Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/11/2014

In Publishing, which is Most Important: Technology or Content?


In publishing – new tech needs content to flourish!

Not only traditional publishers – but digital publishers as well – are struggling with the new publishing industry virus ‘CD’.

Now, just what is ‘CD’? It is the ‘Constant Disruption’ caused by rapid-fire changes in publishing and media technology and their impact on content strategy in old and new publishing circles.

Content in a printed, fixed-form format dictates much of the story — the font used, the subtleties of the fixed page design, etc. What some have called the ‘story container’.

But, as media channels and formats have mixed, merged, morphed and multiplied at warp speed – the necessity of format-free content is rising forth!

But, despite the format, the content still holds more weight than the ever-evolving technology. After all, “Great storytelling is great storytelling, whether it’s on a tablet or a cave wall.” – Say Media’s CTO David Lerman.

Just as they did when desktop publishing replaced typesetting and manual markup, writers and editors need to develop new skills!

Why? You will find out why by reading tonight’s research article.

Key excerpt: “Web-led, and cloud-based content systems are clearly on the rise, despite the present stopgap of turning print page layout systems into tools for generating native tablet and smartphone apps. Nimble content creation and management tools are still in their infancy, and will improve dramatically over the next five years. However, we cannot afford to forget that content engagement depends on the art of the story, and that great storytellers can thrive in spite of (or hopefully with the aid of) the tools they use.

 

Technology or Content: Which Comes First?

John Parsons, FOLIO magazine

 

Marshall McLuhan’s famous dictum tells us that the form of a medium is inherently part of the message itself. Content in printed magazine form, for example, dictates many aspects of the story-from its written style and word count to the subtleties of fixed page design. The shape of a “story container” leaves its mark on the story itself.

Now, however, as media channels mix, merge, and multiply at breakneck speed, the idea of format-free content is an attractive one. If only content could be created once and output more or less automatically to multiple channels. To test the practical implications of that idea, we spoke with a number of publishers. At the heart of our discussion were content authoring and management technology, plus the chicken-and-egg question that makes modern content strategy so difficult.

It’s About the Story

We spoke with two traditional magazine publishers (Source Interlink and Forbes) and two pure-play digital companies (Say Media and Glam). Although the four represent wildly diverse audiences and demographics, some common themes and strategies emerged.

Most agree that effective narrative remains as the essential ingredient for success, no matter how strange and distracting the various media channels and platforms may seem. “The tools and tricks change with the medium, but the fundamentals of storytelling never do,” says Say Media’s CTO David Lerman. “Great storytelling is great storytelling, whether it’s on a tablet or a cave wall.”

Each company we interviewed is embracing the disruptive nature of an always-connected audience, both in terms of content creation technology and in dealing with the implications for its writers and editors. The traditional publishers are concerned about
the continuing role of print, but are remarkably upbeat about it.

“Long term, the future of print is as a premium format,” says Source Interlink’s chief content officer Angus MacKenzie. He notes that the diversity of brand-centered content made possible by new media platforms can now be curated to produce a vastly superior “best of” printed edition. Such a product, he reasons, would have enduring financial value to subscribers and advertisers.

Content curation is also a common theme. Glam Media CEO Samir Arora notes that only professionally created content-curated for quality and discoverability-could create lasting value for a brand. “Social collecting, sharing, and remixing of information can be done by any consumer,” he says. “Content creation should be from professional content businesses, authors, and studios.”

Expertise Matters

We spoke with Forbes Media’s chief product officer Lewis D’Vorkin, who is enthusiastic about both the core expertise of the company’s content creators and the technology they use. Forbes writers, editors, and contributors use the company’s Falcon publishing platform and a customized version of WordPress to create and edit content. Users may search for details of their own and related content, incorporate photos from a secure library, embed elements such as video, and publish selected content to Forbes channels and social media. The permission-based, on-screen editing tools have significantly compressed journalistic time frames, and extended the reach of Forbes’ team of journalists and contributors, D’Vorkin notes.

