The Sweetie Chronicles

Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. ~William Wordsworth

The Word Count Issue

In the traditional publishing world, word count for young adult novels is all over the place. The Twilight Saga books are each over 100,000 words. Books like Kate Brian's Private series are more around the 65,000-75,000 word count. Most websites and agents place a typical YA manuscript between 45,000-80,000 words. Here is what Agent Colleen Lindsay says about YA:

YA fiction = For mainstream YA, anywhere from about 45k to 80k; paranormal YA or YA fantasy can occasionally run as high as 120k but editors would prefer to see them stay below 100k. The second or third in a particularly bestselling series can go even higher. But it shouldn't be word count for the sake of word count.
According to wikipedia, a novelette is between 7,500 and 17,499 words. A novella is generally anything between 17,500 and 40,000 words. Anything over 40,000 words is technically a novel. However, it seems like internet opinions on the different types of novels is all over the place. Some people think that anything below 70,000 words is not a novel. The first book in my Peachville High Demons series, Beautiful Demons, comes in just under 47,000 words, so technically, it should be considered a novel, just on the low end of a typical YA novel. Each subsequent novel in the PHD series is slightly longer with Book 2 just over 50,000, Book 3 just over 54,000, and Book 4 around 60,000 words.

In my opinion, none of my PHD books are novelettes or novellas. Most sites and organizations out there consider anything over 40,000 a novel and my books all qualify. On the other hand, since there's really no standard out there that's accepted and understood for everyone, it's not always my opinion that gets voiced. Especially when it comes to reviews. For the most part, a reviewer calling my book a novelette doesn't bother me too much. I understand that some people have longer expectations for novels and that's fine.

Where it begins to get complicated is that without standard accepted definitions among readers, sometimes reader expectations are compromised. For example, I got a 3-star review on Amazon recently that knocked my books for being novelettes instead of full-length novels and that they should have been one book instead of a series. To be honest, I found this review frustrating. I know as authors we are not supposed to complain about reviews or respond to them. I want to make it clear that I'm not dogging this reader for their opinion. What frustrates me is that I had a reader who was disappointed in the product because in their opinion, it wasn't a novel.

I have been trying to figure out what I should maybe add to my description of the book in order to let people know exactly what to expect. I certainly don't want to call it a novella or a novelette because there are a lot of people who know that those delineations mean less than 40,000 words or short story length. I could simply just list the total word count. On the other hand, I wonder if most readers understand word count? Or if that is just sort of an out-there description for a book's length? Any opinions on this from either readers or authors would be greatly appreciated and welcomed in the comments!

Traditionally, it's been the publishers acting as gate-keepers. They have their own standards on word count. Also, they publish more print books that readers can walk into a store and physically see the pages and the thickness of the book. My books only exist online. Even if I had print copies for sale, readers still couldn't tell the thickness since they can only order them online. It's more difficult as an indie ebook author to set the proper expectations for my readers as far as length. But what's the best way to do that? Should I list a word count on my book description? Or should we work together to try to come up with a different standard?

Video games have an "hours of play time" standard. Sometimes video games, especially RPG's, will say "over 100 hours of play time". For gamers, this makes sense and it is generally understood that everyone plays at different rates, so it might not literally take everyone 100 hours to play through the game. On the other hand, some people are slower and might take 200 hours to play. But it's still a numerical indication of how much content is available. I sometimes wonder if it would be valuable to do the same thing for books? For example, I could say Beautiful Demons has three hours of straight reading time. The questions would be how to determine how fast the average reader reads and whether or not this would make sense to readers.

My purpose in writing shorter novels is that I can write them faster and price them cheaper. If I was writing 90,000 word books, I would only be able to release a book every 4 or 5 months at best. Then, since I invested so much more time and would have less books on my virtual shelves, I would have a hard time listing that book at $0.99. With a 50,000-60,000 word book, I can come out with a new book every 2-3 months and give my readers more content more quickly and can price the books low and still make money. For me, it's a win-win. I just don't like the thought of some people buying the book and being disappointed to find it shorter than they expected.

So writers and readers, what is the best way for an Indie author to set up the right expectations for their readers so that readers aren't disappointed and can find the right length content for their needs? With self-publishing becoming more and more popular, you can find downloads that are anywhere from 10,000 word short stories all the way up to 200,000 word epic dramas. The question is how to properly tell the reader where my book falls. Page count seems a bit archaic since there are not technically pages in an ebook. So what would you suggest? I would love to hear any comments and opinions on this matter so please let me know!

My Write-a-palooza Rewards!

I had a fun shopping day today at the Sanrio store in the Crabtree Valley Mall here in Raleigh! I spent almost exactly $84, lol, so there will be no HK collectipaks for me, but that's okay. I'm super excited about what I bought!! Here's a pic of my swag:

I bought one of the new Hello Kitty canvas tote bags. It's big enough to put my netbook in and some folders and pens, but it also fits over my shoulder, which is nice. I also got that cute HK t-shirt, three buttons (that I'll probably put on my shoulder straps on the new bag), a mini-notepad collection and a large spiral-bound notebook. Oh, and the little hello kitty head there in the middle next to the notepad is a glitter ring, haha. So cute! It's funny how much a little HK gear can put a smile on my face!!

