Readers in the “Know”
It was recently brought to my attention that there can be some wild variation in terms of the page count length that is listed on various e-retailers websites for any given book. And this can lead to some confusion about the actual length of a book if a reader is trying to determine whether they will be getting a meaty enough read for their money. What format the e-retailer sells determines–in many cases–the page counts reported even though the length of the actual work remains the same across all formats (the same story, same number of chapters etc). In publishing, we always use word counts when discussing length because that is the factor that won’t be affected by other variables like font size, font choice, line spacing. If you make the font small enough, you could print War & Peace on a single sheet of paper. Or you could make the font giant and stretch it to 20,000 pages. It doesn’t make the story itself any shorter or longer.
Unfortunately, Amazon, B&N and other online retailers do not list the word counts of the books on their websites; instead they list, if anything, the page counts. And that number will be different if it is a print book or an ebook in Mobi format or an ebook in ePub format and so on. All for the same story. So I thought I’d answer a few questions about the lengths of my books here since the page counts listed aren’t always a good indicator.
I am a hybrid author. I started out traditionally published, but I have recently started my self-publishing career in hopes of publishing much faster than can be done traditionally. I have found both avenues have perks and downfalls, almost equal in sales.
What does “Print Length” mean on Amazon for e-books?
If an ebook has a print counterpart, Amazon will often elect to list the number of “print pages” for all the formats, including the ebook format. This simply states the number of pages in the print edition which usually has standard font size and spacing. But as you know, if you read on an ebook reader or other device, you can always manipulate the size of the font if you want that would therefore increase the number of pages. Since many of my books do NOT have a print counterpart, the methodology for determining the page count length is much more fuzzy.
Is there such a thing as a standard length for a book?
Not really, but there are some general parameters from genre to genre. In romance, a standard full-length novel is between 80,000 to 100,000 words. That would be about a 350-400 page mass-market sized paperback. All of my novels are this length or longer. Anything shorter would be labeled as a novella or a serial.
How long are your books, really? If checking the page counts listed on a retailer’s website isn’t a good indicator?
The retailer is who decides on the number of pages to list for each book and each retailer seems to have differing methods for determining that page count—especially with e-books. So far, each installment of my Cold Mark serial is 15K-18K words long. KING TOMB and CHOSEN THIEF are each between 80K-90K words long. Since with an e-book, the number of “pages” can always be adjusted by the person reading the book, the page count doesn’t indicate a whole lot.
Getting down to the nitty-gritty
Currently, STOP (Cold Mark) states it is 58 pages on Amazon. Once I download the print version it will – more than likely – state somewhere closer to 90 pages. Also, CHOSEN THIEF (Forever Evermore), shows anywhere from 197-225 pages depending on the e-retailer site. I have been informed by my publisher, Escape Publishing, if it were in print, it would actually be around 400 print pages.
So even with those wide differences on what e-book vs. print state, there is also the interesting variance of print pages for these two works. STOP is 15K words, with an estimated print count of 90 pages. CHOSEN THIEF is 85K words, with only an estimated print count of 400 pages. That math doesn’t make much sense, I know. Some of the difference has to do with font size, line spacing, and book dimensions.
How can a reader really know how long a book is with these variances?
An author will typically state if it’s a short story, novella, or novel. All of these range in word count, which you can see HERE. Or you can ask the author the word count if it’s not listed in the blurb. It is the only way to know for sure how long a work really is. It is really important to me that my readers get a good value for their money and I want to make sure my work is satisfying. The number of pages listed on some of the e-retailer sites are a little mis-representative and I wanted you to know that all my Forever Evermore books are full length novels and The Cold Mark Saga is a serial (short installments).