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How Long Should Your Writing Sample Be?

You have been told many times that your writing sample should be short. Is this true? Why? And how short should it be? In this blog post, we will discuss the general rules for a writing sample, including what types of samples are acceptable and which ones are not.

The Minimum Length

From a reader’s standpoint, having a writing sample is essential. They need to be able to follow the storyline, understand the theme of the work, and most importantly, be engaged by the writing itself. If any of these factors are lacking, then the reader will be unable to establish a connection with the writer and won’t be able to bring themselves to care about the outcome of the story. In general, the minimum length for a writing sample is 50,000 words.

In terms of formatting, the most preferred style is a novel. However, if this is not possible, then a novella (20,000–30,000 words) or a novelette (7,500–15,000 words) would be acceptable.

The Maximum Length

There is no specific maximum length that you should adhere to when it comes to your writing sample. However, it is a good idea to keep in mind the available space and the need to keep the content simple and easy to understand. The maximum length for a writing sample is usually between 100,000 and 300,000 words. Anything longer and the content will become too dry and the reader will have a hard time following the plot and developing an interest in the story.

An abstract or the introduction to the work are generally not required and should be limited to 1–2 pages. This will help the reader get a better understanding of what the work is about without having to flip to the end to get the conclusion. It’s also a good idea to keep your sample as close to the published version as possible. This will give the reader the feeling that they’re getting a sneak peek into what the final product will look like and provide them with some idea of ​​what the story is about. It’s also essential that you closely follow APA guidelines when composing your sample. This ensures that it will be formatted correctly and won’t take up a lot of room in a reader’s hands.

The Variety Of Genres

The main purpose of a writing sample is to showcase your versatility as a writer. This means that you should try and include samples from as many different genres as possible. If possible, you should even try and include samples from more than one style of the same genre. In general, the more varied your writing sample is, the more valuable it will be as an indication of your versatility as a writer.

The only exception to this rule are horror or thriller samples. These should be limited to one type of genre. Mixing different styles for these genres can make them more powerful and increase the chances of the sample being accepted. A good way to increase your chances of having your sample accepted is to make it a collaborative work. Working with other writers to bring your stories to life can prove to be quite an invaluable experience. This is something that can only be gained from a traditional publisher, however.

There are many different types of collaborations that you can get involved in. You can team up with a fellow author to share the workload. You can partner with a professional editor to polish your work and bring it to market. Or, you can even enlist the help of a ghostwriter to put the final polish on your work and make it perfect. No matter what method you choose, working with others to make your dream of becoming published a reality is a beautiful thing.

The Structure And Flow Of The Writing

The way that your writing is structured and the way that it flows are important elements to keep in mind when composing your writing sample. This is mostly because the structure and flow of the writing determines the overall tone and pace of the work. The structure and flow of the writing should be consistent throughout the entire work, but it especially important that they are carried over from the beginning to the end.

The first five to ten pages of your writing sample should be able to stand on their own. This means that the content within these pages should be interesting enough that the reader wouldn’t crave more. If the first five to ten pages don’t deliver, then the work as a whole will be hard to get through. Isolation, loneliness, and desperation are some of the themes that will run throughout the entire work.

After this initial phase, the action should pick up. This is where the meat of the story lies and it is here that the reader will either be hooked or turned off by the content.

The next phase should consist of an inciting incident. This is something that will set the stage for the rest of the story and give it a clear purpose. Something happens, and things later develop from there. The inciting incident should come early on in the piece. Some of the most common inciting incidents that result in a story are:

  • A murder
  • A violent crime
  • A child missing
  • A romance
  • A family feud

After the inciting incident, the story should begin to unfold. This is where the protagonist (the main character) interacts with the world around them and is the point at which the story really begins.

Next, we will discuss the ending of your story. Some writers like to leave their readers with a big cliffhanger at the end of the story. While this may be appealing to the readers, it ultimately isn’t good for the writer. Ending your story on a high note is what you should strive for. This promotes closure and a feeling of satisfaction among your readers. A good way to end your story is with a memorable dialogue or a shocking revelation.

Now that you have the basic guidelines for a good writing sample, it’s time to prepare your sample for publication. Once again, if possible, it’s a good idea to work with an editor to take your story to the next level. Having a fresh set of eyes go through your work and point out all of its flaws and potential is an invaluable asset to any writer. Even if you think that you’re a perfect writer and your story is wonderful, there is always something that can be done to make it better. Working with an editor to polish your work and get it ready for submission is what you should aim for. A good editor will help you find the best possible version of your work without losing the essence of what you wrote.

Where Can I Publish My Book?

As a self-publishing author, you have many options when it comes to where you can publish your book. You can choose to go with a traditional publisher or you can go the DIY route and publish your book independently. Each option comes with its perks and demerits. Let’s discuss the pros and cons of each one.

Traditional Publisher

The big pros of going with a traditional publisher are control and exposure. You will have complete control over the content and over the project as a whole. This means that you can suggest any changes that you deem necessary and necessary and the publisher will accomodate you. For writers who are looking to break into the industry, this is a good option since you will have the opportunity to show off your versatility and gain experience.

The biggest con of going with a traditional publisher is the cost. It is not uncommon for authors to charge thousands for the simple right to publish their work. It is also not uncommon for writers to take a financial hit since most traditional publishers don’t provide any type of financial assistance to authors. In most cases, you will have to pay back the advance and then some.


The pros of going the self-publishing route are control and freedom. Just because you’ve decided to go the self-publishing route doesn’t mean that you have to give up the artistic control. You will have complete control over the content and the look of your work. There are many platforms out there that make it simple for anyone to publish a book. The biggest con of going the self-publishing route is the cost. Like with most things in life, there is a cost associated with self-publishing. However, the cost is much lower than it would be to publish with a traditional publisher. In most cases, you will only have to cover your expenses for printing and shipping. After that, you will be able to split the profits with your writer’s group or individually.