Have you ever seen the movie Amadeus? There is a rather amusing scene in which Mozart is playing a piece for one of his noble patrons and a room full of courtiers and ladies. The patron is quite disturbed by Mozart’s rather manic playing and the tsunami of notes pouring out of his harpsichord. The nobleman asks Mozart if he doesn’t have “too many notes” in his composition, to which Mozart looks at the man as if he’s crazy and assures him that there are “exactly the right number of notes, not one more”. anywhere.”

Questions the authors ask

I often think of this scene when meeting with authors who are thinking of publishing, because a common question I get at these meetings is, “How long should my book be?” If you love Mozart like I do, you can’t imagine him taking away a single note from the divine music that he has transmitted to us. Not one! The books are very similar. You need “exactly the right number of words” to tell the story, and not one more. But how many are those?

Does gender dictate length?

It is true that in some genres publishers give a lot of importance to the length of the book based on their marketing plans. For example, I’ve had publishers of business books tell me that no matter how many words a book has, it has to seem “quick read” because otherwise busy executives won’t buy it. And we press until we reach the desired page length.

At the other end of the spectrum are some fiction publishers who want their books, regardless of length, to look like “great beach reads” no matter what, on the theory that otherwise book buyers will search for something more “meaty”. .” Invariably, I advise these authors to tell their story and let the book designer create a book that is appropriate for their niche, engaging to read, and that best delivers their work to their readers.

The prince and the potter

As an example, look at the two best-selling “children’s books” on Amazon, although neither of these is, strictly speaking, just a children’s book. At number 1 is that of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry The little Prince. Readable by anyone regardless of age, this charming parable is 96 pages long and weighs just 7 ounces. At number 2 is JK Rowling Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, a book that I certainly enjoyed. It has 870 pages and weighs 1.5 pounds. But here’s the thing: each of these books is a completely satisfying reading experience in itself. Each one deftly tells a story, taking you through the book to the very end. In fact, when I’m reading a book I really love, I just don’t want it to end, even if it’s 870 pages long!

So the only answer to the question “How long should my book be?” is “How long will it take you to tell your story in the best possible way?” Because that, in the end, is how long your book should be.

Carry: As an author, your job is to keep your readers reading, eager to find out “what comes next.” If you can do that, don’t worry or obsess over the length of your book, because it will be the right length.