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Everything is getting fatter

samuelmichaels

Out of curiosity, I checked SOL for stories longer than 10 MB. There are five. Note that a normal novel is about 500-600 KB, so these are all truly massive. Four of the five have been updated or concluded in the last 18 months; even though SOL has been in existence for at least 16 years.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@samuelmichaels

Did that include graphics or just text?
Stories like Six Times a Day have a high graphic content.

Ernest Bywater

Arlene and Jeff - 15,197 kb and incomplete - discussed in other threads about many chapters being boring copy and pastes entries - no personal experience on that as I've not read it.

Conductor - 12,975 kb and incomplete - was originally as 10 books but recently all merged together.

Deja Vu Ascendancy - 18, 667 kb complete

Six times a Day - 23,666 kb complete

Wolves and Dragons of the Blood: The Beginning - 12,897 kb complete.

Ernest Bywater

theres 16 stories in the 5 MB to 10 MB bracket. With 8 of them not complete yet.

Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

@ustourist

Sizes reported by the system are for the text itself. Images are never counted.

ustourist

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Thanks for the clarification.

samuelmichaels

@Lazeez Jiddan (Webmaster)

Sizes reported by the system are for the text itself. Images are never counted.

I hand-created STaD ebook with pictures. I think it was way over 100 MB. Need a powerful ereader for that!

Michael Loucks

There are some multi-book series that beat the 10MB mark. Blue Dragon's "Ordinary Sex Life" series comes immediately to mind.

For my own writing, the AWLL/AWLL2 series is 26.8MB (around 4.5 million words) and is ongoing. It just made more sense to break it up into 13 (so far) books.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Michael Loucks

For my own writing, the AWLL/AWLL2 series is 26.8MB (around 4.5 million words) and is ongoing. It just made more sense to break it up into 13 (so far) books.

Even broken into 13 books, that comes out to 350,000 words per book. Given the average for most novels of 60,000 to 90,000 words, those are all incredibly long books! I've got to wonder just how much is bloatware (text which doesn't actively drive the story).

I've written some long books in my time, the longest being 38 chapters and consisting of 252,000 words. However, I finally reexamined my writing style, cutting it back substantially in order to get a handle on my verbosity (talking about made-up words). I'm now increasing my chapter sizes again, but they're nowhere near as long as they once were, and I've never come close to the totals you're talking about.

SOL readers prefer longer chapters (so they can read more on a weekly posting), but there's a point where such a tendency is counter productive.

Michael Loucks

@Crumbly Writer

I've got to wonder just how much is bloatware (text which doesn't actively drive the story).


You'll have to ask my readers. I've had a few people ask me to write more 'condensed' books over the past two years, but those are few and far between.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


SOL readers prefer longer chapters (so they can read more on a weekly posting), but there's a point where such a tendency is counter productive.


Is that 60K to 90K words the mean or the median. and the average varies by genre. According to thewritepractice.com, the ideal length for science fiction and fantasy is 110K words.

There are however plenty of dead tree published novels longer than those averages.

Here is a list of the longest novels

Battlefield Earth (450K) doesn't even make the list. The top six are all over 1 million words and the longest ever is 2 million.

I would suggest that the traditional publishers' current preference for shorter novels is driven more by cost savings than consumer demand.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Michael Loucks

You'll have to ask my readers. I've had a few people ask me to write more 'condensed' books over the past two years, but those are few and far between.

That's why I was relating my own experiences with trying to constrain my tendency to pontificate. I found that, over time, it was limiting my stories, though it takes some time to master writing shorter stories (ex. I ended up cutting more character development than I'd planned, which I'm now addressing).

Replies:   Michael Loucks
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Individual genres always have individual size restrictions. In each case, though, the 'phenomenal' authors are given much greater latitude than the newbies trying to break into the field. (Battlefield Earth is an exception, as he marketed the book himself, building his own market for the book at a time when that hadn't been done before.)

Book lengths are always cost related, though it also deals with what readers will accept. Paper cost isn't the only limitation. Romance used to be one of the shorter book sizes, though it grown over time (probably helped by romantic sci-fi and historical romances), so these are hardly hard and fast rules.

I'm not saying that exceptions exist, I was just pointing out, that if each of your 13 books is over 1M words, you may want to examine how you're telling stories as it's largely symptomatic of a larger problem. However, it took many, many books before I decided to review my own writing styles, so my comments are a simple suggestion, not a condemnation.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Book lengths are always cost related, though it also deals with what readers will accept.


There are many books that have gone past 400K words that have been commercial successes.

I rather doubt that the traditional publishers have any idea what readers will accept in terms of novel length.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  Not_a_ID
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

I rather doubt that the traditional publishers have any idea what readers will accept in terms of novel length.

Whenever I first attempt writing in a new genre, I research the field to determine what readers expect. Story size and story type are two of those elements. You can go over those limits, but as always, you do so at your own risk. If most books are shorter than normal (other genres), then it's probably more a matter of individual taste (such as mysteries being short who-done-it reads rather than extensive psychological journeys into the bad guy's minds).

Again, I'm not saying you should write what you want, only that writing that many stories which are so far off the normal distribution might be a warning sign (i.e. it's an indication the story isn't determining the story length).

While past successes help justify repeating trends, it also makes reaching new readers more difficult (but not impossible).

Replies:   Dominions Son
LonelyDad

Don't forget that Lord of the Rings was supposed to be one book, but he couldn't find a publisher willing to print it that way, so it was broken into three separate books.

Michael Loucks

@Crumbly Writer

I found that, over time, it was limiting my stories, though it takes some time to master writing shorter stories (ex. I ended up cutting more character development than I'd planned, which I'm now addressing).


With a couple of hundred characters over the course of the 13 books (which span 1978-1989), even limited character development takes up a LOT of space. :-)

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Michael Loucks

With a couple of hundred characters over the course of the 13 books (which span 1978-1989), even limited character development takes up a LOT of space. :-)

Tell me about it! What's more, you need to keep providing updates on all the characters not seen in some time, so no one ever really disappears from the story, other than the characters so unimportant that no one cares about.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

only that writing that many stories which are so far off the normal distribution might be a warning sign (i.e. it's an indication the story isn't determining the story length).


Sorry, I don't buy it. that "normal" distribution is an artificial construct created by the traditional publishers.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Dominions Son


Sorry, I don't buy it. that "normal" distribution is an artificial construct created by the traditional publishers.


And the super-huge ongoing series is an artificial construct created by SOL based almost exclusively on weekly downloads (roughly only a chapter or two at a time). Translating those types of stories into something you could sell or market to someone else, would prove extremely difficult. I realize that few of us are interested in profiting from what we write, but you also need to be aware that we're a niche market, one which pays diddly, so you can't expect to take your local fame for writing 1 to 13 megaword stories and parlay it into anything else than a local SOL phenomenon.

Even assuming the story is phenomenal! (generally a stretch, at best), most readers have jobs/families/responsibilities and prefer something they can read over a couple of days before returning to their lives, rather than never-ending stories they can return to a couple times every single week for years at a stretch.

Again, I'm not knocking your ability to tell that kind of story. I'm only highlighting that it's not a skill you can transfer anywhere else.

Note: Switch, I'm curious, have you encountered these megaword word stories on any other story site, and do they form anything other than a local feature, or am I completely missing something?

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

so you can't expect to take your local fame for writing 1 to 13 megaword stories and parlay it into anything else than a local SOL phenomenon.


I'm not suggesting that a multi-megaword story would be marketable.

However, there are many examples of novels in the 300K - 500K range that have enjoyed significant commercial success in the dead tree world.

On top of that, e-books at least partially break the connection between story length and publishing costs.

most readers have jobs/families/responsibilities and prefer something they can read over a couple of days before returning to their lives, rather than never-ending stories they can return to a couple times every single week for years at a stretch.


You know this how exactly? I'm not primarily talking about the never ending stories.

You have no way of knowing (and neither do any of the so called experts in the dead tree publishing industry) that those people wouldn't be just as willing to read a story that takes a week or two reading at the same rate.

As to the never ending stories, that is exactly the model that TV drama series follow. The last I checked, they are quite popular.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

On top of that, e-books at least partially break the connection between story length and publishing costs.

Except, the ebook market has yet to prove it has much lasting potential. Despite initial promising results, over the past several years, traditionally published books have vastly oversold ebooks. Thus the 'no-size restrictions need apply' model has consistently underperformed the 'let's keep printing costs to a minimum' model. That says a lot, especially since the cheaper, heavily packed stories undersell the well-written/edited 'novel' sized print books.

