How Long Should Your Book Be? - An author stands by many stacks of paper.

How Long Should Your Book Be? The Complete Guide

We are entirely reader supported. This article may contain affiliate links and we may earn a small commission when you click on the links at no additional cost to you. As an Amazon Affiliate we earn from qualifying purchases.

The ‘how long?’ question has to be one of the most commonly asked by new authors – perhaps even experienced ones, too. It was certainly one of the first to pass my lips when I met my editor to discuss my first children’s book.

“What’s the age range?” she asked me when I broached the subject.
“I’m thinking of aiming for older children,” I told her.
“That would be ages eight to twelve, then. In that case, it should be between 30,000 and 50,000 words.”
The precision of her answer was satisfying, but it also piqued my curiosity.
“Why that particular length?”
“It’s just considered to be the ‘right’ length at the moment for that age range,” she explained. “Not too long, not too short.”

This ‘Goldilocks’ principle is good general advice to keep in mind, but there are also more specific factors to consider that will help you nail the ‘right’ length for whatever kind of book you’re writing. While you should work to your natural style, it’s advisable to be aware of and (as much as possible) write to the length that publishers and readers expect.

Type of book and target audience

Just as I did in my discussion with my editor, you can hone in on a rough idea of ‘how long’ simply by categorizing what kind of book you’re writing and its target audience. Clearly, any six-year-olds without the miraculous intellect of Roald Dahl’s Matilda aren’t going to want to read something the length of War and Peace. Similarly, most adults won’t be very interested in a 40-page picture book. And if they are, maybe they’re not challenging themselves enough.

‘How long is a book?’ is a question without answer, right? No, not really. Click To Tweet

Most of the data I’ll be using throughout this article was sourced from Writer’s Digest and the Manuscript Appraisal Agency, with any differences split to find the average.

Children’s picture book: 500–600 words over 32–48 pages.

Children’s chapter book: 1,000–10,000 words.

Middle grade: 20,000–50,000 words.

Young Adult (YA): 40,000–70,000 words.

Flash fiction: 500 words or less.

Short Story: 5,000–10,000 words.

Novella: 10,000–40,000 words.

Novel: Anything over 40,000 words. Anything over 110,000 words is an ‘epic’.

Adult literary and commercial fiction: 80,000–100,000 words is considered to be the ‘Goldilocks’ zone, though you could get away with 70,000 words minimum and 109,000 words maximum if you’re feeling daring.

On the subject of feeling ‘daring’, a lot of conventional wisdom on book length advises against it, particularly if you’re an unknown author. “We cannot count on being the exception,” Chuck Sambuchino warns in his Writer’s Digest piece, “we must count on being the rule.” Editor Kit Carstairs elaborates that – from a commercial point of view – agents and publishers simply don’t have time to wade through every ‘this-could-be-the-next-Game-of-Thrones-esque’ tome that lands on their desk. “[Agents and publishers] need reasons to throw your manuscript in the bin and move onto the next one,” she explains, “not because they are horrible people who want to force people to ‘fail’, it comes down to time pressures really.” It’s also worth remembering that the bigger the book, the higher the production cost.

This isn’t meant to scare you away from reaching the dizzy heights of Tolkien, more to warn you of the issues you may encounter down the line when trying to sell your manuscript.

Genre

Again, when considering the authority of agents and publishers, Carstairs recommends that, “adhering to the expected word count demonstrates that you understand your market.” The ‘right’ answer to ‘how long should my book be?’ is dictated by the audience’s expectations. If you picked up a sci-fi or historical novel from a bookshelf, you wouldn’t be surprised if it was pretty hefty (and probably had a dragon on the cover). You might be more surprised if a YA novel required Olympian-level arm strength to lift.

Genre has more influence on book length than you might think... Click To Tweet

Here’s a guide to the recommended lengths for genre books.

