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Talking Nonfiction: Word Count and Promotion

Here are some questions that
came in recently. Both had
to do with nonfiction.

Q. For nonfiction: Once the book is published, is the author required to keep a website going about themselves & the product? Or does agent do all promoting?

A. Great question. An agent will do little to nothing in terms of promotion because that is not their job. With luck, the publishing house will help back you with marketing and promotion, but that much more often that not does not happen. It will be your job to have an electronic platform in place to promote the work. Like agent Ted Weinstein mentioned on the blog a few weeks ago, when you are going to sell a nonfiction book, you almost have to assume that you are self-publishing it - meaning that are you already have channels in place to sell it.

Q. Is there a minimum word count for nonfiction? Can a book be too short?

A. It depends on the book. My wife just picked up that gift book called Grandma’s Dead: Breaking Bad News With Baby Animals, which is filled with pictures of cute animals and only one line of terrible news every two pages. That book has maybe 400 words total.
As a nonfiction writer myself, I know this is tough. How do we approximate word count? Should a diet book be 30,000 words or 45,000? The best thing that you can do is look over comparable books and try to judge word count by their size, average words/page, and illustration content. After that, your agent will be able to help you more.

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