That's not to say that there's no future for ebooks, or for the humongous stories on SOL, but they remain in the majority of the reading public and remain 'not ready for prime-time'. Thus declaring that 'the old rules no longer apply' is a bit short sighted. Readers continue to prefer the old style of writing. Generally, a well-edited story, revised to eliminate unnecessary details, will perform better than a 'no-holds bared' story which includes every thought the author initially threw at it.

Again, I'm not picking on any particular author, or their writing choices, but such humongous stories remain a minority for very good reasons, and shorter, more concise books continue to outperform their larger, cheaper brethren.

One thing I have to admit, though, the fact each story has a distinct beginning, end and story arch speaks for the effort put into it. Too often, the never-ending serial tends to keep rolling, regardless of the story.

As to the never ending stories, that is exactly the model that TV drama series follow. The last I checked, they are quite popular.

Tell me, just how long do those drama series continue for? Eventually, they all run out of steam and get shut down, just as most stories run out of steam and readers become exhausted reading them. They key is keeping them intense, yet knowing when to call it quits and cut your losses.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


I'm not suggesting that a multi-megaword story would be marketable.


The Wheel of Time Series would fit the megaword description, and that's printed by a major publisher - but it's also split into about ten books, despite being one huge story. So there is a minor market out there.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

One aspect of story I think is not being looked at closely enough is: The essential aspect of making the story size fit the story being written. I sometimes think the genre story sizes are more driven by the amount of story in the story being told. Having written 200,000 plus word sagas and 50,000 word novels as well as novellas and short stories, I know I don't write to a story size, but do write to the story being told. The closest I've come to deciding a story is big enough is when I cut a story off partway through what I have planned for it, then it because the story has reached a natural break point and I see a change of direction coming up in the rest of the story arc, so I cut there and leave the rest for a sequel.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

The Wheel of Time Series would fit the megaword description, and that's printed by a major publisher - but it's also split into about ten books, despite being one huge story. So there is a minor market out there.

I wasn't complaining about series, as each book is treated as a separate entity (i.e. each book has it's own story arch, even though the overall story continues between each new book). Instead, I was suggesting that, when each of your stories is over 1,000,000 words, you may want to consider revising your story to make it more easily digestible. Besides, each book is typically spaced a few years apart, giving readers time to anticipate more.

I also wasn't saying you can't publish long books, only that if each book is that long, it might be a warning sign.

However, I suspect I've been ranting about the same issue for way too long, so I'll quit. I suspect everyone gets my point, whether they accept my premise or not.

On a side note, I eventually decided that publishing smaller books would help me sell more books, though that premise proved false. The shorter books have (mostly) gotten better reviews, but they don't always sell better, and the scores have dropped over time. Readers like to get lost in their books, so there's always a magic line between not-enough and too much detail in a story.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

One aspect of story I think is not being looked at closely enough is: The essential aspect of making the story size fit the story being written. I sometimes think the genre story sizes are more driven by the amount of story in the story being told.

Good point. In my case, that's why I repackaged my "Catalyst" series, in order to make the story flow better by making each separate book more tightly focused on a single central conflict.

On a side note, it seems we might move this discussion of story size to a new thread concerning the value of revisions to make stories more focused (pro and con).

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I was suggesting that, when each of your stories is over 1,000,000 words, you may want to consider revising your story to make it more easily digestible. Besides, each book is typically spaced a few years apart, giving readers time to anticipate more.


A couple of years back I was helping with a major revision of Deja Vu Ascendancy to help get it ready to be printed. There were very major cuts to the story from what's posted here. The bulk of the technical and maths stuff was pulled and stuck into a separate book for those wanting the tech data, and a few sub-plots were pulled because they didn't really progress the main story enough to leave them in. What was left was being split into four or five books, I can't remember which. We were working on the third book when things had to stop due to work at his end, then my system got taken by the gestapo, and I don't have his email now. But the reworked story was much better flowing and a nicer read than the original. Heck, I couldn't tell where the non-technical cuts were made just by reading the story. - Thus it fits what you're saying about a long story may need a good looking at.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Thus the 'no-size restrictions need apply' model has consistently underperformed the 'let's keep printing costs to a minimum' model. That says a lot, especially since the cheaper, heavily packed stories undersell the well-written/edited 'novel' sized print books.


I see little evidence that the 'no-size restrictions need apply' has even been tried.

In looking for e-books that aren't copies of a dead-tree book from a regular publisher, I find a lot of short stories and novellas trying to sell at paperback novel prices, but I have yet to find a single saga length e-book.

Perhaps there is little market for such books, but it's equally likely that there is a market that is going unfilled.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

but I have yet to find a single saga length e-book.


What size are you looking for, as regards to word count?

Replies:   Dominions Son
samuelmichaels

@Dominions Son

I see little evidence that the 'no-size restrictions need apply' has even been tried.

In looking for e-books that aren't copies of a dead-tree book from a regular publisher, I find a lot of short stories and novellas trying to sell at paperback novel prices, but I have yet to find a single saga length e-book.

Perhaps there is little market for such books, but it's equally likely that there is a market that is going unfilled.


I have seen several large ebooks from SOL and Lit being broken up into several novel-length ebooks on Amazon (e.g. from Aroslav). There are several reasons, including pricing (people won't pay $15 for an ebooks from an unknown author, and charging $2.99 for a million words seems too low); part is intimidation -- most readers don't want to invest weeks of reading time before seeing some sort of closure.

There are a number of indignant reviews on Amazon where readers felt the ebook was broken off without any conclusion, presumably to induce the purchase of the next volume. I am assuming some of these are intentional cliffhangers, but others are just an artifact of breaking a million-word saga into novel-length ebooks.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


What size are you looking for, as regards to word count?


Edited

I'm not really looking for a specific word count, though I tend to prefer longer stories.

I read mostly science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance.

Science fiction and fantasy are the genres with the highest average word count. And most of the Paranormal romance I've read is around that same length.

I've read the Lord of the Rings (480K) and Battlefield Earth (450K).

I would really like to see more stuff in the 300-500K word range.

I started looking at the work counts for Kindle books on Amazon, because I bought one priced at 5.99 that sounded good from the blurb but after downloading it onto my Kindle it turned out to be a stand alone short story under 2K words.

Sorry, I'm not going to knowingly pay money for a story that short.

You want my money, I want 25-50K words / $1.00

Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

I rather doubt that the traditional publishers have any idea what readers will accept in terms of novel length.


From comments I recall reading from a published SciFi author in the past(Orson Scott Card, IIRC. I think he was speaking, err writing, about Xenocide). The thing that typically drives novel length constraints for publishers, at least prior to E-books(as that's when he was commenting).

The constraints were more about:
"Can we fit this into a ('normal form factor') trade paperback?" In which case they may play with font size, type set, and a few other things to get the book to fit within a given physical form factor.

"Will there be 'problems' with the form factor of the book itself if published this way? What will it cost to print a 'good product' in that form factor?"

So in the above respects, when it comes down to print novels, I think you'd find that standardization regarding printing(making it cheaper per book, when you're not having to constantly reconfigure the press going from one title to the next) and the "reliability" of the bindings on the book itself helped drive publisher preferences when it came to mass market books.

Sure they could release a 1,400 page book. But to have it FIT within a particular form factor, or even come remotely close to it. They may have to change to paper stock they're using, or use a more advanced binding method, so on and so forth. All of which are likely to increase costs. Those increased costs would then be passed on to the customer, who may be unwilling to pay it. So thus publishers are less inclined to take risks on uncertain titles.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

The thing that typically drives novel length constraints for publishers, at least prior to E-books(as that's when he was commenting).


Yes, I am aware of those factors. But those aren't market driven constraints. Those are Ford (I'll sell you a car in any color you want as long as it's black) constraints.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Thus it fits what you're saying about a long story may need a good looking at.

That's why I keep emphasizing the need to revise once once has a full first draft, though that leaves those posting by the chapter in the lurch. But once you know where the story is going, you have a better feel for which story elements belong and which don't add much to the overall story and you can purge the subplots to make the story more focused. If nothing else, it would help those who post by chapter (posting as they write them) to do the revision after they finish the story, so the end product will be easier to read and result in higher scores in the long run (less sections which drag on, or which don't flow from one scene to the next).