Sci-fi/Fantasy: 90,000–120,000, anything over 150,000 words might be testing for your readers. As I just touched on above, books in these genres are allowed and expected to run longer than others. This is due to the amount of world building required to introduce a reader to a fictional setting, but be careful not to let this expectation manipulate your natural style too much. Just remember: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? clocks in at just under 65,000 words. You don’t necessarily have to write an epic to write a masterpiece.

Historical: As above.

Romance: 50,000–100,000 words. The wide range for this genre is because of the amount of sub-genres that it can divide into: supernatural, erotica, historical, ‘chick-lit’, etc.  It’s also worth bearing in mind that longer romance novels seem to be the trend du jour, with bestsellers Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey both comfortably over 100,000 words.

Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Horror: 70,000–90,000 words. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that suspense is key to all of these genres. Pacing is vital in creating suspense, which means it couldn’t be any more important to nail the word count.

Comic books and manga

These deserve a category all to themselves, as there are quite a few variations to consider. Comics and manga are written as scripts, and as such, a page count rather than word count is used to define their length. Unless directed otherwise by your publisher, there’s the possibility for near-infinite flexibility here. Comic book writer Kelly Thompson helpfully provided most of the data here.

One-shot/single issue: 20–22 pages for either a standalone short story or single issue as part of a series.

Anthology/mini-series/maxi-series: A collection of single issues, either different short stories or one series. A mini-series is usually 4–6 issues and a maxi-series is usually 9–12 issues.

Ongoing: Exactly as it sounds. Most superhero sagas like Batman started long before most of us were born and will likely continue long after most of us are dead.

Trade Paperbacks (TPB): Either collects an ongoing ‘run’ of a single creative team or a completed mini-series as one volume. There’s no set length and TPBs often include additional ‘behind-the-scenes’ material and variant covers from single-issue releases. Don’t let the name fool you – they can be hardcover too.

Graphic novel: Essentially, ‘graphic novel’ is a fancier word for a longer comic book that is released as one volume rather than being segmented into issues. There’s also no set length.

Manga: Manga stories are usually serialized as ‘chapters’ rather than issues and printed in anthology manga magazines that run 200–850 pages long. Chapters of each individual series are then collected into volumes called ‘tankobon’ – the equivalent of TPBs.

The lengths vary hugely from title to title, but chapters released weekly seem to average 16–20 pages while chapters released monthly average 36–50 pages. Volumes are usually 180–250 pages. Most manga stories run for as long as their ‘mangaka’ (manga author) wants them to, or as long as their readership demands. The longest running manga, Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Koen-mae Hashutsujo, began in 1976 and finished in September 2016 with nearly 2,000 chapters and 200 volumes under its belt. (See? I wasn’t lying about that flexibility.)

Personal style

While you should certainly keep the data I’ve provided in mind, being too prescriptive about sticking to word counts will only impede your personal writing style. Rather, use them as suggestive framework to help your editing process. If you end up way under the standard word count, you know that you either need to slow the pace a little or flesh out some underdeveloped areas. If you end up way over it, you know that you’ve probably upset the ‘filler to killer’ ratio.

Your natural pace was almost certainly shaped by the genres you enjoy reading and writing anyway, so you’ll probably find it’s not as hard as you might think to adhere to standardized lengths.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel

You’ve probably noticed that when it comes to the ‘right’ length for every convention, there’s a contradiction, much like the English language itself.

To illustrate this further, the editor I mentioned at the top of this article told me in the same conversation that J.K. Rowling initially sent Harry Potter to publishers as one, monstrously long epic. Brevity was clearly always the enemy of creativity for her, as even after the book was serialized, it became spine-warpingly huge from the fourth installment on. By that point, however, all assumptions about preteen attention spans had gone up in a cloud of Floo Powder.

When it comes to book length, don’t try to be the next Tolkien or Rowling. Click To Tweet

Without sounding too ‘glass-half-empty’, fate is set against you being the next J.K. Rowling. It’s far less risky – especially as a new author – to focus on being on the ‘rule’ rather than the ‘exception’ when it comes to how long you want your book to be. Find the right balance between what’s been tried and tested, your personal preferences, and your natural writing style, and you should end up with your ‘Goldilocks’ length.

How does your word count measure up to industry standards? Let me know in the comments, or for more questions that authors can’t stop asking, check out 5 Things You Need To Know Before Pitching Your Book and Here Are The Reasons Publishers And Literary Agents Reject Manuscripts.

234 Shares

38 thoughts on “How Long Should Your Book Be? The Complete Guide”

  1. Maxo B̧̦̤̲̳̄̓͛̋̒̔̍̉̔͝ŭ̙͓̹̲̪͎̒̈́͛̈́̊g̛̙̥̗̪̮̼͎͆̋͂͐́͛͜͝ͅ

    Oh man… This makes me nervous… I’m currently at +93.500 words in a low-dark-fantasy novel, and not even close to the end. Or even tell the whole story I meant in the first place. Of course I try to tell me that this is just the first draft but I’m afraid I can’t cut it down.

    What should I do? (besides editing) Make separate books? Delete whole chunks of the story? Didn’t mean to make more than two… but maybe it calls for more?

    Great article by the way. One of those I keep saved as tools and references to look up in the future.

    1. Hi Maxo,

      Firstly, thanks for the complimentary words on the article! I’m glad to be of help.

      Regarding your question – I think you sort of answered your own question really. Obviously the editing process will give you a chance to adjust the word count but if you’re worried about whether it is too long or not it might be best to consider getting outside feedback from others (as Marilyn says below), and ask them to be quite ruthless in their feedback. (You might find this article on alpha readers I wrote useful too if you decide try this out: //www.standoutbooks.com/alpha-reader/) If the consensus is that the lengthiness is necessary then splitting it across a series might be a good option. Plus, you’ll get more mileage out of your idea too.

      For now, if you’re still in the process of writing it then I wouldn’t panic too much about the length at the moment as it’ll only serve to throw you off. Conventional wisdom is that it’s always better to have too much of something than too little. A better problem to me is having to cut things down to size rather than having to pad things out with needless ‘filler’ to reach a word count.

      Hope that helps!

      Hannah

      1. Maxo B̧̦̤̲̳̄̓͛̋̒̔̍̉̔͝ŭ̙͓̹̲̪͎̒̈́͛̈́̊g̛̙̥̗̪̮̼͎͆̋͂͐́͛͜͝ͅ

        Thank you so much! Great idea!
        Seeing the option to split it across a series, I felt very relieved. May seem silly, but was one of the highlights of my day.

        Having that in mind, I can now continue writing, trusting that even if the proper editing is still long, I have that backup plan. So as you said, I ceased to panic.

        The alpha reader suggestion was taken as well. Is a nice step between the first version and the beta readers.

        You’ve been a great help.
        Thank you!

        1. You’re very welcome, Maxo!

          Very best of luck with the book – or books, if you decide to go with the series idea.

          Hannah

      1. Maxo B̧̦̤̲̳̄̓͛̋̒̔̍̉̔͝ŭ̙͓̹̲̪͎̒̈́͛̈́̊g̛̙̥̗̪̮̼͎͆̋͂͐́͛͜͝ͅ

        That’s the direction I’m headed, I think.
        Maybe there’s enough material for a spin-off or two as well.

        Will follow the advice listed here as well though.

    2. Perhaps you should try finding an ending in the middle of the story, and separate them into to separate books, just as J.K. Rowling had to do with Harry Potter

  2. Genre publishers. in particular, usually list the wordage as well as other specifics on their website. Look for market guidelines.

    To Maxo. Find a few readers familiar with the type of book you are writing and get their opinion on your storyline.

    1. Maxo B̧̦̤̲̳̄̓͛̋̒̔̍̉̔͝ŭ̙͓̹̲̪͎̒̈́͛̈́̊g̛̙̥̗̪̮̼͎͆̋͂͐́͛͜͝ͅ

      Good advice. Some beta or alpha readers are always necessary, although finding readers of the same type of book may be a little more complicated.

      Thank you all for the advice! (and sorry for the delay in the answer! 3 years!)

  3. While I understand the propensity of individual businesses to gravitate to certain ‘standards’, in categorizing the material they work with, it makes me ‘bridle’ to see how easily people fall into the ‘helpful’ mode of instructing writers ‘how’ to write, perhaps even ‘what’ to write.

    Even more irritating, is the mention of J.K. Rowling. Allow me to offer a slightly different perspective, which I hold to be the REAL truth. The publishers who rejected her were weak, lazy, and fatally arrogant, and their failure to recognize the potential of the most powerful publishing object of MANY centuries, cost them BILLIONS. Yet, the first thing you did was blame Rowling.

    You blamed her for not ascribing to the ‘another brick in the wall’ mentality the publishing industry is adopting – not for the betterment of literature or publishing – but for their own profit. They no longer wish to work, employ talent, or skill, to their trade: they demand YOU do all that for them, while THEY take the lions share of control and profit.

    It is and unfriendly and unfavorable facet of the business, which, in my opinion, has not gone unnoticed by authors, and is very much considered a path left without their footprints.

    And please, I beg you, do not ply me with the need for extraordinary profit in order to survive: just looking at the books they produce which are just trash, that do not sell, says their methods are suspect to begin with.

    Thank you.

    1. Hannah Collins

      Hi Ben,

      Thanks for the comment. This purpose of this article was to give writers looking to get their work published a guide on industry standard lengths for different genres and target audiences, which is partly dictated by the perceived expectations of particular markets. It wasn’t to pass judgement on whether those mandated lengths are “right” or “wrong” or perceived problems in the publishing industry.

      As I said in the article, nearly every genre or market seems to have notable exceptions to the rules, so really these prescribed lengths are suggestive, jumping-off points, and are in continual fluctuation. Ultimately, if something is really quite good – like the “Harry Potter” series – people will read it, no matter how long it is. Clearly, in case of J.K Rowling the length of her work for an audience that young was off-putting to some publishers and agents, but once someone had the bright idea to serialize the work instead, a good compromise was reached. Rowling got to keep the wordiness she wanted and the publishers had something that they found easier to market. As someone who was also the target audience when they books were being released, I did personally find the lengths exhaustive as the series continued, but luckily my investment in the story kept me reading on anyway.

      I understand your frustrations but you have to keep in mind that the publishing industry is in the business of primarily making money, and something that doesn’t fit into a tried-and-tested formula will always be a gamble for them. Even something of great quality. It’s just the nature of the beast, I’m afraid.

      You can of course choose to avoid all that and self-publish instead, but even then, it’s useful to bear these draconian-seeming rules of thumb in mind as they’ll be what your readers are expecting.

      Thanks,
      Hannah

      1. Thank you for your response. I do agree with you, for the most part, and take issue, not with the validity of your assertions, which I accept as more accurate than mine might be, but with the degree of negativity of some aspects.

        Yes, publishing IS a business for profit, as is health care. The issues remain, how MUCH profit is ENOUGH? And what steps do the primaries in these industries take to generate MORE profit.

        We live in an era where rapacious profit, even to the doom of the company and shareholders, is not only acceptable, but preferable. Such companies simply declare bankruptcy, adopt a new name, and continue operating through the same channels.

        WE are expected to operate honestly, with transparency and integrity, while they are not.

        In Self publishing, for instance, Amazon is ruthlessly driving all competition out of business, while they institute methods of wresting the writers profit away from him – once again – and taking it for themselves. In the board rooms, they call this ‘good business’. The shareholders applaud, and the worker bees are expected to fall in line take whet they are given, rather than what they deserve. To say aloud, ‘what we deserve’, will always be countered with, ‘it is OUR company, OUR customers, WE supply them to you. It is WE who deserve, not you.’

        I have no objection to working hard for my money. I enjoy hard work. But I very much object to economic slavery, and working on a playing field so desperately tilted against me.

        Thank you for your time.

        1. Hannah Collins

          Hi Ben,

          I’m sorry you drew negativity from the article. I do see where you’re coming from though. Obviously, the publishing industry – like the film industry or any other creative industry – seems to always be a battle for balance between their creative and money-making halves, with those actually producing their lifeblood (be it books, films or any other commercialized art form) often suffering the most from a system that might not always to operate in their best interests.

          The bigger the company the bigger the pressures, and as you said, self-publishing has it’s own big pressures too. In my experience – and probably others – the smaller, independent companies tend to be a good middle-ground.

          I still think that the most positive thing you can draw from the article is that every “industry standard” length seems to have a notable, successful exception. And the J.K Rowling story is always a nice one to point to as proof that, if something really is good, someone in the business will (hopefully) eventually recognize that and take a chance on it. My advice at the end that it’s better to stick to a tried-and-tested formula may come across as negative but was meant pragmatically, as cases like Rowling are unfortunately rare, and advice that gave authors the least chance of success in getting published wouldn’t be great advice if that’s their main goal.

          Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I hope I’m leaving you with a more positive mindset.

          Thanks,
          Hannah

          1. Hi Hannah, I appreciate your article and take it as the guide you say it is.
            I get a bit tired of hearing people tell us that any advice is being ‘prescriptive’ and therefore bad. One of the most challenging aspects for new writers is being told there ‘are no rules’, ‘no one way to write’, ‘no prescriptive approaches’ all of which I get but also lures people into thinking they can do it entirely their way and still find a publisher. It can also be even more confusing trying to make decisions as you go. The truth is (putting aside cynicism) somewhere in the middle. There are some disciplines writers need to follow-so few are genii- and disciplines publishers follow. Yes great manuscripts get missed, yes terrible rubbish gets published but any aspiring ‘published author’ needs to be aware of many aspects of the trade. Unless they write for their own pleasure. Then they can hold hold whatever cynical views they like. Thank you for your great articles.

  4. Hi Hannah,

    Thank you for the helpful article. I hope this thread is still active. I’m a writer and illustrator and have published a variety of odd types of books, including a riddle book series and collection of short stories. So length considerations for me are. Ith slightly more flexible and slightly harder to discern.

    I’m currently workig in printing some books of my illustration work. Such as a collection of portraits. The target audience would be those interested in art, nonsense and detail. Ages teen and upwards but probably mostly for 20s-30s.

    I plan to in fact visit book stores next week to see how others have approached length with such work, but do you have recommendations for goldilock ranges on such pieces?

    Thank you for your feedback.

    (I presume I’ll receive an email if a response is posted?)

    Regards,

    Jack

    1. Hi Jack,

      Glad you found the article helpful. Thanks for the question – it’s an interesting one! The “standard” length for picture/illustrated books that I think fit your description is 32 pages, so you could use that as a jumping off point to find your “goldilocks” length.

      I think going out and looking at similar books (“market research”) as you’re planning to is a great idea though, and something I would have suggested.

      Good luck with it!

      Hannah

  5. Hi,
    Thanks for the article. I’m curious about a potential discrepancy I have noticed. Everyone states that YA should be no more than 70-80k words (give or take a few opinions) but Sci-Fi/Fantasy can push that limit up to 120k. Well, what about YA that is Sci-Fi/Fantasy? Are those writers (such as myself) limited to 80k or are publishers understanding that these types of books can be a bit longer? I have read 30-40 variations of your data, and no one has mentioned this. However, many YA books that fall into this category do tend to be +/-100k.

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thanks for asking. The 70-80k area is what would be advised, even when YA is also genre fiction. The assumption is that the ‘YA’ label ‘trumps’ any other label, like ‘sci-fi’. Genre labels basically predict audience (via subject matter, obviously), so any data that specifically describes that audience is more precise.

