Q: I’ve noticed that printed paperback mysteries range from 250 to 325 pages. Using double spacing, what should my manuscript page count be, then? I’m trying to determine how much background information I need to include without it looking like padding. Any ideas?
A: Rather than thinking in terms of page count, think in terms of word count. Most publishers prefer first novels to run between 50,000 and 100,000 words. In most word processing programs, you can go to Tools to get the word count of your file.
No matter what, avoid padding at all costs. If you have only 40,000 words, but they are tight and great and nothing more could enhance the story, stop writing! If, however, you have an idea for another plot-related scene or chapter that could flesh out the story, by all means add it and pump up the word count closer to 50,000 words.
Self-publishing Advice Guest Post: Ask the Book Doctor
Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at http://www.zebraeditor.com