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

In looking for e-books that aren't copies of a dead-tree book from a regular publisher, I find a lot of short stories and novellas trying to sell at paperback novel prices, but I have yet to find a single saga length e-book.

Perhaps there is little market for such books, but it's equally likely that there is a market that is going unfilled.

I've got to admit, I fit into that sub-category. Although I don't sell a lot of copies, my fans appreciate my longer, more detailed stories. They especially appreciate that I write 'adult fiction' that isn't dumbed down so no one gets lost. Although I draw limits (I keep my chapter counts down to around 20some, and chapter lengths under 10,000 (at a max.), I still prefer longer stories.

Crumbly Writer

@samuelmichaels

There are a number of indignant reviews on Amazon where readers felt the ebook was broken off without any conclusion, presumably to induce the purchase of the next volume. I am assuming some of these are intentional cliffhangers, but others are just an artifact of breaking a million-word saga into novel-length ebooks.

That's why it's always essential to consider each book as a whole, complete with their own story arcs, conflicts and resolutions and themes (what each book conveys which the others in the series don't). That helps you break them at sensible and satisfying points. As far as cliffhangers are concerned, you generally don't need them between books, as even though the book's particular conflict is resolved, the more expansive series conflict remains, and reminding readers of the challenges the character faces going forward is generally enough to drive the story. Ending a story with a cliffhanger is admitting you don't think the story is strong enough to keep the reader hooked. By working with bigger themes, you can step away from blatant cliffhangers.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Science fiction and fantasy are the genres with the highest average word count. And most of the Paranormal romance I've read is around that same length.

Again, that's largely because they take longer because they're building complete universes, trying to make them sensible and common-sensicle.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

Sure they could release a 1,400 page book. But to have it FIT within a particular form factor, or even come remotely close to it. They may have to change to paper stock they're using, or use a more advanced binding method, so on and so forth. All of which are likely to increase costs. Those increased costs would then be passed on to the customer, who may be unwilling to pay it. So thus publishers are less inclined to take risks on uncertain titles.

Even with ebooks, which are theoretically 'free' to include as much test/graphics as you want, you end up paying a LOT more having a 450,000 word saga professionally edited than you would a simple 60,000 to 90,000 word novel. Not only that, but the time investment often doesn't justify the reduced income.

On the other hand, we used to have an SOL author who specialized in publishing 10,000 word books on Amazon (a novel is considered anything over 60,000, while a novellete is around 30,000). At only 10,000 words, he claimed to earn $100,000 a year from Amazon (almost impossible for most of us writing 150,000 word books), but 10,000 words is little more than a short story, at best.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

but 10,000 words is little more than a short story, at best.


And it's a ripoff at anything over $0.99

To make $100K that way, he's either tricking people into paying novel prices for a standalone short story or he's selling 200K copies.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Again, that's largely because they take longer because they're building complete universes, trying to make them sensible and common-sensicle.


You also get more epic stories in those genres.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

To make $100K that way, he's either tricking people into paying novel prices for a standalone short story or he's selling 200K copies.

It's easy to crank out hundreds of books of only 10,000 words each. If each is priced at between $0.99 to $1.99, no one is investing much. What's more, since he's being paid by Amazon (from Prime subscription reads, as opposed to being paid directly by the reader), it got around the incredibly low payscale Amazon Prime offers. Essentially, the only ones making money off Amazon Prime are authors writing those short stories. Most major authors (and traditional publishers) won't even consider submitting works to Amazon Prime.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

You also get more epic stories in those genres.

If you invest 30,000 words building a universe, you want to get something out of it, so you tend to invest more time into developing the world you've already built.

Romances are easier. Couple meets, they fall in love, they argue, then resolve their differences. Simple, neat and complete. When you have to explain how the physics work and how artificial intelligence operates, it take more time.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

If each is priced at between $0.99 to $1.99, no one is investing much.


Personally, I wouldn't pay $1.99 for less than 50K words.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Personally, I wouldn't pay $1.99 for less than 50K words.

That was something else he did, which I felt queasy about. He's offer the first such book in a series for free, then up the price of each sequel (since they were all one incomplete book) for $0.99 or $1.99. However, that wasn't honest, as no one actually purchased his books. Instead, people would read them for free on Amazon Prime, who'd then pay the author $.74 regardless of how long the book was. Thus they'd pay the same if it was 2,000 words or 1,000,000.

Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son


I started looking at the work counts for Kindle books on Amazon, because I bought one priced at 5.99 that sounded good from the blurb but after downloading it onto my Kindle it turned out to be a stand alone short story under 2K words.

Sorry, I'm not going to knowingly pay money for a story that short.


I agree with you about paying that out for such a short story. Although the bulk of my work is in the novel length of 40,000 to 60,000 words I do have some on the 100,000 to 275,000 word length. I sell through Lulu for a number of reason I won't go into here, but the majority of my e-books (e-pubs) all sell for $5.95 each and the majority of the print versions are $9.95 each. The few exception are the longer items with multiple stories like the anthologies, and some I have for free as e-pubs and print costs for the paperback version. This is because I settled on a price point for a novel regardless of size. The other thing I do is include the number of words in the synopsis of the story on the lulu website, so potential readers KNOW how long it is before they buy.

With the short stories and novellas I group them together to have over 40,000 words in a publication or I make it a freebie. Thus the 273,000 word Finding Home is at $5.95 for the e-pub, the same as my 50,000 word novels.

Maybe you need to look further afield than Amazon. Mind you, all my completed works (except 1) are available free on SoL as well. And that exception will be posted when I finish revising it.

Crumbly Writer

The issue is the Amazon Prime model, where authors don't get to choose how much money their books earn since readers are only borrowing the books (according to Amazon). That's why few publishers offer books on Prime, though pornographers love it, as they can offer tales just long enough to beat one out with little effort on the part of the author (it's difficult including much plot in 10,000 words!).

Like Ernest, I also list my word counts (at least on my webpage), as I've had several readers specifically comment on how much story they get for the price.

Replies:   samuelmichaels
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

Personally, I wouldn't pay $1.99 for less than 50K words.


For the benefit of foreigners like myself in making comparisons, how much does a typical US tabloid newspaper cost?

AJ

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


For the benefit of foreigners like myself in making comparisons, how much does a typical US tabloid newspaper cost?


A serious paper or a celebrity gossip paper?

Most of them both serious and gossip seem to be around $0.75 retail price.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son


A serious paper or a celebrity gossip paper?

Most of them both serious and gossip seem to be around $0.75 retail price.


Sunday Papers can run into the $1.25+ range easily in many places, and has since the 1990's. But the daily paper still normally runs at less than a dollar.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

unday Papers can run into the $1.25+ range easily in many places, and has since the 1990's. But the daily paper still normally runs at less than a dollar.


The question was specifically about tabloid papers, not broadsheet papers. Aside from the celebrity scandal/gossip rags, there aren't a lot of tabloid format papers in the US.

The tabloids (including the few serious tabloids) do not have an significantly larger Sunday edition, so no higher Sunday price.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking
Updated:

@Dominions Son

My point was in relation to how much entertainment you might get from a tabloid compared to a 50 Kword novel. However, the price of US tabloids is so cheap that it could be argued either way. Personally I feel that $1.99 isn't excessive for an author you can trust to have written a good story, but for an unknown quantity it's equivocal.

AJ

Dominions Son
Updated:

@awnlee jawking


Personally I feel that $1.99 isn't excessive for an author you can trust to have written a good story


Edited: typos.

I feel differently. No matter how well written, a short story is not worth that much to me.

Dominions Son

@awnlee jawking

My point was in relation to how much entertainment you might get from a tabloid compared to a 50 Kword novel.


I don't buy tabloids at all. I wouldn't buy any newspaper for entertainment.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

I mean 'entertainment' in the sense of non-earning use of time. Even the trashiest UK tabloids make a reasonable stab at presenting the latest news in an easily digestible form.

AJ

samuelmichaels

@Crumbly Writer

he issue is the Amazon Prime model, where authors don't get to choose how much money their books earn since readers are only borrowing the books (according to Amazon). That's why few publishers offer books on Prime, though pornographers love it, as they can offer tales just long enough to beat one out with little effort on the part of the author (it's difficult including much plot in 10,000 words!).

If you mean Kindle Unlimited, I believe the new model is to pay authors by the page read, not by "book". It was changed a while ago, possibly in reaction to authors publishing 40-page "books".