      Best,
      Rob

  6. Hello, I’m just starting out. I currently writing a fiction book. I wanted to do Christian self help books to please my surrounding family but I am not confident in doing it. I am well aware that no matter what I choose to write I would be judged so that makes me want to just do where my heart is which is fiction and add pieces and bits of my own story in each one. I want it to be helpful but entertaining as well. Am I crazy or am I good?
    Oh and also is it or will it be controversial if I decided to write my story later?

    1. Hi Shanisha,

      Thanks for getting in touch – I’m Rob, another writer for the blog. Fiction is written from personal experience, so it’s totally feasible to take the approach you describe. It’s also the case that many people grow and learn from the fiction they read, and I’ve even known self-help/philosophical authors who deliberately turned their ideas into fiction to increase their effect.

      As for your other questions, I’m of the opinion that ‘where your heart is’ is also where your most promising talents, instincts, and ability to learn reside. Whatever potential one has in any area is higher in the area you feel naturally drawn to, so I’d argue that pursuing the path that feels right to you is synonymous with pursuing the path that’s going to produce your best work. I don’t mean this in a metaphysical sense (or not just), but in a practical one – I’d encourage you to watch the video in the article below for more on this.

      //www.standoutbooks.com/hating-your-own-work/

      Best,
      Rob

  7. I noticed that while the recommended word count for a YA book is 40,000-70,000, the recommended word count for a sci-fi or fantasy book is 90,000 to 120,000. What about a YA science fiction or fantasy book? I have noticed that many of these seem to be over 90,000, but I’m still not sure. Does the recommended count fall between these two?

    1. Hi Juliette,

      Thanks for asking. The assumption is that the ‘YA’ label ‘trumps’ any other label, like ‘sci-fi’. In this context, genre labels predict audience (expected average age, comfortable reading span, etc.), so any data that specifically describes audience is more precise.

      YA fiction tends to top out around 70,000 words, with the upper limits populated by fantasy and sci-fi, since people who like those genres tend to also prefer a longer haul. Of course, these are averages, and there are always outliers, both on the small and large scale. A 100,000-word YA book isn’t prohibited from success, and even a YA reader might devour three 70,000-ish-word books and one 110,000-word book in a few months. So it’s not that YA books can’t be longer, it’s just that the 70,000-word ceiling makes it more likely you’ll find your reader; in the example above, the reader has three slots for shorter works and one slot for a longer work, so the 70,000-word author has three chances to grab them.

      Series tend to work differently – the later Harry Potter books are vast, while the earlier installments are pretty short. Partly that’s being able to break the rules when a reader will follow you, and partly it’s that readers age as they move through a series.

      Best,
      Rob

  8. Hello Hannah,
    Thanks for the wonderful article. I am not a writer from my profession. But, recently I wrote kids book (7+ year). It has almost 10,000 words. I have written 12 stories/chapters that move around a 7 year old kid, his family and his friends. Each story teaches some moral values to kids.
    Now my question is should i split it into two books (6/6 chapters/stories) or go with one book??
    Your suggestion would be really helpful. Thank you.

    1. Hi Richa,

      Thanks for your question – Hannah has moved on since the article was written, but I’m Rob, another contributor to the blog. Either approach is viable, but I’d suggest the 50/50 split for a couple of reasons.

      First, length isn’t just about content, it’s about being approachable. A more advanced reader knows they can handle both books, while a less advanced reader might be unsure if they could handle one longer version. Second, you get to sell two books.

      This assumes a lot of things, first among them being that the book breaks easily and naturally into two. If that’s not the case, sticking with one book is more advisable – after all, breaking it into such manageable chapters already does a lot to make it approachable.

