RSS Feed Print
Ideal word count for reviews?
Ben Nemec
Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013 6:47 PM
Joined: 1/21/2013
Posts: 47

Hi all,

I've currently only posted about 3000 words from my project, but after doing some more reading of other's work I came to the conclusion that maybe 3000 is too few.  I had a hard time really getting a feel for someone's writing when essentially all I have is an introduction to the world and characters.

Maybe I just suck at reviewing (I do , but it got me thinking: What do you see as the ideal word count from a reviewing perspective?  I realize that will vary somewhat from piece to piece, but in general what length do you prefer?  I was laboring under the assumption that shorter (and therefore less time) was better, but now I'm not so sure.



Timothy Maguire
Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013 8:16 PM
Joined: 8/13/2011
Posts: 272

I do 'loads' of reviews so I'll give you my 'experience'. In general I reckon that two to three chapters is the best area to aim at. While uploading the entire book isn't a bad idea, it's not accessible to people who aren't following it and it's also a bit more work to review (I've lost count of the number of reviews I've written that began with 'I've read up to chapter one and stopped'). The problem with only uploading one chapter is that it's often about the point where the plot gets started and no further.

In general, I'd aim for 8k to 20k in your uploads (if you've got that much done). It's enough for us to see the plot get going, yet quick enough for us to work through it quickly.

It's worth pointing out that this varies based on what criteria you want criticism on. Things like continuity, setting and plot are easier to cover adequately on longer excerpts, while voice, POV or dialogue can be more easily covered with smaller examples.

Brandi Larsen
Posted: Wednesday, February 20, 2013 2:16 PM
Joined: 6/18/2012
Posts: 228

What parts of reviewing are causing you trouble?

Alexandria Brim
Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 3:51 AM
Joined: 10/20/2011
Posts: 350

I don't think I need a word limit per se for reviewing. But I prefer having about three chapters (or thirty pages) to review. Most literary agents say the hook should be within those pages. So it'll help me get an idea for what the novel will be about and how it might proceed. Which helps me frame my critique.
Ben Nemec
Posted: Thursday, February 21, 2013 7:10 PM
Joined: 1/21/2013
Posts: 47

Mostly I think my problem with reviewing is that I tend to review books in broad strokes.  Are the characters consistent?  Does the world make sense?  Is the story interesting?  That sort of thing.  When I'm working with an excerpt as I am here, that's difficult/impossible to do.  I personally don't decide whether to read a book or not in the first 30 pages either.  Any book I've ever put down after I started reading it was more like 100+ pages in.  If I make it to page 1 of your book I found your concept interesting enough to give it a fair shot.  Of course, there are times I've regretted that...

So I guess I have a hard time looking for the little things in a few opening chapters that would turn off readers, because I don't read that way.  The line editing type stuff that I would notice doesn't seem to be what people are looking for either, so I also have to avoid nitpicking.

Anyway, it seems like good reviewers here possess skills that I currently don't.  But hey, life would be pretty boring if I were good at everything right off the bat.

Michael R Hagan
Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 6:29 PM
Joined: 10/14/2012
Posts: 229

I'd go with the three chapters. One for concept and intro, maybe 2 for a second thread... by three I think you can have an idea as to generally where the book is going, and the general style.
I find, the plot really can't yet be commented on, as presumably there are to be twists and turns, that wouldn't be twists and turns if you knew them by the 3rd chapter.
I do think though, that pretty quickly you get a feel as to how polished the writing is and whether you'd enjoy reading on.
I've proposed and been lucky to receive/exchange a couple of chapter by chapter reviews from folks whose writing I instantly respected from their sample chapters, and found these comprehensive reviews to be worth their weight....
Often I'll do a review and find something that I wouldn't like in my book... then realise that I've done it it my book and have to go back to the drawing board.
Best of luck.

Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Monday, March 25, 2013 11:36 PM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 427

I agree with the three-chapter suggestion. While one chapter is enough to get a sense of the voice, setting and hook, you need a little bit more to be able to evaluate characterization and pacing. So it depends on the kind of feedback you're looking for.

For example, let's say you have a romance novel where the hero and the heroine haven't met in Chapter 1, but you only post Chapter 1. You'd absolutely get the note that the romance plot is not working, while in reality, the MCs have a sizzling scene in the next chapter...

I think it's a good idea to always add a detailed synopsis in the book details no matter how much of the book you post. It will orient the reader to the direction of the plot, and preempt certain types of criticisms. 

My 2 cents.

Nevena from Book Country
Three Borzoi
Posted: Sunday, April 7, 2013 11:10 AM
Joined: 4/4/2013
Posts: 18

I don't find chapters a very useful guideline. How long is a chapter? 40,000 words? 400 words? My preferred genre is thriller, and I've been known to create a 250 word chapter - a quick look into the mind of evil.
Page counts only work if you agree that there are 250 words per page. Or something. Because I have lousy vision, I use 18-20 pt font, and get 150 words per page.
Mys suggestion is that word count works far better for providing guidelines.
Just MHO
Milena A
Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013 8:28 AM
Joined: 5/19/2013
Posts: 3

3 chapters sounds so reasonable now that I've uploaded a book divided in 21...
Ideally, a novel review requires the whole novel. But it is true that although conditions here are pretty close to being ideal, conditions in RL are not so much close to being ideal. I can't read continuously through the entire novel - life stops me.
I can give a fairly good line editing due to the fact that my eyes are fresh to the story and I see if something like a nasty typ-o sticks out.
I see if characters are round and if the story "holds" - so I agree with those that say 3 chapters should suffice.

Bob Cravener
Posted: Monday, June 10, 2013 4:46 PM
Joined: 1/18/2012
Posts: 8

The entire book for me is best to give a full review, but I think that within the first three chapters you can get a pretty good idea of a book.

Jump to different Forum...