Although the right tools are important, D’Vorkin emphasizes that a rigorous onboarding process has resulted in the team of experts who are at the heart of Forbes’ content strategy. “Once we vet contributors, we give them the tools to self-publish, without there being a gatekeeper in the way,” he says. “Our system, both human and technological, is designed to monitor content very carefully and quickly-after publishing it.”

Part of the feedback involves subscriber feedback, which each content creator is required to monitor. “In every layer of our system, there is a built-in ‘meritocracy filter,’ which includes the audience,” he adds. “Our commenting system requires that the author engage with comments from the community. He or she can simply say ‘yes, I approve this comment,’ meaning that it’s productive, or disagrees with me in a productive way, or it takes the story forward.”

See also: Media Execs Share Game-Changing Tech Initiatives

Once the author approves the comment, it’s displayed with the article by default. “You can find the comments of anybody who’s just yelling, screaming, and being irrational, if you want, but it’s an extra click,” D’Vorkin says. “Because of that system, most people have figured that out. They then decide not to comment-unless they’re going to bring their A game.”

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06/14/2011

Are Some Editors Too F**king Uppity?


Slash & Burn Editor

It seems some editors have admitted to canning a complete manuscript sent to them because they found a “technical” (grammatical) error on the first page!…Damn! Christ, in his second coming, wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving another crucifixion with these excessively puckered wordsmiths. 

I feel that correcting these type of technical, grammatical errors is actually part of the goddamned editors job. Hell, editors that judge the whole manuscript content based on an incorrect word structure or phrasing mistake (of which, by the way, all the past, great authors were guilty) are simply lousy at their perceived function in life.

Having said that…here is an editors view by Ann Patty in Publishing Perspectives that cocked my trigger and with which I respectfully disagree in part:   

Learn the F**king Rules! 

Dumb errors in books and e-books are becoming more commonplace — but do overstretched publishers give a damn?

I was delighted to see the New York Times article last week about Johnny Temple’s success with Go the F*ck to Sleep. In this era of groupthink at the large publishers, it’s cause for celebration when a small house such as Akashic Books not only succeeds with a bold bet, but even manages to hang on to the property when the corporate sharks circle. Alas, my delight turned to consternation when I read the verse quoted in the article.

“The cats nestle close to their kittens,

The lambs have laid down with the sheep.

You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear.

Please go the ____ to sleep.”

Even my Word program, as I typed the above, knows that the second line should read “The lambs have lain down with the sheep.” Such a mistake, with a word whose meter and rhyme is incidental in the line, in poetry!

In my many years as an editor, the most frequent lesson I’ve had to impart to writers — from fledglings to award winners to mega-bestsellers — is about the difference between the transitive verb lay, laid, laid and the intransitive verb lie, lay, lain. Some authors get it; some never do, even after eight or nine books. That’s why there are editors and copy editors and proofreaders, right?

Where was the editor on Go the F*ck to Sleep? Where was the copy editor, the proofreader? How did that laid slip by them? Isn’t it their job to protect the writer from such an embarrassing mistake?

Read and learn more

06/07/2011

Editors – More Needed than Ever!

Filed under: editing,editors,editors profession,John R. Austin — gator1965 @ 7:16 am

Editors behind the scenes - Working to make writers look good

Have editors been forgotten in todays world of  instant publishing?

NOT IF YOU’RE SMART!

See this post from my “Writers Welcome Blog”

Editors – More Needed than Ever!

06/07/2010

Editors

Filed under: editing,editors,Jennifer Tribe — gator1965 @ 9:24 pm


A little writers’ advice tonight…Understanding editors and editing. And I could probably use editing help on this blog!

This insight comes from Jennifer Tribe (pictured) of Highspot Inc:

If you are interested in creating information products, you will very likely deal with editors throughout your career. You may need someone to edit a book, review a special report, or tighten up a magazine article. Even if you are a brilliant writer, it always helps to have someone else look at the work with fresh eyes.

Most of these editors will be people you hire on a freelance or project basis. To get the most out of such a relationship, it helps to be clear about what you need and what you can expect.

