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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Guest Post/Giveaway: Selena Blake, Let's Talk About Length, Win Games Demons Play

Games Demons Play
Selena Blake

The emotional and sinfully sweet third book in the Mystic Isle series.When Izzy Lukin wakes up in the arms of a sinfully handsome stranger, she’s immediately sure of two things. She wrecked a really expensive car and the man holding her is not human.Shade has won enough card games in his life to know when to hold. The beautiful vamp hell bent on paying for the damage she caused is definitely worth holding on to.

But what will happen when she finds out they’ll be going head-to-head in the poker tournament…and he never loses?

Warning: contains an impulsive heroine, one super sexy demon who never loses, steamy bathroom sex, a glitzy casino and surprises no one saw coming.

Today I am so lucky to have a guest post from Selena Blake - and it's one I personally found so helpful!!  If you read a lot of ebooks, like I do, I think you will, too!  Thanks for coming by, and be sure to enter to win a copy of Games Demons Play at the end of this post!

Let’s Talk About Length
By Selena Blake

I meant book length. Where was your mind going? 
I recently asked my readers how they knew how long an ebook was and what length they preferred. Some mentioned that amazon generally lists a page count. Others looked at the word count if one was mentioned. A few indicated they look at the file size (ex. 150 KB)
As a side note for those authors reading, the overwhelming majority said longer is better re:  their preferred story length. In fact, most readers wanted 250 pages or more. 
I wanted to weigh in on the issue. So here we go. 
File size is not a good indicator of how long a story is. If the file is nothing but text, that's all fine and good. But what if there are images in the file? A full sized cover could seriously impact the file size. We're talking hundreds of KB or even MBs here. 
Ereader Image © hhuettenkofer - 

Some authors might add a cover of another book at the end to tease you into reading another book. That's another image. I've taken to including a little image of my signature at the end of my Dear Reader letter. Each of these images impacts the file size. And since no publisher or author formats a book in exactly the same way (in regard to image use, front matter, back matter, etc.) as everyone else, it's just not a good indication of the length of a story in my opinion. 
Some authors and publishers price according to length. But since authors and publishers are constantly running sales and there's not a central consensus on pricing vs. length, this isn't a great guide either. 
We used to just pick up a book and feel how thick it was in our hands. We might flip to the end and see how many pages the book was. 
But in the ebook age, traditional pages no longer exist. Depending on what size text you select, you could have 500 words on a page or 50. And chances are, each bookstore (amazon, nook, kobo, etc.) calculates page count differently (if they list one at all.) 
Dialogue also impacts page count tremendously. Since dialogue tends to leave a lot of white space on the page, it takes up more pages while accounting for less words. Think about it.
"I love you too," she whispered. 
There are six words in the above line of dialog. Depending on the size of your page and the font, this line could have twelve or more words. Compound that by a full conversation. And if your characters are verbose, do the math. 
The point is, dialog adds a lot of padding, which can skew the page count. (That's not necessarily a bad thing. I love dialog!) 
Back in the day (oh, that's so much fun to say) when authors sent their books to the publisher we had to adhere to a very strict set of submission guidelines. We used Times New Roman, size 12 font. Margins were one inch all the way around. They required the lines of a manuscript to be double spaced. 
They required these guidelines for one very good reason. Okay, a few good reasons. Aside from being easy on an editor's eyes, it also let them know that every page was roughly 250 words. That's how we used to calculate book pages. 250 words at a time.
But these days, more often than not, we work electronically. Track changes have taken the place of the mighty red pen. An editor can set the font, sizing, spacing, and even screen zoom level to whatever she prefers. And here's the kicker: she no longer looks for 250 words per page but the over all word count determined by the computer. 
Word count has taken the place of page count my friends. But you've probably never paid attention to word count before. So what's a reader to do? 
Here's a quick cheat sheet to help you determine how long a book is. 
Harlequin Romances are generally between 50,000 and 55,000 words. Some of their bigger lines, like SuperRomance are 85,000 words. 
Author JR Ward recently discussed the length of her latest book on Facebook. It clocks in at a whopping 150,000 words. 
What about shorter books? 
Well, if you read my stories The Cajun'sCaptive or Bitten in the Bayou, those were both short novellas and averaged about 15,000 words. The first two books in the Mystic Isle series were just over 30,000 words. Ready & Willing is about 45,000 words. 
So how do you know how many words a story is? 
Many authors, me included, have moved to a new model where we post the word count in the book's description. (AKA the blurb or back cover copy.) This is the new guidepost for readers and the only good way to really know how long a book is. 
If no word count is listed in the description, check to see if the book is on Smashwords counts up the words as it gets the file ready for publication so it’s a great place to check for word counts. You'll find this information in the meta data to the right of the cover. 
Looking for the book's word count is, in my opinion, the best way to gauge the length of a story. 
It's not fail proof however. Just like a book's file size can be bloated by images (as I mentioned above) a computed word count won't be 100% accurate either. Why? The computed count includes the title, dedication, author biography, excerpts from other books and any other piece of text in a book file. But unless a publisher/author really pads a book with a ton of extras, word count is still best indicator of a story's length. 
So if you've ever wondering how long a book is, check out Smashwords or ask the author. If you're wondering about my books, visit my website. My books page includes a handy dandy Books by Length key. 
What about you? How do you determine how long a story is? And what's your preferred book length? Does it really matter or is the actual story more important than length?

