October 2, 2006
Liz published this at 1:16 pm
Bookcraft 2.0 SERIES
An Average Book . . .
. . . My new venture, SuccessCREEations has been up and running for less than a month and already has 23,000+ words, all fairly focused topically. So perhaps in a few months Iâ€™ll have enough there to put something together (provided I keep the pace steady).
Of course it begs the question, how much material does it take to become publish-worthy? If you figure an average of about 250 words per page, then what about 60,000 words or so for an average book? Is that anywhere near right?
My apologies. Chris, for trying to answer a BIG question with a small answer. I should have said, “Yes, Chris. you’re more than near right . . . because you write well, you might even have two books there.”
Let me try to explain it better in this post.
How Many Words Does It Take to Make a Book?
Editors and agents often quote a word count to writers in order to establish basic parameters. “Casting off” pages also once was a common practice in which the word count was used to determine how much paper a book would require.
Now, I think, giving out a word count is a good faith benchmark. Editors and agents want to save writers and themselves unnecessary time and work. Why should everyone be investing in a manuscript that doesn’t have the critical mass it needs to make a full-size book?
Still the practice of quoting word counts bothers me, because critical mass doesn’t mean that the words in question actually say anything that a reader might be interested in. And the truth is the word count really is an average of a very wide range of possibilities..
Here are the word counts for 10 books you might know.
1. Malcolm Gladwell’s Book, Blink is a 70,731-word message.
2. Steve Farber’s Radical Leap tells the story in 33,825 words.
3. Seth Godin uses 30,655 words to describe a Purple Cow.
4. Stephen Covey needed 100,519 words to explain The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
5. It took David Allen 76,858 words to write his way of Getting Things Done.
6. Race Through the Forest, a fable, by Timothy Johnson needed only 18,508 words.
7. Writing White Papers by Michael A. Stelzner required only 38,664 words to do what was necessary.
8. Beyond Code by Rajesh Setty is about 30,000 words.
9. Robert Scobel and Shel Israel spent 78,994 words in Naked Conversations.
10.Queen Klutz by Marti Lawrence recount her humorous stories in 26, 485 words.
As you can see, the word counts vary wildly. But 60,000 is probably as good of a benchmark as any. My hope is you don’t hold it too tightly. . . .
I once asked, “How many words do you need to make a book?”
And a wise man told me, “As many as you need and not one more.”
Pages are a completely different matter. Paper is tangible.
We’ll get to pages as we start making Phil’s book.
–ME “Liz” Strauss
Bookcraft 2.0: Find a Book in Your Archives the Way a Publisher Would
Bookcraft 2.0 Archive Mining: How to Get From Working Book Title to Rough Cut Content
Bookcraft 2.0 Why Read the Date Archives Not the Categories?