How Long Should Your Novel Be?

I’ve written about this some years ago, but I ran across a great article detailing the history of novel lengths by Dean Wesley Smith. I’ve also praised the work and website of Dean Wesley Smith so check out his article here.

With the source being acknowledged, I would also like to add my two cents about novel lengths. In this new world of publishing digitally I feel that novels don’t need to be the lengths that you find in the brick and mortar. The reason being is you really have no reference of length from device to device. All you have is the speed of the reader. Sure, there are stories that are extremely short, but I am referring to a written story that has the intent of being a novel not a short story. In a way it is all about perception. “Am I getting my monies worth when I buy this book?” And for the publisher it was all about that…how they are going to justify the novel price. We as consumers also feel that we want more for our money. Am I going to buy this 300 page fantasy, or this 700 page fantasy adventure? More, in most cases, is better when we are holding it in our hands and our eyes are drawn to the magical art work on the cover. This, as Dean Wesley Smith pointed out, caused the story to suffer as the publisher would cause the writer to fill space in order to meet the word quota.

Now I’m not suggesting or saying that long novels are bad, but what I am saying is that a 40K word novel can be just as good as a 100K novel, and we as writers should not allow the old way of thinking guide us to writing a story that isn’t as good because of all the word padding. Dean lists in his article a number of novels that were around 40K words that would not have been published if they were held to the modern publisher demands. I never imagined that some of those stories were indeed so short! It just proves to show that it’s all about substance and not quantity.

Michael A. Stackpole has also written about this in his past posts and he laid out a brilliant pricing structure to help the buyer/reader understand what value they were purchasing. This is not his exact structure, but for the sake of this post: 5-20K word story might be .99cents. 20K-50K might be 1.99$, and it would scale up that way to any story over 100K would be 5.99$. Now this was just an example, the beauty of self publishing is you have the full control of what you price your work. However, the patron has a feel of what value they are buying when they purchase a story. They can expect a lower cost to match the quantity. Value, however can have no price, as no word limit can equate to the quality of a story. There are plenty of good and bad stories out there at all price ranges.

Pricing structure has been blogged about by many authors and there are many ways suggested to work out a price for a novel, but I must add that many authors (Indie Authors), in my opinion, have ruined it for the rest of us. Too many novels for .99 or 1.99$! I’ve also written about this in the past. Sure a good story will rise to the top, but most of us, if we are honest browse Smashwords, or Kindle bookstore and look for ratings and price to determine if a buy is worth our money. Established authors from the old publishing have an established following, if they were successful, and many are willing to pay the 6.99 or higher for their work because we love that writers stories. I do this with Terry Brooks. But if I were to come across my name on Amazon and see Dark Moon Shadow for the same price I might not buy it due to the unknown aspect. I don’t blame anyone who would do the same because I am also hesitant to spend a higher price for an unknown. But what has happened is that many of us unknowns need to get noticed so we low ball our price as a way to get someone to take a chance on our work, and what we really have done is establish a new mark for unknowns. Unknown Indie Authors are now 1-2$ products unless we can justify a higher mark with a ton of 4 to 5 star ratings. Way to go Indie community!

I bring this up to say a good pricing structure helps set a great standard for everyone, and allows us to break away from the low to high word bondage and just focus on good story writing no mater the length.

Star rating is a whole different topic I will tackle soon. So stay tuned.

Check out my short stories for YA, and my short Paranormal stories in my bookstore and maybe take a gamble on my Fantasy novel Dark Moon Shadow.

Happy Reading my friends.


