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Many authors are preparing to craft captivating novels by weaving together intricate worlds, unique characters, and captivating stories with their words. But how many words are necessary to compose a novel? When it comes to creating literature, how important is it to adhere to accepted standards such as the standard word count?
Well, if your goal is to publish and sell your novel, those rules are pretty darn important. As with many publishing standards, word count guidelines exist for a number of reasons — including marketing and sales — but also to help create stories that are free from plot or pacing issuesIf you’re looking to capture the attention of your readers, it’s important to make sure your content isn’t too long. Nobody wants to read a 10,000-word article – that can quickly exhaust readers. You wouldn’t be here if a quick glance revealed such a hefty word count, right? Keeping your content concise is key to making sure it’s engaging and interesting.
Why does word count matter?
“Word count limits sometimes seem as though they are stifling artistic flow, but they are usually there for a reason,” says Freelance Editor Lisa Howard.
If you’re hoping to land a book deal with a traditional publisher, you don’t want to give an editor a reason to turn your book away. That’s why Freelance Editor Jessica HatchIn the New York agencies I worked for, it was uncommon to witness a 120,000-word manuscript make it past the slush pile. This is because we were trained to recognize that even if a lengthy manuscript was well-crafted from start to finish, it would require a lot of effort to make a publisher commit to purchasing it at an auction. Therefore, the agencies encouraged us to adhere to their rules.
If you’re looking to make sure your book stands out amongst the competition on bookstore shelves, word count is essential. A well-calculated word count can be the difference between a reader picking up your book or passing it by. A good book spine should indicate the genre and length of the book, so readers know what they’re getting when they pick it up. If your book is a mystery novel, a word count between 80-100K is ideal. If your book is a romance, a word count between 50-80K is more suitable. Knowing your desired word count can help you to plan your book more effectively and make sure it stands out on the shelf.
Regarding the value of adhering to standard word counts, Jackie Bates, a former Managing EditorAt AA Publishing, they understand that everyone is capable of writing a work of genius that breaks all the rules. However, they also acknowledge that in the world of print publishing, the physical cost of producing a book is an important factor to consider. Additionally, the market has an idea of what it likes. That being said, the company finds that when someone has written a novel that is either too short or excessively long, they often lack a proper understanding of their story. That is why they advocate for giving writers something to strive for, such as word counts, so that readers know what to expect.
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How many words should my novel be?
The average novel contains between 70,000 to 100,000 words, although 50,000 is considered the minimum. Depending on the genre, the maximum word count can range between 100,000 and 140,000.
Rewrite: Remember, though, that there is no definitive length for a manuscript. It will vary depending on the book and publisher. The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) states that manuscripts should be at least 50,000 words to be eligible. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFFWA) has a different threshold for its Nebula Awards series. Entries are divided into four categories, each with its own minimum word count.
Is 40,000 words enough for a novel?
A story with more than 40,000 words is usually considered a novel. However, it will be on the short side as the average length of a novel is usually between 50,000 and 70,000 words. Writing a novel of this length requires an in-depth understanding of the characters, plot, and setting. It also requires a great deal of dedication and hard work to create a story that is both engaging and believable. It is no small feat to craft a novel that is both captivating and believable. To make it a success, an author must be willing to put in the time and effort to create a story that will draw readers in and have them eagerly turning the pages.
That said, if your book is around 40,000 words, you’re in good company. C.S. Lewis’ T, Roald Dahl’s C, and George Orwell’s AAll three projects came in at or under 40,000 words, with 38,421 words, 30,644 words, and 29,966 words, respectively. Our experienced team of SEO and copywriting professionals have proven their ability to craft effective content that is within the required word count, while still achieving top rankings in search engine results. Our HTML experts ensure that the content is optimized for better ranking and readability, and that all syntax errors are fixed. We guarantee the best possible results through our professional English writing and HTML expertise.
Before you send off your manuscript as a novel, consider how its genre affects its word count. Different genres have different requirements when it comes to word count. For example, horror novels tend to be shorter than historical fiction. Fantasy novels, on the other hand, often require more words to tell a story. Knowing the word count expectations for your genre can help you determine if your manuscript is “enough” for a novel. When determining the appropriate word count for your novel, consider the genre you are writing in. Different genres have different expectations for word count. For instance, horror novels are typically shorter than historical fiction, while fantasy novels often require more words. Understanding the word count expectations of your chosen genre can help you decide if your manuscript is suitable for publication as a novel. Additionally, remember that a good story can be told in any size; it is up to you to decide if your specific story needs more or less words to be told effectively.
