A Note on Novel Length

measure
Image credit: Sanja Djenero

How long should my book be? It’s a silly question, or so it seems. What does length matter so long as the story is well written? I have by turn either obsessed over novel length or ignored it entirely, but I do think that it is a topic worth covering.

There are expected lengths for any kind of book, and it varies according to genre and audience. These lengths are measured in word count. Why? While page count might be more appealing, it’s not very dependable. Are you talking written or typed? Single or double spaced? Book pages (if so, how big book pages are we talking?) or printed sheets of paper? How long are the paragraphs? Word count is much more reliable, and for that reason many publishers and creative writing challenges such as NaNoWriMo request it as a way of measuring length. So where does your novel fall? Here are some of the statistics for book length:

Image credit: Kruno Knezevic
Image credit: Kruno Knezevic

Children’s/Chapter books: 10,000-30,000 words.

Novella: 20,000-40,000 words.

Young Adult: 40,000-100,000 words.

Genre series: 50,000-100,000 words.

Independent novels: 70,000-400,000 words.

Keep in mind that when drafting it is always better to over-write than under-write, because you can always cut things out later. Thanks to the Harry Potter series, genre and young adult fiction have both taken a turn for longer word count over the past ten years or so, but recently the rise of e-book reader popularity has countered that with more profitability from smaller books.

No such thing as too small... right? Image credit: Krzysztof Szkurlatowski, 12frames.eu
No such thing as too small… right?
Image credit: Krzysztof Szkurlatowski, 12frames.eu

There are no absolutes in book size. The only reason a list like this would even be helpful is because of reader and publisher expectations–if your novel is too long, you might come off as long-winded and flowery. If it is too short, it will feel incomplete and not as well thought out. For tips on how to cut your novel down to an ideal size, please check out our article on cutting tips to make your novel shine!

In the meantime, please share your thoughts on novel length in the comments section of this article. I’d love to hear from you! What trends have you noticed in novel length lately? Where does your writing fall? Please share!

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3 thoughts on “A Note on Novel Length

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