Very short books of fiction include pamphlets, novelettes, flash fiction, or short stories.
With nonfiction, it could include essays, academic texts, or guides and manuals.
Many of these generally have a word count of between 1,000 words and 5,000 words.
But this can cause a problem when you try to self-publish due to word count and minimum page number restrictions.
What is a very short book for publishing services?
The answer depends on the type of book.
For an ebook, the answer is not clear-cut.
Amazon no longer gives a precise minimum word count.
But some years ago, it used to state on its help page that it was 2,500 words.
The number was replaced with the expression, disappointing content.
However, the minimum of 2,500 words is probably still a good rule to follow for Kindle ebooks.
Print books are a different story because there is no minimum word count.
The only restriction is the number of pages.
For most print-on-demand services like Amazon KDP, it’s usually 24 pages.
When you want to self-publish, you need to take these restrictions for short works into consideration.
Publishing around the restrictions
As long as you know what you’re up against, you can usually succeed at publishing quite short books.
But it might take a little work to pad out your word count or change your page formatting.
I checked A Message To Garcia, which is a classic short essay.
It is available on Amazon.
The Kindle version details say 14 pages, based on print length.
A Kindle page is usually between 180-200 words.
So this ebook consists of around 2,500 words.
The paperback version is 32 pages.
But when you check the book on Project Gutenberg, the real word count for the essay itself is around 1,600 words.
But the total for the print book is about 5,600.
So there is a lot of extra information and padding added to increase the word and page count.
It’s a good example of how to self-publish in short form.
Short fiction, in particular, is quite popular on the Kindle Store, so short is nothing new.
Kindle Vella is another Amazon avenue for short-form or episode publishing.
How to handle short print books
A lot of people are self-publishing low content books such as notebooks, diaries, and agendas.
So the issue here is not words, only pages. But for a short text, let’s look at what you can do to meet the requirements.
I’ll use a 5″ x 8″ paperback book size, with a minimum page count of 24 pages, as an example.
The first step is to organize your first few pages.
Page one will be your title page.
Leave page two blank, and add your copyright information on page three.
You could add a short preface on page five and leave page four blank.
Then your story begins on page six.
So you now only have eighteen pages to fill.
Formatting print book pages
Depending on the length of your text, you can spread it out on more pages to suit.
As a rule of thumb, a 5″ x 8″ page size contains about 190 words in a 12pt font.
That works out to around 3,400 words for eighteen pages.
In the graphic below, I have highlighted four ideas to increase your page count.
1. Use short paragraphs.
2. Increase the size of your font.
3. Break up any long paragraphs.
4. Increase the margins on each side and the top and bottom.
5. Increase your line space.
Simply changing your font size can make a big difference. If you use 15pt instead of 12pt, the words per page drop to around 150.
If you are still a bit short, you can add pages at the end of your book.
Perhaps a short author bio page, another page for other works, or a page with your website and social links.
Again, leave odd pages blank, and this will use two to six pages.
One other option is to add decorative image pages or perhaps an author image.
Even if your text is only 1,000 words, it’s very easy to work with a 24-page minimum limit for a print book.
How to manage short ebooks
An ebook is not quite as easy as a print book because the restriction is on word count.
Unlike a print book, images won’t help because they don’t add any words.
Yes, you can try self-publishing an ebook below 2,500 words, but there’s every chance it will be rejected.
The best way to succeed is to increase your overall word count by adding more information before and after your main text.
One simple way is to write a (longish) preface outlining why you wrote the ebook and why it will appeal to a reader.
At the end of the book, add an extended author bio. You could also include online details and links to your other works.
For short stories, you can add a (bonus) story or even two or three.
With essays and academic texts, include your professional background and experience.
All it takes is a little imagination, a bit of writing, and coming up with novel ways to add more words.
Ideally, you should aim at around 5,000 words to be on the safe side.
Yes, there are some limitations and restrictions you need to overcome if you want to self-publish short-form print books and ebooks.
But none of them are insurmountable.
All you need to do is know the guidelines and then work to meet the criteria.
Remember that you are publishing a book, not a blog post or article, and there are many parts to a book.
Include as many parts as you can. It will increase the overall word and page count to help you publish successfully.
So there is nothing to stop you.
Related reading: Is It Easy To Self-Publish For A First Time Author?