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@samuelmichaels

If you mean Kindle Unlimited, I believe the new model is to pay authors by the page read, not by "book". It was changed a while ago, possibly in reaction to authors publishing 40-page "books".

You're right (it's been a while since I've discussed the topic: Kindle Unlimited is directly tied to making your books available to Kindle Prime users).

While the change was intended to curtail the obvious abuses, authors like the one being discussed (publishing multiple 10,000 word 'books' continue to be the only authors I've personally spoken with who are making a 'living' (six figure incomes) from publishing on Amazon. For most authors, those who only publishing one book every couple years, or even a couple books a year, the payout doesn't justify the book giveaway program (which was designed to promote sales of Amazon goods by making shipping free).

Note: I've only tried Amazon Prime once, and my income wasn't even worth mentioning. Essentially, a couple people read the entire book, and I received less than a single buck. I don't think I'll try it again.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

While the change was intended to curtail the obvious abuses, authors like the one being discussed (publishing multiple 10,000 word 'books' continue to be the only authors I've personally spoken with who are making a 'living' (six figure incomes) from publishing on Amazon.


He may be making a living, but unless you've seen the royalty checks, don't be so quick to buy the "six figure income" claim.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

He may be making a living, but unless you've seen the royalty checks, don't be so quick to buy the "six figure income" claim.

He was pretty insistent that the authors here take him seriously, so it's possibly he was bullshitting us, but if so, I'd think even less of him than I already do (as far as I can tell, he was never much of an author).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

as far as I can tell, he was never much of an author


All the more reason to be skeptical of his six figure income claim.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

As an aside, there was a footnote in the news a few months ago that someone named John Lock (sp?) was the first to sell a million books on Amazon.

No, I'd never heard of him either.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

named John Lock (sp?) was the first to sell a million books on Amazon.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Locke_(author)

never heard of him or any of his books or his publisher, but a little research finds:

http://www.theindependentpublishingmagazine.com/2014/11/telemachus-press-reviewed.html

so he pays a few thousand for a promotional service for his books, it seems. Try as I might, I can't find anything to say how many words are in his books. The closest I get is they seem to be around 250 pages of a kindle, does anyone know how many words you get on a kindle page?

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@Ernest Bywater

Correction - I believe they claimed John Locke (thanks) was the first self-published author to sell a million.

AJ

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@awnlee jawking

was the first self-published author


since he was paying thousands to a promotional company to push his book, I'm not sure you should call him a self-publisher because he went through a publishing house he pays to push the book.

Capt. Zapp

@Dominions Son

his six figure income claim.


Could it be he was including the numbers after the decimal point?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Capt. Zapp

Could it be he was including the numbers after the decimal point?

He was mostly angry that all of us on the forum couldn't figure out that we were employing a failing strategy, and couldn't understand why we didn't all copy his 'successful' business model (publishing 10,000 word porno novels).

We kept telling him, that's not how we write, and he'd respond "then just cut your humongous books into little pieces you can give away to attract interest in the rest of the story".

Needless to say, he didn't have many converts, and few of us earn any money on our Indie publishings. :(

OldNYer
Updated:

I cain't stands no more. Lincoln wrote the extremely short Gettysburg Address on old school paper (read non digital). The brevity hardly indicates the quality of the words and yet we bat around word counts like it gives some indication of quality or price point of a published work. We can have 10k words of garbage, or 100k of garbage or 1000k of garbage. Still garbage. How about we make all garbage writing 10k and all the great works of lit 1000k. You know how, take the big red backspace button and use it. Kill all your little darlings that don't advance your characters or plot. You know the ones you think are the best writing you've this month but are asides or digressions and do nothing for the story itself.

P.S. If you haven't read your work 5 times then don't post it.

Dominions Son

@OldNYer

The brevity hardly indicates the quality of the words and yet we bat around word counts like it gives some indication of quality or price point of a published work.


You are correct, word counts aren't an indicator of quality. However, you are dead wrong in thinking they are irrelevant to the price point.

Go to to the grocery store and look around. Pick any food item, larger packages cost more than smaller packages. Quantity matters to price points.

Replies:   Not_a_ID
Not_a_ID

@Dominions Son

Go to to the grocery store and look around. Pick any food item, larger packages cost more than smaller packages. Quantity matters to price points.

Although quality also has a pricing point all its own as well.

Dominions Son

@Not_a_ID

Although quality also has a pricing point all its own as well.


True, but I was responding to the claim that quantity was irrelevant to price points.

OldNYer

I thought we were discussing literature not hamburger. Now if we are going to add a good steak or beer to the discussion than that would be another discussion. But lets keep that discussion under 272 words. That was all Lincoln needed. Consider it a flash challenge. :)

awnlee jawking

@OldNYer

I suspect Lincoln didn't generate much income from his stories ;)

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Dominions Son
Updated:

@OldNYer


But lets keep that discussion under 272 words. That was all Lincoln needed. Consider it a flash challenge. :)


Writing for political speeches is very different than writing fiction for entertainment.

If you want to make money from your writing, quantity matters.

If you imagine reader would happily pay the same price for novels and short stories, even if the quality of the short story is several times higher, you are delusional.

As reader, I don't care if your 275 word flash story is up to the quality of the great poets of Gettysburg address or the great poets of the 19th century. stand alone by itself, I am not going to pay more than a few cents to read it.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp  OldNYer
Capt. Zapp

@Dominions Son

Writing for political speeches is very different than writing fiction...


I thought most political speeches were fiction. :)

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Capt. Zapp

I thought most political speeches were fiction. :)


Which is why I said it was different from writing fiction for entertainment.

Political speeches might be mostly(entirely) fiction, but they are written for a different purpose than entertaining the reader.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp
Crumbly Writer

@OldNYer

You know the ones you think are the best writing you've this month but are asides or digressions and do nothing for the story itself.

Don't assume that all digressions or asides don't advance the plot, as they sometimes reflect details of the character's personality, foretell future events or provide red herrings (to feed all the story porpoises we have).

However, in the majority of cases, you're correct. :(

Crumbly Writer

@Not_a_ID

Although quality also has a pricing point all its own as well.

Try arguing that while drinking your next Starbucks Venti Cappuccino, or when you purchase your yearly smartphone upgrade!

Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

I suspect Lincoln didn't generate much income from his stories

It might be argued, he was potentially shot over it (it was lying on the floor of Ford's theater).

OldNYer
Updated:

@Dominions Son

As reader, I don't care if your 275 word flash story is up to the quality of the great poets of Gettysburg address or the great poets of the 19th century. stand alone by itself, I am not going to pay more than a few cents to read it.


OK all words are not stories and all stories are not art. All carpenters are not craftsman and all craftsmen are not artists. Some of us are beer drinkers and some of us are brewers. I guess you need to define for yourself if writing e-mail at work is just sentences on the screen (probably) and if creative writing could qualify as an opportunity to be an artist.

Bloating stories and bulking up chapters because a chapter is due and you have writers block is a betrayal of your readers and your art. I think that is the topic at discussion.

Replies:   REP  Dominions Son
Capt. Zapp

@Dominions Son

Political speeches might be mostly(entirely) fiction, but they are written for a different purpose than entertaining the reader.


You got that right. Political speeches are written to sell you a free trip to hell and have you looking forward to the trip, then convincing you to pay for it.

Ernest Bywater

@OldNYer

We can have 10k words of garbage, or 100k of garbage or 1000k of garbage. Still garbage. How about we make all garbage writing 10k and all the great works of lit 1000k.


No dispute about the garbage being garbage. However, the point about the word counts is when someone charges $6.00 for a 10,000 word short story of poor quality when others charge $6.00 for 50,000 words of better quality. The short story isn't worth the same as the full novel, but it's hard to tell what size a story is unless it's in a printed book you're looking at or has a word count attached.

REP

@OldNYer

Some of us are beer drinkers


think of it this way.

You go into a bar, sit down and order a beer. The bartender serves you a 12 oz mug of beer from the brand X tap and charges you $3.00.

Someone sits down next to you and orders a beer. The bartender serves him a 24 oz mug of beer from the brand X tap and charges him $3.00.

Are you going to feel cheated.

Writers tell stories using words. Putting those words together takes time and effort. When a writer sells their story, they expect to receive more return for higher word count stories.

Replies:   richardshagrin  OldNYer
Dominions Son

@OldNYer

Bloating stories and bulking up chapters because a chapter is due and you have writers block is a betrayal of your readers and your art.


