Word Count

Beulah, who is fast becoming one of my new best friends because she leaves nice comments and also helped cure me of various aches and pains asked this question:
What is the average word count for the different genres? What would you consider too long/too short?
First let me say, the word count on a book is less important than tight, good writing. You need as many words in your book as it takes to tell a good story. Of course, you can go overboard with this. A 200,000 word romance is going to have a hard time finding a publisher, as is a 7,000 word historical fiction. With that in mind, here are a few thoughts.

There is no hard and fast rule on word count. It will differ between publishers and between authors. For example, books for children and teens usually top out around 40,000-50,000 words. But how long was JK Rowling’s last book? It also depends on the font size your publisher uses and whether they average 250 or 300 words per page.

Here are a few basic guidelines:
Short novel is 15,000 to 40,000
Adult novel is 50,000 to 110,000
Literary novel can be 125,000

As for differences in genres, go to the library or bookstore and take the average number of pages in books for that genre. Subtract about 6 pages for title page, acknowledgments, blurbs, etc. Then divide that by 250 and you’ll be in the ballpark.

Here are some approximates based on page count:
40,000 = 160 pages
62,500 = 250 pages*
75,000 = 300 pages*
90,000 = 360 pages
100,000 = 400 pages
125,000 = 500 pages**

As you can see, this is NOT an exact science.

*Best range for new authors
**Need to be an experienced author or really, really good to publish a novel that’s over 125,000 words.

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