Monthly Archives: June 2012

Biblical Word Counts…

I ask readers this week to bear with me while I share some statistics from the site King James Bible Statistics. I promise this is going someplace:

  • Total words in the Bible (KJV): 788,280
  • Total words in the Old Testament (KJV): 609,269
  • Total words in the New Testament (KJV): 179,011
  • Total words in the four Gospels: 82,590

Why am I sharing these numbers? Simple. This week we received an “alternative interpretation” of the history surrounding a famous African leader. Total word count: approximately 551,000 words. That’s right – the manuscript was almost as long as the Old Testament. While there is a part of me that applauds someone for being able to write this many words on a single topic, another part of me is asking what was this author thinking?

I’ve commented before on the fact that there are reasons most publishers have word count guidelines. The first has to do with the cost associated with printing a book. A publisher is less likely to take a chance on a 150,000 word manuscript by a new author than an 80,000 word manuscript by the same author simply because of the cost associated with printing the book. But the other reason is that people have a finite attention span (which is dependent on age) and expect books to be a certain length depending on genre. This is one of the reasons Young Adult books can be as short as 50,000 words, while Science Fiction tends to be upwards of 100,000 words or more – it’s what readers of these genres have come to expect.

So before you submit your 150,000-175,000 word manuscript for review to a publisher, ask yourself a simple question: If the story of Jesus Christ could be told in 82,590 words, does your manuscript really need to be as long as the New Testament…

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The future of reading revealed – at the gym and airport…

Two weeks ago it was my turn to take our daughter to her Saturday morning gym class. I always bring my Kindle in order to, among other things, get caught up on reading queries. What really struck me on this particular morning was the number of parents that were reading – and more important what they were reading on.

I was reading on my Kindle. The woman to the right of me was reading Hunger Games on her iPhone, while the woman next to her was reading a magazine on her iPad. To my left, a man read a paper copy of the Wall Street Journal, while the girl next to him was reading a book on her Nook (I didn’t ask which one). Only the man reading the Wall Street Journal was enjoying the smell of paper on the particular morning.

Fast forward two weeks. I’m sitting in Manchester Airport right now waiting for a flight to Newport News, Virginia, via Baltimore. I count thirteen people reading on various electronic reading devices, while only five people are enjoying the feel of paper between their fingers.

In short, the way that people are reading is changing, and there is nothing the large publishers can do to stop it.

I’ve seen this change in reading habits based on our own sales; 60% of the unit sales for Hurricane are the eBook. So while there are people in the blogosphere who are more than happy to talk about how publishing works and why this is the only correct model for a publishing business, the truth is that how people are reading and getting information is changing. Publishers large and small need to recognize the change that is already occurring and adapt to it. Failing to do this will make publishers nothing more than the next typewriter vendors in the age of computers…

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