How Long Should a Book Be?

A novel starts a word at a time, building one upon the other. A fellow writer stated, “A word upon a word upon a word equals power.” Words transform into an idea and that idea develops into a story. The story becomes a novel, and that work of fiction can inspire, and bring enjoyment or vital information to the reader.

How long should a book be?

According to Writers Digest, aim for at least 70,000 words. Eighty to ninety thousand is a good range for the adult novel or memoir, and any genre, except sci-fi and fantasy.

  • Picture Books – 1,000 (32 pages is the standard)
  • Middle Grade Fiction – 20,000 -35,000
  • Horror – 80,000-100,000
  • Romance – 85,000-100,000
  • Science Fiction & Fantasy – 100,000-180,000
  • Young Adult Fiction – There’s a lot of room for variation. 45,000-100,000. Fantasy tends to be on the higher end of the word count spectrum. In the Harry Potter series, word count ranges from 77K to 257K.

Please note that these are only averages and there are exceptions to every rule.

Little by Little

You have to write roughly 1660 words a day to make the 50,000 mark by the end of thirty days. That is one or two chapters, or about three or four typewritten single-spaced pages. If you choose to take weekends off, then you must write around 2300 words a day. Breaking it down, maybe it doesn’t seem so hard? If you start now – in the middle of the month, double that amount. According to NaNoWriMo, writing the first draft is not about quality but about quantity. The time for left-brain activities such as editing comes later.

Counting Words

Does counting words seem daunting? Remember the days of counting words with a manual typewriter? Oh, the pain. For example, if you wanted to center a heading, you had to count the number of characters and spaces used, subtract that number from the number of spaces in the line, divide this number by two, and then use the space bar to manually move the carriage to the proper position. Thank goodness for computers that count your words for you.

The Easy Way to Track Your Words

  • MS Word: Go to the REVIEW tab, and click the Word Count icon.
  • Word Online (free through OneDrive) is the same as above.
  • Pages/MAC: Click in the toolbar, then choose Show Word Count.
  • Google Docs: *(Online) Go to TOOLS/Word Count

Did you know you can also “VOICE TYPE” with Google Docs? And it’s FREE!


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