How short should your book be?

Feb 28, 2024 | Writing A Book

That’s not a typo. I know that when most people talk or think about a “standard business book,” they ask how long it should be. And, in that case, the answer is usually at least a couple of hundred pages.

But your book doesn’t have to be that long. There are many great short business books. The exemplar is Ken Blanchard’s One Minute Manager. That book was only 112 pages. The One Minute Manager and its successor, The New One Minute Manager, have sold well for 40 years. I have no idea how many copies they sold altogether, but it’s a ton.

The primary reason for the book’s success is that people found the content usable, practical, and easy to understand. They read the book, put the principles to work, and then told their friends about it.

So, what does length have to do with it? The book is lean. There’s no extra stuff. There is no long wind up, no starting to prepare to get ready to tell you about how great the book is going to be. There are no appendices. There’s no index. There’s just helpful prose.

In today’s busy world, people don’t have time for fluff. They want to get as much value as they can as quickly as they can.

That’s your challenge. Provide lots of value in a small space.

When readers come to your book, they want to solve a problem or answer a question. Give them what they need and not a word more.

Here are three examples of lean business books. Check them out to see how they deliver value without wasted words.

The Psychological Safety Playbook by Minette Norman and Karolin Helbig (166 pages)

Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays in Creativity by Ray Bradbury (176 pages)

Thrive: Ten Prescriptions for Exceptional Performance as a Commercial Real Estate Agent by Blaine Strickland (134 pages)

Make your book long enough, but not too long. Deliver the maximum value without fluff.