I don't disagree on that. On the other hand I think slimming your stories and chapters down to the bare minimum just because you have an over inflated view of what constitutes bloat is every bit as much of a betrayal of your readers and art as deliberate bloat.

Replies:   awnlee jawking
awnlee jawking

@OldNYer

Kill all your little darlings that don't advance your characters or plot.


I know that's one of the aphorisms quoted by creative writing authorities, but another one is 'Write the story you want to read'. If the author wants to read 'their darlings', what's to say other readers wouldn't like them too?

It's probably the case (like Biblical sayings), that for every piece of writing advice, there's another which contradicts it.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Dominions Son

If you write a story then ruthlessly prune it according to someone else's idea of what constitutes bloat, is it really still your story?

AJ

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@OldNYer


Kill all your little darlings that don't advance your characters or plot.


Oddly enough, I've never come across this advice like this. However, I have come across the advice of Kill most of your little darlings by using alternatives. That was expanded to mean you need to look for where you use a lot of your favourite words to see if you've been excessive with them. If so, replace them.

It's following this advice for looking for excessive your of little darling words I started revising a lot of my stories to reduce the number of times I use the words and or as by replacing them with other words to mean the same thing in that context. It's amazing how many times I made the replacement and found the paragraph much more free flowing to read.

typo edit

richardshagrin

@REP

Everything is getting fatter

At least if you keep drinking 24 ounces of beer.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

At least if you keep drinking 24 ounces of beer.

At least, as 24 ounces of beer, the quality of the 10,000 word and the 100,000 word book seem pretty similar (none of them make a lick of sense).

But there's more to editing than simply cutting words. You've got to cut the chaff from the wheat, and that doesn't always fall in the descriptions, prose or asides. Sometimes it fits within the story, sometimes it gives insights, and sometimes the fat is in the story itself. Learning to separate it is the nature of learning to become a better writer.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

But there's more to editing than simply cutting words. You've got to cut the chaff from the wheat, and that doesn't always fall in the descriptions, prose or asides. Sometimes it fits within the story, sometimes it gives insights, and sometimes the fat is in the story itself. Learning to separate it is the nature of learning to become a better writer.


I totally agree with you on this.

One thing to watch out for when you start cutting the chaff and the wheat out, you can get people sending you emails what you post isn't a story but a story outline or draft - the hard part is knowing how much of the chaff needs to be left in to make the wheat look good.

OldNYer
Updated:

@REP

You go into a bar, sit down and order a beer. The bartender serves you a 12 oz mug of beer from the brand X tap and charges you $3.00.

Someone sits down next to you and orders a beer. The bartender serves him a 24 oz mug of beer from the brand X tap and charges him $3.00.

Are you going to feel cheated.


Just the difference between a Bud and Sam Adams. I don't feel cheated at all. You get what you pay for or what the market will bear.
Now if it was still happy hour... that is another problem.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@OldNYer

I don't feel cheated at all. You get what you pay for or what the market will bear.


so you walk into a bar and order a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label and pay the going prince for a 24 oz bottle, and the guy hands you a 3oz bottle, you have no issues with that. Is that it? Because that's what started the discussion about word count.

Replies:   Capt. Zapp  OldNYer
Capt. Zapp

@Ernest Bywater

so you walk into a bar and order a bottle of Johnny Walker Black Label and pay the going prince for a 24 oz bottle, and the guy hands you a 3oz bottle,


It's really funny you should say that. If you consider the total of how much is spent on individual drinks in a bar compared to the cost of a bottle from the store, that is about the right ratio.

OldNYer

@Ernest Bywater

Because that's what started the discussion about word count

Nope, what started the kerfuffle was that only length mattered. Hell were even compared hamburger, beer, and JWB to literature. Now, I may not know a lot about hamburger but I know a thing or two about Mr Walker and a good read.
Look, I have no problem with large reads as a matter of fact I prefer them. What I have the problem is with large, bloated, self indulgent garbage. Some here think bigger is always better and even with dicks that is only partially true. But far be for me to compare dicks to Lit.
So if I had my druthers I would love a good to great read of longer length.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@OldNYer


Nope, what started the kerfuffle was that only length mattered.


Sorry, no one ever claimed that only length mattered. I just objected to your claim that length didn't matter at all, from a commercial price point perspective. That's just BS.

Yes, quality matters, but if you actually want me to pay for it, length will matter at least as much as quality in determining how much I would be willing to pay.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@OldNYer

Nope, what started the kerfuffle was that only length mattered.


What started the kerfuffle was a fellow bitching about someone promoting a book as a novel, charging for it as a novel, and then selling a short story. I don't like excessive wordage bloat, but I don't like someone promoting a short story as a novel, either.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Yes, quality matters, but if you actually want me to pay for it, length will matter at least as much as quality in determining how much I would be willing to pay.

Yet, if you buy from a traditional publisher, a small book of literature, or a novellette (do they even make those anymore?) will cost, roughly, the same as a large sci-fi epic: $24.99. Aside from the bargin bin, I don't see many price differentials at B&N (or maybe I just haven't looked at that many books lately).

Price equity per word seems to be something only Indie authors champion. After all, aside from paper costs, the majority of a book's cost lies in marketing (hopefully).

richardshagrin

@OldNYer

to compare dicks to Lit.

Sometimes urine comes out, sometimes a more entertaining product.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer  REP
Crumbly Writer

We've all (for the most part) bitched about stories that yammer on and on, without getting anywhere. As D.S. says, we aren't discussing word counts as much as story quality. A badly written book will suck at either 10,000 words or 1M words. In either case, you're unlikely to finish it.

We all know the author who detailed his character's "3 Ss" routine every single day of the story. I'm sorry, but I can't picture a single person who enjoys reading about someone doing their daily abolutions. If it's necessary for the story, fine, I'll put up with it, but every day of a 3 month story? Give me a break!

Yet (despite "Cammie Sue" being a HUGE-assed story), that type of writing isn't restricted to epics. Instead of bitching about word count (and the discussion started in regard to books over 1M words, and whether it was getting more common on SOL), we should instead continually remind authors that they need to continually edit and prune.

One last aside: in all my time writing (15 books), I've NEVER had someone tell me that a book I've trimmed 20% off of was a "better" book. Few readers will ever notice such a clean-up effort unless the main plot points chance (i.e. the ending changes). That belongs in the province of 'professional pride' and writing the best story you can. So lambasting authors for using too many words is essentially wasted breath. Writers will use as many words as they think is necessary. You may not agree, and that's definitely your right, but it's falling on deaf ears, as authors who don't recognize the need for editing won't recognize themselves, and readers rarely notice clean copy (they do notice typos, punctuation errors and posting errors, however).

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Sometimes urine comes out, sometimes a more entertaining product.

If the user screams when the urine comes out, then you've got a Very entertaining product!

richardshagrin

Some authors were paid by the word (Dickens) or grew up in a different literary world, perhaps before Hemmingway. In a way SOL pays by the word, the premier membership comes with how long the stories are as well as how many of them and how much the voting audience appreciates them. Within limits, I prefer longer stories (not 400 plus chapters) as there is more time to appreciate the characters, background and plot. And often there is more sex.

aubie56

I wish readers would tell me how long a story they want, instead of calling for "long" stories. If I knew the answer to that, I might be able to adjust my story length to fit.

Frankly, I started out trying to match my story length to what was common for the romance novels that my wife enjoyed. That worked out to be around 30,000 words. In other words, 10-12 chapters of 3,000 words or so each.

I have received some complaints about my stories being too short, and requests that I write longer chapters. Well, I tried that, and I just could not make it work. I am so wedded to 3,000 word chapters, that I just can't wrap my mind around longer chapters. However, I guess that I cold put more chapters in the story if enough people wanted it.

Can anybody offer any advice here?

REP

@richardshagrin

sometimes a more entertaining product


Shit may be entertaining to some, but I'm not into scat. :)

samuelmichaels

@aubie56

Can anybody offer any advice here?

Obviously, the topic will make a difference. A novel in a well-understood milieu, like a mystery set in recent past, may be shorter than one set in an exotic locale that needs more world-building.

In general, my perfect book is between 100,000 and 200,000 words (closer to 100k). Some of my favorites are significantly longer, some are shorter. I just checked my online library -- one of the shortest of my favorites is 70,000, one of the longest is 205,000.

Ernest Bywater

@aubie56

Can anybody offer any advice here?


The best advice I can give is to make the story as long as it takes to tell what you want in the story.

