Received a letter that asked several questions all in one. I'm going to break it up into chunks for easier reading.
I’m working on my first novel and I was wondering if there is a
minimum/maximum word or page count that I should aim for? If my novel is too short or too long, will that cause it to be rejected?
Word count is secondary to the quality of writing, but it is important.
The average length of a book depends on what you’re writing. A children’s novel is 20,000 to 40,000. YA or middle grades are 40,000 to 60,000. Adult fiction is 70,000+. These are the general rules of thumb, but they are not hard and fast. As we’ve seen with Harry Potter, if the story is captivating enough, you can go longer--but probably not on a first book. Sometimes you can go shorter, but then you get into the psychology of price vs perceived value.
For first novels, I recommend sticking close to the averages if you can. A word count outside of the averages will not necessarily produce an automatic rejection, but the quality of your writing, the freshness of your story must be able to support a deviation from the norm.
As to figuring word count: Unless your publisher tells you to do so, do not figure word count based on your software word counter. Format your page according to industry standards (see post on formatting) and then figure you have an average of 250 words per page. Multiply that by the number of pages and that is your word count.