Does the length of a book really matter?

There seems to be a growing debate regarding the length of books… Are longer books better? Are shorter books, somehow, short-changing readers? Speaking as an author my response to both questions is a straight forward, no! And that is regardless of the genre or the audience I am writing for.

Let me explain. For me, it’s not a case of making a book a certain length – short or long – rather, it’s about making a book the length it needs to be to tell the story I want to tell. Be it short or long; does not matter. Either lengthening a book with unnecessary stuffing to make it artificially longer, or under-writing a book to make it artificially shorter are both unforgiveable crimes in my eyes. In the end, it is the quality of the story being told that counts not its length.

I do feel for the reader who is so enamoured of a short book that they are sorely disappointed when it comes to its end, wishing that it could go on and on… However, all good things must come to an end! And as long as that end is in the right place for the story being told, I’m happy with that. Because I also feel for the reader who struggles through the pages of an over-written over-long novel, desperately wanting to know how the story turns out, but only wishing that it would hurry on up and get there.

Once upon a time, when all books were printed, there were good practical reasons for artificially making certain types of book a certain length. For example, to physically make and bind a printed hardback book at a particular size meant an exact number of pages being needed to make the exercise economic. No printer or publisher can afford to print blank pages or to throw away excessive amounts of waste paper. Of course, today, with modern printing techniques and the benefit of the ebook revolution this is no longer a good argument.

So, certainly, the length of a book matters… I could not agree more. Every book has to be the right length! And that is all part of the author’s craft.

Below are my shortest and longest fantasy books to-date. (Suggested readership: Older Children/Young Adult )

FayTooth and Claw

Kobo   AmazonUK   Barnes&Noble

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2 thoughts on “Does the length of a book really matter?

  1. I completely agree! I’ve struggled with writing a series and trying to keep all of the books around the same length, but some times they just have to end where they want.

    • I appreciate your comment Sara, and agree totally. Of the two examples of my own work I gave in my blog, ‘Fay’ is an extremely short 22,000 words and ‘Tooth and Claw’ 38,000 words. But both books are exactly the length they needed to be, and fortunately my publishers agreed with me. By the way, good luck with the book series.

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