      Best,
      Rob

  9. IMO, it’s not about the length, it’s how you use it. Yeah, I could probably write 100k book where much of the content is unnecessary filler, but why should I do that if I can get the same information to the reader in 30k words? When I’m reading I prefer to shorter, action-packed books where something is going actually on, rather than lengthy, boring books where much of it consists of descriptions of nature. That’s one of reasons I hate LOTR books, but loved The Hobbit and Harry Potter (and also several other books whose titles and authors I can’t recall at the moment, the only thing I can recall is that interdimensional transport was involved and I’m not talking about Narnia).

    1. Hi Darkhog,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m a big proponent for minimalism in writing, so I take your point. The only thing I’d add is that average book lengths are judged on what finds an audience – a 30k book is less likely to be bought or read by most readers, even if it would turn out to be the best form of a story. If this is the type of writing that suits your style, I’d suggest it’s also necessary to present it to readers in a way they’ll engage with – perhaps as part of a short-fiction collection or in a serialized form.

      Best,
      Rob

  10. Hello-
    I am currently writing a book, right now the word count comes to about 25k words. I suspect I’ll be done with the book at 45 – 50k. The question is, is this too short? Also, I’m 13 years old. I don’t know if I want to get the book published, but let’s say I do. Would the publishers even consider my book if they see that it’s short and written by a teen?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Sadie,

      It depends on what type of audience you’re pitching to, but you’ll see from the article that 50,000 words is within the range of multiple genres. Your age shouldn’t be a drawback, especially if you’re writing for your own age group – it certainly didn’t stop Caitlin Moran, who published her first novel at thirteen (as detailed in our article 7 Ways Caitlin Moran Can Help You Improve Your Writing).

      Best,
      Rob

  11. Hi everyone,
    Great article! Helped me so much. Just wondering if a book (fantasy/futuristic) at about 45k words would be too short? Thanks!

    1. Hi Lorehn,

      45k words would likely be a little short, but the averages are calculated in terms of what finds an audience, and outliers exist. In this case, I’d suggest focusing on how your story is presented – if it’s the meat of a collection of shorter fiction, you’re more likely to find your readers. Much of Harlan Ellison’s sci-fi is way shorter, and his collections are still selling.

      Best,
      Rob

  12. Shouvik Banerjee

    Hi,

    It’s an interesting post and extremely helpful, especially for new authors who have to find out the bitter truth about word count. Honestly, for new authors, word count and query letter seem to be the only things that matter. Anyways, could you tell me the typical length of a self-help “fiction” book (paperback) by a debut author, something similar to The monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma?

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Shouvik,

      Thanks for asking. There’s a lot of variety in this type of writing, but I’d say you’re looking at between 45,000 and 75,000 words on average, unless you have a reason to do otherwise (providing a short guide to a specific task, for example). Shorter is generally better if the reader is reading for information/insight rather than just the experience, but if you’re mixing with memoir or another narrative, longer can also work.

      Best,
      Rob

  13. My name is Elizabeth. I’m writing a book called . “The story about my life on how it really is” how long does a book have to be if (I ) Elizabeth is the Author and I have someone publishing it for me . But how long does the book have to be if it’s only about my past and present . How many pages and chapters?

    1. Hi Elizabeth,

      Pages and chapters aren’t a great measure for length – chapters can be any length, and pages vary wildly depending on font size and other formatting choices (not to mention software). In terms of words, memoirs tend to be comparable to novels: 40,000 words is short but viable, 110,000 is exceptionally long but justified if enough goes on.

      Best,
      Rob

  14. What type of book would homestuck be considered? I’m assuming it would still be an epic since it’s over 110,000 words, but would It have a special term you didn’t mention since it’s about 800,000 and counting with it’s epilogue?

    1. Hi Rory,

      Homestuck is a serialized webcomic and would therefore be judged by the standards of ‘Ongoing’ under ‘Comic books and manga.’

      In the context of setting out to create such a work, it doesn’t make sense to aim for a specific word count, as the length of the project is indeterminable at the outset.

      Best,
      Rob

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.