Tips: Top Ten Common Book Mistakes

Between the submissions we receive here at Indies Unlimited and the ones I receive for consideration for the Hurricane Sandy Library Recovery project, I’ve vetted close to 200 books in the past two weeks. Yes, my eyes are tired, and there’s a slight chance I may be just a teeny tiny bit cranky.

I’m noticing a lot of common errors while reviewing the previews of these books, which I’m going to list below. People complain (no, I don’t know which people, just people, all right?) that indie and self-published books don’t meet the same level of quality as traditionally published books. I don’t believe that can be made as a blanket statement. What I will tell you, however, is that these errors are DEAD giveaways that a book is a not-so-high-quality self-published product. Isn’t the goal ultimately that someone can pick up an indie book and a traditionally published book and not be able to tell the difference? Well, let’s do away with the issues below and we’ll be well on our way.

#1 – It’s versus its. This is probably the most common grammatical issue I run into. The incorrect usage of this in the book preview – or in the book’s description – screams of an unedited product. This does not make a good first impression.

#2 – Typos in the first sentence or paragraph. WHAT? Yup. Incredibly common and there’s really no excuse for that. I’ve even come across entire words missing in that opening line. The first paragraph should be pristine – that is your hook – and any mistakes in there are inexcusable. People expect that an author has spent the most time polishing the opening of the book – so if that’s not that great, what can they expect of the rest?

#3 – Inconsistent paragraph indentations. This is mostly prevalent in eBooks, but I’ve also noticed it on some print book previews. This, of course, looks sloppy, and that’s the impression it’s going to give readers.

#4 – Inconsistent spacing between paragraphs. Again, mostly prevalent in eBooks – and really ugly to look at.

#5 – Double spaced print books. This, I don’t get at all. I don’t know if the authors are trying to make their books longer so they can justify printing them, or what. Not only does it look unfinished, it reminds me of someone submitting a high-school term paper.

#6 – No page numbers in print books. No, I’m not kidding. I’ve also noticed that some books start on page six, or some number other than one or two. In a preview, this can be really confusing to potential readers.

#7 – No headers in print books. You know, the author name on one page, and the book’s title on the other? Yeah. Not professional. Createspace provides authors with a template which includes page numbers, headers, and section formatting. I don’t know if Lightning Source and Lulu do the same, but if they do, please, please, please USE IT. Still not sure how to do it? Our lovely Lynne Cantwell will show you here.

#8 – Too much front matter junk. Seriously, I don’t want to read about the author’s cats, quotes from reviews, or about the author’s other books. I don’t want to have to search to get to the real book. I already know all that other junk by the time I’ve clicked through to preview. I want to see what kind of a writer the person is. Big Al recently wrote a post on this here. Read it, live it. Please.

#9 – Quotation mark capitalization problem. I’ve seen this a number of times recently, and I thought maybe it’s some kind of word processing formatting issue. I don’t know. But what happens is – there is some dialogue, a comma, and then a capitalized word that shouldn’t be capitalized like:Β  “Blah blah blah,” He said. Of course He should not be capitalized. I’ve also seen “Blah blah blah.” He said, throwing up his hands. Again, He should not be the beginning of a new sentence.

#10 – Table of Contents in fiction books. This isn’t necessary in fiction eBooks and is just plain old strange to see in a print book. I could understand there being one in non-fiction books or anthologies, and I can even understand there being a very short one to include “about the author,” “author notes,” or “glossary of terms.” But just to have a chapter listing doesn’t really make any sense – and when, in the print version, the chapter type is in blue (in the preview) – this is indicative that the eBook version came first and those served as links. The reader may think that the print book was the evil afterbirth, or they may think nothing. Who knows?

BONUS – Typo in the title. Don’t laugh, I have seen it. On the front cover.

I also have to mention the horrendous book description. Yeah, I know, this isn’t technically part of the book, however, “Joni finds a magical rock – see what happens!” is not a bloody book description. Here’s the even bigger issue with this – take the lame description in the previous line, add to it #8’s front matter issue, and by the time you’re done, you’ve had one page of actual book preview (or maybe none!) and you have no idea what the book is about. Guess what a potential customer is going to do – they’re NOT going to buy that book. Please do your book the justice of writing a decent description. Here’s how. Don’t know how to change your book’s description on Amazon? Here’s how.

