The Number of Pages Can Make or Break Your First Novel

Congratulations! You’ve started writing that story you’ve been thinking about.

How many pages in your book?

Such a simple question, but so very important to a writer who is looking to get published. If you are a first-time writer, this question will go on to affect the way you write too! First time-writers have a tougher time getting published. One of the factors which can make this process easier is by having a compact book, a story which is not too long and not too short. But how does one decide what is too long? How many pages should your book have?

A famous example regarding first time authors and number of pages is the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling. The very first book in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was only about 223 pages long. As its popularity increased, the number of pages for each Harry Potter release also went up. This happens when an author’s growing popularity guarantees a large number of readers, encouraging the author to experiment with narrative details and characters. With the success of the first book, the reader also trusts the author’s writing style, and is willing to spend money and time on a lengthier work.

Number of pages for a first time author

For a first release, 200 pages are enough. One can also look at authors like Chetan Bhagat, who even today continue to release books well below the 300-page mark. This is because readers across different cities and professional backgrounds, prefer quick reads which can fit into their hectic schedule. The genre also becomes a factor, since a romantic slice-of-life drama usually excludes details and depends on dialogue for moving the plot.

The publisher will often ask for a word count/number of pages and which genre the book falls under. If a manuscript described as commercial fiction or chick-lit crosses the 200 page mark, the publisher will be reluctant to take it on. These genres are supposed to be easy-reads after all! First-time authors, specifically the ones who are not public figures and do not have a fan-following. The reader will be reluctant to pick up a thick book by a newcomer as reading is not only an investment of money, it is also involves investment of time and he may not be sure whether the book will be worth this investment.

Another important point to note is that it entails costs for books to be published. The longer the book, the more they will cost to edit and print and that can be a deterrent. So while the number of pages in a book for different genre varies, a debut author is more likely to get a positive response if they stick to 200-250 pages. Telling a good story within this limit is a skill, and if you hit it off with the first book it will give you a headway the next time you want to get published.

The writing and publishing process are intricately tied to each other. See how a simple question like “how many pages should my book be?” works with several elements important to your story. Try some of these tips, and let us know how they worked for you!