Does ebook word count and page length matter? It mattered a lot in print books, where a book that was too short or too long would be rejected for printing and visual reasons. But ebooks don’t have printing costs, and you can’t tell at a glance how long they are. So does length still matter?
Well, kind of.
Length matters less for ebooks than it does for print books, but there are some acceptable lengths and norms that are still a concern.
Before we dive in, we first need to define the word “pages” which is very fluid in an ebook. We will be using Amazon’s estimation formula, which is that there are 300-350 words in a page (they do take into account images as well, if your ebook has those).
Ebook Word Count by Genre
The average nonfiction book is about 50,000 to 75,000 words, which is about 153 to 230 ebook pages. A minimum count for a nonfiction ebook is about 10,000 words, as long as the content is solid. (Better to have solid, clear information than rambling to make a page count.)
The average fiction book is about 80,000 to 100,000 words, which is about 246 to 307 ebook pages. The length can vary greatly between genres, though. This is for full-length novels. However, many authors, frustrated with the low price of ebooks, have taken to writing ebooks that are between 40,000 and 50,000. Unfortunately for readers, the lower page count generally gives readers books without a lot of depth, side plots, or multi-faceted characterization.
Fiction novellas are usually 32,000 to 55,000 words, which is 100 to 170 ebook pages. Short stories are even shorter (of course), but are often 99 cents or free because readers will feel cheated otherwise—especially if they paid a novel-sized ebook price and didn’t realize it was just a few pages.
Check out the case study at the end of this post for some concrete examples!
Ebook Word Count and Price
Several factors go into the price of an ebook, such as author popularity, series number, and demand for the information (for nonfiction). Ebook word count should also be accounted for when setting the price of an ebook.
Full-length fiction novels can have a variety of price ranges, but we recommend not going higher than $9.99. Experiment with different prices, a month at a time, to see what gives you a better result. Many authors find their sweet spot is $3.99 – $4.99.
A novella will often receive negative reviews if the price is higher than $2.99. Keep in mind that readers often forget to check the length of an ebook before buying it and feel cheated when the book is shorter than they expected.
Nonfiction ebooks are often shorter than fiction, and yet are generally more expensive. This is because they require more research and fact-checking and can become valuable resources to readers. Check out books of similar genres before you price your book, but keep in mind that many top sellers have big publishing houses behind them, and if you are with a smaller publisher or are an indie author, you may need to use price as an incentive to sell your book, especially in the beginning.
Don’t Focus Too Much on Length
As we mentioned above, word count in ebooks isn’t nearly as important as it was in print books. As long as you write a complete story and don’t charge too much, most readers will be satisfied. Don’t fill your book with fluff to meet a page requirement, because requirements simply don’t exist for ebooks.
That being said, a very low word count may indicate that your book isn’t complete and needs more plot. You can ask your beta readers how they feel about the length of the book and whether or not the plot was fleshed out enough. Ask them if there was a scene they really wanted to see and didn’t, or if they felt connected with the characters. Most sophisticated readers expect layered plots with at least 70,000 words. Some books with heavy world-building may require over 100,000 words to satisfy readers.
Be Transparent for Shorter Works
A good technique to avoid negative reviews for shorter novels is to include your page count or state the size (novella or short story) in the book’s description. We recommend doing this for all YA and adult novels under 150 pages. Readers do usually read the description, so they will see your note there and won’t be surprised by length. (Note: Some authors mark books novellas if they aren’t at least 170 pages, and because many novels range around 300 pages—see our tables below—170 is still on the short side.)
For Books With a Print Version
If your book has a print version, Amazon will use that page count for your ebook. So back matter and sample chapters will not be considered in your count (which is a good thing for readers). If you revise and extend your ebook and not the print version, you may need to email Amazon to fix your page count.
A Case Study of Amazon Books by Genre
We wanted to see the page count and pricing of actual books, so we pulled the data below from Amazon. We looked at 5 different genres, recording the pricing and length of 13 books in each genre.
You’ll see that each genre has two “pages” and “pricing” columns; this is because we sorted the search by “Average Customer Reviews” for one column and “Featured” for the other. These two sorts will show us the most successful books on Amazon. Each genre also includes average and medium pages and prices for the data.
From this chart, we can see that the romance genre is around 320 pages, the YA genre can vary greatly, science fiction and fantasy are generally on the longer side, and mysteries and thrillers are in about the same spot as romances. Self-help books, which are nonfiction, are shorter, as expected, and more expensive.
We hope this post has helped you determine a good ebook word count for your book. If you have any questions or comments, let us know below.