Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Length matters

Depending on the editing process, my six-book series will publish somewhere between 700,000 and 750,000 words. Considering that the average novel is around 90,000 words, you can see that my series is quite long.

However, when compared to what's really popular today in the fantasy genre, The DW Chronicles is more like a novella. Check this out:

Steven Erikson is through Book Seven of his highly popular Malazan Book of the Fallen series. I don't have any official numbers, but I can guesstimate that Erikson already has surpassed two millions words -- and he still has at least three books to go!

George R.R. Martin's megahit series, A Song of Ice and Fire, is published through Book Four and already is well past a million words, and Martin is showing no signs of winding things up.

Stephen Donaldson's third and final Thomas Covenant series will be four books long, with each book in the 250,000 range.

And those are just three quick examples. So, it appears that readers of fantasy like things long. I might need to go in and add a few hundred thousand words just to stay in the ballgame!

-- Jim


Dawn said...

And here I am complaining about rewriting a paltry hundred thousand word first draft!

Perspective is everything!

Jim Melvin said...

Ha! There's nothing palty about that.

Well, there certainly are readers -- the large majority, probably -- who enjoy average-length standalones over monster-length series. But apparently there are a lot of readers who adore the series, too. Because a lot of them are best sellers.

Jim Melvin said...

I meant "paltry."

Mary Paddock said...

Best of luck with this Jim. I'm impressed with the amount of work this must have been.

I can't imagine tackling anything bigger than a 150,000 wds.

Jim Melvin said...


Look at it this way. Instead of writing 150,000 words and then saying you're done, you just put it aside and write another 150, and then another and another. And before you know it, you're done. Ha! But thanks much for the comment and the kind words.

Michael said...

I want to write series too, but my first novel is only 98,000 words and I don't think I can really add all that much more to it. Since it's planned as a four book series, I expect it'll come to a minimum of about 400,000 altogether. A million or more words to a single story? Ack!

Jim Melvin said...


If your four-book series becomes a hit, I'm sure you'll be more than willing to write a couple of sequels, so you'll be to a million before you know it!

Allie Boniface said...


Getting weak from even thinking about it...

Jim Melvin said...



Yeah, but keep in mind we're talking six books here. That's less than 120,000 per book. Steven Erikson's books average close to 300,000 per book, I would guess.

Kate Thornton said...

I like the idea of thinking of it in smaller increments so it doesn't seem quite so daunting!

Jim Melvin said...


Yes. And in reality, that's the only way you can think of it. (Unless you're a Dean Koontz type who writes 20 pages a day!)


The Death Wizard Chronicles is a sexy, action-packed six-book epic fantasy series: Book One (Forged by Death), Book Two (Chained by Fear), Book Three (Eve of War), Book Four (World on Fire), Book Five (Sun God), Book Six (Death-Know).

The DW Chronicles is not for children and teenagers -- or the faint of heart. But if you like graphic fantasy that is bursting with excitement yet still has a lot going on between the lines, I think you'll love my series.

In a groundbreaking paradox, the Death Wizard, a champion of good, derives his power from a source traditionally seen as negative -- death. His nemesis, an evil sorcerer, derives his power from the sun, the benevolent source of all life. Their struggle to control the fate of the planet Triken will take your breath away.

In an original twist never before seen in this genre, the Death Wizard is able to enter the realm of death during a "temporary suicide." Through intense concentration, he stops his heartbeat and feeds on death energy, which provides him with an array of magical powers.

The series also is a love triangle involving two desperate characters attempting to come together despite the machinations of an all-powerful psychopath with incestuous cravings.

Graphic and action-packed, spanning a millennium of turmoil, The DW Chronicles carries readers on a journey they will never forget.

Do you fear death? The Death Wizard does not. Find out why.

-- Please go to www.jim-melvin.com for more details.

About Me

My photo
Clemson, SC, United States
I was born in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., but grew up in St. Petersburg, Fla. I graduated from the University of South Florida (Tampa) in 1979 with a B.A. in Journalism. I now live in South Carolina near the Blue Ridge Mountains, a pleasant setting for writing, to say the least. I was an award-winning journalist at the St. Petersburg Times for twenty-five years and I currently work at the Charlotte Observer. I am married with five daughters.

The author

The author
Jim Melvin, a veteran journalist, debuts as novelist.