10 Quick Things About Publishing Short Books


The exploration of short books continues...

So, my guy and I convened on our favorite stories about/from his life, and we came up with 16 for public consumption.

I figured his story plus my commentary (however that’s presented) would come to 1,000 to 1,500 words each. Estimated book length: 16,000 to 24,000 words (~64 to 96 pages)

That project has been put on index cards and set aside, but in case it’s useful to you, here’s what I found when googling for books of similar size and the practicalities of printing them

1. Googling “books under 80 pages” (or 90 or 100 pages) will get you exactly that – book covers and reading lists with short books for busy/lazy people.

I was amazed at which books have fewer than 100 pages – The Little PrinceThe Art of WarHeart of Darkness

Amazing because they didn’t feel short when I read them, and their impact has been huge.

2. Allegedly, the average American adult reads 250 to 300 word per minute, and as the publishing standard is 250 words per page, the average adult reading speed is around one page per minute.

If you want to test your reading speed, type any book title into http://readinglength.com, and you’ll be offered a brief read-speed test using the book’s synopsis (e.g., mine was 318 wpm).

3. So, if my math is correct, if you wanted to write a book that someone could start and finish in an hour (like, say, a round-trip commute, a lunch break, or waiting time for a flight), aim for roughly 15,000 to 18,000 words (~60 to 72 pages).

4. Amazon has massive lists of Short Reads, books categorized by their reading time, from 15 minutes to 2 hours.

5. Amazon’s curated list of short Kindle books (Kindle Singles) includes fiction and nonfiction books between 5,000 and 30,000 words.

6. Amazon’s CreateSpace will bind books as short as 24 pages (~6,000 words), but they don’t allow text on the spine for books under 101 pages (~25,000 words).

The effective minimum, though, is 130 pages (~32,000 words), which takes printing/design allowances into account (and those are measured to a thousandth of an inch). A blank book spine doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.

7. Ingram Spark, however, will allow spine text on books with as few as 48 pages (~12,000 words).

8. So, a 30-minute talk (~2,700 words) isn’t printable, though it is digitally publishable.

9. As a guideline, book chapters range from 1,500 to 5,000 words, and 3,000 to 4,000 words is common. So, a 30-minute talk can make a pretty good chapter.

10. If it helps, from these numbers, it’s safe to say that the average person can read 3 times faster than you can talk.

So, as text, your 30-minute talk will get read in around 10 minutes, and it would take that 1-hour commute/lunch break to read a 3-hour talk (two full-length college lectures).

Write on,

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash