Writing Books/book length

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Question
Hi, I've been writing for a long time now and I have decided to put it all down into text. My question is how many words should I expect to have once my work is completed? How long should it be? What goals should I shoot for as I am completing my work and How should it be formatted. Also, is there any books I can read to help me get started?

Answer
There are no hard and fast rules about how long a novel "should" be.  For a first novel, however, I have it on good authority that the major publishers like to see it tick in at about 90,000 words, or not much more than that.  

Submission formats are pretty straightforward: white paper, double spaced, 1" margins all around, 12 pt. font such as Courier or Times Roman.  

Plenty of books.  Books out the wazoo.  One of the most important would be a market guide, such as Writer's Market, which is published annually.  This book will give you even more specific formatting tips, plus you'll be able to find out exactly what the publishers are looking for, and what their submission guidelines are.  Very handy.  

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Vincent M. Wales

Expertise

I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.

Experience

For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

Education/Credentials
BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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