Yeah, I know, it’s annoying that we, as authors, have to do so much more than just write the book. The difference is that trads have a staff to do these things. But that’s what comes with the territory as an indie author – and it’s worth it. There’s no excuse for not putting out a quality product. These errors may not seem like a big deal to you – but they are indicators of an unprofessional, incomplete, and possibly even unedited product. When a potential customer goes to your book’s purchase page and clicks on your book’s preview, they’re basically interviewing your book. Do you really think it’s a good idea for your book to show up with its fly down?

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist and photographer, author of over 30 titles, and administrator (AKA Fearless Leader) of Indies Unlimited. Brooks’ feature articles, poetry, and photography have appeared in magazines, newspapers, books and other publications both in the U.S. and abroad. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page

92 thoughts on “Tips: Top Ten Common Book Mistakes”

  1. Amen!!! I’ve made some of those typos in titles myself, but usually can get them corrected if i do.

    One small thing, the CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE is the rule book for most professional publishers. They declare that all front matter should get lower case roman numerals, not numbers. The front cover is page 1 and gets no number. the inside front cover, ditto. The First page of the text should be number 3.

    According to their guidelines, the title page is page iii, copyright page is iv. dedication page is v, contents page is vii. etc.

    1. Arline, I’m not sure this is correct. I just checked a couple of dead-tree books — one hardback, one paperback — and if I count the actual cover, then your count doesn’t work. What I think they may be saying is that the cover *page* is i. That’s the very first page after you open the cover. The back of the cover page would be ii, the title page would be iii, copyright page iv, and so on. And I think the rest is somewhat fungible; not every book has a dedication, for example, and I wouldn’t stick in a blank sheet there just to keep CMS disciples from tearing out their hair. πŸ˜‰

  2. Great article – and very well timed for me. I’m just working on the formatting of my next novel for both Kindle and Createspace and get really jittery while I’m doing it. I find myself having to go through the manuscript just one more time in case I’ve missed anything, to the point where I can hardly bring myself to say, ‘that’s it’!

    And as for the book description…..Urgh!

  3. I wish I could have walked away from your post saying, “I have never done any of those things!” but I can’t. I struggle with It’s and Its because I have a rule in my head that It’s is not just it is – but also a form of possessive which then throws my world into a tailspin.
    I struggle with syntax – I have had many cups of coffee reading the paper on a Sunday morning. My syntax issues have provided my editor some good belly laughs.
    #9 hits me square between the eyes. I do it because I am typing so fast and my auto response to punctuation ( period, quote) means new sentence. A bad habit I must break.
    Thanks for letting me know I am not alone in my errors. Sometimes it feels like inexperience is the issue. This post comforted me in knowing it may be inexperience but they are common and not just my own struggles.

    1. No worries, Susan – if it weren’t for the Createspace templates, I would completely forget things like the headers and the page numbers. And as far as #9 goes – I checked out eight books yesterday by the same author and they ALL had that issue – on the first page.

      You seem to have a really good grasp of what your issues are – so kudos to you! πŸ™‚

  4. Full disclosure: I’ve never done the even-odd title/author header in my dead-tree books. For some reason, I have a sense (which I’ve probably made up, lol) that not every book has it these days, so I haven’t bothered with it. But everything else you said gets two thumbs WAY up! πŸ™‚

      1. But I don’t use Createspace’s interior template. I’m pretty sure that when I uploaded my first book to them, they didn’t have one, so I’ve always just formatted my books for print myself.

        I just checked a few books on my shelf, and several of them (Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series and several YA fantasies, including a hardback of “Seraphina” by Rachel Hartmann) don’t have the header. So maybe it’s becoming a style choice.

  5. A Book Junkie friend of many of us recently told us that Amazon had removed her fiction novel because a customer complained that it did not have a table of contents. They won’t reinstate it until she complies–so please, don’t penalize on that account. It may not be the author’s fault and may be the only way to keep it listed on Amazon. I haven’t had this experience myself, but would put a darned TOC in there to shut up Big Brother so I could sell my book. You can fight city hall, but you’ll probably lose!

    1. THAT is bizarre. I don’t penalize, I just think it looks strange, not to mention the fact that it takes up front matter area – and I’ve never seen it in a traditionally published book.