To start, you should know what kind of editing you are looking for. There are many different levels and varieties of editing. Probably the three you will encounter the most are substantive editing, copyediting and proofreading.

Substantive editing. Sometimes called developmental editing, substantive editing looks at both the content and structure of a manuscript as a cohesive whole. Does the story or argument flow logically? Are there obvious gaps in a certain area? Too much information someplace else? Substantive editing can involve re-ordering large chunks of text, removing text, adding text, and even rewriting.

Copyediting. Probably the most misused of all the terms, copyediting is often used as a catchall phrase for any and all kinds of editing. Strictly speaking, however, copyediting checks for errors in grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation and other mechanics of style, internal consistency, cross-referencing, labeling and so on.

Proofreading. Proofreading is the final review of a fully formatted and typeset manuscript. It is meant only to catch small errors such as the odd spelling mistake or hyphenation snafu that might have been missed at the copyediting stage, or that appeared during the layout process.

The above definitions are fairly standard but there are variations. Not every editor defines editing terms in the same way. It is therefore crucial that you discuss in detail the exact nature of the services your editor will provide.

You will also want to clearly discuss the fee arrangement. Some editors charge by the page or word, while others charge by the hour. Still others charge a flat project fee. One method of charging is not necessarily better than other. Just be sure you know what you will get for your money. If you are being charged by the hour, ask the editor to provide an estimate up front of how long the project will take so there are no surprises when the final invoice arrives.

The best way to avoid misunderstandings is to have a written contract signed before any work begins. A contract will typically include a:

•detailed description of the services to be provided
•statement of the fees and payment schedule, and
•timeline for the work to be completed, including any project milestones.

Depending on the scope and nature of the project, your contract may also include a number of other considerations. An important clause to include, especially on a book project, is one that deals with copyright. You want to make sure that, as the author, you retain all rights to the material no matter how much editing or rewriting the editor may do on your behalf.

Many editors will supply a contract, but be prepared to create one yourself if they do not.

Here are a few final tips for working with an editor:

Some editors specialize either by format, by topic, or both. For example, an editor might be a specialist in audio scripts or might focus solely on medical books. You may want to look for an editor with particular expertise in your subject matter, especially if you are writing about a highly specialized field.

•Be open-minded towards an editor’s suggestions and changes. It can be hard on the ego to see your painstakingly crafted manuscript go under the editor’s knife. But keep in mind that if an editor is making alterations, it’s because he or she thinks it will improve your work. And in the end, a good product makes you look good too.
•Establish and maintain clear lines of communication. Know what your expectations are and convey them. Ask the editor to keep you in the loop as the work progresses.

05/17/2010

Publishing Past is Over. But Publishing Future is Under Construction


While the traditional publishing biz model is gasping and dying before our eyes, newborn biz models are struggling to hatch completely…Models that are being forged by many factors such as the internet (YouTube, blogs, social media, POD), and other technology and apps proliferating media gadgets to make the “written Word” more comfortable and accessable in digital…

Publishing past is over. But publishing future is under construction.


I borrowed that cool phrase from Steve Rosenbaum (pictured at left) in an interview he did with Debbie Stier (former Associate Publisher of HarperStudio) for The Huffington Post in which they discuss “the best of times and the worst of times” in publishing:

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

A great sentence that could well have been written about 2010 and the world of book publishing. For Debbie Stier, a lifelong member of Publishing’s elite, it would be easy to see the glass as half empty.

She was working as an Associate Publisher for HarperStudio, a forward thinking HarperCollins imprint that offered lower advances and more profit sharing with authors. But when Publisher Bob Miller announced he was leaving, HarperCollins pulled the plug on the HarperStudio operation. Stier was left an Editor at Large, somewhat a minister without portfolio, watching the business she loves struggle with gut-wrenching change.

Still, she’s grinning, ear to ear.

