You have finally made the exciting decision to write a book. You sit down at your desk, drafted outline at the ready, when a thought occurs to you – how long should this book be? Is there even an industry standard for book lengths? These thoughts can be confusing and overwhelming. Fortunately, we’re here to provide some clarity on this murky subject.
Why are book lengths important?
Even though the average reader might not have an in-depth idea of what happens during the publishing process, they still foster expectations of the books they want to read. For each genre, readers have a preconceived idea of how many pages the books in that specific genre should have. If authors do not stay more or less within these guidelines, their target audience might reject the book outright. In addition, your planning for the narrative will also become considerably easier when you have a length guideline. Book length is usually measured in words. Generally, depending on the font size and spacing, it is accepted that a page consists of about 250 words. Without further ado, let’s dive into the general publishing standards for book lengths across genres.
The requirement for general novels is normally anything between 50 000 and 110 000 words (200-440 pages). This ensures that the story contains sufficient world-building and progresses at a good pace without being either rushed or drawn-out.
The length of children’s books really varies greatly depending on the type of book you are writing. For example, a picture book will only contain between 300 and 800 words while a first reader will have between 200 and 500 words.
Standard non-fiction titles will range between 70 000 and 80 000 words (280-320 pages). Self-help titles tend to be shorter, and memoirs/biographies are longer. Topics that are included under standard non-fiction titles are business, politics and science.
Creating general guidelines for textbooks are a bit trickier since the length of the book will depend heavily on the level at which the textbook will be used as well as the subject matter. Therefore, guidelines for textbooks are not readily available online. The average matric textbook ranges from 200 to 500 pages across different topics, namely Mathematics, Life Sciences and Accounting. University textbooks across the same topics range from 400-900 pages. Textbooks are a lot more information-dense than any other genre and it is generally accepted for these titles to be longer.
Long story short
Now that you have a better idea of how long your book should be, it’s full speed ahead! When your book is done and you would like to self-publish, why not give Preflight a holler?