      1. Yes, I’ve seen it mentioned many times that Amazon requires a TOC in ebooks. I took a class so learned to make mine short

        Table of Contents
        Chapter 1 2 3 4 etc. with hyperlinks

        It takes up about 2-3 sentence lines.

          1. Why would you need a TOC in a fiction novel? That’s what bookmarks are for, and even then, your Kindle book will open up to where you left off.

            Something’s stinky in a Danish country with this rumor…

      2. They don’t mean a listed table of contents up front. It’s a table of contents that is generated for the kindle. It is not a part of your actual front matter. It’s more like some kind of code. You do it by formatting your chapter titles as a particular “style.”. The kindle program picks that up and creates a table of contents.

        I am not computer savvy, but managed it somehow, as you can see, without actually knowing what I was doing. πŸ™‚

        Thank goodness I have a George.

  6. I think all books, fiction are nonfiction, should have a TOC. Though it is nice that the list of chapters can now be placed in the back of the text with eBooks, and only accessed when needed. For example, I often need to go back to a certain part of a book based on something I remember reading, and I will often remember what’s in a chapter by its title. Though I do sometimes remember some content based on chapter number alone, but I don’t always remember to highlight things I may want to find later, and a TOC does provide another way to navigate the text.

    1. Wouldn’t it just be easier to search for the bit of text you’re remembering? Most e-readers have that functionality.

      A TOC is pointless in a fiction book, and not all the much useful in a non-fiction e-book either; searchability supercedes any such need.

      1. I agree with you Rich. I have a Kindle and it is so easy to search for what you want to find. To have a TOC that is just labeled Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc is silly and you do not see them in a printed fictional book unless the author has named the chapter headings specifically to fit the story line.

        I’m leaving them out of my fictional books…unless and until Amazon or some other entity says they have to be in there in order for my book to be sold. πŸ™‚

    2. I absolutely agree with you. TOCs are helpful to the reader, and when I read that, I actually picked up the two nearest books to me (Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban) and they both have TOCs. So, I don’t think this is a hard and fast rule. As for e-readers, I think the TOC is helpful, too. A lot of times, I remember chapter titles, so it’s easier for me to click on the chapter title and skim, than to look for any specific words I remember reading. I prefer having a TOC. And for those who don’t like it, I think they’re less harmed by having to skip those pages than those who want it are harmed by not having them at all.

  7. While I feel that the TOC is not necessary for the average fiction book, I don’t think including one is ‘a mistake.’ In fact, one site requires the inclusion of a TOC, and a friend recently got into a tiff with Amazon because her novel did not have one. Also, I have seen many, many people speak out very passionately about including a TOC in fiction books. So while I personally agree with you that they are unnecessary and a bit strange in novels, I must also disagree the innocent TOC’s inclusion on your list here. πŸ˜‰

    The rest of the list, though, just hurts me to think about. Most of those are ‘no-brainers’ (the exception being front-matter junk, a bad habit learned from trad publishers).

    1. I agree with you. Including a TOC is better than not including one. Those who don’t want them will glaze right over. Those who do, will be happy.

  8. I agree with everything on the list except for #10. I don’t think having a table of contents is a mistake in fiction.

    I like a TOC when I’m reading fiction, especially when the chapters have fun, memorable titles. I admit, a lot of authors today just go with (1, 2, 3, 4) and skip doing a TOC altogether but some of my favorite books have chapter titles and a TOC (Treasure Island, Three Musketeers, Les Miserable, Dracula, etc.). It’s maybe a little old fashioned but even Harry Potter has this layout. I use this model in my own fiction because I like how in the TOC and the titles of the chapters can be used as another tool for telling the story without necessarily revealing the details of how things occur.

    There’s my two cents. Now I can shut up πŸ™‚

  9. The point about the ToC isn’t if it’s right or wrong. The only point I’m trying to make is the fact that if indie authors want their books to be indistinguishable from mainstream published books is that a ToC isn’t necessary in fiction PRINT books (especially if it’s in a funky blue color in the preview). The personal preference and the decision is up to the author.

