50,000 Words

How many words should my book be? I struggled with this for a while. I’ve read that traditional publishers want a first novel to be at least 60,000 words. 75,000-80,000 is the norm for a mystery.

Thank goodness I’m publishing my own books and don’t have to hit those numbers. I knew I didn’t want my books to be considered novellas, so I hoped to at least hit the 50,000 word mark. Smashwords considers a book to be a full novel at that number of words.

When I finished the first book, it was just under where I wanted it to be.  A first rewrite added enough words to push it over 50,000 words. I read where an editor commented that a 50,000 word book would easily turn into 65,000 words or more on a rewrite and edit. Ha! There was no way I was adding another 15,000 words of filler to the book.

I suppose I’m somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to description. Some people write wonderful descriptions and paint fabulous images across your mind of every little thing that is happening in a story. I don’t always think to tell you that someone was picking at a napkin or brushing toast crumbs off of their shirt while they were speaking. I sort of don’t care either. It doesn’t take away or add to a story for me. My mother admits to skipping entire pages in a book just to get past descriptive writing of locales and history. It just confirms for me the beauty of writing is that you don’t have to please everyone.

Besides, I’m writing something breezy. My market is a niche. My intent is to provide a few hours of entertainment. Three of the books in the series are finished, and all three have naturally fallen into the 51,000 – 56,000 word range. It seems to be the right spot for me.

3 thoughts on “50,000 Words

  1. I enjoyed the book, so yes I would say that’s a good number for your books. It wasn’t overly descriptive, which I don’t really like, so I enjoyed it a lot. When I write, I sometimes get too descriptive. I have to watch myself.

    • I’m glad to hear you say this. Some people can use words beautifully, and I just like to get the story down and keep it moving. It’s what I know right now. I’ve been thinking that when I’m done with Susan Hunter, I might try my hand at something more involved, and see what happens. I’m too afraid to do anything to mess up my “style” just yet.

      • I really don’t think you can mess up your style. I write flash fiction and it uses the minimum of words, yet my novel is full of descriptions. I manage to go back and forth. I have a feeling you would be able to also. no problem

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