What kind of a reader are you? Do you prefer books pertaining to a series, or do you like short stories?
I have a fetish for long books. When I was young , my criteria for browsing books was: On to the shelf of whatever genre I was in the mood for; Check the bindings of the longest books; read the titles of those long books; Pick the ones that sounds promising.
That’s right, I read the blurbs last.
And if the title had a number at the end indicating the book was part of a series, so much better. What can I say, I’m greedy this way.
Now that I’m limited to digital books only, I check the kb of the book first, then I check the number of pages, then I check to see if it’s part of a series. I did say I had a fetish, remember?
This of course, doesn’t mean I don’t read shorter works, or stand alones. I actually do read a lot of stand alones, most of which are from the romance/suspense genre.
But why long? Certainly because I have this insatiable appetite for storytelling, but it’s also because I like to get to know my protagonists. When the book isn’t that long, I’m left with an unsatisfied feeling, and I get restless.
When it’s short but still part of a series, this means I’ll get to see more of them, hear about their struggles, their worlds, and interactions with others… you get my point. It’s sadder when the series is over, I know, but isn’t the journey that counts?
That’s my opinion as a reader.
As a writer, I was shocked to learn that books for young adults have a specific word count constraint. When did that happen? Ideally, books targeted at teens and young adults should range between 55k and 80k, with a little more or less being acceptable.
I’d have never known that, by the way, if an agent hadn’t pointed this out to me earlier in the year. With Heir of Ashes around 130k words, there was no way I could snip 50k to accommodate that agent without changing the overall of the story.
Still, I did pick up Heir of Ashes and started cutting words and sentences out. By the time I was done, Heir of Ashes was 8k+ words lighter.
I could, of course, divide the book into two stories, but I figured that as much as the idea pleased me, I was not one of a kind. Maybe the average count for books targeting teens and young adults ranged between 55 and 80k words, but there are always the ones who want less, or more, like me.
I remember when I first decided to step out of the closet, I read that a book is too long when it’s over 160k words. Apparently that had been a very broad, general view, or the criteria has changed since. When do you think long is too long?