Book writing: number of pages and length of chapters
Regardless of genre, there is no hard and fast rule about how many pages or words each chapter should contain or how many chapters a book should have. However, there are some general guidelines in this article that can help you determine the number of pages and the length of the chapters required for your book.
Pages in a chapter:
Many people read to stream, at lunchtime or on the subway to go to work; readers enjoy chapters that can be completed in ten to fifteen minutes.
I try to set the length of my chapters based on how long it takes me to read the material. If it goes over fifteen minutes, I can decide to divide a chapter in half and make two chapters with it. Please note that I primarily write non-fiction.
As you probably know, there is a difference in the way fiction and non-fiction are handled. In a fiction book, writers use shorter chapters. Some are just one page if that’s all it takes to get the reader up to speed on the action of other characters in other scenes. When writing nonfiction, your chapter content should be specific to your chapter heading or title.
Twenty pages per chapter is a good rule of thumb, but the most important thing is to include everything that relates to a particular topic in one chapter. For example, if your book is about fishing, you want to include most of your information on casting flies in one chapter. All your information on baits and lures would be in another chapter.
Chapters / pages of a book:
These guidelines should give you a general idea of how to determine the length of your chapters and your book.
If your book is titled “The Accuracy of the US Census,” it may have 52 chapters (one for each state). If your book is titled “Ten Tips for Marketing,” it may only have ten chapters. There is no rule about how many chapters a book can or should have.
To be considered a book rather than a brochure or pamphlet, a book must be at least 10,000 words long. If your book is longer than 475 pages, you may want to consider producing it in two volumes.
Because you will be submitting your manuscript as an 8.5 “x 11” word processing document, you cannot be sure of its final length until your editor formats it for printing. I have found that 250-300 words will approximate a 12 point font text page in a standard size (5.5 “x8” or 6 “x9”) with perfect binding.