiar or at least were tied in many ways to each other. What left me uncomfortable in "Foundation" was: I got to know a cool character, he had a huge problem to resolve (a.k.a. Seldonian Crisis), he crushed it in a clever way, I liked him even more and then BOOOOM time jumps forward, there's new Crisis, new characters etc... I guess Assimov must have felt it too since the later books seem to be more "tied" to each other.