Once upon a time, bigger was better. We’re referring to books, of course, and the fact that authors from centuries past typically got paid for quantity over quality. In today’s reading climate, “bigger” may actually hurt your chances of getting published and/or your success in sales. If you’re adding yet another chapter to your already 720-page manuscript, this one is for you. So, how many pages is a good book?
Word to the Wise. Although word count is typically a better metric of book-length, (since the number of pages can vary depending on formatting, font size, and illustrations), for the purposes of answering the question “How many pages is a good book?” we’ll assume 25,000 words equals roughly 100 pages.
The Era of Non-Fiction
It’s never been a better time to be a non-fiction writer. Self-improvement book sales are at an all-time high and memoirs are on the rise. Introspection is trendier than ever, and with the world finally waking up to the importance of having diverse stories and perspectives, you no longer have to be famous to publish—you just need an interesting story or angle.
Here’s Why Size Matters For Non-Fiction Books
Having one big “megabook” is a thing of the past. When it comes to non-fiction, concision is key. Readers have developed an appreciation for specialists who dive deep into a topic rather than scratch the surface of multiple topics. Your goal as a non-fiction writer is to understand your target audience’s question or issue and then resolve that question or issue as succinctly and directly as possible. Here are some reasons why you’re better off keeping it short.
How many pages is a good book? Let’s look at sales trends. The average length of the New York Times’ bestseller decreased by 11.8% from 2011 to 2021. While in the first half of the 2010s, books with 400+ pages stayed 4.4 weeks longer on the bestsellers list than their counterparts, this trend reversed in the second half of the decade, as books with less than 400 pages stayed on the list for 1.9 weeks longer between 2016 and 2021.
Attention Spans Are Shorter Than Ever
Attention spans are shorter than ever. Non-fiction readers lose interest if they catch you repeating yourself. A shorter book means you’ve synthesized your thoughts in the most efficient way possible.
Keep your writing focused by having these four things at the forefront of your mind as you write.
Reader Engagement Is Essential
If you want your book to work for you, you need to be intentional about how you want the reader to engage with you beyond the book. A good book will have strong calls to action for reader engagement, which is a huge part of your marketing/business strategy.
Target Audience Is Key. We’re not here to tell you all books have to be short—it all depends on your readers’ needs and the topic at hand. Consider, for example, an 8.5×11, 300+ page workbook designed to be an ongoing resource for caregivers, versus a 5×8, 100-page book about chronic hoarding. The target audience plays a huge part in determining book shape and length.
How Many Pages Is a Good Book?
Here are the brass tacks:
- Non-fiction books are best between 100 to 250 pages (20,000-60,000 words). They should rarely be more than 250 or 300 pages (of course there are always exceptions depending on your target audience)
- Memoirs can be longer, between 240-520 pages (60,000-130,000 words)
Word to the Wise: It will be difficult finding a publisher that will publish a manuscript of 180,000 words or more. If you are lucky enough to find one, expect the script to be severely truncated.
Why Size Matters For Writers
Keeping your writing succinct is great not only for readers. Having a curtailed manuscript is better for writers, too.
Save Time and Money on Editing
Having your manuscript edited by at least one professional editor is a crucial step to getting published. It can also be one of the most costly. The shorter your manuscript, the fewer hours your editor will need, and the more time and money you’ll save.
A Note On Censorship. While cutting and shifting content is normal for any editing process, it’s important to make sure your publisher isn’t censoring your work through their editing process. Here are four questions to ask potential publishers when choosing the right publisher for you and your book.
Perhaps the most obvious point of all is actual publication costs. The less paper and ink you need, the lower the costs of mass production. It’s all about keeping cost-per-unit to a minimum (including storage fees for the books you sell at speaking events).
Here’s What To Do With That Extra Material
Now that you’re able to answer the question “how many pages is a good book?”, we have some good news about all that extra material. Remember, writing a book is all about strategy. Beyond just selling books, you’ll generate new clients, press, and media opportunities. You’ll get paid more at speaking gigs and can charge higher consulting rates.
Just because your content gets cut from your manuscript doesn’t mean it’s not worth using somewhere else. Here are some ways you can use content that you don’t have the space for in the book:
Remember, your book is just one step to establishing your brand. Offering supplemental videos allows readers to continue their relationship with you after they’ve finished the last page.
Email Autoresponder Sequences
Autoresponders are automated email messages sent out after a reader subscribes to your email list. That way, readers can learn about who you are and what you have to offer without you having to keep up with social media platforms every day.
Free Courses and Programs
Offering a supplemental course or online program is a great way to keep the conversation going, as well as build goodwill with your readers so they are more likely to continue investing in your future publications.
Publish With PYP
As a professional hybrid publisher, Publish Your Purpose publishes high-quality books that meet (and exceed!) industry standards. We publish authors with diverse backgrounds, life experiences, and perspectives who are making an impact in the world. When you publish with us, your book will not only be respected worldwide, but it will also be eligible for reviews by traditional review outlets. Learn more or publish with us.