tam’s guest post: are we being misled?

So you’re in a bar looking to score. Mr. Right-Now looks like he’s packing, he’s cute, clean, funny, this is going to be good. You get to his place and the imagined 9 inches of porn star goodness turns out to be 4.5 inches of midget glory and a packet of tube socks. Huh? False advertising, my friend.

No, I don’t regularly troll bars around town but I do read a lot of “shorts” and lately I’ve noticed some disturbing trends. I get my files in PDF format, I’m not sure how it works for other formats on Kindles and E-readers, but when I open the document I look at the “page count” to see how much pleasure I have to look forward to. 46 pages. Cool.

Reading, reading, reading …. hmmmm, this seems to be winding up. The end. Page 16!?!? WTF? Where is the rest of the book? I was promised 46 pages of manly smexin’, or at the very least some kissing. I understand there are a couple of pages at the front with info (in this case 5) and maybe a page at the back with the author bio, but 30 pages? Only 23% of the book is story? What is on pages 17 – 46? The first chapter of each of four books by the same author in another series. Excuse me?

I may have bought the book even if I’d known it was only 11 pages. I buy Sips from Torquere Press all the time, but it really annoyed me that the story came to an end on page 16 when I was expecting 30 more pages. I know, I know, it said 7000 words in the blurb. What the hell does that mean? Short, fine, but I trust you to give me an accurate page count. I shouldn’t have to scroll down to see if the book actually goes to the end or stops 1/4 of the way though. If a book is 150 pages and I find out that 12 in the back are propaganda, I don’t mind. I’ve already had a good dose of fun.

So tell me, do you care? Do you even pay attention or just go “long, short, medium”. I know if I pay $1.99 I’m getting less story than $6.99, but don’t cram a bunch of crap at the end that I don’t want to give me the impression I’m getting more for my money. I’ll figure it out, you’ll piss me off and I will mention it to others.

About Kris

Reads, rants, randoms & R+s. You've been warned. BTW, don't follow me if you're a GLBTQQphobic wanker. It won't end well. For you.
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34 Responses to tam’s guest post: are we being misled?

  1. Ingrid says:

    No matter what size, I get always annoyed when I get less reading fun that I thought I would get.
    From 46 to 11 pages sounds like a steal to me!!

  2. My goodness, Tam, you are everywhere today!! *g*

    Your post hit home for me because I've had the same thing happen! You may know, I'm not a big fan of shorts, so when I get stuck with one that I didn't anticipate, I get mad. I read a lot in pdf format, too, so throwing the reading material at the wall is not an option. *mope*

    I haven't done the research, but it seems to me that this practice is mostly by one or two publishers. Is that correct do you think?

  3. Chris says:

    I like shorts, but I hate the practice of cramming a bunch of previews and excerpts at the end so the book looks longer than it is. I never, ever read those. (I don't in print books, either.)

  4. I agree with Chris…

    I am just coming around to the beauty of shorts – but this month I am so pissed at loss of page space…

    Total Ebound – is my publisher to moan about 5-9 pages eaten up at the beginning…

    The story is over by page 40… and crap follows after that… this of a 80 page book..


  5. Tam says:

    Ingrid: It did make me feel cheated, and the story wasn't that good. LOL Double whammy.

    Wren: Yeah, I seem to be getting around today. I think you're right, not all publishers do it and I've never had that issue with Torquere. If the book is 12 pages, it comes up as 12 (+ or – a couple).

  6. Tam says:

    Chris: I never read them either, but they must believe they work if they keep doing it. Or they just don't care.

    EH: Yeah, that sucks. I found it happened with Phaze having 10-11 pages in the FRONT of the book, but nothing at the back really. It makes you leery of buying other shorts from them no matter the price.

  7. Val says:

    Tam, EXCELLENT post! I've wondered about this myself. Wren mentioned wondering if only a few publishers do this, but I'm thinking they all do.

    I've noticed this almost across the board where publishers add on to the short story by putting first chapters from other books at the end, and then what? Charging us readers extra for the privilege?

    I used to try to give the accurate page count in my reviews (I'd subtract off everything that wasn't story, which meant excluding the author bio page as well), but I've found I can't even do that anymore because page count becomes absolutely meaningless when you're reading a Kindle document on the screen of an iPod.

    Is there any circumstances under which readers would be okay with some promo material in the back of a short story?

    For example: (1) really strong, complete short story (2) promo following it is only limited to a one-page blurb?

  8. Tam says:

    Val: I have found it more with some publishers than others. You will find only one page of “stuff” plus cover with a Sip, so the page count is accurate.

