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Writing Books/I would love to write a book


i have just started writing today, the book is about dealing with death in a family with someone you love very much and how i dealt with it and all i learned. I am typing on Microsoft Words Word Processor with font : Arial, size: 12 and double spaced. for this book to be like an actual book about how many of these typed pages do you think i need to write?

Hi, Shannen!

I saw your question show up in the question pool, so I thought I'd help you out with some advice.

First, you'll want to change from Arial font to either Courier or Times New Roman when you're ready to submit this book to someone. Both agents and publishers prefer what are known as "serif" fonts. Arial is a "sans serif" font, meaning it's lacking those little tags at the tops and bottoms of the letters. But the serifs are important for spacing because it makes letters easier to read over long periods.

When you say "actual book" I'm not sure what you mean. There are many sizes of books, from 40,000 words (about 160 pages) all the way up to 200,000 words (more than 800 pages) and even larger. It depends entirely on the book. You don't say whether you're writing this as more of a memoir (just your personal experience) or a self-help book (your experience plus advice from medical and psychological experts) and that will make a difference on the size too.

Since you're using Word (or did you mean to type "Works" which is a different program) you should be able to look to see how many words you already have written. If you go to File>Properties>Statistics, you can look at how many words you've written at any time. If you're in Works, go to Tools>WordCount.

All that said, a lot of publishers like to offer good money for value to readers. The shorter the book, the less they can charge---but the book will cost very close to the same to produce. There will only be fewer pages, but paper is the cheapest part of the book. There's still the cover, the design, and the editorial time, regardless of the size. So, you're better off (if you plan to seek out a commercial publisher, rather than self-publishing or using a subsidy press) in the long run if you make it longer than shorter. You can always beef up a book like this with graphs and charts about the type of psychological issues per type of death (such as dealing with a suicide, versus an auto accident or a soldier.) That sort of thing.

Ultimately, don't worry about the pages. Everybody in this business goes by word count. Make it the best book it can be . . . deal with everything you think needs to be handled, from psychological stuff to the details of life insurance, paying bills and wills, and you should have plenty of material to make it great!

If you want some more details about formatting a manuscript, I wrote up a little "primer" for beginning writers over at a writers forum called AbsoluteWrite. There's thousands of writers that hang out there, from every country on the planet, who are happy to help out beginning writers with questions. Wander over and see if it interests you.  Here's a link to the article:

Oh, and here's another article on the same site I wrote that's a glossary of publishing terminology. It'll help a lot as you go along:

Hope that helps, and good luck with it! :)


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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