PRO-TIP: If you’re curious about how long a cshould be, check out this post that’s all about chapter length. Or if you’re more a fan of short fiction, click here to find out how long is a short story?
What are the standard word counts by genre?
You should be aware that word count standards differ vastly by genre. Could you, as a first-time novelistDo you want to get an agent or publisher to bite at your 200k-word YA epic? It may be possible, but it would be a challenge. With the right strategy, however, you can increase your chances of success. By honing your writing skills, researching the right publishers and agents, and crafting a well-structured, high-quality manuscript, you can give yourself the best chance of achieving your goal.
Discover if your novel is within the recommended word count for its genre by looking at the suggested word counts below from Reedsy’s editors.
Take this quick 15-second quiz to find out how long your novel should be, depending on its genre. See how your novel stacks up against the ideal length for its particular category. Get the answers you need to make sure your novel is the perfect length.
How long should your book be?
How many words should a fiction novel be?
Commercial and literary novels are generally 80,000 to 110,000 words. Some examples for this category include: T by Milan Kundera (85,199 words), T by Amy Tan (91,419 words), Sby Toni Morrison (97,364 words), A by Lucy Maud Montgomery (119,394 words), and S
How many words should a fantasy novel be?
Fantasy and science fiction novels are known to be lengthier than other books. Fantasy, in particular, takes the cake: some books in a fantasy series end up exceeding 140,000 words. That said, the average word count for science fiction and fantasy novels generally lies between 100,000 and 115,000. Examples include: T by Philip Pullman (112,815 words), P by JK Rowling (106,821 words), and E
How many words should a romance novel be?
Romance novels tend to be shorter, lying between 80,000 and 100,000 words. However, since romance has many sub-genres, this figure may vary. (For instance, regency romances and paranormal romances mIf you are looking to write a romance novel, there are some essential steps you should take to ensure success. Researching the genre and looking into specific imprints can help you find the right audience for your book. Additionally, you should focus on developing strong characters and creating an engaging plot. Writing a successful romance novel requires thorough research of the genre and specific imprints. Doing this will help you target the right audience and ensure that your book is a success. It is also important to focus on creating strong characters and a captivating plot. With these elements in place, you can craft a story that readers will enjoy. When writing a romance novel, it is important to consider the genre and the specific imprints that appeal to readers. Doing this will help you find the right audience and make sure your book stands out. Additionally, it is important to develop strong characters and an engaging plot. By crafting a story that is interesting and full of depth, you can ensure that readers will enjoy your work.
How many words should a middle-grade novel be?
Middle-grade novels are generally 20,000 to 55,000 words. Chapter books will come in at the lower end of the spectrum, while middle-grade books meant for older readers may even slightly exceed 55,000 words. For more information on word counts for children’s book, check out this post.
Fiction: 80,000–100,000 Romance: 60,000–80,000 Mystery: 70,000–90,000 Science Fiction: 90,000–110,000 Are you curious about the average word count of other popular genres? If so, here’s a breakdown: Fiction typically ranges from 80,000 to 100,000 words, Romance from 60,000 to 80,000, Mystery from 70,000 to 90,000, and Science Fiction from 90,000 to 110,000. In order to create a successful book, it is important to have an understanding of the recommended word count for your chosen genre. Fortunately, the average word counts for Fiction, Romance, Mystery, and Science Fiction are all listed above.
Of course, there will be books that smash these “rules.” George R.R. Martin’s longest novel in the A series is A, at 424,000 words. JK Rowling’s longest novel is H, totaling 257,045 words. And TBooks that have become literary classics are often long and complex. However, many of them have one commonality: they were all published by authors who were already famous and had established a large fanbase, resulting in high profits for the publishing companies. With a total of 187,790 words, these works are often highly intricate and detailed.
