How Long Should a Novel Be?

Determining a word count can be a difficult task. How many words do the publishers expect for my genre?

The answer isn’t exactly straightforward.

Word counts vary across each different genre.

Generally, for a fantasy novel, the word count is expected to be over 110,000 words.

For a novella (a small novel) the word count is between 20,000 and 50,000 words. However, keep in mind that if you’re a first time author, you might have a lot of trouble getting someone to publish a novella.

For a novel, the word count is generally from 50,000 to 110,000 words, falling in between the word count expectation of a novella and a fantasy novel. The average word count is 75,000-80,000.

Thrillers are generally required to be at least 100,000 words, however, if your thriller is 80,000 words and absolutely brilliant, it may not make a difference.

Epics novels are generally over 110,000 and if you look at some of Ken Follet’s novels, you’ll see they can range beyond double that word count. Though, again, if you’re a first time author, it is unlikely a publisher will want to work with so many words.


The word count expectation can only be a guideline, as there are always exceptions to the rule. For example, Nicholas Sparks’ first book was The Notebook, and it was just less than 50,000 words in length, yet it was published as a novel.

The most important thing when considering a word count is not to consider your word count too much. To a certain extent, it’s best to be aware of it, but at the same time, writing only to reach a word count will only hinder you tale.

Write until your story is told. Give it as much room as it needs to blossom and grow, and look at the word count later. If you need to go back and add some fillers, do so, but ensure you don’t ramble about the inconsequential. If you need to cull because you feel there is too much, then do.

The general rule for page counts is 250 words per page, though this, again, is just an average guideline. It always depends on how the publisher sets it out. To get an estimate of how long your novel will be when set out, whip out your calculator, divide your current word count by 250 and the answer will be your approximate page number excluding chapter breaks.

As always, double check if there are any guidelines set forth by the publisher you’re after. They might have a specific target they want you to reach, and it’s always best to conform to whatever they want. They are, after all, the ones who will publish your masterpiece!



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