How Long Should An Ebook Be? Ask Anne

in Ask Anne The Pro Writer,Books - How To Write, Publish, Market

Hello Anne,

I’ve got some questions about ebooks:

  • How long should an ebook be?
  • How many words should an ebook have?
  • How many chapters?
  • What is the price range for short ebooks?

Thanks for your help

TI

Hi TI,

This is one of what I call a how long is a piece of string questions. Here’s why:

  • One of the great things about an ebook is it can be just as long as it needs to be. Trade publishers tend to only want books that will end up with 200 printed pages or more, regardless. Even when you’re self-publishing, perfect binding requires at least 24 pages for perfect binding (a squared off binding rather than a stitched binding, and at least 6o pages if you’re going to get the title of the book on the binding. Ebooks, on the other hand, can be any length at all, although I’d probably call one that was really short an ereport, but that’s nitpicking.
  • As far as how many words and how many chapters, see above. It really depends on the material.
  • You’ll probably hate me, but there’s no set price for an short ebook or ereport either. According to The Most Expensive Journal a 3 volume book called “Energy Technologies” $6,232 in the Kindle ebook form. Now that’s a long book. Beating Feast or Famine was offering what he claimed was the world’s shortest ebook for free. It was single page and apparently is no longer available. I couldn’t find a price for a truly short ebook because I don’t know how to search for them. My cheapest is $5.95 – it’s the Freelance Writer’s Glossary and is only 15 pages long.

It boils down to the fact that there is no magic formula – not for ebooks or any other writing, and not many other things in life. The ebooks that do well are those that offer people some real value and are marketed will. That’s the ebook you want to write.

Got a question about freelance writing? Ask it in comments or send me an email with Q&A in the subject line and I’ll probably answer it here.

[sig]

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

L F Mann January 23, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Hemingway said four honest pages a day, I’m not Hemingway, I shoot three, and it’s not about writing, it’s about rewriting.
Try the Iowa Writer’s Workshop…
LFM

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annew January 23, 2013 at 3:44 pm

agreed, LF – the rewriting is where we can make our copy sing.

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exercise physiology sydney June 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm

I was thinking of writing a book about cancer and exercise for my website, what length do you believe it should be? I really want to provide a good benefit to anybody who purchases it but also want to charge a decent price.

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annew June 14, 2012 at 10:24 am

Did you read the post? If it’s an ebook it can be just as long as it need to be to give good value… same thing is true if you self-publish. Ditto the price. There is no single answer – depends on topic and market.

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jorgekafkazar July 18, 2010 at 9:36 pm

The author should get as a minimum (net) the same he/she would net in hard copy through a publisher. That’s typically 15% of the hard copy price (not counting agent’s fees.) Some e-publishers give the author LESS than that. I’m not sure what their reasoning is. Has something to do with greed, I’m pretty sure.

According to one source, the maximum price of an e-book should be so low that it’s not worth the user’s effort to try to copy someone else’s disk or file. That is probably about $2.99 to $6.99. And, yes, that’s a very squishy number. Even at $2.99, there will still be spongers who’ll go to the trouble of making pirate copies.

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Anne July 19, 2010 at 11:14 am

I don’t feel particularly damaged by folks who copy my ebooks without paying for them… I’ve got enough order blanks and links back to me to figure if they give them to someone or even sell them, it’s almost marketing.

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KathleenL July 15, 2010 at 3:44 pm

Irene –
One Page a day… yep… that should be your goal, so I have been told/reminded… then you will have 365 pages (at least) written in a years’ time. Because there are going to be days when life interrupts you and it will be all you can do to get one page written. Yet there will be other days when you are on a roll and you get 3 or 4 pages written.

And Miss Annie is right about how many pages… how long each chapter, and price.
I would like to offer up that varying your chapter’s length will be helpful to the reader, help keep them from getting board, from your writing getting stagnant. And write until your message/your story is told.

As for price – It is said that people will pay what they do not think is too much. I.E. Annie’s under $6 book/booklet. Or $9.99/$14.99/$19.99 these are good price points, depending upon
1- The length of the book
2- The type of book, etc. – its subject matter, etc.
3- The price should reflect your perception of how much you think someone else will
pay, what price will make you feel like you are not giving the farm away (but
remember your personal worth, your efforts to get this project to fruition, will need to
be realized over the course of say … 100 books or more [not just in the sale of the first
book].

Best of luck.

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irene July 15, 2010 at 5:05 am

This has been very informative.
I wish I could achieve my goal of writing an ebook within the year. (even a short one for a start)

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