    1. I would change the chapter title fonts in a print book, anyway. (And I do — the font I use for my chapter titles is the same as one of my front cover fonts. Continuity, you know. πŸ˜‰ )

      I’m in the what’s-a-ToC-for-when-your-chapters-don’t-have-titles camp. How can it help navigation to have the chapter numbers hyperlinked when even *I* can’t remember what’s in which chapter, and I wrote the book! πŸ˜€

      Also, I looked all over KDP’s style guide this afternoon, and while I found a couple of places where it said that an active (a.k.a. hyperlinked) ToC was “highly recommended,” I never saw anything that said a ToC was required. So I’m puzzled as to why Amazon would be pulling books without ToCs. It is a puzzlement…

      1. I’ve actually seen some pretty cool chapter headings recently, complete with neat graphics, in print versions. That type of creative/personal touch really enhances the book, IMHO.

  10. So TRUE! I haven’t seen many of these errors in “professionally published” books. I am a grammar and sentence-structure fanatic, which makes editing an interesting side-job. Very common to see all of those mistakes you’ve mentioned. If we indies want to be taken seriously, these mistakes have to be edited out, or not be made in the first place.

  11. So timely, Kat. I revised and read my novel, Lime, over more times than the law should allow πŸ™‚ However, I still had little mechanical and grammar errors that got past most readers but were pointed out to me by a couple of writers. I relied on my English teaching experience to do majority of the editing myself and I think I did pretty well (I wasn’t guilty of majority of the errors on your list). Since I printed with CreateSpace, I decided to “re-edit” my novel based on a closer line read. I’m proud to say the new edited version is out in print today and the newly revised ebook version will follow.

    My point is with today’s technology and quality services like CreateSpace you can “start over.” CreateSpace only charged me $50 to revise the print version with unlimited edits as long as it didn’t alter the page number and size of the book. The ebook version was a bit more costly, but I paid to update that one as well.

    For the sequel to my novel, I will budget for a professional editor for those very last edits. I had paid two professional editors prior to my book’s release but just ran out of funds in the end. Your tips are valuable to not only indie authors but traditionally published authors as well, because I’ve read and heard about some of the more popular and successful books out there with typos and poor grammar. It’s no excuse and if we care about what we write we should equally care about how it is received.

  12. “..show up with its fly down?” Priceless.
    I empathize with the state of your mental health Kat, but… you + cranky = hilarious. πŸ˜€

    1. I agree. She’s been nothing but friendly and helpful to me, and I’m grateful!

  13. Writing gurus and instructors blog incessantly about the importance of learning the craft. If you are publishing independently, part of that craft is knowing at least the rudiments of book design and layout before committing to print. Page 1 in a “real” book is the half-title page (not the cover), is recto (facing), and as a display page, does not carry a drop folio (page number) or running head. The first page of the body is thus page 3, is numbered, but does not carry a head. And so forth. This is the kind of picayune stuff that leads insiders to trash-can indie publications without bothering to read the first paragraph and even works unconsciously on naive readers. After all, they’ve seen thousands of “real” books. If your self-published magnum opus looks odd or sloppy, they are already biased before starting on page 3.

    A “published author” who doesn’t know the difference between a verb and an adverb should not be taken seriously. A self-publisher who is not willing to pay for or wheedle professional copy editing or to learn the difference between recto and verso should not be taken seriously. Just as a writer should own a dictionary, a publisher should spring for a copy of the CMoS. Just as a writer should study other writing, a self-publisher should study other books–“real” books from “real” publishers.

    As to typos, all books, however thoroughly edited and vetted, have them. As you point out, it’s the placement and density of them that matters most. I did once have a book out with a typo on the front cover, despite having gone through multiple revisions and review after review by multiple responsible parties. Fortunately, my geeky son-in-law spotted it on first glance at a sample copy and the book was reissued after only a couple dozen copies had been sold. Someday, after I am famous or gone or both, those misprinted copies should be worth a fortune–or at least a few dollars!

    –Larry Constantine (pen name, Lior Samson)

  14. I think you’re absolutely right on everything else but I have to disagree with you regarding a Table of Contents in a fictional EBook. Not all EBooks have numbered pages and if I want to go back and reread something, a Table of Contents makes it much easier to find.

    1. I’m not talking so much about a ToC in an eBook as I am in a print book. And, doesn’t the search function in an eBook sort of negate the need for the ToC in an eBook?