I have to give a shout-out to my amazing husband. You always support me and push me to keep writing. I don't know how I got so lucky.

Meanwhile, more writing tonight with J.D. Robinson and Alexandria Jade! Can't wait! Can I make it another 5,000 words tonight??

I did it!!

It's just shy of 2:00 AM and I'm calling it. Write-a-palooza is officially over! Originally, I stared with a word count yesterday afternoon of 10,593 words. I was feeling down about how far behind I was on my rough draft, but now, I can say that I'm right back on track.

Yesterday, I ended with a total word count of 15,644, meaning I wrote just over 5,000 words yesterday.

Today, I ended with a grand total of 25,658 words!!! That means I wrote a total of 10,013 words today, with a 2 day total of 15,065 words. Wow! I don't think I've ever written so much so fast, but the words were just flowing out of me. It was the best feeling in the world! I would say that I'm officially just under halfway through the rough draft and well on my way toward getting the story-line hammered out. I'm exhausted, but I feel great.

Overall, that means I just earned 28 Hello Kitty packets (or $84 to spend in the Hello Kitty store). I'm definitely going to be taking him shopping this weekend, haha. It's the little things sometimes that can motivate me toward success, but in the end, the real excitement comes from knowing that I'm doing a good job with the novel and I'm back on track for a Fall release.

Now, I'm going to go pass out.


My pre-write-a-palooza is officially over since I'm heading to bed. I wrote exactly 5021 words tonight! That's actually quite impressive since I also took time to work out. I'm definitely happy with that number!

So, according to my husband's rules for write-a-palooza, that gives me an

added 5 packs to the 5,000 word reward tomorrow, bringing it up to 8 packs of the HK trading cards (or $24). The 10K reward now goes up an additional 10 packs for a whopping total of 20 packs (or $60) plus the 5k reward since I win both if I make it to 10,000 words. I really hope I can do it. Not only would it put me back on track for the rough draft deadline, but it would also be a huge boost to my motivation right now.

There are some personal things going on for us right now that I don't really want to share with the general public, but which are definitely affecting my writing focus. It's great to be able to immerse myself in Harper and Jackson's story for a couple of days and forget about an
y other worries or things coming up. Writing is a life saver, really. So my one person write-a-paloo
za is off to a great start with a 5k bonus.

As an extra special reward, my husband told me tonight that if I can break 20,000 words written by the time I go to bed tomorrow night (today + tomorrow's words), he'll give me $200

even. I'm already mentally spending that money, haha. Still, writing 15,000 words in on

e day is something I have never done before, so I'm not sure it's possible for me. All I can do is my best. I'll keep you updated!

Oh, and like I mentioned earlier, there were some balloons purchased in honor of the event. G bought them for me, as if I needed further proof that he's the perfect man for me.


I am now officially embarking on a me only write-a-palooza. I'm way behind on my rough draft work for DEMONS FOREVER. Don't get me wrong, I've been thinking about it ALL the time, but the thinking has only translated so far into about 11,000 words. My self-imposed deadline now to finish the rough draft is September 5th, which is only 13 days away. I've got to get crackin!

So over lunch today, my husband suggested a fun challenge for me. Since he is, after all, my muse, he likes to find ways to encourage and motivate me

. And since he knows me as well as he does, he decided to bribe me with Hello Kitty. Thus, write-a-palooza 2011 was formed. I'm the only participant and word count is my only goal. Here are the official rules as stated by my husband:
  • Tomorrow is the official event.
  • Goal #1: 5,000 words. Prize: 3 Hello Kitty World adventures Collictipaks (or the equivalent monetary value for the pack, currently $3.00). I LOVE these packs! They have these super cute little tiny hello kitties dressed up in different country-specific attire. Also, they have stickers and lots of trading cards with pictures of her dressed in the outfits. I have all the kitties except India. So basically either 3 packs or $9.00 for 5,000 words.

  • Goal Level #2: 10,000 words. Prize: 10 HK Collectipaks (or $30 to spend at the sanrio store in Crabtree Valley Mall)
Now, to make things more exciting, we are also doing a pre-palooza event today. The word count I manage to get to today before I go to bed will directly affect the prizes tomorrow. Here are the pre-event rules:
  • For every 1,000 words written today, I get +1 pack added to my 5k reward tomorrow or +2 packs added to my 10k reward. So, if I get 2,000 words written today, my rewards tomorrow go up to 5 packs for the 5k reward and 14 for the 10k reward. Get it? (or monetary value still, of course)
  • If I get 10,000 words, I get BOTH the 10k reward AND the 5k reward. For example, if I get 5,000 words today at pre-palooza, that's +5 packs to the 5k reward for a total of 8 packs (or $24). THat's +10 packs to the 10k reward for a total of 20 packs (or $60). Add both of those rewards together, so I get either 28 packs or $84 or some combination of the two.
Yes, it's a bit mathematical, lol. Especially for something so silly as a me only writing event! But I need creative ways to get myself to produce a lot of words and to work hard for the next two days! This is one of the reasons I love my husband so much! Of course, in the end, the real reward is that I would have possibly 15,000 words or more written by the time I go to bed tomorrow night, which would mean my rough draft would be halfway finished! I like the sound of that!!!

