Two Books in One?

2015 December 19 - two books in one

We have accomplished 126,000 words? Bravo!

Now we need to either cut that back by editing a lot out or cut it into two different ideas, expand those to “fit” and away we go. Two books!

But as always, it depends.

For science fiction/fantasy, an author needs extra space to develop a world the reader is unfamiliar with so can be forgiven for writing lengthy tomes. Because these genres tend to run long, fans expect it. (But all the “rules” about windbaggery still apply, right? Nothing goes in unless it shows character or moves the plot along.)


Some Book Lengths per Genre

(information gleaned from Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books: The Definitive Post by Chuck Sambuchino, October 24, 2012: )

Quote from the October 2012 posting:

“But what about J.K. Rowling???” asks that man in the back of the room, putting his palms up the air. Well—remember the first Harry Potter book? It wasn’t that long. After JK made the publishing house oodles and oodles of money, she could do whatever she wanted. And since most writers haven’t earned oodles, they need to stick to the rules and make sure they [sic] work gets read. The other thing that will make you an exception is if your writing is absolutely brilliant. But let’s face it. Most of our work does not classify as “absolutely brilliant” or we’d all have 16 novels at this point.

According to Chuck Sambuchino, who has an in with agents, these are the general word counts accepted by most Traditional Houses.

  • Adult novels, generally, 80,000–89,999
  • SciFi and Fantasy, 100,000–115,000
  • Middle Grade, ’Tweens (12-year-olds), 20,000–55,000
  • Upper Middle Grade, 40,000–55,000
  • Young Adult (YA), 55,000–69,999

According to the film industry:

  • Screenplays, keep these under 120 pages (1 page = 1 minute). The best length for a screenplay is 90 pages because it allows for all the commercials to fit in there when it becomes famous and they show it on TV. [“Everything is economics.”]

But, but …

What if we are Indie Authors?

Do we still need to follow these guidelines?

There’s no “it depends” here. Yes.

So what do we do when we’ve ended up with too many words?

Breathe! It’s A Windfall

If we have done as much editing as possible and we still have well over the suggested count, why not turn our work into a series?

Series are all the rage these days. We can massage the MS into [usually] three parts and market it that way.

Because generally, e-fans prefer their reading brief, publish these parts as e-books only, not in print.

Transplant Your Head into a Commuter’s for a Moment

Imagine sitting on a bus for an hour or more — each way — every weekday and looking at the same old scenery. In the winter, the windows frost up …

Then let’s imagine reading one of this new author’s e-books while travelling. Perhaps we read the first half on the way into work on a Tuesday morning.

We are intrigued by the well-thought-out plot and fascinating characters so are looking forward to reading the other half on the way home. The reading time fits perfectly.

We can’t wait to get into the second of this new author’s series on Wednesday morning.

We might even start reading it at the bus stop …


Next Post — Not Enough Novel for a Novel?

Sherrill Wark is the author of Really Stupid Writing Mistakes: How to Avoid Them:

… and Death in l’Acadie: a Kesk8a story (fiction):




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