Most of my stories are in the typical novel range of 40,000 to 50,000 words. I write the chapters based on what is happening in the chapter, then after I finish the story I cut it up into section of about 8,000 words (adjusted to suit ends of chapters), and post them in chunks of that size.

Crumbly Writer

@aubie56

Frankly, I started out trying to match my story length to what was common for the romance novels that my wife enjoyed. That worked out to be around 30,000 words. In other words, 10-12 chapters of 3,000 words or so each.

30,000 is considered a novellete (by the mainstream publishers). A novel, depending upon the genre, can range anywhere from 50,000 to 90,000 (average) or above. I can see readers bitching about 30,000. Romance is (was, since they're now much longer) about the shortest length of all genres, so it's not a decent measurement.

For me, I try to aim for 60K to 120K, in about 20 chapters. Since I generally write sci-fi, I can get away with longer than most (all that world building).

In your case, instead of adding more 'fluff', I'd suggest adding complexity to the stories to make them longer, say multiple story conflicts or additional subplots to keep the readers guessing longer.

@Ernest

Most of my stories are in the typical novel range of 40,000 to 50,000 words.

Except, those are not, and have never been, typical of a novel. Novels are typically 50,000 (for the old style romance to 100,000 (for sci-fi). At this point, I wouldn't suggest you change the size of your stories, but don't try to pass it off as typical. At 40,000, you're talking a long novellete!

Dominions Son

@aubie56

Can anybody offer any advice here?


I took a look at your stories. You wright mostly science fiction, fantasy and paranormal type stories. average novel length in those genres are much higher than standard romance, around 110K words.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

You wright mostly science fiction, fantasy and paranormal type stories. average novel length in those genres are much higher than standard romance, around 110K words.

Aubie doesn't do as much world building as many of us, so I'd allow him to slide to the lower-end of the sci-fi spectrum, still around 95,000 words, though. Historical fiction also tends to have high word counts, spending the time set up historical periods (what everyone wore, what everyone was doing, what the ongoing conflicts of the time were), though historical fict. is less than sci-fi (for the most part).

Note: You can tell I spent a LOT of time in the library and online, compiling average word lengths once people started questioning the length of my stories. However, like Aubie and Ernest, I've recently started coming in on the low-side in word counts, ranging from 50K to 70K for my sci-fi stories.

Again, I agree with Ernest, you write the length the story demands, but we're talking 'typical' lengths, and if Aubie's readers are complaining, there might be a reason. Note: My recent shorter stories have scored lower than the rest of my stories, so readers seem to prefer the average to longer stories for each genre.

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

At 40,000, you're talking a long novellete!


NaNoWriMo use 50,000 words as their basis because the research they did showed it to be a typical length well into the novel range. Also, when you look at wikipedia you see:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_count

which has the SF&FWA listing a novel at anything over 40,00 words with novella 17,500 to 40,000. In the past I've seen other author websites listing novels as anything over 40,000 words, and some publishers listing 50,000 to 75,000 words as typical novel lengths. I've also seen some publishers listing a maximum size of novels as 100,000 words re the equivalent of two novels together in their words.

if you want to go back to the Victorian era novels where they spend 1,000 words describing a simple hairstyle, they often listed 100,000 words as a novel length, but wasted so much wordage on excessive flowery descriptions.

As I said before, I write the story to the length the story takes to write, I try not to short it, and I try not to bloat it out. It just turns out my most common story lengths are in the >40,000 to

richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

You wright mostly science fiction

Like a playwright? Most authors here write.

Anomandaris

As a reader, I personally like longer stories. I generally don't bother with stuff under 50k words. I'll go through it too quickly.

madnige

As a reader, I personally like longer stories. I generally don't bother with stuff under 50k words, but do keep track of interesting looking stories for a quick read when I've finished one longer one and don't have time to properly start another.

However, conceptually I'll treat a series of stories as one larger story, so for example Dual Writer's Florida Friends series gets a double-plus as it is a series including a large number of large stories.

awnlee jawking

@Crumbly Writer

30,000 is considered a novellete (by the mainstream publishers).


Don't you mean novella? A novellette is between a short story and a novella, typically under 20,000 words.

I've seen 35,000 word dead-tree books described as 'short novel' in reviews. Novels seem to be shrinking as well as growing fatter.

AJ

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@awnlee jawking

Don't you mean novella? A novellette is between a short story and a novella, typically under 20,000 words.

Duh (hits self on head). I realized my mistake after going to bed last night. Novellas are typically (historically) defined as 30,000 to 50,000 words.

@Ernest

In the past I've seen other author websites listing novels as anything over 40,000 words, and some publishers listing 50,000 to 75,000 words as typical novel lengths. I've also seen some publishers listing a maximum size of novels as 100,000 words re the equivalent of two novels together in their words.

It all depends on the individual publisher, and which genres they publish. I'm talking about the mainstream, big-name publishers spanning the last 50 years, rather than an exotic, specialty publisher. Again, we're talking ballpark here, and some will go under while others will go way over, often depending on the popularity of the author rather than any other criteria. I was responding to Aubie, asking whether readers might be offended by the length of his stories. Based on historic trends and the comments posted here, I'd say yeah, some likely will be. However, I'd guess most readers already know what to expect from Aubie and Ernest by now, so I doubt they'll be surprised by anything. Though you've got to admit, Ernest, your combining chapters to reach the magical posting side of 8,000 words is a tacit public admission that readers are concerned with reading size, even if you keep your total book lengths relatively short.

@Awnlee

I've seen 35,000 word dead-tree books described as 'short novel' in reviews. Novels seem to be shrinking as well as growing fatter.

That's likely because novellas have long had a bad image problem as 'artsy' and pretentious, thus many publishers will likely group them under 'novels' simply to avoid pissing potential readers off.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


Though you've got to admit, Ernest, your combining chapters to reach the magical posting side of 8,000 words is a tacit public admission that readers are concerned with reading size, even if you keep your total book lengths relatively short.


Actually, it's a clear admission that I get mightily pissed off with those writers who post a chapter every other day or every week that's only 200 to 1,200 words - which, in my personal view, isn't worth the trouble to link to for each post. I selected the size to aim at from the amount of words I like to read during a lunch break, and the like. In short, I set a rough minimum of what I like to read as a minimum in a sitting. I then make the rude assumption that others like that too, with the knowledge they can also stop part way and set it aside, while also knowing once it's all up they'll read whatever chunks they like.

As to story length I just checked my personal story status spreadsheet to see:

over 200,000 words = 3

100,000 - 200,00 words = 2

70,000 - 100,000 words = 5

40,000 - 70,000 words = 12

20,000 to 40,000 words = 15

under 20,00 words = 60

they total 3,021,135 words published

28 works in progress are 554,506 words

I keep the sheet to see word count and the date I last worked on it and where it was published when.

typo edit

aubie56

Thank you to everybody who answered my question. I think that I will stay with the 3,000-word chapters and try to go for more chapters per story.

richardshagrin

There are a lot of different authors. Their motivation, why they write, varies so it isn't a surprise the size of their effort, both as books and as chapters vary. I would expect long books with short chapters posted frequently if the motivation is to get their name out to the reading public, or at least people who look at the front page of SOL.

Writers who post completed stories, of whatever length, likely are glad to get that one over with and either rest or start work on another.

I am not a writer, except of reviews, so I have no special expertise other than being a reader of a lot of different stories for more than 65 years. Closing in on 70 years as I started when I was four or five. I think most will agree different motivations produce different outcomes.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
docholladay

@aubie56

The only solid advice I will ever give for the number of words per chapter, is to use what is right for the story. That can vary from one chapter to the next and from one story to the next. I don't think there can ever be a real fixed length that will apply to every story and/or chapter. Don't cut it shorter than needed and don't add extra words just to bring the chapter to a set size. Its the story that counts and will be hurt when the chapter does not fit the story and characters.

Replies:   aubie56
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

I am not a writer, except of reviews, so I have no special expertise other than being a reader of a lot of different stories for more than 65 years. Closing in on 70 years as I started when I was four or five.

You've been reading sex stories on SOL since you were four or five? Impressive. That almost deserves a story itself. (wink, wink)

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

You've been reading sex stories on SOL since you were four or five? Impressive.


Yes, reading sex stories on SOL 40 years before the invention of the internet would be very impressive indeed. :)

aubie56

@docholladay

I don't think there can ever be a real fixed length that will apply to every story and/or chapter. Don't cut it shorter than needed and don't add extra words just to bring the chapter to a set size. Its the story that counts and will be hurt when the chapter does not fit the story and characters.