Pennerstories News

Happy Saturday to you, or whatever day it is you find this. These past two weeks have been productive and hectic all at the same time. I performed a rough edit and read through of Dark Moon Shadows and found areas that needed some attention. These areas are being addressed currently…I’m halfway through the re-edit now. My plan will be to give it another edit once I am finished. This is the painful part of writing. I am targeting an April 2nd or May 1st release date, but don’t hold me to that. I will blog about it before hand.
Cover Art for Dark Moon Shadows will begin mid February. I am really excited for it and can hardly wait to see what the artist comes up with.
Things to look forward to: I will convert this WordPress blog to a full website with a hosting provider that will allow me more freedom with how this site is utilized. I will change the look, feel, and design to reflect my Fantasy World I created in Dark Moon Shadows. You can look forward to tabs that will detail characters, creatures, cities, and histories along with sections where I hope to host  Indie author interviews as well as a full functional E-bookstore linked with paypal. I am still debating on how all of this will look and feel, but I aim to have it all completed before the launch of Dark Moon.  Not sure if I will change the name as well. Pennerstories is unique and is easy to remember, but doesn’t have a fantasy “ring” to it. Still debating on that.
I will be looking for reviewers of my e-book soon, so if anyone is interested in a free copy to review, feel free to reach out to me about your interest. I will be sending review requests to many reviewers once the edits are complete, but for those that frequent here, I am extending the offer. Once you are finished reviewing…post a nice comment on amazon and rate it.
Happy Reading everyone.

Breakout Books by Apple

I haven’t been to the ibookstore app in quite some time until today because of a blog I was reading here: I have written critically about apple and the ibookstore because of the high prices and mostly because they make it so difficult for the indie author to publish. Save yourself the trouble and have Smashwords do it for you. I have to eat some crow now because I was blown away by what I saw in the ibookstore. Apple transformed a clunky, hard to find books, and over priced online book store into a gem of eye candy. Best of all Apple is now featuring Breakout Books from self-published authors. Credit to Smashwords for being the source for the bulk of those books. I also noticed a ton of e-books from $3.99 and lower. This is great news for us Indie Authors. Amazon Kindle is still my favorite, but I am excited that Apple is making it easier and better for us aspiring authors who choose to make it our own way.

I see this as a major breakthrough in the power play against traditional publishing and self publishing. Although I am still not 100% clear on how the Breakout Books are selected, but in any case they are still from self published authors and that, for me, is a good sign. However, (taking off my rose-colored glasses) this could be another way of Big Powerful Company trying to control. “Just saying.”

Either way, publishing is ever-changing and it is up to us to stay alert and ahead of what is going on out there. Most importantly, if you are an Indie Author, keep writing and putting out good material.

Amazon and E-books

Thanks to Michael Stackpole for tweeting this story, you can find it here:

This story has some great interest for me since I write/ self-publish/ read e-books.  Although I am super fond of paper books I have learned and grown to love reading on my e-book device. I have several reading devices in my house: ipad, kindle paper white, nook (1st edition), and my daughter has a kindle fire. All are great gadgets, but by far my favorite to read with is the kindle paper white. I only wish the book covers were in color. Oh-well you can’t get everything you want. I jumped on this e-book revolution years ago and even before the curve thanks to The Dragon Page Cover to Cover podcast that turned me on to the subject. No looking back from that time on. Amazon and Apple have been the leaders in the e-book market as most of you may already know, but I am growing ever so irritated at the rising cost of the e-book. As Amazon profit margins soar, I can agree with the article that the next five years will not look anything as the first five. I think, at least for me, the cost of purchasing a paperless book will have a lot to do with it. Apple is even pricier than Amazon. It really is amazing to me how anyone buys e-books through the ibook store. I know Amazon lets self-published authors set their own prices so I am not exactly down on them for that part. Here is just one example: Terry Brooks, whom I read, sells his books for mostly 8$ and higher. Exactly the same as a paperback edition. Hard to justify. Although no disrespect to Terry Brooks, more power to you if you make sales. I think that is great for him, but bad for the consumer. I am a sucker though, I bought his book anyway.

Ipad and Kindle Fire are not great for reading books, in my opinion, because of the glass screen and headache causing glare. But they do look good though…a ton of eye-candy for book covers.

Great article, check it out.