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 Book lengths

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riders57

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Age : 60

PostSubject: Book lengths   Fri Sep 13, 2013 5:59 pm

So reading some filings from lawyers who I swear charge by the word, got me trolling on the internet to see what the average number of words in a novel is.  (You can tell those legal filings just had me on the edge of my seat. Rolling Eyes )  Found a fascinating piece on HuffingtonPost

The author states that based on Amazon's Text Stats the average length of all books is 64,000 words.  A sampling from the article:


Brave New World is right at the median with 64,531 words

Animal Farm = 29,966

Slaughterhouse Five = 47,192

Lord of the Flies = 62,481

Adventures of Tom Sawyer = 70,570

Lolita = 117,963

East of Eden = 226,741

Ulysses = 262,869

War and Peace = 544,406 (the longest book in Amazon's Text Stats apparently).


I also looked and all three books of Lord of the Rings combined, including indices, prologue, tables of content, title pages, etc. come in at just over 525,000 words.

So, while I usually read my stories through to remove extraneous language -- I guess I'll take an even closer look going forward.
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skykomish

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PostSubject: Re: Book lengths   Sat Sep 14, 2013 9:39 am

Yes, Riders, I have looked at the book lengths myself a few times. It always reminds me to take out the scissors and start cutting words. Remuda once told me an interesting story about editing, Thomas Wolfe and "Look Homeward Angel" but I can no longer remember the details. Perhaps she will help us out by mentioning it here.
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Remuda

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PostSubject: Re: Book lengths   Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:50 am

Ah, yes, one of my fave authors, Thomas Wolfe. He was known for lengthy drafts, and it was his editor at Scribners, Maxwell Perkins, who fashioned those words into the published works we read today. I think it's best explained by this paragraph in a longer article from Wikipedia, with the link to the full article below. Just goes to show how invaluable editing can be.

"The greatest professional challenge Perkins ever faced was posed by Thomas Wolfe, whose talent was matched only by his lack of artistic self-discipline. Unlike most writers, who are often blocked, words poured out of Wolfe. A blessing in some ways, this was a curse too, as Wolfe was greatly attached to each sentence he wrote. After a tremendous struggle, Perkins induced Wolfe to cut 90,000 words from his first novel, Look Homeward, Angel (1929). His next, Of Time and the River (1935), was the result of a two-year battle during which Wolfe kept writing more and more pages in the face of an ultimately victorious effort by Perkins to hold the line on size. Grateful to Perkins at first for discovering him and helping him realize his potential, Wolfe later came to resent the popular perception that he owed his success to his editor. Wolfe left Scribner's after numerous fights with Perkins. Despite this, Perkins served as Wolfe's literary executor after his early death in 1938 and was considered by Wolfe to be his closest friend." (footnote removed) From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxwell_Perkins

Thanks for mentioning this, Sky, it's a great example.
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PostSubject: Re: Book lengths   Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:52 pm

Ghost Your post got me thinking as to book lengths for publishing purposes.  Apparently the 'golden length' for a publisher is 288 pages as that give the writer the space to develop characters, plot, arguments etc. without extraneous or superfluous writing.  

http://gettingpublished.wordpress.com/2009/05/11/word-count-and-book-length/



The above link expands on that and as other information aspiring writers may find useful.



Other word counts are found at http://theswivet.blogspot.co.uk/2008/03/on-word-counts-and-novel-length.html:

middle grade fiction = Anywhere from 25k to 40k, with the average at 35k

YA fiction = For mainstream YA, anywhere from about 45k to 80k; paranormal YA or YA fantasy can occasionally run as high as 120k but editors would prefer to see them stay below 100k. The second or third in a particularly bestselling series can go even higher. But it shouldn't be word count for the sake of word count.

paranormal romance = 85k to 100k

romance = 85k to 100k

category romance = 55k to 75k

cozy mysteries = 65k to 90k

horror = 80k to 100k

western = 80k to 100k

mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction = A newer category of light paranormal mysteries and hobby mysteries clock in at about 75k to 90k. Historical mysteries and noir can be a bit shorter, at 80k to 100k. Most other mystery/thriller/crime fiction falls right around the 90k to 100k mark.

mainstream/commercial fiction/thrillers = Depending upon the kind of fiction, this can vary: chick lit runs anywhere from 80k word to 100k words; literary fiction can run as high as 120k but lately there's been a trend toward more spare and elegant literary novels as short as 65k. Anything under 50k is usually considered a novella, which isn't something agents or editors ever want to see unless the editor has commissioned a short story collection. (Agent Kristin Nelson has a good post about writers querying about manuscripts that are too short.)

science fiction & fantasy = Here's where most writers seem to have problems. Most editors I've spoken to recently at major SF/F houses want books that fall into the higher end of the adult fiction you see above; a few of them told me that 100k words is the ideal manuscript size for good space opera or fantasy. For a truly spectacular epic fantasy, some editors will consider manuscripts over 120k but it would have to be something extraordinary. I know at least one editor I know likes his fantasy big and fat and around 180k. But he doesn't buy a lot at that size; it has to be astounding. (Read: Doesn't need much editing.) And regardless of the size, an editor will expect the author to to be able to pare it down even further before publication. To make this all a little easier, I broke it down even further below:

---> hard sf = 90k to 110k
---> space opera = 90k to 120k
---> epic/high/traditional/historical fantasy = 90k to 120k
---> contemporary fantasy = 90k to 100k
---> romantic SF = 85k to 100k
---> urban fantasy = 90k to 100k
---> new weird = 85k to 110k
---> slipstream = 80k to 100k
---> comic fantasy = 80k to 100k
---> everything else = 90k to 100k

Ghost 
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