Add or Chop?

What to do if your manuscript word count is too low:

  1. Consider making it book one in a series.
  2. Publish it as a novella.
  3. Reread your manuscript. Are there places you can add a scene? A chapter? 
  4. Could you write a prologue? An Epilogue?

What to do if your manuscript word count is too high:

  1. Reread your manuscript. Look for ways to use more concise vocabulary in order to say what you intend, but with less words.
  2. Eliminate repetition. Especially in cases where you are revealing your character’s inner thoughts.
  3. Split your book in two, making the second half another book in your “new” series.
  4. Remove some of your content (especially in non-fiction or self-help books) and use the “extra” content in a blog, short story, etc.

The Averages

At one time or another, we have talked about word count for short stories, novellas, novels, non-fiction, etc. However, if you missed one of those blogs, here they are for you. All in one place

These are averages because almost every article I read on this subject reported different word counts. Each publisher or contest will furnish writers with guidelines, including minimum and maximum word counts.

Fiction

Novel: 55,000-300,000

Novella: 30,000-50,000 (Average: 17,500)

Novelette:  7,700-17,500

Short Story:  Less than 7,500 (The “perfect” S.S.= 6,000)

Flash Fiction: Works under 1,500

  Non-Fiction

Biography:  80,000-110,000

Memoir: 60,000-90,000

Business & Money:  40,000-80,000

History:  60,000-100,000

Self-Help & “How-to”:  20,000-70,000

Tomorrow’s Achievements

2022.

Like all new years, it is welcomed as an opportunity for new beginnings.

“New year’s babies” are born.

New year’s resolutions are made.

We turn our backs on the previous year and look forward to future possibilities.

It is a time when writers (and aspiring writers) set goals. We shake off the failures and disappointments of the past and vow to do better. 

Write more.

Improve our skills. 

Work harder.

In our personal lives, especially in times of emotional trouble, “taking it day-by-day” is often good advice.

But what about writers?

It’s often hard for those of us who are planners, list makers and goal setters to take it one day at a time.

We plan. Look at the year ahead. The big picture.

Writers break goals down book by book, chapter by chapter, scene by scene, page by page.

Often, even word by word.

Breaking our writing into increments that are too small won’t get that book written; taking on too much will often lead to frustration and disappointment.

In the end, we must attempt what is challenging, yet doable. 

Meeting our goals for 2022 will lead to bigger and better ones in the years ahead.

The “New Beginnings” today will be tomorrow’s achievements.


Do This To Increase Book Sales

I always find it helpful to look back at what I have learned in the past year, before I can look ahead. As I reflected this past week, I read some of my past blogs. I think most of what I learned I passed along to other writers.

However, I saw something interesting that you probably already know: if your goal is to sell books, plan to finish writing by June, use the next few months for critiquing/editing/cover design. And publish by October so that you can cash in on the biggest sales period of the year: Christmas.

Furthermore, it will help if you have the word Christmas or Holidays or other words “of the season” in your title. Beyond that, if your cover has a Christmas tree or snow on it, sales will increase.

Now, let’s say that you don’t want to write a Christmas story, per se. You can still have your book ready in October, design a cover with a winter scene, use a word in your title that might tend to be Googled, such as JOY or HOLIDAY. (I once saw a book that was about a place named Holiday Farms. It had nothing to do with Christmas. The last name of the individual was Holiday.)

You can use similar ideas for Easter, Fourth of July, Halloween, and so on. I leave you to your imagination and creativity in boosting your book sales around the holidays.


Choose. Then Use.

