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Congratulations to everyone who committed this month to drafting a novel for NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. You are awesome!

Lately there's been buzz on the street around word count and genre expectations, along with (real talk) books out there that seriously need to lose some pages.

  • Reader focus is at an all time low.

  • Traditional and Indie books are still books and consumers want what they want.

As a multi-genre, fiction writer, I say....let's try and give it to them.

Did they publish a book with 899 pages and call it a paranormal mystery?

As an avid reader who spends on average, seven hundred dollars + a year on my fiction addiction, (Indie and Traditional both) the mystery for me would be why this person didn't get a tougher editor and make it a trilogy?

I am being dramatic and a little snarky to drive home an important point.

Books like this are floating around the marketplace and I did not buy said book, because I simply don't have that kind of time.

Listen to a smart and savvy, literary agent named, Jessia Faust discuss word count in the video below.

I admire her candor and have queried her company in the past with a mystery novel, but thus far no love match for me at Book Ends Literary, at least not yet... and that is totally fine. I will keep improving my pitch, and revising the manuscript, but before the magic happens, word count is integral and can make or break the deal before you even get started. Going over 100k as a potential debut, is also one of the fastest ways to get your work disqualified in a query letter.

Not everyone feels this way about WC, and any of us could be the exception, but it's tough enough to get a contract. Please think about it.

Watch the video and let me know in the comments below what you think!

If you watched the short video, you will understand better what the traditional publishing world expects. I highly suggest subscribing to this channel on YouTube as well.

Why are some authors not following these professional guidelines?

I believe it was Scribner's in New York City in the early 1900s that began qualifying books by genre, which also led to tighter industry guidelines, word count and reader expectation. Before that there were only two types of books, fiction and nonfiction.

The word count suggestions emerged for a myriad of reasons; to save money, to get to the end as soon as possible and because certain genres have more world building: fantasy, historical, science fiction, there is room for additional length to ensure the setting and atmosphere is clearly etched out.

Indies and self-published authors don't have to follow these suggestions... to some that is exactly the point and the choice. I feel you on the creative aspect, and I'm a rebel too, but...

The important thing that some talented writers out there are missing is the reader experience.

Below are some books I have enjoyed and their word count.

Lord of the Flies By William Golding

60,000 words

Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie

58,00 words

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

78,000 words

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

46,000 words

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

64,000 words

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

95,000 words

1984 by George Orwell

89,000 words

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

47,000 words

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Phillip K. Dick

79,000 words

I used to judge a book by its ability to weigh down my backpack or make my shelf look pretty. I actually still fawn over a beautiful book, as anyone who has read, The Haunted Series or The Irish Phantom Series would certainly agree that aesthetics are important too.

As writers without a department taking care of these things for us, we need to think about marketing, genre expectation, production cost, storytelling, our audience and lastly... creating the most professional product we are able to.

Oh my gosh, I love books. I have always loved books, and in 2022... true-confession y'all, I adore shorter books.

This is a business and as much as I would like to be a literary success, a financial one would certainly be a nice feather to add to the pretty baubles on the writing desk.

Please think about page and word count in a world that has a lower attention span than a goldfish (7 seconds) (humans, 4 seconds.) Yikes!

Good luck with NaNoWriMo and a sincere thanks to Ms. Faust for her wisdom and generosity to the entire writing and reading community.

If you enjoy reading edgy and imaginative stories about heroines,

I have a lot of different projects running wild out in the world and am always thrilled to hear from my readers and to discover a new review. It means more than I can ever say.

Take care out there. Until next time, find your Peace, Love, Hustle and then Read or Write.

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4 opmerkingen

08 nov. 2022

Lots to ponder here, Bibiana, thanks for the video and your perceptive insights. I started to watch the video and will finish it later. If we were discussing this, how many words would we use?? in addition to word count, there is also the factor of word density, isn’t there? Lyrical, literary fiction may slow down my reading, as I savor each lush phrase. And a funny, cheery rom-com with cute dialog can be read at a faster rate. Mysteries and police procedurals can cause you to go back and reread a part. I’ve been enjoying so many good books this year- your’s included!

08 nov. 2022
Reageren op

Thank you so much for reading it Jean! I think keeping these posts under three minutes is a wise choice. 🤣✨ 🎣😜 I’ve read some pretty wild stuff this year too and am planning on wrapping up the year with mostly feel-good, chill out, holiday books. Need that positivity boost! ❣️Happy holidays

and many thanks for your amazing support of my writing. You rock!


Veronica Cline Barton
07 nov. 2022

Excellent points, Bibiana--I agree, pay attention to the word count! Reading time each week is my biggest constraint and I'm deciding on books based upon genre/word count bigtime. Thx for the informative post! 💖👑

07 nov. 2022
Reageren op

Right on! Thank you for replying and reading. Hopefully it will reach the humans it needs to…

Time, especially super-play-reading-for-pleasure-time seems to be dwindling like my attention span. Coincidence?

P.s. this is the goldfish. 🤣❣️

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