8. How do you decide how long a book should be?
I stop when I get to the end of the story.
But I suspect this is actually a question about industry standards, so here's what they are, according to the Nebula Awards:
Novel: a work of 40,000 words or more*
Novella: a work of at least 17,500 words but under 40,000 words
Novelette: a work of at least 7,500 words but under 17,500 words
Short story: a work of under 7,500 words
I should note that for anyone other than the Nebula judges 40,000 words is actually a really, really short novel. I don't think many publishers would accept a novel that was only 40,000 words -- though readers of this blog should feel free to prove me wrong.
My sense is that the average novel length these days (which, during the course my career to-date, has actually grown a lot shorter) is 80,000 words or longer (with the exception of young adult novels which can be as short as 60,000.)
I know that a lot of newbie writers have a hard time visualizing how many pages 80,000 words is -- but you can pick up any of my Tate Hallaway books and see how it translates into a printed book. A manuscript will, if you follow manuscript format, be a lot longer.
Questions? Comments? Spam?