To choose, copyright, and use a pen name:

  1. Make sure you haven’t chosen another well-known person’s pen name. (I just read this week that even though it is ok to choose a pen name of a different gender, it is NOT acceptable to use one of a different ethnicity than your own.)
  1. Purchase URLs and social media handles for your pen name.
  1. Legally set up a business using your pen name. Most writers choose LLCs or sole proprietorships. Open new bank accounts in your pen name. 
  1. Apply for a Fictitious Business Name Statement (FBN Statement) if you plan to receive payments under your pen name. (Amazon will make payments to the account owner name of your KDP account, so if you’re only selling on Amazon, you may choose to skip this step).
  1. Inform your agent and publisher of your real name for contracts and tax purposes.
  1. Use your pen name on your book cover and copyright notice (like this: © 2021 [your pen name]).
  1. Register the copyright for your work under your real name and your pen name.

Next week: the conclusion of Using Pen Names.

More Information on Faking It

We are getting near our series on pseudonyms. We will end off the the one that is far and above the best, the Fake Name Generator.

It generates legitimate names, along with real addresses, phone numbers, and occupations. It lets you specify gender and culture.

And, if you didn’t find anything you liked in last week’s list, here are some more you can try: 

Masterpiece Pen Name Generator, Fantasy Name GeneratorReedsy’s Pen Name Generator. And, you can use the anagram tool to create a plethora of names out of the letters in your real name. 

Let’s try some names generated from my name, Brenda Poulos:

Paul Boone; Raul Bendos; Brad Enos; and Lupe DanBoor. (It took twenty minutes for me to come up with these on my own. And, not very good ones at that.) Trying the generator tools is faster, easier, and the names are much better!

Next week, we will learn how to properly copyright and use a pen name!

Are You a Fake?

Want to create a pen name, but don’t feel particularly creative?  

Check out these name generators: 

Reedsy’s Pen Name Generator

Fantasy Name Generator

Masterpiece Pen Name Generator 

Fake Name Generator (this one will create a fake address, phone number, occupation, credit card number, and even supporting persona backstory…)

And, if you really want to customize by creating a name with hidden meanings, try:

anagram tool

Igne’s Anagram Generator

These are lots of fun to play around with!

Look for my blog next week, when I share more fun facts about Pen Names!

Famous Pen Names and How to Choose Yours

  • Although authors can register copyrights for work created under a pen name, remember that this reduces the length of time the copyright will be active.
  • Using a pen name doesn’t protect you from lawsuits, taxes, or anything else.
  • You can acquire a trademark for a pen name. (But not your own real name!)
  • You can legally sign contracts using a pen name.
  • Don’t use another author’s pen name or real name.

Peruse this list of famous pen names: J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seus (this one is a registered trademark, also), Lee Child, Mark Twain, George Orwell, Lewis Carroll, and Lemony Snicket.

Choosing a Pen Name:

  • Choose the right age. One that appeals to your readers. You might use a list of baby names of your target year, or one or two years older.
  • Choose names that fit your vibe and genre. Amazon is a great place for ideas by looking for author names in your genre.
  • You’ll want to own the internet domain and social media handles for your pen name. Go to siteground to see if your choice is available. Be sure to check under both .com and .org.
  • Use a name that is easy to pronounce, spell, and remember.
  • Make sure the name you choose isn’t identical or similar to another writer’s.
  • Sign up for social media sites using the pen name, even if you don’t use them right away.
  • Choose a fake photo. How? Go to Generated.photos/faces. (You can choose age, gender, skin tone, eye and hair color, emotion). Note: The free versions cannot be used commercially.)

More next week…

Reasons, Reasons, and More Reasons

Reasons for Authors Using Pen Names Might Include:

  1. If the author’s real name is similar (or identical) to another well-known person, an author might want to change it so as not to be confused with the “other person.”

2) To keep their writing career separate from their “occupation.”

3)  To have a more memorable name.

4)  To make certain one has access to the URL and social media handles they want.

5)    If one’s real name is hard to pronounce or is easily misspelled.

6)   Writing under different names may help to avoid readers’ confusion if the authors writes in several different genres.

7) If they are writing about something controversial and fear reprisal.

8)  If their real name suggests something negative. (I remember being afraid of our family doctor when I was a child. His name was Dr. Slaughter!)

9) Just for fun!