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SPQ 063: How Many Words Are in a Standard eBook?

Written by Steve Scott on March 30, 2015. Listen to SPQ: iTunes | Stitcher | RSS Feed
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The Questions

Nicholas asks: How long are your ebooks vs. booklets? I am curious about the number of words rather than pages.

Josiane asks: I just read your book “Writing Habit Mastery,” and I loved it! How many words should one aim for when writing an ebook like yours? As an example, how many words were in that book?

Biggest Takeaway

Steve’s Answer

The subject of word count is really important for authors. You need to know if your book is too short or long enough compared to other authors in your niche.

At first, Steve followed the “inch wide, mile deep” rule. He took a specific subject and drilled down to cover every possible topic. Since it was a very specific subject, the books were about 12,000 to 14,000 words each.

When he moved into the habit market, his books ranged from 14,000 to a little more than 17,000 words. “Writing Habit Mastery” is 16,000 words.

Steve decided he wanted to write longer books because the market was getting more competitive. He wrote some books that were between 20,000 and 22,000 (“S.M.A.R.T. Goals Made Simple” and “Resolutions That Stick”). Interestingly, these books didn’t sell as well as the others. This shows it’s not really the length of the book that matters.

Steve’s last few books have been 33,000 to a little more than 36,000 words, double the length of his early work. “Exercise Every Day,” which he is releasing right around the time this episode airs, is around 27,000 words.

As far as writing books of different lengths, word count really doesn’t matter. Steve used to believe longer books would sell well and have more power in the marketplace. That didn’t prove to be true.

Steve thought “Level Up Your Day” and the “Daily Entrepreneur” would sell better in the long run because of their length, but they haven’t done as well as some of his previous books.

Steve’s shorter book, “Wake Up Successful,” was 14,000 words. It has been consistently selling well since June 2013. It hasn’t broken any monthly sales records, but it has sold well from month to month.

The quick answer to these questions is anywhere from 14,000 to 20,000 words is a good sweet spot for Kindle books, especially for the nonfiction crowd. This is enough words to drill down into a unique situation and solve a problem.

What’s more important are the fundamentals. Focus on one topic, drill down, have a unique hook to grab attention, create an attractive cover, and write a good description of your book on Amazon.

People do look at word count when scanning a book on Amazon. If Steve sees a book that is 30 pages or less, it’s apparent that the author probably didn’t put a lot of work into the book. These short books are usually fluffy or written by amateurs.

The books that are 60 to 70 pages or more—on Amazon, not in a Word document—are worth a $3 investment to see if the authors can help solve your problems. Steve’s book “Bad Habits No More” is 13,000 words, but it comes out to about 90 Kindle pages. You don’t have to write a lot to look like it has some in-depth content.

You should be fine if you’re writing 14,000 words or more, but if you’re a few thousand words under that, it shouldn’t be a problem. It’s more important that you offer solutions to help readers.

Resources and Links

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  • I agree with you, a book should be as long as it takes to solve someone’s problem. I also agree with Jim Kukral that short e-books are the future. I think e-books reflect the larger trends of hyper-focused content that speaks to us as individuals.

    • Yes, he does talk about that a lot. I did try longer books, but I don’t think they’re as actionable as the shorter ones. Hyper-focused content is definitely a growth market that I see doing well.

  • glen

    Reading very long write up, doesn’t guarantee a different solutions with the short e-book. As long as it tells a quick solutions and a clear help, what are you looking for? looks like digging gold into the vast of rocks!