I often receive inquiries from potential clients asking me to write a nonfiction self-help book for them, and they want to know how much time it will take to complete. My response is always that before we can determine how much time it’s going to take we need to set our target word count.
Books are measured by the word count. A free downloadable ebook is generally no more than 10,000 words. An ebook that you want to sell should be at least 20,000 words. If you want to create a physical paperback book, you’ll need at least 30,000 words to make the book substantial enough to print. Typically, self-help books that are sold on Amazon are in the range of 40,000 words. I’ve written some self-help business books that have hit 70,000 words. It all depends on the complexity and depth of your message.
The page count means nothing, because you can make the page count go up by making the font bigger, the margins bigger, and the spacing between the lines bigger. Have you ever bought a classic novel that’s in the public domain, like a Charles Dickens novel? Typically the publisher will want to save money by making the font very small – like eight or nine point – and cramming as many lines as possible on a page. In contrast, some very short books, such as the business management classic “Who Moved My Cheese?” feature a big font and lots of blank space so that the skinny little book will get fatter.
My question to my client is, what is your goal? Do you want to create a free downloadable ebook, or a book that you sell on Amazon? And what’s your budget? Professional ghostwriters and editors get paid by the word, so the more words you want, the higher the price. In my business, because each book is custom written, word by word, there can’t be a volume discount. The rate per word for a 10,000-word ebook needs to be the same as the rate per word for an 80,000-word novel.
When planning your book project, be sure to contact me and we’ll discuss your goals for your book, and then we can decide on the word count and how much time will be required to write your book!
- Thomas Hauck is a leading professional ghostwriter and book editor.