  15. A couple of comments. First, re fonts, in certain scientific books, sometimes for an ebook there seems to be no satisfactory way of doing it. All I have been able to do with certain equations is to make a .png and insert it, but then you have size problems. One really big problem with fonts is when you use the Microsoft “insert symbol” – you can get anything!

    Second, number 10, the table of contents, for an ebook may not be able to be circumvented because it is done automatically by certain compiling programs. I do not consider that to be the worst of sins, especially when someone else is responsible!

  16. An extremely interesting article. I almost wish I could say that I wasn’t guilty of a few of these things but if I don’t make such ‘mistakes’ I don’t see how I could learn to improve either so I don’t feel too bad about it. Also, there’s one of those that I actually do…on purpose. It’s the double-spacing one between paragraphs/dialogue lines (No double spacing between lines in a paragraph or between words)…

    Hear me out! It’s been known to make things easier for dyslexic readers. When I was younger, as much as I loved reading, it was so difficult for me because of my dyslexia and all books had text that was very crammed together through my eyes and caused so many more difficulties. As a writer who can control how her books are printed I wanted to leave a little space to make things easier for dyslexic readers. I agree it looks amateurish and very reminiscent of a high school essay of sorts but I know what it feels like to love to read but to feel defeated by the text on a page.

    1. Hi Kyra, thanks for your comment. I actually like a little extra space between paragraphs. It gives a nice separation between ideas. I think double spacing between EVERY line of a book is an issue. πŸ™‚

  17. #10 is caused by people trying to use the same file for their ebooks and print books. That is just not a good idea. Design characteristics for ebooks and print books are totally different.

  18. Great advice K.S., especially given I am currently in editing mode. And so many comments. What is it about formatting and grammar that makes writers/editors so excited? (or is that excitable?)

    1. Hi Karen, thanks for your comment. I’ll be honest, if it hadn’t been for Createspace templates, I’d forget the headers and the page numbers myself. There’s so much for Indies to take into account. Best of luck with your new project!

  19. Hi, Karen,
    Thank you! Where have you been all my life?I’ve been searching for good information like this forever. I have my precious manuscript, and was completely clueless about the next crucial steps. This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship…
    Tom

  20. Excellent thoughts here! Heh, in terms of errors at the start of something, my long-time favorite is the lead-off sentence of a major antismoking study that was fully published in a peer-reviewed journal with evidently no one catching the error:

    “The estimated effects of recent pubic and workplace smoking restriction laws suggest that they produce significant declines in community rates of heart attack.”

    I was tempted to feature that quote in a chapter on heart attack studies in the book I”m currently working on, but somehow, with great difficulty, have restrained myself.

    :>
    MJM

  21. My apologies for such a late response to this post but I knew it would contain some great advice and saved it.

    I pondered over what page number to start my children’s book on for the longest time. With all of these responses, I’m getting mixed signals, however, I began with page three. Was I correct in doing so?

    1. Hi Renee — Is your book a chapter book or a picture book? My daughter, who took a children’s lit course in college, was taught that page numbering in picture books starts on the very first page after the cover — and that some publishers don’t bother with page numbers at all, if the book is short.

      If your book is a chapter book, however, you would follow the same conventions as an adult book: small Roman numerals for the front matter and Arabic numerals for the story, starting with page 1 on the first page of chapter 1. Does that help?

      1. Thank you for your response Lynn. My book was a full-color children’s book so after the title page and the dedication page, the actual book began on page number three. Was that correct?

        It is a short story, but I hate to read a book (any book) without page numbers. πŸ™‚

  22. I just ran across your article and it’s a great help. While I disagree with you about the TOC, I think you’ve compiled a great list of mistakes to look for.

    1. Hi RJ, thanks for your comment. I’m glad the article is helpful. As far as the TOC is concerned, my main issue is the fact that people don’t reformat it from their eBook version so that in the preview it still looks like big blue hyperlinks. That comes across unprofessional.

  23. I can verify that Lightning Source does NOT provide authors with a template for text blocks – only for covers. Lighting Source provides, however, guidelines for margin formatting, so that when your book is digitally printed, they can cut it properly with text in the proper places.

  24. Kat: This was so helpful that I printed it out, and it joins only a handful of articles on writing that I have printed out in the past few years. Sadly, I have made a couple of these mistakes. Thank you so much for sharing your valuable experience. Also, if you publish your ebook on Smashwords, they require a table of contents on all books, fiction or nonfiction.

