Thursday, July 1, 2010

Where Have All the Words Gone?

At the advice of someone on Twitter, I headed to my local Barnes & Noble to check out a romance novel I was assured was fantastic. I found it and couldn't believe how thin it was. This was a regular single-title contemporary romance novel, not a Harlequin book. It was 330 pages and cost $7.99.

Call me cheap, but I don't want to spend $8 for a book I'll be done reading after a lunch break. I don't mind forking out the dough for a good book. In fact, I prefer to buy my books so that the author gets a little something out of the deal (since I know what hard work it is!), but 330 pages? Really?

I know that long books are hard to sell (particularly for debut novelists), but it seems like novels are getting shorter and shorter while the prices keep going up. Why is that? What happened to sinking your teeth into a good book? I, for one, prefer my books to be about 500-700 pages or I don't feel like I got my money's worth.

But enough about me. What do you think?


  1. Ah, now THAT is a good post! Well, in this day and age the novels are running two ways, too short and too long. With debut novelists that actually get traditionally published it will most likely be short unless it's a fantasy. (IMO)

    Now when you aren't traditionally published you have to work that much harder, so here is the kicker. Here is also the reason my own novel is only 52,000 words. Ready?

    IT COSTS MONEY. A freelance editor (best one I could find anyway) will run you around 600 dollars if your work is 60,000 words long. 600 bucks. Do YOU have 600 bucks? No? Then forget it. Most editors that are any good also do NOT take payments. Sorry, it's all or nothing. Now if you want a really good editor, were talking EXPENSIVE. So, what do you think?

    Here's another one. With traditional publishing, they pay the cost. With self publishing, you pay the cost. The longer your book is, the more it costs. My own book runs around 300 pages. Price? 15 bucks. Yeah, no joke. POD is expensive. Do you know the lowest price I can sell at? 11 dollars and 13 cents. At 11.13 I don't make a dime, that's what they take. Oh, and for createspace's proaccount options? At 15.00? I make 1.43.

    So, I can see why books are expensive and short. Not only that, but look at how cheap ebooks are. It all has to balance itself out somewhere. The world is changing, the authors are changing, the style is changing. I myself would rather pay $20.00 for a book than $2.95 for the book in ebook form, but times are changing.

    Times are changing.

  2. I like books around 300-400 pages. Much more and the story feels long (and I'm a fast reader--but maybe these are just books packed with crap to make them longer and that's why i dont like them lol) Under 300 and it feels too short.

    The Virgin of Small Plains is 368 pages and I paid $11 for it and it was worth every penny. But if it's a book I'm not convinced will be great, I'll buy a used copy of a place like Amazon (Can get a new copy from secondary seller on Amazon for $5.49 and a used copy for $1.18, using the aforementioned book as an example)

    I also rather spend $20 for a book than much less for the book in e-book form. I don't mind paying for a good book, even up to $25 for a good hardback, though I prefer paperbacks in general and find them about 8-15 dollars each if I really want a new copy (sometimes can get a new copy cheaper through amazon, like I said) otherwise I buy a used copy off amazon for real cheap.

    But enough rambling. That's just me.

  3. Melanie and Becca,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments! As I got to thinking about it, the page count for a hardcover is a lot lower than its mass market paperback equivalent because of the size of the page.

    I have the hardcover of T.V.O.S.P. right now and it's 335 pages. Using the equivalency metric I determined using Outlander in hardcover vs MMP, T.V.O.S.P would be approximately 445 pages in an MMP version.

    That means that the romance novel I picked up that was 330 pages in MMP would only be about 247 pages in hardcover.

    So I think we're closer in our preferences than it would initially seem! Ya know, if my math isn't all wonky. ;)


  4. I get books at the library - maybe cause I grew up po, maybe be cause I'm not a re-reader. The books I have at home are mostly birthday and Xmas gifts. But Cyndi when you get published I'll buy it. Or, I'll get Gwen to buy it if there's a chest on the cover ;)

  5. Hi,

    Anything below 100,000 wrds gets rendered to that of toilet/bathroom reading!!

    But, and it's a big but, I'm having a crack at writing for HM&B category = can churn out four books a year instead of one!


  6. I'm with you - 500 to 700 pages. I like a book to last awhile. :)