    I don't mind if there was a chapter of a follow-up story or something like that. If there are three shorts, tell me that I can get #2 and #3 and give me a taste but not of a completely different book. The worst I ever read was in a larger m/m book that had promos for m/f stories at the back. Umm, maybe the same publishers but if I'm reading m/m chances are I'm not really interested in m/f guys. Common sense.

    The book I'm bitching about also had an entire first chapter of 4 books, that's a HUGE excerpt. Usually a couple of pages should be enough to whet your appetite.

  9. Val says:

    Tam, I see what you mean. It can be useful to have that promo material if it pertains to what you've already read.

    (And that's good to know for individual authors who would like to promote their next book, but don't want to annoy the readers. It's okay if the promo material is kept short and IS that author's other book).

    Putting in promo chapters from other authors' books is more annoying and the M/F thing shows no understanding of the market at all!

    It sounds like keeping it short and relevant is the key.

  10. Fun article, Tam! I've begun including a lot of end matter in my JCPbooks publications because, hey, they're digital and it's free to add bonus stuff! However, I do think it's critical to charge people for only the story and not the bonus stuff.

    I've included a statement on the main page that says I charge by wordcount of the story only…but it might not hurt to include something within the ebook itself, it sounds like.

    I'm really paranoid about pricing all my publications at the median price point of the current market, regardless of whether or not I feel it's cost me more time and money to produce than some slapped-together thing from a competitor with a shitty stock cover where the proofer was paid in well-wishes.

  11. nichem says:

    Yes, that bugs me too! I think there's going to be more story then realize half the page count is a preview for some other book. *grrr*

    BTW, v nice pic you chose for your post.

  12. Jenre says:

    I've noticed this too. It does tend to happen mainly from one or two publishers and I've learned to take their page counts with a pinch of salt. Then there are other pubs like TQ or DSP and apart from 3 or so pages either side their page counts are pretty accurate.

    I'd have been a bit pissed with 46 pages only containing 11 pages of goodness. Does anyone actually read all the pages of promo that gets stuck on the end of books? I know I mostly don't.

  13. LesleyW says:

    Jenre – I wouldn't read it if I've read only 11 pages of story and then have 40 pages of previews. But if I had 150 pages of story and a couple of previews at the end I would read them if I enjoyed the story because I assume in general that the previews are for similar books.

  14. Tam says:

    Hi Jordan. I never really found it to be an issue until a few publishers I've read lately so not sure if it's a trend or not. I know people say 7,000 words (or however) but that really doesn't mean much to me. Tell me 15 pages and I get it. I think if the stuff in the back is of interest to me great, but as I said, don't stick things by different authors or different genres in the back.

  15. Jenre says:

    That's a good point Lesley. I suppose I am also more likely to read the promo stuff if I've enjoyed the novel.

  16. Tam says:

    Glad you liked him Richelle. However I think going home with him would also lead to disappointment, the angle is wacky but the idea is nice. 🙂

    Val: Exactly, short, same author or series I'm good with it, just don't go of on a tangent and not 3X the size of the story itself. I don't want 75% ads and 25% content, the reverse would be fine.

  17. Tam says:

    Jen: I don't usually read them either, but as Lesley noted, if they are related to the story/author or at the very least the genre I might have a quick look.

  18. You're absolutely right, Tam! I hate that kind of deception too. It's just that my expectations aren't met that's annoying me.
    I can understand why publishers add the excerpts, 'cause when I first started reading romantic ebooks I actually read the promotional stuff to get ideas for new books to buy. But I think it shouldn't take more than 5% of the space for example. So maybe one excerpt would be okay, but four?! No way.

  19. Any ebook less than 50 pages and I feel screwed and not in a good way. I love ebooks short or long, but come on why would I pay $1.99 for a 25 page book? Can one even call it a book at that length?

    P.S. Please tell me you photoshoped Mr. Yummmy, no one is that big … right?

  20. Tam says:

    Janna: I agree, it was overkill. Maybe there should be some magical percentage.

    Smokin': Yeah, I know I'm in essence getting ripped off if you go by pennies per page but I do like my shorts.

    I didn't photoshop him but there was a series of pictures with “overly-well” endowed guys. I think it's a dildo since the angle is completely wrong but it looks impressive. 🙂

  21. Kris says:

    Like others, I can handle pages of excerpts when it's been a longer book that I've enjoyed, but otherwise… no. I get pissed when it seems like half the friggin' book that I spent good money on is not actually part of the story as advertised.

