When I first started writing, I grabbed some of the books that I had, and tried to figure out how many words were in them. Now keep in mind, I first started writing when I was twelve years old, that was 1985. There was no Google back then, no internet for that matter. So I counted, by hand, how many words there were on three pages, then I took the average word count per page and multiplied by how many pages there were. First off, yes I am that big of an analytical nerd, and second it gave me a general idea of how many pages I would have to type out. Now, over 30 years later, much farther along in my writing career, I’m still obsessed with word count. But why? Am I trying to write more to please the "elietest" of readers, or am I doing it to build a better story?
I’ll be honest, I’m a bit insecure when it comes to my writing. That being one of the main reasons it took me so long to start actually sharing some of my stories with people. Every time I get a review, my stomach gets literally sick, especially if they say ANYTHING negative. So when I got a 3 Star review a few months back, it bothered me, especially when the person who wrote the review mentioned how they normally only read books 600 pages or more. They were reviewing my first book which was only like 250 pages. That really stuck with me, because I purposely kept my first book around 90K words, per the industry average of any first book. The review made me feel like they were personally attacking my intellect, saying I was incapable of writing a 600 page book.
Now that I’ve completed my third book, and am starting to write my fourth, I did some research on “word count” and how much does it really matter. That’s when I came across an interesting article called “So Many Words, So Little Time” by Moira Allen located at www.writing-world.com In the article it points out that Moira points out that a typical novel in the 1960’s & 70’s was around 200 pages, wile today most range from 500 to 600 pages. They also point out the interesting correlation between the increase in word count or page count and the decrease in readers. Now, to be fair, we as a population today, is inundated with technology, and distractions. However is that the only reason less people read today? Could it be that people don’t have time to invest in a 600 page book, especially if that book is part of a never ending series? I don’t know, it’s something, as an author, I think about. So that being said, after I finish book three of the Lost Nation Series, I was going to start a series of short stories, like no more than 80K words (like 200-250 pages). The hope is to bring back the “casual” reader. Someone who just wants a fun read on the bus or train to work and back, or to read on breaks at work. As an author and a fan of the written word, I know how difficult it can be to carve out time to escape into a book.
What are your thoughts? Have we as a society become lazy, or is it really the case of “so many words, so little time?”