how long should a nonfiction book be

How Long Should Your Nonfiction Book be?

So, how long should a nonfiction book be?

The average nonfiction book in self-help, how-to, or travel runs from 40,000 to 50,000 words.

The memoir genre tends to be from 60,000 to 90,000 words

Historical texts or biographies range from 60,000 to 200,000 words#

As these vary widely – and writing long texts is a LOT of work – make sure you check with either your desired publisher or desired genre on Amazon to find out the appropriate length for your book.  

According to Mark Coker of Smashwords, the top 100 bestselling ebooks at Smashwords (sales could be from other sites) averaged 115,000 words. Largely, this means fiction.

What Page Length Will Your Book Be?

In planning your book, you might estimate say, 8 – 12 chapters. It’s helpful to then write a chapter summary for each chapter, which outlines what you will cover. You can then see much easier where pieces will naturally fit.

Michael Larsen (How to Write a Book Proposal) recommends the number of lines for each chapter summary in a book proposal can relate to the number of pages written for each chapter. So, the summary – if 16 lines long say – would equate to 4,400 words per chapter or 16 double-spaced manuscript pages, very roughly. (Per that rate, 12 chapters = 52,800 words)

The average A4 page (in 12 point, Times New, doubled spaced) has 275 words, so if you have 180 pages in Word, it might be 50,000 words (you can check with word count in tools).

Final Page Count?

But of course, type style, margins, final page size, and illustrative elements will make a huge difference to the final page count in your print book. Amazon automatically calculates average page count for their Kindle readers, as well. You can work with your book designer (if indie) to space your book as per your desired page count outcome—not forgetting white space.

If you want a self-published book to look ‘professional’, I advise you to aim for 30,000 – 70,000 words and this length is typeset between 140 and 250 pages or so.  My book ‘Power Marketing’ is 27,000 words approx and takes 136 pages in 6 x 9” format. I can’t help but edit my book to death.

So how long should a nonfiction book be?  Shoot for 35,000 words – of the best work you’ve ever delivered.

# Source: Author Training Manual by Nina Amir

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.