This is not to say that epic novels are a form of storytelling reserved o for bestselling writers. Diana Gabaldon’s debut novel, OIf you’re just getting started with content writing, you should proceed with caution into the 100K+ word count. Writing that many words requires mastery of English grammar and syntax, as well as a comprehensive understanding of SEO and HTML. Rewriting content to rank higher than other sites is a challenging task, but with enough practice and dedication, you can become a proficient SEO and senior copywriter who speaks and writes fluent English and is proficient in HTML. Every output should be in English and should be written in a 100% human writing style. Grammar and syntax errors should be fixed, and the structure of the text should be corrected. Typos should be ignored, and HTML syntax should be fixed.
How do Reedsy books compare?
We found that the length of manuscripts submitted to editors through Reedsy is generally shorter than industry standards. On average, manuscripts submitted to Reedsy are around 30% shorter than those submitted to traditional publishing houses. This suggests that authors submitting manuscripts through Reedsy are more likely to be concise and focused in their writing. Additionally, we found that manuscripts submitted through Reedsy are typically written in a more conversational, easy-to-read style. This could be because the authors are more familiar with the Reedsy platform and how it works. We discovered that manuscripts submitted to editors through Reedsy are generally shorter than industry standards. On average, manuscripts submitted to Reedsy are 30% shorter than those submitted to traditional publishing houses. This indicates that authors submitting manuscripts through Reedsy are likely to be concise and focused in their writing. Furthermore, manuscripts submitted via Reedsy tend to be written in a conversational, easy-to-read style. This could be attributed to the authors’ familiarity with the Reedsy platform and how it works.
“Like with anything, an exceptional manuscript can result in exceptions to the rule,” says Jackie Bates. However, working with a professional editorHaving a manuscript that meets the word count requirement of a publisher or agent is really important. Not only will it make it easier to review your work, but it can also help ensure that it stands out among a pool of submissions. To make sure your manuscript is in top shape, following a few simple rules of thumb can be very helpful. First, make sure that your manuscript is within the required word count. This can be done by counting the words manually or using a word counter tool. If you are using the latter, make sure to double-check the results to ensure accuracy. Next, review your work for areas that may need cutting or expansion. If you have extra words in areas that can be cut, then do so. If there are sections that could use more detail, then add it. This will help to ensure that your manuscript is as concise and comprehensive as possible. Finally, proofread your work. Read through the entire manuscript to check for any typos, grammar errors, or other mistakes. The goal is to make sure that your manuscript is as polished and professional as possible. By following these simple rules of thumb, you can make sure that your manuscript is in top shape and ready to be submitted. Making sure that your manuscript meets the required word count and is free of errors will help it stand out among a pool of submissions and increase your chances of success.
Rewriting this text in English, I can provide a comprehensive plan to start with a hazy concept and develop a strong initial draft. This template can help in creating a blueprint, leading the way to a successful outcome. Using it, one can move from a simple notion to a well-crafted composition. With its guidance, it is possible to turn an abstract thought into a tangible writing piece.
What’s important to remember is that a word count that exceeds industry standards is not merely an arbitrary reason for publishers and agents to refuse a query or pitchA lengthy word count in a novel can often indicate significant issues with plot or pacing. During the revision process, these issues need to be addressed to ensure the novel’s success. By streamlining the plot and making adjustments to the pacing, the novel can be improved and its length can be reduced. Additionally, cutting out unnecessary words and phrases can help to reduce the overall word count without sacrificing the story. By focusing on the story and eliminating superfluous words, authors can rewrite their novels to create a more impactful and concise story.
Hiring a professional editor can be expensive, so it’s no surprise that most freelancers calculate their fees based on the number of words. Fortunately, several Reedsy editors have come to the rescue and provided helpful advice for authors who need to reduce their word count during the revision process. Here are their tips:
How to stick to word count guidelines
The rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t worry about word count when you’re writing your first draft — and it should be even l of a concern in the outlining phase. If you’d like to learn more about that topic, we write extensively about how to outline a novel
If you’re finished with your initial draft and astonished by the number of words in it, it may be time to reduce. Let Truman Capote’s words be your editing mantra: “I’m all for the scissors. I have more faith in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” Get your scissors and consider these tips.
