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Question of the Day – To Trim or Not to Trim?

I’ve been researching publishing and formatting info for down the line, when my own work is ready to publish, and I’ve run across many posts discussing “trimming” their book to within a specific word count. I’m not talking about the normal trimmingthat a story undergoes during editing either, but the more radical kind of content trimming that might impact the end result.

This has me pondering the “whys” of trimming a story, and I have to ask my fellow authors/aspiring authors…

  • Would you trim your story down to keep it within a specific bracket?
  • Why?
  • How do you make the decision about what to cut?
  • Do you feel that the story suffers for having done it?
  • Do you feel it was improved?

I’m very much interested in hearing what my colleagues and followers have to say on this topic, so please feel free to post your feedback on this post.

~ Gigi ~


6 comments on “Question of the Day – To Trim or Not to Trim?

  1. Pingback: Deepening things | Dream : Love

  2. I love the quote, I agree 🙂

    Thanks for the response, I was curious about that process and you’ve helped me answer a few questions for sure.


  3. MishaBurnett
    March 5, 2013

    Well, the word count guidelines are really designed for print books, and if I recall, 40,000-60,000 was considered a novel 60,000-100,000 was considered a novel, 100,000-150,000 was considered an epic novel, or something like that.

    With e-books, I don’t think the guidelines are nearly so important–a file of 150,000 words does take more space than one of 40,000 words, but when e-readers can hold several hundred books I don’t see that as an issue. Will readers not want to finish an extra long novel? I don’t see that as an issue, either–I have read series of ten or more volumes.

    If you are planning a hard copy release then the page count will effect the POD price, but most readers are willing to pay more for a longer novel.

    So I would ask, what is the current word count, and what do you think it “should” be? Is there a narrative reason to trim words, or is it just because you think it should conform to a certain length?

    • MishaBurnett
      March 5, 2013

      That should read “40-000 to 60,000 is considered a novella”. Why can’t I learn to proof before I hit submit?

    • Misha, thanks for the response. I agree that in digital, the word count is less significant, because as you said, there is no serious impact on the cost of producing the end result. Personally, as a writer myself, I do my trimming during the editing process (I tend to write with the mindset of get it out on paper, worry about cleaning up the extraneous stuff later), so I can’t imagine wanting to trim it even more.

      What kind of impact does the word count have on the printed version? I’m curious as I have not reached that stage of research yet.

      Gigi 🙂

      • MishaBurnett
        March 5, 2013

        Well, cost of printing is determined by page count, which is determined by word count. For example, my first novel is about 65,000 words, which comes to 216 pages. On CreateSpace, I have it listed for $9.99 and I make about $2.50 a copy. Using their price calculator, at 300 pages (about 90,000 words) and a $9.99 list I’d make about $1.50 a copy–so I would have to either make do with a lower margin or raise the cost of the book. However, since legacy publishers are listing 300 page trade paperbacks at $24.99 and up, I think we self-publishers still have plenty of wiggle room.

        To paraphrase Tyler Durdin, “Books go on as long as they need to.” If you’ve got 200,000 words of story to tell, tell it.

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