“Books aren’t going away,” said Stier. “I read on a iPhone, I read on a Kindle, I have a Sony and I have books. And I recently have made a return to books. And I have decided there are different kinds of reading, and there’s certain kinds of reading that’s ephemeral. There’s always going to be a place for printed books”

“It was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

For a seasoned marketer like Stier, finding a title starts with the reader.

“I start with, ‘Who is the audience for this book,’ and then, ‘How am I going to reach that person,'” she said. “And I have worked with many literary authors back in the day, five years ago, and seeing if you can get that author on NPR and maybe the New York Times Book Review. And there still is that. But now it also means teaching that author how to connect with their audience online. And a lot of the literary authors, it’s very hard for them to do. But I try and find that place. I always say, ‘If you had a magazine, what would your magazine be? Make that magazine on WordPress.'”

Stier’s authors are on the cutting edge, and there’s no better example of a cross over author than Gary Vanderchuk, the peripatetic preacher of Wine gospel (see: Wine Library TV) and fast rising business coach.

“I saw him speak at the Web 2.0 conference,” she said. “I had been following him on Twitter. I’d seen Wine Library TV, I knew what a phenomenon he was. I loved him, I thought he was great. But, then when I saw him speak at the Web 2.0 conference two years ago, I said, this guy has a book.”

“It was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity.”

Stier talks about authors in way that is personal, intimate and with a real sense that she gets them.

“I always knew, to be quite honest with you, that I was going to do a book with [Gary], from the second I saw him up there speaking, and I was like, that’s my guy,” she said. “The book was written here, out-loud, and I have a whole bunch of tape recording devices, and we start with an outline, and Gary just speaks it, and then we put it on paper, and we go from there.

And yet, getting books through the old system of publishing is a slow and painful process.

“It’s like a jar of peanut butter, and somebody says, ‘Okay, swim, swim through it.’ There are so many layers of why it’s difficult, you cant even believe,” she said. “So let’s say you have something that’s timely like Sarah Palin. And you can push it to the front of the publishing house, and get that done. Now you’ve got the stores to deal with. They’ve booked up their shelf space, six or eight months in advance. So that’s a layer of complication that you have to get through.”

But today publishers are embracing social media; they’re talking about Twitter, Facebook, blogs and webpages.

“I say that we’re down the rabbit hole,” said Stier, “and it feels to me, everyone gets what I’m talking about, and then I have these moments when I realize that it’s actually same 20 of us that are just bouncing ideas in the echo chamber off one another.”

“It was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.”

While books are central to Stiers world, she admits that even her habits are changing.

“I hate to even admit this, but I just recently cancelled my subscription to The Times. I had cancelled my print version a year or two ago. And then I was getting it on the Kindle and I realized: I don’t even read it on the Kindle.”

Read more http://alturl.com/p8dx

http://curationnation.magnify.net/embed/player/BBQ36V15NRFVWPPH

11/15/2009

Frances Jeanne Said:

Filed under: editorial,editors — gator1965 @ 2:43 pm

Re: Magazine Editing – The Accidental Profession

Great article, Johnny! I’m sharing with my neighbor, Nancy – who’s a veteran consultant for AAA Magazines.

11/14/2009

Magazine Editing – The Accidental Profession


Hi Friends & Followers. Hope all are enjoying their Saturday. I’m happy! My Florida Gators won a tough-fought game today against our past coach’s team: the South Carolina Gamecocks. That makes a 20 game winning streak! Highest in the nation.

Todays post is about how we sometimes “stumble” into a profession in the publishing, writing and editorial fields.

John Brady is a partner at Brady & Paul Communications, a publishing consultancy, and discusses this very thing in Folio Magazine, The Magazine For Magazine Management:

Magazine editing is not a job. It’s a calling. Like barbecue experts, most editors are self-proclaimed. Very few graduate from journalism school where they majored in magazine editing and come up through the editorial ranks. Most editors of my acquaintance have stumbled into their jobs through happenstance. They studied accounting (with an English minor), took a summer job at a fulfillment house, did some copyediting on the side, became an assistant editor when someone quit on short notice and now the title is: Editor-in-chief.

