It drives me absolutely nuts. You pick up a book off the shelf at your local bookstore and start to browse it because the title sounds kind of interesting. You glance at the back cover copy first, reading some of the testimonials there and other sales copy about what the book is all about.
Sounds good you think. So you pop it open and find chapter one and begin reading. You’re just kind of browsing through to see if it’s something you want to purchase and you notice chapter one goes on and on and on. Not five pages. Not ten pages. Not even fifteen pages. But for twenty five pages or more. Arrrrrgh.
It’s just overwhelming. The book sounds kind of interesting but when you see that it’s going to be so much work just to get through a single chapter you say “No thanks” and put the book back on the shelf and move on to the next one.
This book suffers from what I call “Consumption Obstruction.” In other words, you made it too darn difficult for someone to read your book. And it they can’t easily consume your book they won’t be coming back to you for your next book, searching you out online for other materials you may have available for purchase, or recommending your book to any of their friends.
It doesn’t matter whether your book is a self-help manual or a mystery thriller. If you make the consumption process too difficult you won’t sell as many books as you should have.
What other things impede the consumption process? Here’s just a few:
- Line lengths are too long (you should limit to about 65 characters
- Your lines are packed too closely together
- Paragraphs are too long
- Font is too small
I personally recommend that chapters be no longer than 7-8 pages. Readers like to start and stop their reading at chapter breaks and if they see that they have to commit to a long period of time to read another chapter they may well put your book aside.
But, if they see that in just a few minutes they can get to the next “break” then they’ll continue on reading. And they may continue on for several more chapters in these bite sized chunks.
You need to think about how easily people can consume your book as it’s being written. Wanna sell more books? Don’t create “Consumption Obstruction” in your writing and you’ll be more successful as an author.