I seem to have conditioned myself to compose chapters so that they automatically run between 2,800 and 3,300 words. That is no longer a conscious effort—the chapters just seem to come out that length. Any other length turns into a real hassle.

As an experiment, I did write a few stories with 5,000-6,000 words, but those chapters took an exorbitant length of time. It just was not worth it. I would have given up writing if I had been forced to write that length of chapter.

docholladay

@aubie56


I seem to have conditioned myself to compose chapters so that they automatically run between 2,800 and 3,300 words. That is no longer a conscious effort—the chapters just seem to come out that length. Any other length turns into a real hassle.


That is one reason I said there can be no fixed lengths for chapters or stories.
The difference factors will always be there. The individual writer's habits are just one of those differences. What is right for one is not always right for the next writer or story. I have seen stories which had chapters that were extremely short at times and other times would be considered extremely long, both worked however.

Crumbly Writer

@aubie56

As an experiment, I did write a few stories with 5,000-6,000 words, but those chapters took an exorbitant length of time. It just was not worth it. I would have given up writing if I had been forced to write that length of chapter.

When I started trying to write short, more direct stories, I switched to writing episodic chapters, where each chapter featured a specific episode in the story. When I realized I'd eliminated too much from the stories, and readers weren't getting as much detail into the character's lives and thinking as they preferred, I discovered that 'day-in-the-life' chapters worked best, where you follow the character around for the course of a day, capturing both the exciting episodes, but also the more reflective and personal ones between them and their families.

It's a different way of viewing the story, but it makes it easier to capture more without spoiling the story. However, as I've said, don't change just because someone else does something differently. We're simply discussing different strategies and techniques, so everyone can pick the one which best fits their styles. Though sometimes, it does help to change things up, just to keep your writing fresh and you growing as an artist.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

However, as I've said, don't change just because someone else does something differently.


How true CW. Just because one method works for one writer or story, does not mean it will work for every writer or story. I think this is mainly a sharing of ideas and techniques to hopefully help each other improve their understanding and storytelling abilities. Education levels gave the tools, but it takes a special talent to put those tools to work in order to tell a story.

Michael Loucks

@aubie56

Thank you to everybody who answered my question. I think that I will stay with the 3,000-word chapters and try to go for more chapters per story.


I chose 5,000 words per chapter, which seems about right. Sometimes shorter, sometimes longer. I have a 1260 word chapter since it was meant to be a letter. I also have a 7772 word chapter. But most are 5,000 - 5,200.

awnlee jawking

@aubie56

In my opinion, your style is very concise and action-packed. If you wrote longer chapters, they'd come across as too busy.

On the other hand, some authors are very verbose, and I often skim past the 'rinse and repeats' and questionably relevant minutiae to get to the next scene where something actually happens, something that wouldn't be possible if they wrote short chapters.

AJ

awnlee jawking

@Michael Loucks

I hope your frequent mentions of air crashes are foreshadowing the means of the evil Stephanie's demise. And it would be great if Kara could use her chemistry expertise to create an antidote to the thirty point IQ drop women have after sleeping with Steve. Make that fifty points in the case of Jessica, whose initial selling point was being smarter than Steve and able to outmatch him in conversation.

The best sub-plot in the current book is Carla but you're making us wait a very long time for the resolution. Is Steve a chimera?

AJ

Replies:   Michael Loucks
sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

Given the average for most novels of 60,000 to 90,000 words, those are all incredibly long books! I've got to wonder just how much is bloatware (text which doesn't actively drive the story

Surely the definition of bloatware depends on the reader?
I am currently re-reading a doover story made up of three different books, the current one having 51 chapters plus prologue and epilogue. I think that, in the 37 chapters I have covered again in the second book alone, the author has covered every variation in the Kama Sutra and more besides plus the same with two or more participants! That is fine for the reader who wants repeated detailed descriptions of how part A enters Part B, C and D but for me half of the book is bloatware. What should the author leave out and still give satisfaction to everyone? (pun intended)
Leaving out the detailed sex one could say that Arlene and Jeff contains a lot of bloatware as well, however well it is written. No doubt someone somewhere will find bloatware in every story

ustourist

@sejintenej

No doubt someone somewhere will find bloatware in every story

I agree, though also think this is one of those occasions when an author can never please everyone. As soon as you give enough detail on a technical point to inform the masses - whether it be about how to ride a camel or how a gun is reloaded - those who already know something will claim it is unnecessary bloatware and try and nit pick about what is included.
I tend to agree about the sex aspects of a lot of stories though, particularly when it doesn't add anything to reading enjoyment and makes you think it was written for masturbatory purposes and not to advance the plot at all. I am skipping a lot of those scenes if I re-read a story and in some cases have started to skip the authors entirely.

docholladay

@ustourist

As soon as you give enough detail on a technical point to inform the masses - whether it be about how to ride a camel or how a gun is reloaded - those who already know something will claim it is unnecessary bloatware and try and nit pick about what is included.


There are only two options where detailed information is needed. One give the details in the story itself. Two give an information link that can be referenced by the reader.
Both methods can work but also they both have bad sides. Regardless of the method used someone somewhere will bitch and moan about the method used.
A writer has to decide which method or combination works best for their story or stories.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

Leaving out the detailed sex one could say that Arlene and Jeff contains a lot of bloatware as well, however well it is written. No doubt someone somewhere will find bloatware in every story

That's one reason why, over the years, I started shying away from sex scenes. No matter how you write them, someone is always dissatisfied. My sex scenes are often the ones to provoke the most feedback and positive upvotes, yet there's always a (small) contingent of people who moan, or worse, skip entire chapters, only to bemoan the story makes no sense after they've done so. Rather than deal with them, I've taken to avoiding sex scenes except where it's absolutely necessary to the plot.

If something depends upon someone's mood at the moment they read the story, relying on it as a story element seems more problematic than beneficial to the story.

In the end, certain readers will always complain, based on their own criteria. However, I don't think the current discussion focuses on whether there too much sex, or too little romance, or too few asides. Instead it's geared towards how BIG is too large for a book, in its entirely, to be. 1M+ words is, in my opinion, well above that limit. There's no physical way you couple publish that in book form unless you broke it into multiple volumes, so that should be a warning sign if I've ever heard one.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Crumbly Writer

@ustourist

I am skipping a lot of those scenes if I re-read a story and in some cases have started to skip the authors entirely.

That I don't object to. I include sex scenes to advance the characters, and/or to advance the plot, but if you already understand what's happening, then skipping over necessary details is immaterial. It's when someone skips over an entire chapter because of a personal squick, and then accuses you of writing a bad story because it doesn't make sense without it, that I have a problem.

If you object to sex in stories, then please, don't download listed as containing sex! That's the easiest solution for everyone. But don't then bitch about it if you encounter it, because you were warned before you ever opened the first page of the story.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I fully appreciate the point you are making, and agree that if it helps develop characters, or plot, then it is integral to the story anyway. It is the obvious inclusion of poorly written or out of context sex just to make it a sex story that I have a problem with, but in context it can definitely enhance the read.

Like you, I can't understand if someone skips a chapter because of a squick and then complains because they missed an important or relevant development. That is like trying to make sense of a book with missing pages. If someone got to that point and liked it, then they just need to shrug and accept it isn't a book that totally meets their taste, rather than be critical.

I wonder how many of those people wrote to the publishers / authors when they borrowed library books that weren't to their taste? The internet can make anyone a critic with no need to make an effort - or to provide a home address for the bridge they dwell under.

Edit to correct typo.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

Instead it's geared towards how BIG is too large for a book, in its entirely, to be. 1M+ words is, in my opinion, well above that limit. There's no physical way you couple publish that in book form unless you broke it into multiple volumes, so that should be a warning sign if I've ever heard one.


Not quite true.

Longest Novels

The longest novel published in one volume is:

Zettels Traum
Arno Schmidt
Suhrkamp Verlag (2010 edition)
1,536 pages
14.1 inches (35.8 cm) x 10.8 inches (27.4cm)
1,100,000 Words(estimated)
German
6,800,000 characters

Replies:   Grant  REP  samuelmichaels
Grant

@Dominions Son

German
6,800,000 characters

Have you seen the number of characters in some of those German words? Not as many as in Bangladeshi surnames, but still a lot.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Grant

Have you seen the number of characters in some of those German words?