    1. Hi Boyd – I’m so glad you found the post helpful. Thank you for the compliment!

      Just FYI – this is what one of our authors has confirmed with me about TOCs on Smashwords: “According to Marcus at Smashwords, Smashwords doesn’t require a TOC, but there will be default “TOC” links added through the meat grinder (essentially a couple of points in the book) which in many cases are acceptable. However, Apple has a manual vetting process for their catalog, and if they see chapter headings, they sometimes will reject the book from the catalog, as they prefer those to be linked. They are inconsistent about it at times, because it is a human process. You aren’t notified if your book is rejected from iBooks; someone just told me that it wasn’t there, and I had to write to Smashwords to find out what happened.”

      1. K.S., you wrote, “Apple has a manual vetting process for their catalog, and if they see chapter headings, they sometimes will reject the book from the catalog,”

        I think you may be talking only about e-books, but just wanted to check. No one’s rejecting any hardcopy books (or rejecting converting hc books) because even # pages have the book name and odd # pages have chapter headings, are they?

        – MJM

        1. Hi Michael – Smashwords is for eBooks only as is Apple iTunes. So no, not print books. πŸ™‚ If you’d like to know more about Smashwords, coming up at 9 a.m. Pacific time, I’ve written a post about them. πŸ™‚

          1. Thank you K.S! πŸ™‚ At the moment though all my e-circuits are overloaded with my p-book. If I survive the ordeal maybe I’ll look into e-versions in the future!

            :>
            Michael

  25. As a high school English teacher and aspiring author I find it astounding that the items on your list are so prevalent. Anyone serious about being an indie author should have done their research on the business.

    I read a friend’s ebook recently and I was boggled to learn that it went through 6 edits – I would have stopped reading after the 2nd page had I not made a promise.

    I just keep shaking my head…

    How an earth do we clean up the ‘mess’ in order to bring respect to our work?

  26. This is so bizarre! I feel like I’m going crazy, or living in an alternate universe, or completely misreading this entire thing. No TOC in a fiction book? I don’t…I don’t understand. I have never in my life seen a book without a TOC in the beginning. Just to make sure I wasn’t taking crazy pills, I went and grabbed several random fiction books off my shelves – popular ones to make sure I wasn’t just getting some nut job, so I looked at Harry Potter, LOtR, David Sedaris, etc – and every single one had a TOC in the front matter…so…when people say they’ve never seen a TOC in a fiction book…what exactly…I mean…I’m SO confused. Strange to see in a print book? I’m honestly really, really confused, can someone help me?

    1. Okay, so I went a relooked at a lot of books, and a few of the shorter books I have don’t have TOCs at the beginning, but a majority of them do – far more than I feel would justify the idea that it is “strange”…am I reading something wrong?

      1. If the TOC takes up a good portion of the preview of the PRINT book – and if the chapter headings are in BLUE because they used to be hyperlinks for the eBook version, then it’s an issue. It’s not something I would get stuck on, the other items on the list are far more serious, and I wish people would focus on those.

        1. Oh I’m sorry I did that thing where my brain reads the lines in the paragraph in the wrong order. I see what you’re saying. But they said specifically that including a TOC in a print book was “really strange” and a “big mistake” which I don’t really understand.

          1. Depends on what kind of book you are read. I read a lot of mysteries and there is not a single TOC in any of the books that I have. Maybe because mystery writers tend to just number their chapters rather than give them titles.

            I put a TOC in my ebook, but not in my print versions.

          2. KS, particularly with the tendency of some modern authors in those genres to have 50+ chapters per book. LOL!

            TOC:

            Chap 1 – – page 1
            Chap 2 — page 3
            Chap 4 — page 8
            Chap 5 — page 9

            What is it with these ultrashort chapters anyway? Is it the Tweet Syndrome / Short Attention Span thing? Sheeesh, in Robert Jordan novel a chapter might go on fifty pages. I remember one of his novels where the main character didn’t have an active part for a span of over 300 pages!

            – MJM
            P.S. I forget the actual #’s but I *think* I once figured out that the 13 (14?) novels of the Wheel Of Time added up to a single Tolkeinesque story of over four million words. A moderately slow reader would take 400 hours to get through the entire story!

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