Does Book Length Influence Your Reading Choices?

Having spent a good deal of my adult life in the marketing profession, the business of marketing books fascinates me almost as much as the writing of them. (Almost, but not quite!)

One of the recent threads on the TWRP author blog had to do with a short piece that the author was surprised had outsold her longer pieces. What made it even more perplexing was that some of the reviews were not so kind, citing length as the reason. My theory was that perhaps she had a hit on a niche of readers that loved short pieces because they lead hectic lives. Furthermore, their busy lives don’t leave them with time to write reviews.

I know my reading choices are influenced by length. When I got back into writing after a twenty-year hiatus, I was surprised to find that there was a plethora of short novels that sold quite well. I’m sure e-readers caused part of the evolution. It’s much easier to digitally publish a book, even self-publish a book, so a short novel that sells for less isn’t such a risk.

I don’t often pick up the shorter books, but I may change my ways as I like pieces I can finish quickly and then get back to my own work. I just never thought an author could weave much of a story in less than 70,000 words.

That was until I picked up Mary Balough’s A Matter ofClass a few months ago, not realizing it was about half the length of her usual work. In case you’re wondering how I could be so unobservant, I purchased it on Audible, where the length of a piece isn’t as obvious unless you look at the recording length. I enjoyed the book a great deal, and found it refreshing not to feel the pull of a lengthy read while my own manuscript languished on my hard drive.

Conversely, I also recently purchased Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, knowing full well this time how long the book was. Thankfully, I also picked this one up in audio and it took a full month of lawn mowing, vacuuming, shopping and other chores to complete it. By the time I was done, I identified with the heroine, Claire, feeling much more at home in Jamie’s time than my own. Needless to say, the book was superb, but I have yet to pick up the second novel because I’m still trying to reorient myself.

As for me, I will still primarily purchase books in the 90-100,000 word category. I like to  hold something physical that I can finish in a couple weeks and then get back to my own life.

Le Chevalier, is roughly 100,000 words and available both in paperback and digital editions. On the last edit pass, I thought I would be challenged to get it down below that mark, but after a lot of fine-tuning, I made it! In the end, shooting for less than 100,000 words really helped me take an objective approach to what was necessary to the story and what wasn't. I hope you like the results!


1 comment:

  1. I prefer a longer novel. I like to immerse myself in the fictional world, and a short work doesn't do that for me. For this reason, I don't read or write short stories either. I'd rather read a meaty story that will provide days of pleasure.