I call it the accidental profession. Or another way of putting it is—we don’t choose magazine editing. It chooses us.

Today, the job is changing dramatically as we find ourselves in the midst of enormous change in the profession. We are in the bunker in an age when magazines as we have come to know and love are at risk. Many are gone, and many others are in deep decline—as though they are saying: “Please help me, I’ve fallen and can’t get up.”

What Can We Do?

Foremost, let’s recognize that the dilemma is not primarily an editorial problem. In most publications, editorial has never been better. Advertising—or the lack thereof—is the problem.

What does an editor need in these troubled times? You don’t need more money. (In fact, don’t even ask.) You don’t need a bigger staff. That’s just more cost—and more people to worry and wonder about.

I think you may need an extra dose of savvy—which I define as the ability to learn and to work that knowledge quickly into the editorial mix while we ride things out and wait for an upturn in the economy and in the ad-page count.

A minor in psychology helps.

This is nothing new for us in the editing game. Inventors and magazine editors are seldom without problems to solve. It’s all part of the job description.

We all know how important it is to know what you want. It is also important to like being in charge, and now is the time for being in charge of change.

When the crunch is on, editors will go to great lengths to make everything change. They will hire new people and fire those who don’t seem to do the right thing. They will change the look of a magazine. They will change the story mix, the departments. They will do everything but change themselves.

Your Real Job: Editorial Sales Manager

To which I say—editor, examine thyself. Instead of taking yourself as an editor, consider a totally new persona. Your approach to each issue should be: This is not a publication, it is an EVENT.

You are in charge of selling tickets to an editorial event. Think of your job as Editorial Sales Manager.

Here we can take a page from the advertising playbook. Advertising changes constantly. Ad campaigns change. Ads within a campaign change regularly. Some ads are seen only a few times, and then replaced within a 30-day cycle.

Tradition is one of the major roadblocks to editorial change, a powerful force not easily overcome. “If it’s October, we’ve got to do the show issue”—that kind of thinking is paralysis in the current environment.

It all begins with a campaign plan. Revising and revamping your contributor guidelines is a golden opportunity to change the way you do editorial business. Get the magazine on a new track at ground level, and keep it there for purposes of editorial planning.

The editor’s job today goes beyond getting the magazine’s content right. As editorial sales manager (or event planner), your job is to SELL editorial, to stage the magazine as an ongoing advertisement for itself. This means creating events that are constantly evolving and changing so that each issue reads and looks “the same, only different” and, in doing so, arouses curiosity about the next issue.

10/25/2009

Editor Salaries Slump in 2009


Due to changes in the publishing trade, as previously discussed in this blog, editors’ salaries have been stymied and even decreased in some niches.

Matt Kinsman, executive editor of FOLIO magazine, has listed some editor salaries in the September 2009 issue. His article gives an insight into editors’ compensation:

By Matt Kinsman 08/27/2009

Magazine editors saw salaries rise for the most part in 2008 but they expect a significant decline of possibly 10 percent or greater in 2009, according to the 2009 FOLIO: Editorial Salary Survey, conducted by Readex Research. The mean salary for editorial directors was $89,000, with b-to-b coming out on top at $98,200 followed by consumer at $90,800 and associations at $81,300.

However, just 20 percent of editorial directors expect a salary increase in 2009. Forty-seven percent expect it to stay the same, while 31 percent expect a decrease (of that number, the majority—15 percent—say they think it will drop by 15 percent or more).

Editors and executive editors saw a mean salary of $69,500 in 2008, with association coming out on top at $74,900, followed by b-to-b at $70,600. Just 17 percent of respondents expect an increase, while 53 percent expect salaries to be flat in 2009.

The consumer side posted the largest salary among managing and senior editors at $65,400, followed by association at $56,200 and b-to-b at $55,600. Again, 53 percent of managing/senior editors expect their salaries to be flat in 2009.

New Reality?
Some respondents wondered if a changing business model could mean lower salaries long term. “Closing down print products could be smart from a cost standpoint but getting big dollars from online is a challenge, which could result in cuts in pay and staff.”

