Book Length in a Series – Does it matter?

nabakovThis is another post based on the book, Nabokov’s Favorite Word is Mauve, by Ben Blatt, a book that looks at writing in a way that appeals to numbers geeks like myself as it looks for patterns and quantification of the books that we read and write.

So far, I’ve posted tidbits about his analysis of adverbsexclamation pointsgender identification in writingwriters following their own advicesimplicity in writing,  US vs. UK writing styles and author name size on book covers.

This post focuses on those of us that write books that are part of a series.

hardy boysBlatt starts out by talking about the famed Hardy Boys series. The creator of the series, Edward Stratemeyer, specified that every book had to contain the same number of chapters and, beyond that, each book had to be 216-217 pages.

Whenever writers submitted manuscripts in the series to him, he would either insert or delete pages to make it that length or ask them to conform to the page count before the books would be published.

hunger gamesSuzanne Collins followed this strategy with Hunger Games series. The three books were 100,000, 102,000 and 101,000 in length. Each book had three parts with nine chapters each.

harry potter

The other extreme in this analysis of book length in a series is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The first book was about 84,000 words or about 309 pages. She knew she wanted to write a seven-book series, but her initial publisher wasn’t so sure about the success of the series. She received an advance of under $3,000 for the initial book.

The books then varied in size throughout the series with the remaining six coming in at 85K, 108K, 191K, 259K, 171K and 197K. Rowling did mention that The Order of the Phoenix, her longest book, could have been shorter, but she ran out of time to cut content from it.

Three other famous series, Fifty Shades, by E.L. James, Twilight, by  Stephenie Meyer, and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth all increased in size with each book.

I have five books in my Frank Rozzani series. My Blood series will have two books once the second, Blood Match, is published.

My Frank Rozzani books are, by page count, 259, 276, 232, 155 and 409 in length. (The last book was written with a co-author which may explain the jump in length).

My Blood  books come in at 252 for the first one and 317 pages for the unreleased book (so far).

What about you? If you have a series, or even if you don’t, are your book lengths consistent or do you find yourself writing more or less as you publish more work?


9 thoughts on “Book Length in a Series – Does it matter?

  1. I never considered book length for series – only that the length feel appropriate for the content of each individual book. If there are superfluous words, scenes, characters or plot lines simply to conform to a word count, I can usually tell and the book becomes tedious.

    Conversely, I often wonder what was in the draft that was cut to conform to a preconceived length when scenes feel truncated. Great post – well worth thinking about. Thanks.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”


  2. I have a series (sort of). I gage by word count, not pages. I know how many words I want before I start writing. I don’t force it and I usually come in about where I thought I would. Of the three books in the series it’s: 79,000, 100,000, 90,000.

    Liked by 1 person

      • The way I see it is that I already have the story in head and “something” is telling me it’s going to be 90,000 or 100,000 words. I never force anything. Don’t ask me why, but so far my books have always come in at the word count I “thought” the would. I never take out or add to a story to meet a predetermined word count.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Beginnings – How do famous writers stack up? | Author Don Massenzio

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