I’m often asked how many pages, or words, a manuscript should be. In my mind it all comes down to why you’re writing your non-fiction book. The questions you need to ask yourself are:
- What does your book audience want to read?
- Who’s going to benefit from it?
- In what format(s) would they like to read it?
- Do they want standard-size print books, audiobooks,eBooks or skinny-print books?
Whenever you start a book project, you need to know who you’re writing the book for and what outcome you want to achieve as the author. You may decide only to produce your book in a certain format for various reasons.
How Words Translate to Pages
My answer to the question as to how long your book should be is this: how many words or pages in the non-fiction arena do you think it will take for your book to answer the questions your reader has come for?
You may decide you want to write a 50,000-page book, but since they come in all different shapes and sizes, you’ll get varying results depending on the format you choose.
Your main goal is to answer the question your reader is looking for, otherwise you will leave them frustrated and unhappy. Is your book well written, put in reader-friendly terms and polished, or did you write it in a rush and not get it edited, thus making the end result full of errors and lacking the content your readers want or need?
Skinny books can be around the 20-30,000 words, and more standard paperback books are anywhere between 50-80,000 words, depending on your inclusions, such as images, photos, tables, charts and graphics. All of this will determine the length. For eBooks there is no minimum word count.
Take a look at Amazon Kindle, and you will see eBooks ranging from 5000 to 100,000 words. Would your audience rather read something short and to the point, or do they want information that’s more detailed?
Of course, pricing will be different for the various formats and differing book lengths. Some new authors distribute their first book for free in eBook retail sites to build a following and aim to sell their subsequent projects.
Print books vary from ten to thirty dollars, whereas eBooks are often 99 cents to $2.99 in eBooks stores.
There can be a lot to consider, depending again on why you’re writing your book, so you need a clear plan Also keep in mind your readers might not see much value in spending ten dollars for a 10,000-word eBook.
Pricing can be part of your overall marketing strategy. For instance, one method is to package your book with other products and sell it for a much higher price tag, due to the perceived value.
In the how-to non-fiction genre, it’s more acceptable that your book simply answers the questions your readers are looking for, particularly if it’s an eBook that can be digested the same day. If your topic is more complex, then obviously your book will include more content.
Another important factor to think about is if you’ll be better positioned by having multiple skinny books rather than a single book with more information.
If you wanted to write about hair, for example, you might have a book on up styles, another on straight styles and another on curls and wavy styles. If your reader is looking for a quick solution to a specific topic, this is a great way to grab their attention.
In other words, your reader can immediately get what they’re looking for.
In this example, your strategy may be to start with an eBook with hyperlinks to your videos demonstrating exactly how you style hair.
Single Book or a Series?
There are many schools of thought surrounding this topic. Some publishers suggest authors put everything in one book and make it a great standalone, because they might leave information out of the first book in a skinny series and lose readers in the process. Their motto is that first impressions count.
Others say not to put it all in one book. Keep it short and to the point, and split the specific knowledge over a series of skinny books.
But a word of caution. Before you begin, make sure you’re going to stick with it. If you put out one skinny book and neglect to follow through with the series, you’ve hurt your credibility as an author.
However, skinny books would work if you’re positioning yourself as a serious author, and a volume of published works would be more impressive. Again, it depends on your intentions and why you’re writing about your topic.
You have to decide, based on your topic and targeted readers, whether a skinny book or eBook has as much credibility as one that’s full-sized.
There’s a limit to the dimension of the spine if you want print on it or to bind your book in a certain way.
Another factor to consider is that thin and skinny books can get lost in a physical bookstore unless they’re facing out.
My Book Series
My Millionaire book series is available in physical bookstores, so the spine thickness was important to me when I considered the format, as I wanted it to stand out on the shelves.
I also have a successful formula where I interview the same number of people who share their inspirational stories, so in my case the book is a more substantial size (around 350pp)
In addition, I post the books sold on my websites, so I aimed to keep them under the 500g postage weight limit, as in Australia after 500g the next size up is 3kg., which increases the postage prices. Paper stock and weight of the cover material can also affect the overall weight of the book, so if you’re producing a print book, you may want to consider this.
My books are also available in most eBook formats and PDF, for those who want to get access instantly, and each chapter is offered as a standalone PDF.
My strategy was clear from the start, because I knew what readers I wanted to address and the outcome I desired.
Take that first step and decide your strategy.
eBooks and SPINES
If the book is in eBook format, the size of the spine is irrelevant. It won’t even have one, unless it’s also in print, and in most cases the back cover is non-existent as well.
For an eBook, it’s more important to have a great book cover and keep your interesting content at the front of the book.
Your strategy and reason for writing the book are important. Before you begin, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you intend to produce a physical book and have it available for distribution?
- Are postage charges an issue?
- Is your book a lead generator /client gift to give out or sell at the back of the seminar room?
- Is your eBook for income and/or a lead generator for online stores?
- Are you writing one single book?
- Will you be better positioned as an expert if you write a skinny book series?
Author Platform and Credibility
If you’re a new author, it’s important to build a platform as a professional, so make sure what you’re producing is of the best quality. No one will take you seriously if your book isn’t edited or professionally designed.
If you’re looking to get your book out quickly and are on a budget, an eBook may be your answer. It doesn’t need all of the design elements of a print book, and you can easily make changes,
Ensure you take the time to plan the best strategy for you as the author, whilst meeting the needs of your reader.
The most important thing is that you publish your book. After all, it doesn’t matter how many pages it is, if you don’t publish it.
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