I'm dealing with Springer about a monograph proposal. My draft was 80,000 words and they asked me to make it 85–100,000 words. I don't want to bother the editor with a question that is just out of curiosity. But, why do they need to expand it? What difference are 5,000 words going to make?

2 Answers 2


This is probably an economic decision based on the balancing of input effort/cost and likely return on investment. But you should ask the editor to see whether it is a "hard" rule or not and if you ask that, then you might as well ask why. I don't know if they make exceptions.

An exception might be "above the pay grade" of an individual editor, or not.

  • 6
    A lot of the economic issues come from the cost of binding. At 85,000 words this will be about half cover, half pages, by thickness. I think Springer monographs still have printed and bound editions. Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 0:11
  • 4
    @TerryLoring, if a volume is too thin it limits what can be put on the spine. That seems like a dumb reason but might figure in.
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 0:13
  • 80k words is definitely not in the "too thin" regime.
    – Allure
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 14:48
  • 1
    @Allure, I don't have any examples on my shelf, but outfits like Springer may like their logo on the spine and they might like it nicely sized. This is a corporate choice. I've had issues with books of under 200 pages and don't have many constraints about what need to appear there. I like my name to appear, of course, but don't insist on the bulldog. ;-)
    – Buffy
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 14:53
  • 3
    Hard to believe. My experience (as an individual purchaser of Springer-published documents) is that Springer picks a random number north of $100 and uses that. Then either subtracts $2 or adds (!!) $2 for the ebook - which is what really annoys me.
    – davidbak
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 17:59

Here's an educated guess based on my experience with other publishers. They ran an analysis to see which of their monographs are most profitable (or receive the most citations,* or whatever other metric they care about). It turns out that there is a correlation between length and profit. Therefore they ask for a certain number of words.

It's almost surely not a hard requirement, they'll probably accept an 80k-word monograph if you adamantly refuse to lengthen the manuscript.

*That longer articles get more citations is fairly well-established by the way: see e.g. 1 2 3

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    That would make sense. It’s said that there’s a “sweet spot” (word count) for every genre.
    – user354948
    Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 1:36
  • 11
    Goodhart's Law comes to mind: "If a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure" en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goodhart%27s_law Commented Mar 12, 2023 at 21:07
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    Can you share more about "your experience with other publishers"? In which part of the process did you participate?
    – Taladris
    Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 9:53
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    @Taladris I currently work in academic publishing, and I had an insider's view as to why there is a guideline for X number of words for journal articles.
    – Allure
    Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 10:06
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    If you mean "experience working for other publishers" please say that. "experience with" is ambiguous as to the relationship that led to the experience.
    – Ben Voigt
    Commented Mar 13, 2023 at 22:48

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