Some yes, but not all. 6.8M characters / 1.1M words gives an average of 6.2 characters / word.

Grant

@ustourist

As soon as you give enough detail on a technical point to inform the masses - whether it be about how to ride a camel or how a gun is reloaded - those who already know something will claim it is unnecessary bloatware and try and nit pick about what is included.

I don't have an issue with people doing that even for things i'm knowledgeable about (except when it is something I know about and they get the details wrong).
What I have issues with is when they do it over, and over, and over, and over again. If it's been explained once, it doesn't need explaining again & again.
A lot of authors fall into the trap of repeating things verbatim when their main character(s) meet another person or group. After a "Telling them how we got here/what we are doing" they can then get on with the story IMHO.

The other thing I take issue with is when the stories in a series are pretty much about the same thing.
One example is radio_guy's Protection and Preservation series.
I enjoyed the first 3 books or so, but gave up around book 7 as it became the same story over & over again.
They head out, meet some people, those people try to double cross them, the main characters kill them off, they meet some others that are OK & they setup a ham radio, then head back to base.

From memory the first book set up the world, the second developed it further with exploration & the same with the 3rd; but then it became the same thing just being repeated. It didn't move the story along.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

There are only two options where detailed information is needed. One give the details in the story itself. Two give an information link that can be referenced by the reader.

In traditional publishing (or if you publish a print book) links mean nothing, so you can't rely on links to define something. Too often, readers will download a story and read it offline. In those cases, the links are meaningless as well. Links aren't reliable. You're a damn author, if you can't express yourself in words, then find another job! If your current techniques aren't working, then try a few more. Chances are, you just haven't discovered the correct

Replies:   docholladay
Crumbly Writer

@Grant

A lot of authors fall into the trap of repeating things verbatim when their main character(s) meet another person or group. After a "Telling them how we got here/what we are doing" they can then get on with the story IMHO.

I ran into that in my "Catalyst" series. Because the protagonist had to explain to each person what he did to them and what they needed to know about their condition, a LOT got repeated. I kept trying to change it up, but after dozens of times, it's hard to find new ways of phrasing it.

The other thing I take issue with is when the stories in a series are pretty much about the same thing.

That's why, each book should be divided by theme. By picking out what that book is supposed to convey, that the others in the series don't, you remind yourself that you're writing a completely different book, with a different moral to tell. That comes in the pre-planning, rather than the writing stage.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I ran into that in my "Catalyst" series. Because the protagonist had to explain to each person what he did to them and what they needed to know about their condition, a LOT got repeated. I kept trying to change it up, but after dozens of times, it's hard to find new ways of phrasing it.


I try to avoid that sort of thing by giving a good explanation the first time, and then cut it back to something like - He spent five minutes explaining his background before moving on to ask, " ....... - - it saves boring the reader and cuts down on the number of keys I have to type.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
REP

@Dominions Son

6,800,000 characters


Don't know about you DS, but I doubt I'm capable of keeping that many characters straight in a story and character development must be really difficult in only 1,536 words. :)

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@REP

:-D

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I try to avoid that sort of thing by giving a good explanation the first time, and then cut it back to something like - He spent five minutes explaining his background before moving on to ask, " ....... - - it saves boring the reader and cuts down on the number of keys I have to type.

I finally figured that out (around the 6th book in the series). Some of us are slower learners than others. :)

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
docholladay

@Crumbly Writer

In traditional publishing (or if you publish a print book) links mean nothing, so you can't rely on links to define something. Too often, readers will download a story and read it offline. In those cases, the links are meaningless as well. Links aren't reliable. You're a damn author, if you can't express yourself in words, then find another job! If your current techniques aren't working, then try a few more. Chances are, you just haven't discovered the correct


Another name for a link is reference material. The reference can be checked in many ways: old method,libraries and encyclopedias. new methods, web search engines(phrases) also web page addresses can also work sometimes.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
samuelmichaels

@Dominions Son

6,800,000 characters

Almost as many characters as in one of Crumbly's novels.

Oh, wait, you meant letters?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I finally figured that out (around the 6th book in the series). Some of us are slower learners than others. :)


Also, there are times when I want the character to give a simple summary instead of the whole story, so it's appropriate to give it once as well, then refer to it as a the simple or brief summary.

Michael Loucks

@awnlee jawking

I hope your frequent mentions of air crashes are foreshadowing the means of the evil Stephanie's demise. And it would be great if Kara could use her chemistry expertise to create an antidote to the thirty point IQ drop women have after sleeping with Steve. Make that fifty points in the case of Jessica, whose initial selling point was being smarter than Steve and able to outmatch him in conversation.

The best sub-plot in the current book is Carla but you're making us wait a very long time for the resolution. Is Steve a chimera?


'Evil Stephanie'? Deeply flawed, yes. Evil? I don't see it. But there is a lot of her story to tell...and more will be revealed. As always, we only see what Steve sees, and we only see things from his perspective...

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

Another name for a link is reference material. The reference can be checked in many ways: old method,libraries and encyclopedias. new methods, web search engines(phrases) also web page addresses can also work sometimes.

As men (and women) of letters, we need to deal with words, rather than the newer alternate media. While we can add links, we should never rely on them. Thus, reference material should be provided as it's always been done, in a story's appendix (a separate chapter, as I do with my extensive cast lists).

In short, you can't count on someone having internet access while reading your story and hitting something they don't understand. While I appreciate having the links, I'd prefer having both (links to other information on the web as well as written explanations in the author's own words).

Otherwise, it sounds like the author is too lazy to explain themselves. :(

Replies:   REP  Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

@samuelmichaels

Almost as many characters as in one of Crumbly's novels.

Ha-ha. Sorry, but my record, in my six-book "Catalyst" series, was slightly over 100. Since then, I've scaled it back (a bit!).

REP

@Crumbly Writer

In short, you can't count on someone having internet access while reading your story


I would assume that since they are reading my story, they accessed it via the internet. Although they may have downloaded it to a device that doesn't have internet access.

Otherwise, it sounds like the author is too lazy to explain themselves.


I would have to agree, assuming of course the writer saw the potential for a problem and provided a link to something that might be misinterpreted, rather than specifically explaining what he meant.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@REP


I would have to agree, assuming of course the writer saw the potential for a problem and provided a link to something that might be misinterpreted, rather than specifically explaining what he meant.


I was thinking more of posting a link to a floor plan to a cottage, rather than describing how the characters perceive it (and thus losing the personal feel such details typically provide). Too often (though definitely not always), it can be a short-cut to finishing the necessary details to a story.

The best bet, is to explain the layout (from the character's perspective) but also provide the layout, in case anyone is confused where things lay. (It's easier to check a layout if you forget where something was six chapters later, than it is to go back, find the correct chapter, and read all the details a second time to find one specific reference.)

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

While we can add links, we should never rely on them.


Now I give a description and a link where they can find more information, if they're interested. With the maps I include in the stories there's a low res one on SoL (due to SoL limits) and a link to a high resolution copy - which may be going due to changes at DropBox.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
docholladay

That is why I also include Libraries as a resource. Its funny how much data is available through the library systems locally, most have extensive connections to request books on loan from other libraries. The search term or phrase is a guide to the research. The reader has to do their own research so the guide just steers them in the right direction. Of course with internet access, we also have all those search engines which can potentially give hundreds of links for detailed information. The reader has the responsibility to look up the information either in their local library or on the internet.

For example if the MC has a ford (any make or model), the only real need is the condition and other variables. Of course if the ford has been customized then the name of the mechanic and/or list of custom parts might be helpful. Basic information on the ford is readily available through a variety of resources.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

and a link to a high resolution copy - which may be going due to changes at DropBox.

Yeah, I'm pissed about the changes (abandoning the "Public" folder) at Dropbox. Their 'official' explanation is that 'we provide other alternatives to corroborating with your teammates'. However, the "public" folder was NEVER about communicating with your teammates, it was for sharing with the public (hence the name). Now, you can't share anything unless the person create an account on dropbox, and you grant them access to a specific fold. Seems pretty lame to me.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

Yeah, I'm pissed about the changes (abandoning the "Public" folder) at Dropbox.


I just created a new folder on DropBox, copied the folders and files from my Public Folder across, created an 'Anyone with the link can view' link for it and tested it works the same as the Public Folder. Now I need to remember to check it after the Public Folder closes, and if it still works to make sure all get the new link.

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