Writing Books/Book Length


I have finished the second draft of my third book. My first is currently under consideration, and I am still working on my second book. This book, however, falls short of novel length. While my other books are in the range of 90,000 words, this one tops out at slightly over 30,000. The story is complete, and I don't see how I can add anything to it without including a lot of fluff. I can certainly improve the dialog, or change some of it to exposition instead of speech, but at the most, I might add only another 2,000 to 3,000 words. It's longer than a short story, but I don't think it's long enough to be considered a novella either. Do you think it would be best to continue until the editing is complete, and then publish it online for download only, or try to go the traditional route? Would publishers even consider looking at a book this size?

Thank you.

I can't speak for publishers, but I can quote conventional wisdom, which says that most publishers prefer novels to be at least 50,000 words long. If I were in your shoes, with my first book under consideration, I would wait to see if the publisher buys it. If so, I'd offer my second book to the same publisher, regardless of length. If the publisher does not buy the first one, you can then decide whether to offer it to the public as an e-book. For now, I think it's too early to make a decision, which means you also have time to rethink the book and decide if adding a subplot would flesh it out to 50,000 or more words.  

Writing Books

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.