If you’re an aspiring author like me, eventually two words are going to cross your path if they haven’t already: word count.
If you’re really new to this biz, you may still be telling people about how many pages your book is. And that probably works better for friends and family. But all that agents, editors, and publishers want to hear about is word count.
Why? Because you might be writing in Courier, Times New Roman, Squiggly Wiggly (please don’t), but the one thing that stays uniform across the board is word count. How many words have you crammed into that Word Document that is your novel? But more importantly, how many should you have crammed in there?
As is with a lot of things in the writing world, the answer is it depends. It depends on your genre, your age range, and whether or not you’re JK Rowling or Plain Tryingtagetpublished Jane. But is there any kind of guide for how many words a novel should be?
According to Writer’s Digest, this is a typical guide for novel lengths:
Adult: Commercial & Literary ~80,000-89,000 (for you newbies, if you have it double-spaced with Times New Roman, this will be around 300 pgs, depending on your formatting)
Sci-Fi/Fantasy ~100,000-115,000 although lean toward the short end of that figure
Middle Grade ~20,000-50,000 depending on age range
YA (they say the most flexible of ranges) 55,000 – 69,999 although the trend is getting closer to the top of the 80Ks for the max. Again this depends on genre, story, etc.
Picture Books ~500-600
BUT WHAT ABOUT (INSERT BOOK TITLE)? IT WAS WAY LONGER/SHORTER!
The thing is you can’t use other authors to argue the length of your book because 99% of the time your arguments are invalid. Especially if the author in questions is 1) super famous, or 2) wrote something a long, long time ago. When you’re a household name, you can write a 160,000 word book because odds are your name is the money-maker the publishing world sees (although for your reader’s sake, please don’t).