Ebook Word Count: Does Size Matter?
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Does ebook word count and page length matter? It mattered a lot in print books, where a book that was too short or too long would be rejected for printing and visual reasons. But ebooks don’t have printing costs, and you can’t tell at a glance how long they are. So does length still matter?
Before we dive in, we first need to define the word “pages” which is very fluid in an ebook. We will be using Amazon’s estimation formula, which is that there are 300-350 words in a page (they do take into account images as well, if your ebook has those).
Ebook Word Count by Genre
The average nonfiction book is about 50,000 to 75,000 words, which is about 153 to 230 ebook pages. A minimum count for a nonfiction ebook is about 10,000 words, as long as the content is solid. (Better to have solid, clear information than rambling to make a page count.)
The average fiction book is about 80,000 to 100,000 words, which is about 246 to 307 ebook pages. The length can vary greatly between genres, though. This is for full-length novels. However, many authors, frustrated with the low price of ebooks, have taken to writing ebooks that are between 40,000 and 50,000. Unfortunately for readers, the lower page count generally gives readers books without a lot of depth, side plots, or multi-faceted characterization.
Fiction novellas are usually 32,000 to 55,000 words, which is 100 to 170 ebook pages. Short stories are even shorter (of course), but are often 99 cents or free because readers will feel cheated otherwise—especially if they paid a novel-sized ebook price and didn’t realize it was just a few pages.
What Is DRM And Why Is It A Bad Idea When You Buy Ebooks?
I found this article very helpful, thank you! I have written and published some short stories and priced them at .99 each. In Scrivener the default value for words per page (via project statistics) is 350 words per page, but I haven’t figured out how Amazon works out the number of pages. I can give some examples of word count and Kindle pages if this helps anyone.
I used a Word document and Kindle Create for these books. Some short erotica titles in the same genre as my book are priced much higher; I noted one was $3.00 for 19 pages and another was $3.28 for 39 pages. Although the royalty rate is much lower, it just didn’t feel right to charge more than .99 for such a short book. My current work in progress looks as if it will be over a hundred pages and will likely be priced a little higher, but I’ll keep my shorter pieces at the lowest possible price. I want readers to feel like they receive value for money and aren’t being ripped off.
FWIW, I would still call it a novella if it meets the basic word count definition of one (roughly 30-40k words). This way, readers know what to expect and you become less likely to get reviews that say your novel is too short.
I write for fun. Many of my stories end up in the 7K to 10K range mostly because it’s a once concept story. They aren’t too complex and usually either horror or dirty romance. As I’m just getting started, I haven’t found whether people enjoy the shorter stories or not. I’ll be honest with you, I prefer shorter stories. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve glossed over novels by famous writers because there is just too much unrelated information. I sitll read their books because the stories are good, but I could do without the 200 pages of what I call fluff. But that’s just me. I think I’m just going to price everything at 99 cents no matter how long I make it (probably never over 30K.) Hopefully that will keep everyone happy and I will sell enough to keep me happy.
I have to question that Amazon words per page estimate. I wrote a 50K book and based on how many pages it is — at least according to Amazon — I have roughly 340 words per page. That’s WAY different than the 187 words per page that they estimate. Am I doing something wrong? Should I be editing or formatting my book in a different way to get a higher page count? This is especially an issue for me because I also have it listed in KU, which pays out per page.
Great and good insights I have found here as well as challenging questions and answers.
I have not made eBooks before. I am just on training. I just woke up with this question in my mind,”what should be an ideal words count and page of a standard eBook?”
I am writing a ebook to present a complex subject (Genera Systems Theory) in a comprehensive, integrated fashion that is also geared for like high school students. BIG need for such! I estimate that I will only need about 25 pages of text and about 12 pages of graphics.
Got a friend who is trying the mainstream route for her book and is still being told by agents and writing tutors that the MS must be 85,000 words!
My ebooks and paperbacks range 72k to 101k and all sell. I’d love to word count “published” novels to find out how many really are 85,000.
My latest will finish around 75,000 because that’s where the story ends. Another 10,000 to pad out would be ridiculous. (One reviewer who doesn’t like me says my books already have “too many words” – and she’s bought three of them!)
Like the idea of a novella though, very useful for good ideas that don’t have the legs for longer but they would have to be cheaper or I’d feel I was cheating the reader.
The publishing industry though! One name of some renown told me that Medieval Crime Comedy was three things and I was only ALLOWED one!! Ignore these people!
I don’t mind buying a short story or a novella if I know that’s what I’m getting, but a “book” shouldn’t be less than 100 pages or 40,000 words. It’s about setting expectations and delivering value for money, and too many people are charging book prices for short fiction. (And vice versa, but that’s another rant.)
Personally, I blame Amazon’s royalty structure. The 70% range shouldn’t be static. It should be adjusted for length, to allow people to sell a short story for a buck and make a fair amount from each sale. The same goes for epic-length box sets on the other end of the scale; if I’ve got three full-length novels on the market for $5 each, I should be able to collect them into a $12 box without cutting my throat on the royalties.
True, JB. At least Kindle do give a page count, so buyers are informed. However, the page count is not perfect, as some are based on a paperback version, which can be misleading. Whereas ebooks without a paperback version are based on KENP. The results can be wildly different.
Writing the call to action
If your client’s sales cycle is a long one, your ebook is probably designed to play a specific role in guiding the reader along their “buyer journey”. If so, it will include a call to action at the end that encourages the reader to take the next step – whether that’s to read another piece of content, book a demo, take a trial or get in touch with your client.
A diligent client will be measuring the value of the ebook by the number of people who follow this call to action, which means you need to make it as persuasive as possible. So don’t leave the CTA to the last minute, when you’re exhausted and can’t wait to type the final full stop.
Instead, write the call to action early on – ideally in your outline – and make sure you assess it thoroughly when you come back to your draft with fresh eyes before you send it off.