“Compensation may not change but workload will due to reduced staff,” said another. One association editor talked about a shrinking readership. “Smaller organizations are disappearing and merging companies will mean less dues money. That means less operating money in budget for salaries/bonuses.”

10/19/2009

How To Pitch A Story


I am going to list some hints on pitching a story idea. You have finished your masterpiece article/story and have the editor on the phone! What do you say? Elizabeth Kirwin, co-owner of Sidhe Communications in Asheville, NC, has these thoughts:

How to Pitch a Story
By Elizabeth Kirwin

Ever wonder why we refer to convincing an editor a story is worthy by “pitching a story” ? I have. I’m a baseball enthusiast, and it makes a lot of sense to me. When the editor is at bat with you, he or she has a few swings to make before making a connection through the story idea (ball) that could end up being a base hit or a home run. Naturally, everyone wants to hit a home run when they go to bat with an editor. Sometimes publicists and writers do have to walk to first base for the story assignment. Here are some helpful tips on how to pitch a story to an editor and how to at least hit a single, double, or triple if not a home run on occasion.

Use an Editor’s Time Productively

Time spent on the telephone with an editor is more like a gift from God. If you want to be successful at purveying a story idea, it’s best to have the information you want to convey rehearsed, or in note written form prior to your call. Try not to spend more than 10 or 15 minutes speaking about your story idea. Always ask the editor: “Is this a good time for you?” before beginning your pitch. Another great way to reach an editor is by a well-written e-mail pitch. In either case focus the presentation or conversation on your story idea(s). If the editor is interested, he or she may ask more questions. If not, the editor should tell you.

Facts, Sources, Images

The editor needs to be interested in the theme of your story. A quick 2-3 sentence synopsis should offer an original focus or angle on a topic related to the publication. For example, if I wanted to pitch to Ms. magazine, I’d want to have a feminist event, profile, or feature idea that would be appropriate. Identify potential research sources for your story, or elaborate upon contacts with experts in the area, to let the editor know you are capable of tackling the subject. This expansion on your topic is key to keeping the editor’s interest. Many magazine and newspaper editors will also ask you up front about the availability of photographs to go with the story. Be prepared to answer this question with some viable suggestions for photos and a creative approach. By now you’ve sold the story idea. So, don’t forget to ask about the availability of a staff photographer from the publication to assist with photos.

Where do I Find Stories to Pitch?

Whether you are working for yourself or an organization or company, you have your comfort zones. These are vendors you are doing business with, your immediate environment, and social functions that seem aligned with your work. Go outside of your usual boundaries, experiment in other social venues, and talk to people as often as possible. I look for story ideas when I’m on assignment with a story. Because I write daily, I know that one story will inevitably lead to another. I also pick up story ideas in the bar, at the university where I work as a teacher, from other clients, from students, local activists, or during outdoor group activities such as hiking and camping. I listen closely to what people say, and I carry around my favorite pocketbook sized bungee notebook to record my thoughts and story ideas. When I have an editor on the telephone, or am lucky enough to meet one in person, I act like I did when I played ball: I just start pitching.

Tools of the Trade

Once, I had a bead collection I acquired from a friend who was sick of beading. She said to me, if you just look at the collection long enough, you’ll have ideas. This is what I did, and this is how I made my necklaces.
For writers, I recommend they look at as many hard copy and on-line publications as possible. Don’t forget to obtain a copy of the current Writer’s Market. It’s a useful publication for profiling buying publications. I suggest the budding writer look into publications in sync with their personal interests. For example, I enjoy backcountry hiking and camping. I would probably want to contact outdoors magazines to pitch them some stories. I also have an interest in local newspapers, travel, educational, and holistic healing magazines. I’ve pitched to all of these types of publications. When you find a publication you really like, write down the editor’s name, e-mail, phone number and start to pitch. There’s also a great writer’s site called Writing for Money. For $8 per month you can review an interactive on-line listing of publications which are currently buying new work. With these links, you can visit the publications directly, read about them, and e-mail the editor your pitch. The longer you look at these tools of the trade, the more ideas will percolate.

