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An Author's Guide to Word Counts in Fiction

Whether you're going indie or traditional publishing, your novel's final word count matters. Traditional publishing has set industry standards for centuries, and while indies have more power in modern day, word counts still rule.

Is This a Novel or What?

The first definite word count to label your story is whether or not your book is really a novel. You could very well have a novella, novelette, or novel on your hands, depending on the length of your manuscript.

  • Novelette: 7,500-20,000 words

  • Novella: 20,000-40,000 words

  • Novel: 40,000+ words

Let's Talk Genre

Each genre has a standard for what is normal. Science fiction and fantasy stretch to over 100k words, while romance and contemporary lit stay in a moderate range.

  • Young Adult: 55,000-70,000 words

  • New Adult: 70,000-100,000 words

  • Adult: 80,000-120,000 words

  • Science Fiction/Fantasy: 100,000-115,000 words

  • Women's Fiction: 75,000-110,000 words

  • Thriller/Horror: 70,000-90,000 words

Word counts can make or break your novel. They can feel sacred to readers and publishers, so it's best to keep in mind when you're doing your own writing.

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