I couldn’t resist a naughty title to get your attention. Because one of the first things aspiring authors ask me is: “What size should my book be? Doesn’t it have to be at least (insert number here) many pages or (insert a huge number) thousand words?
What preconceived notions do you have about publishing a book? That it has to be a certain page count, word count, or size? I wonder where we get these ideas. Maybe from a famous book or the image of a big, impressive hardcopy book on a shelf somewhere.
But things are different now. As self-published authors, we have the option to produce the right book for our readers. A book that delivers exactly the value we want to provide. So it matters less what size it is. What matters is that it accomplishes what you desire for your audience and for your business.
The Advantages of a Short Book
Get creative! Sometimes a small book can have a greater impact than a heavy tome.
A couple of examples of small, effective books:
T.J. Sullivan’s book, Motivating the Middle: Fighting apathy in College Student Organizations is only 80 pages, and measures 5 x 8 inches. It is super-targeted to his audience (college students who don’t want to read a long book). The book delves deep into one issue, rather than covering the breadth of knowledge that he teaches. T.J.’s book demonstrates that he has real insight into this issue and how to solve it. That makes the organizations that he speaks to interested in what else he has to offer. His book delivers great value to his readers, positions him as an expert, and makes him a desirable as a speaker. Many organizations that hire him as a speaker buy his books to distribute to the audience. His book increases his speaking revenue tremendously.
Tom G Hobbs publishes tiny books that deliver targeted value in a fun way. Tom’s books measure about 5 x 8 inches and are about 50 pages long. His titles include: The Speaker’s Toolbox for Professional Storytellers, The Speaker’s Toolbox for Entrepreneurs, The Speaker’s Toolbox for Financial Presenter, etc. You get the idea.
The information is the same, but the covers are each different, designed to appeal to a specific audience. He sells them two books for $20. This strategy assures that he always sells two books instead of one at a time.
When You Need A Longer Format
When I think of long books, I remember the accomplishment of reading James Michener’s huge books, such as Centennial and Hawaii. In the non-fiction realm, there’s The History of the World, clocking in at 1,280 pages.
There is probably no reason for your book to be anywhere near that size.
But some material calls for a larger or longer format, such as when you want to convey a complete story or system.
Nancy Rynes outstanding book, Awakenings From the Light: 12 Life Lessons from a Near-Death Experience, is over 250 pages in a 6x9 inch format. Nancy’s goal with the book was to fully explain her experiences and the lessons that she brought back. Nancy’s in-depth book is a guide to living a more fulfilling life by integrating the messages that she felt compelled to share. Her book was a best-seller within three weeks, and she is now a popular national speaker.
Maybe Your Book is Actually Several Books
If you have lots of content, your book could become a series, which can help you decide how long each book should be:
Vicki Draper is the author of a series called Healing You, Healing Your Animal. Her first book is Bridging True Love Connection & Healing Between You and Your Animals. This first volume teaches the basics of animal healing. The subsequent books in the series build on the foundation of the first one. Knowing this was her goal at the beginning helped Vicki to define and plan out the content for each book.
Now you have permission to write your book in whatever length and format works best for you and your readers. The important thing is that you do actually write your book. Your readers are out there waiting for your message, inspiration, and wisdom.