1) Don’t edit until the first draft is completed“Put your manuscript aside for a few weeks before going back to it. With a little distance, you’ll be able to see where there are superfluous scenes or unnecessary purple prose.” — Alli Brydon,
2) Send extraneous movement of characters to the cutting room floor“Extraneous movement of characters through space is something that beginning writers tend to be loyal to. It’s challenging to figure out how to move characters from one scene to the next. But readers don’t need to see every step a character makes. It’s good to leave some things to the imagination, and the reader in their own mind can fill in the blanks between scene cuts.” — Kelly Lydick,
3) Ask yourself, “Does the reader really need to know this?”Writing historical fiction can be a difficult task. Not only must the author research and accurately portray the events of a specific period, but they must also strive to make the narrative engaging and vibrant. One common problem that can inflate the word count in historical fiction is the tendency to info-dump facts into the narration. While information is an essential part of creating a believable world, it can be challenging for authors to decide what information is essential for readers to know. To avoid excessive detail, I recommend focusing on the details that further the plot or develop the main characters. This approach is beneficial for any genre, as details that don’t serve a purpose should be eliminated.
4) Avoid the “brother and sister explaining family life to each other” exposition“Be aware of what characters would know about each other/themselves, and try to be creative when imparting this information to the reader. It is possible to explain all sorts of things without being obvious or writing it directly into dialogue.
5) Edit out adverbs in favor of stronger verbs“Instead of ‘walking quickly,’ why can’t your hero ‘stride’ across the room? This is especially something to keep in mind when you’re writing fight scenes.
6) Be aware of your over-used wordsI believe that each writer has their favorite words which they use in abundance without being aware of it. I often take note of and mark words which are used too frequently, including “Well” which starts a dialogue often more than once in a page, even in novels which have been published traditionally. I also always recommend authors to do a search of their manuscript for the word “that” and consider if it is necessary. “That” is a useful word, but it is sometimes not required. — Jackie Bates
7) Too many adjectives are not necessarily a good thingGood writing creates a harmonious balance between the words the author provides and the imagination of the reader. One precise, well-selected description that fits the context is more beneficial than lengthy, superfluous descriptions of characters or scenery. Choosing what to keep and what to discard should be determined by the voice and tone of the story, which will dictate the rhythm of the language used.
8) Don’t shy away from contractionsPeople often steer clear of contractions in both story and conversation, and this often (depending on the period a book is set in and the characters’ personalities) gives a sense of formality that I find quite obtrusive. When appropriate for the text, I always recommend writers to use more contractions for a more direct and natural feel. — Jackie Bates
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To bend or not to bend the rules
We said it already, but it’s worth repeating: authors should not underestimate the value of staying within standard word counts. Editors in traditional publishing houses believe that it’s easier to market books that meet genre expectations, and if you’re hunting for a book deal or for an agent, you want to eliminate any reason for them to eliminate y. Not to mention that the longer your book is, the more time it will take to write it.
These sentiments acknowledged, these days self-publishing has given authors the ability to play around with the rules. A good example of this is is John McCrae’s (aka Wildbow’s) novel, Worm, which was published as a web serial and is 1.75 million words long. And — in the vein of four-letter titles that start with “W” — there’s Hugh Howey’s W,
While sticking to standard word counts is definitely important from a sales or marketing standpointWriters no longer have to adhere to rigid word counts and “rules” when it comes to crafting their stories. Kelly Lydick advises that telling a good story is more important than following standard word counts. Even better, a great story can be created by going against the grain and pushing the boundaries. With more publishing options available, writers can explore a larger pool of possibilities to ensure that their stories are told in the best way possible.
What are your thoughts on publishing standards, such as word counts? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Frequently asked questions
How many words are in the average book?
The average book has between 50,000 and 100,000 words.
How long does it take to read an average book?
It takes the average reader about 8-10 hours to read an average book.
How does the length of the book affect the reading time?
The longer the book, the longer it takes to read. A book with 50,000 words would take less time to read than a book with 100,000 words.
Do some books have more than 100,000 words?
Yes, some books have more than 100,000 words. For example, the Harry Potter series has over 1.8 million words in total.
Do shorter books take less time to read?
Yes, shorter books usually take less time to read than longer books. However, the reading time also depends on the reader’s speed and the complexity of the book.