Hit a Home Run

You want to hit a home run with an editor and land a story? Well, try going to bat with two to three story ideas instead of just one. Or the story you’ve developed can be pitched at different angles, which may make it more suitable for your publication of choice. Make sure to view at least several articles from the publication itself before pitching an editor, so you can have an idea of that editor’s taste in material and style. All of these tips should help you land a great story, and even more in the future. As with baseball: practice. With practice, you’ll learn how to pitch like an expert

04/05/2009

How Long (or Short) Should Your Story Be ?


A common question which I’ll address here and now. In my research on this topic I stumbled across this comprehensive list of story lengths by South Australian writer Lee Masterson:

One common question asked by many writers is: “How long should my story be?”The simplest answer is: As long as it takes to tell the whole story.

However, there are certain word lengths that editors prefer to see when submitting work.
Here is an approximate guideline for story lengths.

Micro-Fiction – up to 100 words. This very abbreviated story is often difficult to write, and even harder to write well, but the markets for micro fiction are becoming increasingly popular in recent times. Publishers love them, as they take up almost no room and don’t cost them their budgets. Pay rates are often low, but for so few words, the rate per word averages quite high.

Flash Fiction – 100 – 1,000 words. This is the type of short-short story you would expect to find in a glossy magazine, often used to fill one page of quick romance (or quick humor, in men’s mags) Very popular, quick and easy to write, and easier to sell!

Short Story – 1,000 – 7,500 words. The ‘regular’ short story, usually found in periodicals or anthology collections. Most ‘genre’ zines will features works at this length.

Novellette – 7,500 – 20,000 words. Often a novellette-length work is difficult to sell to a publisher. It is considered too long for most publishers to insert comfortably into a magazine, yet too short for a novel. Generally, authors will piece together three or four novellette-length works into a compilation novel.

Novella – 20,000 – 50,000 words. Although most print publishers will balk at printing a novel this short, this is almost perfect for the electronic publishing market length. The online audience doesn’t always have the time or the patience to sit through a 100,000 word novel. Alternatively, this is an acceptable length for a short work of non-fiction.

Novel – 50,000 -110,000 words. Most print publishers prefer a minimum word count of around 70,000 words for a first novel, and some even hesitate for any work shorter than 80,000. Yet any piece of fiction climbing over the 110,000 word mark also tends to give editors some pause. They need to be sure they can produce a product that won’t over-extend their budget, but still be enticing enough to readers to be saleable. Imagine paying good money for a book less than a quarter-inch thick?

Epics and Sequels – Over 110,000 words. If your story extends too far over the 110,000 mark, perhaps consider where you could either condense the story to only include relevant details, or lengthen it to span out into a sequel, or perhaps even a trilogy. (Unless, of course, you’re Stephen King – then it doesn’t matter what length your manuscript is – a publisher is a little more lenient with an established author who has a well-established readership).

Page Counts – In most cases, industry standard preferred length is 250 words per page… so a 400 page novel would be at about 100,000 words. If you want to see what size book is selling in your genre, take a look on the shelves. If the average length is 300 pages, you’re looking at a 75,000 word manuscript (approximately). One reason it’s harder for a new author to sell a 140,000 word manuscript is the size of the book. A 500+ page book is going to take up the space of almost two, 300 page books on the shelves. It’s also going to cost more for the publishers to produce, so unless the author is well known, the book stores aren’t going to stock that many copies of the ‘door-stopper’ novel as compared to the thinner novel.Remember, these word- and page-counts are only estimated guides. Use your own common sense, and, where possible, check the guidelines of the publication you intend to submit your work to. Most publishers accepting shorter works will post their maximum preferred lengths, and novels are generally considered on the strength of the story itself, not on how many words you have squeezed into each chapter. For lengths more specific to Children’s books, please refer to Laura’s article “Understanding Children’s Writing Genres
© Copyright Lee Masterson. All Rights Reserved.

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