Buy Links:
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An action movie buff with a penchant for all things supernatural and sexy, Selena Blake combines her love for adventure, travel and romance into steamy paranormal romance. Selena’s books have been called “a steamy escape” and have appeared on bestseller lists, been nominated for awards, and won contests.  When she’s not writing you can find her by the pool soaking up some sun, day dreaming about new characters, and watching the cabana boy (aka her muse), Derek. Fan mail keeps her going when the diet soda wears off so write to her at

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  1. Great post! I personally think the story is more important than length, and I love novellas.

  2. The length of the book really doesn't matter to me, it's all about the content. Having said that though, there are times I'm grateful for a shorter novella when I'm strapped for time and just want a good fast read, or if I'm in between series.

  3. I'm not really a fan of short stories. I like to become enmeshed in a story. One of my favorite books, Acheron came in at over 600 pages. I still wanted more.

  4. I'm all for story. If the story feels complete, I don't care how long/short. But longer is better imho :)

  5. Great topic Selena! I don't have a preferred length - sometimes it depends on my mood. I generally like books in the 200-350 page count though. I seldom read anything under 50 pages because you just can't get the kind of character development I need - unless it's a series of novellas about the same character -then that could work but I would expect it to be inexpensive since I'm having to buy a series of short stories in essence.

  6. For me it would be the story it doesn't matter how long the story is.
    Thanks for the chance to win.


  7. I generally do not read anything under 70 pages. That being said content is of great importance to me.

  8. I find that a novella is harder for me to get into than a normal novel. But really, as long as the story is good, it doesn't matter all that much.

  9. Interesting post, I learned something with it. The actual story is more important than the book length though I sometimes equate length with a better story; more time for character development and plot resolution. Not to say that there aren't some wonderful short stories out there.

  10. Lately, it takes me forever to read a novel length book so I would much rather have novellas right now. I do wish that ebooks would be measured like print books. Set a default font and format and list the page number based on that calculation, even if the actual book is formatted differently.

    But really, as long as the story is good, well developed, etc the length really doesn't matter all that much :)

  11. I do not care how long the story is. My mood determines what I want to read.
    Debbhy236 at gmail dot com

  12. Hey Debra :) Sometimes I agree with that... if I have time to lol. If I am pressed for time, I try to keep them shorter. Thanks for coming by!

  13. It would be nice if there was some base measurement ebooks used. It gets really confusing, I think. And if you have a kindle, those location numbers instead of page numbers? Nightmare!!

  14. I was pretty excited to receive this post, myself. As for story length, it often turns out that some of my favorite books are under 200 pages, but then I always wish they were longer!

  15. The actual story is more important than the length, but I do seem to prefer longer stories. A longer book can provide a more complex plot and better character development.

  16. Really? Sometimes I have a harder time getting into the longer ones because it seems like such a long road ahead when you are at the beginning. I just started one that is 370 pages, and its got excellent reviews, but I'm feeling like there is a long road ahead :(

  17. No? Ohh, you are missing some gems!! On the other hand, you are never disappointed when you wish there were more :)

  18. I agree. No matter how long or short, if the story isn't happening, it doesn't matter. Thanks for coming by!

  19. Sometimes I like the shorter ones when they are like a companion to a larger book. But seriously, I've read short stories that were like 10 pages long and was blown away by the content. I've also read 700 page books that made it to my favorites. You just never know, eh?

  20. I think my sweet spot is around 200 pages, give or take. But I agree, if its written well, the size doesn't matter as much.

  21. In recent years I've only read one book that long. Wake by Abria Mattina was over 700, I believe. It was an epic read for me, I loved every single page!

  22. Yep! Sometimes those shorter books are great little pallet cleansers lol. I love em :)

  23. I love them too. I'm excited to see so many people who agree. Thanks for coming by!!

  24. That is true, too. Although sometimes I just feel like, ugh, couldn't they have cut some out? It really depends on the writing for me. Like if there is too much repetition for the sake of a word/page count, it drives me batty!

  25. I know! I love my Kindle but I hate not knowing what page I am on and the % thing just doesn't work because there may be lots of pages of excerpts at the end of the story.

  26. I prefer the story over the lenght. I´ve read novels with more content than full lenght books, and I need a good flow in a book. I read any lengths =)
    Thanks for the giveaway & Happy Friday!

  27. I totally agree about the flow. And sometimes all you have time for is a short snack, so the shorter length books work out perfectly, in my opinion.


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