    Similarly, I hate it when it seems like there are pages of copyright and other material at the front of the book.

    I tend not to read excerpts, but on those occasions where I have it's more to read promo for the next book in a series or the 'if you like this story from the author you might also like…'.

    To be honest, though, one of the great things about having an ebook is that you can just close the file when the story has ended and not deal with all the extras. IMO anyways.

  22. Tam says:

    You don't have to read it but it sits there mocking you as you hit “the end” and are only on page 20 of 45. 🙂

    10 pages of copyright, author name, copyright, author name, list of books, copyright, author name, etc make me crazy at the front.

  23. K. Z. Snow says:

    Yikes, that stinks! So the sales listing gave a page count for the book in toto but not for the actual story?

    I'm kind of hip to word counts now, since dealing with them is part of being a writer, but readers can't be expected to know the score. It sounds as if certain publishers are trying to pull the wool over people's eyes.

    I'd be pissed too, Tam. Did you write to the publisher? You should. What they did is a form of deception.

  24. Tam says:

    I think it likely said word count KZ but as you said, to me that doesn't mean much. Unfortunately they have just made me wary of buying anything by them or that author again. Which is unfortunate, although I was not impressed with the story in general – insta-love ugh. However when I open a document that shows me is 46 pages long I expect the story to be slightly longer than 11 pages.

  25. Lily says:

    I think we've been reading the same books or from the same pub. I don't mind if they want to add in promos for other books, although I rarely read them, but please tell me how pages are in the story I'm reading.

    When I first started reading books from Samhain I would see I still had sometimes 20-30 pages left of the book and then be shocked when my story ended. I wasn't prepared!! 😀

    When I get a 50 page book I want to read a 50 page story.

  26. Tam, I know EXACTLY how you feel. I've had that happen to me too many times to count. They should give a warning that states or at least the page count on the preview page BEFORE you buy it.

    I don't make a lot of money…I spend my “extra” (whatever that is) money on books and hate being short-shrifted. It just pisses me off. Grr…

  27. Tam says:

    Lily: That's how I feel. I know I use PDF which makes it more difficult but when you buy a paper book the page numbering starts on page 1 of the story and ends at the end, so you can flip to the back and see 212 and now the story is 212, even if there are 10 pages in front and 25 at the back. With PDF you get the whole count.

    Bridget: Even if I didn't pay more than I thought I should, I feel like it's deceptive in some way. Thankfully it doesn't happen all that often but I've bought some shorts from new-to-me publishers though a reseller and got burned.

  28. I guess I never think about it. Having been a writer for so many publishers for five years and more, I always know how long of a story I'm getting into.

    My advice:
    Watch the word count. .pdf runs about 400 words to the page. If your story is 4000 words, you're getting about 10 pages. If it's 80,000, you're getting about 200
    (80,000 is the same as a 350 page mass market paperback)

    Know your publisher's lines. A Torquere Sip is 3000-7000 words and will cost you $2. Most authors will be closer to 3000 than 7000. So, you MIGHT get 10 pages on a TQ sip. 20 is unlikely. If your minimum requirement is 50 pages (that's about 20K words), you don't want to buy sips or single-shots (10-15K, $2.50). You don't want an Ellora's Cave Quickie (15K and under) or a Phaze Heatsheet. An Ellora Novella or Phaze Photon will strike you as short.

    As mentioned, a .pdf will have a different page count than a trade paperback which is different from a mass-market paperback. 200 pages in .pdf is about 270 in trade and about 320 in mass-market.

    Your 25 page single shot/heat-sheet/Quickie would be 40 pages in a paperback and about 33 pages in a trade paperback collection.

  29. Tam says:

    Ack. So many numbers. LOL I guess I know in the end it doesn't matter how many “pages” there are, it's the content but something says when 25% of the document is advertising you are getting a raw deal. It's like those little programs you buy at Broadway shows. There are 50 pages and 42 are advertising. Thanks, but no thanks.

    It doesn't happen often thankfully so I suppose wen it does it catches me off guard and annoys me more than usual.

  30. Matthew says:

    I completely agree with whoever is the author of this article and whatever they have written. Please note that I never got to actually read it because I was too fascinated by the picture.

  31. Kris says:

    *snort* You wouldn't happen to be a size slut by any chance would you, Matthew? 😉

  32. Matthew says:

    No. I just love chocolate cookies… 😛

  33. Tam says:

    I'm so glad you thought my indepth ananlysis was of such high quality Matthew. 😉

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