Writing a book manuscript is usually labour of love and source of creative pleasure for authors. But, unfortunately, once the writing process is finished, they may feel disappointed when they find out that publishing their book can be an expensive endeavour. This is particularly relevant if their Word manuscript has a high total word count.

For many indie authors, the financial viability of self-publishing a very long book is not feasible due to the corresponding higher production costs involved.

Production costs associated with long books

Editing costs

One of the most significant costs associated with publishing a book is editing. A longer book takes more time for an editor to read through and review which, in turn, increases the editing costs. Since editors’ fees are usually calculated on a per word or per hour basis, the overall length of a manuscript has a direct correlation with the amount of time it takes to edit it.

Internal page formatting/typesetting costs

Typesetting and formatting costs are also an important consideration for longer books. As the book’s length increases, so too does the time involved in formatting the internal page layout design.

Printing and binding costs

Printing costs are another significant factor for indie authors to consider. The longer a book is, the more paper and ink associated with its publication. Of course, this naturally results in an increase in printing costs.

For those authors who opt for a large print run, the higher shipping/delivery cost linked to the heavier weight of their printed books also needs to be factored in.

In addition, there may be binding issues with longer books due to the larger spine width. This may result in an extra cost for custom binding.

Readership considerations

While the associated production costs can be an inhibiting factor for authors who’ve written a long manuscript, they are not the only consideration. The length of a book can also have an impact on its readership.

These days, readers are time-poor and so they tend to prefer shorter, more concise stories. A book that is very long may discourage readers from picking it up, especially if its retail price is high due to more expensive production costs.

Book industry guidelines

Within the publishing industry, there are conventional word count guidelines for different book genres. These guidelines take into account readers’ average attention span and the time commitment required to read the book.

Generally speaking, the publishing industry convention with respect to the total length of a book is:

  • for nonfiction books – between 35,000 and 90,000 words
  • for memoirs and narrative nonfiction books – between 50,000 and 100,000 words
  • for fiction books – between 50,000 and 120,000 words.

The best strategy for your book manuscript

Book length can have a significant impact on publishing costs and readership so it’s important to factor this into your overall strategy when you are writing your draft manuscript. Longer books are more expensive to produce, and may also deter readers due to time constraints and higher retail pricing.

So what should you do if you’ve written a very long book?

If the total word count of your Word manuscript exceeds 150,000 words, we recommend you either reduce the number of words or split your book into two or more volumes. By taking this approach, you can transfrom your long manuscript into a series. This, in turn, can be a more appealing prospect for readers and can also result in greater revenue for you in the long term.

Observing industry guidelines and taking into account the financial viability of publishing a longer manuscript will ensure that your book is more likely to achieve success in the marketplace.