When asked how long a paper should be, an English professor I had in college would reply in his slow Virginia drawl, “A written work should be as long as a lady’s hemline. Long enough to cover the subject but short enough to keep it interesting.”
While his instruction might be seen as inappropriate in today’s classroom, I have never forgotten his words and still share them to help clients think through both the outline and edit of their books. However, when it comes to actual word count for a manuscript, there are norms authors should be aware of, especially if they are seeking a traditional publisher or agent:
In general, nonfiction books contain anywhere from 30,000 to 75,000 words.
Nonfiction academic and self-help books are usually at the higher end of that word count at 60,000 and above.
Nonfiction business books typically average from 35,000 to 55,000 words.
Memoirs, though nonfiction, gravitate toward the lower-ran...
Everyone has a story in them. The hard part for many of us is getting that story out. And having that blank computer screen staring back at us hardly quells our anxiety.
As someone who writes every day, I have developed a few strategies to keep that blank screen at bay. These work whether you are writing a letter, a report or a book.
Strategy 1: Just start writing. Type whatever comes into your head. Be unafraid. Remember, it's on a computer screen, not a stone tablet. You can change it, rearrange it. It is so much easier to edit than to write.
Strategy 2: Ask yourself questions, and write down your answers. (This is where I go when I get stuck.) What is the point of this work? What's important? What does your reader need to know? Etc. Your written answers give you direction as well as words and sentences to work with.
Strategy 3: Tell it to a friend. Call someone up and...