Transitioning from traditionally published to being an Indie Author has already brought many eye opening ventures in the month since all this began. From the beauty of being able to directly communicate with my cover artist, to the myriad ways to handle communicating with your mailing list during book launch.
In the past few days, I’ve spent a ton of time thinking about word count and ideal book length.
When I was submitting to agents and publishers, there was a very set word count that was the safe zone for each genre. I ended up very lucky on that front. The natural length my books want to fall at is between 60-70,000 words, which just so happens to fit nicely in the window for young adult books and for the urban fantasy/paranormal genre.
I knew that my books were falling in the window, so I didn’t spend too much time considering why the window had been set.
In burying myself in podcasts, books, and delving deep into the blogosphere, I’ve learned a ton about why the big publishers prefer those lengths, why some authors like to go longer for Kindle Unlimited, and other things that big fancy sites like Writers Digest explain. But I’ve done a bit of self-discovery as to why that length feels so good to me as an author.
I’m a binge reader by nature. I went through the entire Throne of Glass series in a month. I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in a day. If I’m really into a story, I don’t want to set it down and walk away for a few days to do things (finding food, going to work, etc.) that being a responsible adult requires me to do.
A 60,000-word book is going to be in the 200-ish page realm. That length is perfect for me to binge. If I have a whole day on the beach, I can read the book in one sitting. If I’m having a typical workweek, I can read the book in one week’s worth of stolen time. I don’t have to worry about the reading time stretching into the one month range for a single book in a series.
Because once I have to stop reading a book for a few days—if I’m in tech rehearsal for a new show, or family’s come to town, or I’m in crunch time for edits—I lose momentum.
I’ve been trying to finish the final book in the Mistborn series for more than a month. It’s a great book, but I’ll make a hundred pages of progress, then have a busy few days with no leisure reading. Make it another fifty pages, have to set it down for another few days. I want to know what happens so badly. But a bookmark at rest tends to stay at rest.
I want to tear through a world and come out the other end panting and emotionally exhausted from delving into the characters so deeply.
Of course, there are the exceptions to my 60,000-word peak—Harry Potter being the prime example of my willingness to stop eating and blinking to get through the book—but it’s good to really understand why I’ve found that happy place.
What length fits best for your binge reading needs?
What was the last book you binged so hard you forgot to eat?
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