What’s Wrong With Size?

Elevate your minds from the gutters, brethren; I’m referring to book length. I have been reading a bit on this subject and most sources seem to think that anything over 200 pages is bloated and beyond anything any reasonable person could ever be expected to read. (Yes, that's a slight exaggeration. Work with me.) Maybe it’s this first genre I’ve chosen to write in, but this seems to be all the worse with gay novels. Meanwhile, many of the books out there can be considered fluff to pass an afternoon with (and I am a very slow reader).

For instance, there is a book I found on Amazon which weighs in at a paltry 135 pages. It is touted as a novel, which after 50 pages, I suppose it is. However, this retails for $6+ in eBook format and $10+ in print. For a rather dramatic contrast, Stephen King’s IT weighs in at 1,104 pages and retails for $9, both eBook and paperback formats.

135 pages is a pamphlet. I could wash that out of my hair in a couple weeks. I downloaded a sample and was not impressed, nor was I appalled. It was okay. However, for that price and with what I read, I declined to buy the whole thing.

Granted, I have been repeatedly told that my forthcoming novel, Winter’s Trial, is long. Longer than average. Much longer than it “should be” for this genre. I thought about it, looked at it, and asked my beta readers and editor what could be cut. I cut wordiness (a crime I am guilty of), I eliminated crap, I cut out the pointless stuff, and I elaborated if needed for clarity. At least three people have been over it a total of eight times in seven months. And there are two or three more to come (final proofreader and then me, and probably my editor after that).

My astronomical total? 364 pages. 146,000 words with Times New Roman 12 font. A full space between paragraphs. Long? Meh. The vast majority of books I own are between 300 and 500 pages. Even the gay books I pulled off my shelves are about 250-300+.

I recently read online that an author was worried that his/her current project was going to go over 100,000 words and was asking for advice from other authors on if this was acceptable or not. I stayed silent. I am far too biased and too green to comment to someone who might even potentially care what I have to say on the matter. I am opinionated and new and so I shut up. Until I got here.

But I like to read books. Not pamphlets. I like robust characters I can love or hate or understand (and sometimes still hate). I want a story I will remember. Not watered down, brief snippets. I want to feel something. I tried to make my novel closer to this; I tried to write a novel, not a pamphlet. Even if I failed at all these other things, I learned a great deal through this process and I can only get better. And this is only the beginning. Pamphlet or novel, you can fit good characters and plot in almost any space. It’s about the story. We shouldn’t shun the pamphlet, the novel, or the tome based solely on length.

As the vernacular goes, it’s not the length but how you use it.