[Tipster] How Long Should this Article, Chapter, or Book Be?

tipster post Mar 04, 2022

How Long Should this Article, Chapter, or Book Be?

Good question. If you've never "published" before, most likely you have no real idea of length for your writing project.

By "published," I don't mean only "publishing a book with a traditional publisher."

The word "publishing" is a broad term. It can mean putting together a book that only your family will read.

Some relatives on my dad's side put together a history of our family and why they immigrated from the southern parts of the Ukraine and Moldova.

That's publishing.

A social media post is a form of publishing.

So publishing means "getting your ideas into the world in some form."

Thus, it is hard to come up with a standard length because it is part of the "form" question:

How will my writing be "packaged" for others to read?

Here are several random principles about form and length:

1. If you're writing for a print or online publication, there are "writer's guidelines" that specify length.

That's pretty straight forward. You write "to length."

You follow their rules about length.

Most publications post their guidelines online.

2. If you're writing a memoir, pick up a few books like yours. Take note of the number of pages.

Then multiple by, roughly, 300 words per page. For example, a 55,000 word book should be about 185 actual book pages.

A friend just published a memoir of his journey back to the Catholic faith. The book was 116 pages, so the book was about 35,000 words. With 15 chapters, each one averaged 2,300 words.

3. Form always dictates length.

So, if you're writing a book for your family, do a bit of research to see what other families have done.

If you're writing a travel book, then research travel books.

If you're writing a children's book, then spend an afternoon at a bookstore (if you can find one) and review children's books like the one you want to write.

4. Break a few rules.

One thing Melissa has done in her social posting on Instagram is to write longer, more extended posts.

She has woven a more narrative, story-driven approach to writing for her Megillicutti Instagram account.

Melissa is also a Chicago vintage dealer, and Megillicutti is where she publishes to promote her brand.

She has 27,000 followers, and often her posts garner more than 100 comments from her followers. She broke the rule about keeping posts short.

My point is: as you write, note what others do, but, ultimately, you need to do you.

Don't be locked into traditional forms.

Especially if you plan to self-publish your work, find a form that works for you - and then write to length.

Now, buckle up and write!