The length is the key….

22 January, 2018

I normally do not get the opportunity to write up a blog entry due to my hectic schedule here at Sands Press. Let me introduce myself, my name is Kevin Davidson. Sound familiar? It shouldn’t. I am one of those many people that work in the shadows of an author. I am one of those people who will take an author’s work and transform it to print and eBook.

A glorified description would be that we take an author’s written work and transform it into something that will look amazing on paper and eBook. The author’s work is not just an amazing read, it’s also the presentation to get a reader to start reading their work. If the reader can’t get past how the book looks, they are not going to finish that amazing story.

Your work is important, and we understand that here at Sands Press. Sometimes we receive an author’s work and have to turn it down almost immediately – without even reading one word. There are so many factors that play into a publisher accepting your work and it starts before we even start to review it.
One of the things we look at is the genre of the book. A publisher is always looking for the next great thing. However, we often receive manuscripts that are a story based on the same subject of a bestselling novel. If we see a manuscript revolving around vampires, we most likely are going pass on it. If there is a young wizard, you get the picture.

The next item we look at is the length of your work. For this, we need to break some things down.

If you are Steven King. Write, for the love of god, write. We have no worries that your book will not sell. If you are Kevin Davidson, well, we don’t want to take a huge risk on this. We have many authors that stop into our office to see what Sands Press has to offer. Surprisingly, a large number of authors do not know the magic word count to aim for. Some are too short, others too long. So what is the answer? There really isn’t one that is set in stone, just a range really. It also depends on the genre.

Let’s start with children’s books.

Picture books. The consensus that I have found seems to be around 32 pages. Yes, pages. Picture books tend not to have very many words. They range from a couple of words to a full sentence. What we would find acceptable would be no more than-600 words. If you go any higher than that, a publisher will definitely start to shy away.

Middle Grade. I have watched my daughters read books that are around 25,000 words, all the way up to 50,000 words. Their attention was kept for the entirety of the book. A book less than 25,000 words would seem “too young” for them and anything greater would probably lose their interest. So try to stay within the 25,000 – 50,000 word range.

Young Adult. This genre we like to see around 70,000 words, or at the very least, 55,000 words. There seems to be a lot of flexibility when it comes to YA novels. My oldest daughter is a book-worm; she loves to read. She will read anything in this category, but if it is longer than 70,000 words, she would definitely lose interest. When writing this genre, the characters and the story-line need to hook the young reader, but don’t over do it because their attention will change to something else before your story has been told.

Moving on to some adult genre’s.

Sci-Fi and Fantasy. This has got to be one of my favourite genres. However, creativeness is becoming hard to find after so many original stories have been told. Sometimes a great one pops up and needs to be told. With a Sci-Fi and Fantasy book, I find they tend to run a little longer. Around the 100,000 word mark. This makes it a hard sell to a publisher when you are first starting out. After all, it costs quite a bit more to publish the Sci-Fi book when compared to a YA book.

Adult Novels. Mystery, crime, thriller, suspense, horror, and everything else adult. The magic number to aim for is around 85,000 words. There is a plus minus here of 10,000 words. If you are below 75,000 words, we may pass on your work unless you can bring that word count up. If you are over 95,000 words, we are going to be looking to you to edit your work to bring it down to a size that will sell easily.

In the end, you are a writer. You write to have your stories told. Your stories are told by using a publisher. A publisher is in business to make money for themselves and for the author. You then have a distributor who tries to sell your book to the bookstores. Our job as a publisher is to make sure we keep your book profitable. If it can’t be profitable, it won’t be picked up. This is the toughest part of our jobs. To tell the author who put their time and effort into writing their story, that they need to add or cut something out. Remember, we want your story to be told. We want to work with you to ensure that happens.

Keep writing, we look forward to reading it.

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