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  • Writer's pictureG R Matthews

Does length matter?

Does length matter? Is it important to you? If it was shorter than you thought or were used to, would you really mind that much?

Surely it is it what you do with it that really matters. I mean, why write a thousand words when ten will say it quicker and with more feeling?

With books, does length really matter? Isn't it the impact they have on you that matters the most.

What did you think I was talking about? Get your mind out of the gutter and pay attention to something else for a bit.


I see, often, on comments about my books that they are a) great (thanks for that) and b) a short read; something to read between the Epic tomes of fantasy. You know G R R Martin's books... can't recall the title of them at the moment. Or those Malazan ones that I need to read when I have a spare century or two. I can live with both of those. I know my own literary ecological niche.

Anyway, I decided to do some comparisons of length... I left my teenage years and Adrian Mole behind a long time ago so I can do this without any Carry On moments.... Matron!

I went with a simple measure; 'Page Length' according to Amazon Kindle books. And I looked at a selection of books from fantasy and I even stuck in an Agatha Christies and my two Sci-Fi ones - just to mix it up a little. Here is the list. (Screenshot from Excel.)

As you can see, I've separated books into Self and Traditional published because I was interested in the differences, if there were any. The chart below shows the average number of pages by publishing route... not a great deal of difference (I took out the scifi books to compare fantasy). 420 pages vs 413 - hardly deal breaking.

What about my books? Where do they fit into the spectrum of length? Time for another chart! I've left all the books in here.

Silent City is the shortest book (54,000 words) and that's pretty much what I expected to see. It is just over a novella in length - and that was on purpose, they are supposed to be like a TV episode, each chapter short and with some action or turning point. I was pretty sure the Agatha Christie books would be short too.

However, look through the rest. Applecrumble's (Joe Abercrombie) book is the longest one here... but The Red Plains comes in third on the list, just after fellow Fantasy-Faction writer Lucy Hounsom's, Starborn. I didn't expect that. I was also a little shocked to Myke Cole's book so far up the list - I remember it being shorter. Same with Phil Tucker's being so far down, I remember that being a lot longer.

My shortest fantasy book, right down near the end was The Stone Road, and that's nearly 90,000 words long.

And that's when I thought, does length matter?

If folks are saying this book is short, perhaps what they really mean is they couldn't put it down and had to read it all in one go? Perhaps what they mean is that there are slow points, no needless exposition and wandering thoughts. No wasted words or scenes?

More than that, if Agatha Christie can write short books that sell millions, get made into films, TV shows, the longest running play in the world... I am pretty sure others can too.

That's what I choose to believe anyway. It is up to you what you think.

The Stone Road is FREE this week 13th to 17th February 2017

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