I am helping a friend with her book.
She is now nearing the completion of the first draft of her manuscript.
During one of our discussions, she seemed worried about the length of the book.
I wanted to tell her that the length does not matter much. What matters is how useful the book is for readers and how many hands it reaches.
But then I decided to show her.
I carried three books with me on the day we met.
One of these books was The Elements of Style. Cornell University professor William Strunk wrote this American English writing style guide. In its original form, it was a 43-page book. The fourth edition, the one I carried, is 97 pages long. This book has helped more than 10 million writers.
This is not the only example of a short book with massive impact.
The Art of War by Sun Tzu is 62 pages. This is a book about war but it became a bestseller in the 21st century, about thirteen hundred years after the author wrote it because many of its theories were found relevant in the business world.
It is not only the old books that make an impact and become popular.
Here are some short gems from recent times.
Poke the Box by Seth Godin at 95 pages, is a little book for anyone who is doing something for the first time.
In, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown explores how we can cultivate the courage and compassion. This book at 158 pages is above 100 pages but still short enough that you can read it in 2-3 hours.
In 2015, more than 8,000 backers pledged more than $200,000 in 45 days for Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change. This book is around 100 pages in length. Leo already had massive reach but this sure gave a lot of people an opportunity to hold his thoughts in their hands.
Are you inspired now to write a book?
If yes then start writing it without worrying about its length.
Write a good book that shares your knowledge tested against logic or your unfiltered experiences.
Then edit it well so that it is easy to read and is engaging enough for the reader. Tell a good story. It’s ok if you don’t need to include a story because of your choice of structure for your book but personal stories, experiences, and experiments will always make your book interesting. Everything else is an uninspiring bundle of words.
Now, go tell your story. Your tribe is waiting to hear it.
And, there was a reason why many classics took a long time to become popular. This happened because there was no focused effort to spread these books.
But you can be methodical about it and seed your book long before you launch to see an immediate uptick in sales, popularity, and impact. If you are interested in how this is done then stay tuned because I plan to write about it.