The first draft of the first book is done[!/?]
I’ve read a lot of differing opinions regarding word count. My original target was 50k words and that target was carefully chosen after a moment’s thought and only a little research.
As I continued cranking out the chapters I started to realize that I really did need to have a target to strive for. One that was more than a quick Google search and a guess.
Looking into this topic I am finding that the opinions vary greatly based on who you ask and what type of book you are writing and, of course, the target audience.
How many words are enough?
Young readers tend to appreciate short books while adult readers of fiction, especially science fiction or fantasy enjoy a much more lengthy book.
I remember when I was a kid. I read mostly fantasy books but I wouldn’t even consider buying the book if it wasn’t at least, three books long with more than 400 pages per each book.
I’m not writing Fantasy though and as far as Sci-Fi goes, I’ll ready shorter books but it still requires more than a couple books in a series to really get my attention.
This all comes down to a few questions.
How many words should I put in each book?
Knowing many readers share my thoughts on length and sequels, should I write two more and publish all three at once?
I am comfortable with 50k in the first book, knowing the next one is going to be closer to 70k. However, I do have a couple of interesting side-plots I could write into book one easily enough. There are a couple of chapters that shift point of view to a secondary character and I could add content that describes what’s happening to the main protagonist simultaneously.
Publish one at a time or wait?
This is a tough one for me. With word-count, I could always just publish. I’m at least in the ballpark there. Publishing strategy is completely different. Here I need to consider my own purchasing patterns since I’m targeting readers like me as customers. I personally really want to get this book out there. It would be nice to either be validated as an author or laughed out of the game before I invest another [huge amount of hours] chunk of my life telling this story.
Another part of me believes that even if I did publish book one now, there is the potential that nobody will buy it until two or three of the series exist. Even if the book is a huge hit and madly popular, it may not sell a single copy simply because it’s the first of a promised minimum three books.
I take chances on new authors all the time but I probably wouldn’t consider buying the first book from a new author if it’s their only published work. If that author continues cranking out books, though, there is a perceived success value assigned to him or her. Obviously, if they’re still writing books, they must be selling well and as such, they must be pretty good. The truth is, maybe they’re just tenacious and they don’t give up.