Writing for the Kindle: Short or Long Ebooks?

Cat string

You want to make money writing books for Amazon’s Kindle, and you’re wondering how long those books should be. As our kitten in the image might wonder — how long’s a piece of string?

You could write (in fiction):

* Short stories

* Novellas (under 40,000 words)

* Novels (generally between 60,000 120,000 words, and can be 200,000 words if you wish…)

In nonfiction, your books can be as long or as short as you like.

However, we might just have an answer that makes sense.

Smashword’s boss Mark Croker in Smashwords: New Smashwords Survey Helps Authors Sell More eBooks says:

“The top 100 bestselling Smashwords books averaged 115,000 words.  When we examined the word counts of books in other sales rank bands, we found the lower the word count, the lower the sales.

Now consider how authors can use this finding, combined with the knowledge of the power curve, to make smarter publishing decisions, and to avoid poor decisions.  Often, we’ll see an authors with a single full-length novel break the novel into chunks to create a series of novellas, or worse – they’ll try to serialize it as dozens of short pieces.  “

I hate books which have been chopped into arbitrary sections, just so the author can make more money. It infuriates me, especially if there’s nothing in the description to suggest this “serialization”.

A serialized piece of fiction has been written specifically to be serialized. It’s not a ploy.

My own preference, when I read fiction is for longer works. However, if I enjoy a writer, I’ll happily read his or her short works.

Your books sell forever on the Kindle

In traditional publishing, your book has around THREE months to sell, or not. If it doesn’t sell well, it’s removed from bookstore shelves, and the covers are sent back to the publisher for a credit.

This practice meant that since the mid-1990s, many “mid list” authors were left homeless — their publishers cut them loose, because their sales weren’t high in that three-month window in the bookstores.

On the Amazon bookstore however, and elsewhere of course, your books sell forever.

Therefore, when you’re wondering how long your books should be, take longevity into account. Your books stay online and available for purchase. Who knows when they’ll hit their stride? As Mark Croker says, longer books sell better… take that into account too, when you’re measuring your piece of string.

, and on Twitter: @angee

photo credit: Picture Zealot via photopin cc

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Angela Booth is a top copywriter, multi-published author, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills on her websites. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her business books have been widely published.