Oh, and also - there may be hats. And balloons.

Guest Interview at Cabinet of Curiosities

Hi everyone! I'm coming out of deep writing mode to say hello and let you know that I have was interviewed by the fabulous writers at Cabinet of Curiosities today. My guest interview is up, so please stop by, ask questions, say hello and learn more about me! Their questions were really fun and I got to say a lot about myself and my writing, so I hope you'll join us on their blog today!

July Sales Numbers

Hi everyone! Sorry I've been slack on posting. I also still haven't managed to separate my self-publishing blog from my regular writing blog, so I apologize to fans who don't really care about this stuff, haha. Hopefully there are some of you writers out there still finding value in seeing what my numbers have done each step of the way. I feel like as self-published authors we should stick together and help each other however we can. This is just one small way I hope to help.

That being said, July was one of those amazingly, almost-can't-believe-it, omg-I-might-faint kind of months for me. I still look back at the sales numbers and want to cry! The biggest news for July was that my fourth book in the Peachville High Demons series finally came out. It was sort of a strangely staggered release because B&N got the book up really quickly but Amazon dragged for almost a week. My book didn't show up properly in Amazon searches for almost a week after it got listed, which was somewhat frustrating, and in the end, I think hurt my sales rank to some degree because it split my initial burst of sales up too much to give me the boost I was hoping for. Still, Shadow Demons did make it all the way up to #413 in the Kindle store and that's very close to my best rank ever (Beautiful Demons was 365 in February, which is my all-time best ever.) Not too shabby.

Anyone who has been following my sales numbers knows that last month I hit a huge milestone by selling my 25,000th book. In July, I made it all the way up back 35,000 books sold, so this was a HUGE month for me. It's so exciting to see the sales continue to grow. Of course, any month with a brand new release is going to be bigger than previous months, but I'm still amazed at the success so far of the series, so thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who has purchased the PHD books and loved them. I heart you.

July Sales Numbers:

BEAUTIFUL DEMONS (Book 1 of the PHD series. 10/31/10)
  • Amazon Kindle Store: 1698 US + 134 UK = 1832
  • Barnes & Noble: 398
  • Smashwords: 1
  • Total: 2231
INNER DEMONS (Book 2 of the PHD series. 12/22/10)
  • Amazon Kindle Store: 1373 US + 92 UK + 1 DE = 1466
  • Barnes & Noble: 333
  • Smashwords: 3
  • Total: 1802
BITTER DEMONS (Book 3 of the PHD series. 2/24/11)
  • Amazon Kindle Store: 1243 US + 72 UK = 1315
  • Barnes & Noble: 278
  • Smashwords: 3
  • Total: 1596
SHADOW DEMONS (Book 4 of the PHD series. 7/3/11)
  • Amazon Kindle Store: 2824 US + 87 UK = 2911
  • Barnes & Noble: 600
  • Smashwords: 10
  • Total: 3521
Total July Sales: 9150

Overall Sales To Date: 35,688

I am still blown away and so humbled by the numbers. I know it's nothing compared to the Amanda Hockings and John Lockes of the Kindle world, but to me, it's really something. I still get scared that one day all my books will just stop selling and this wild will be over, but the fear gets less and less with each book that comes out. I am truly loving writing and loving this career. Self-publishing was definitely the right choice for me.

So now I am fast at work writing Book 5, DEMONS FOREVER. This will, sadly, be the last book in the Peachville High Demons series. I'm so scared to move on to another series, but at the same time, I'm really excited about the next series coming up. It's the series I've been working on for a really long time and I'm anxious to see what it turns into now that I'm not worried about what an agent or editor will think and I can just write it the way I want to write it. The first book in the series is already finished, but I know it will take some rewriting. I sincerely hope this next series strikes as much of a chord as PHD did, if not more.

But for now, DEMONS FOREVER is on my mind 24/7. I'm hoping to have it completed and published faster than Book 4. It will be out sometime this fall, but I'm not ready to give an exact date yet. Anyway, there's the rundown on my July sales numbers. And thanks to all the writers who sent me encouraging messages last month about me posting sales. It means a lot to me to know I'm helping other indie writers, even if it's just in some small way. Thanks for the support!!

Sarra Cannon

Young Adult Indie Author

I always secretly wanted to be a cheerleader. And a witch. Now, I write about both. The first five novels in my Peachville High Demons Young Adult Paranormal series are available now in ebook!

Sarra's Works in Progress


Sarra's bookshelf: sarra-s-favorites

Beautiful DemonsThe Time Traveler's WifeLoveroot: PoemsFear of FlyingWe the LivingAnthem

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