Word Counts – adult and ch novels, genre novels

Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books: 

The most important thing here is to realise that there are always exceptions to these rules.

ADULT NOVELS: COMMERCIAL & LITERARY

Between 80,000 and 89,999 words is 100% safe range for literary, mainstream, women’s, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller and horror.

80,000 – 89,999:       Totally cool

90,000 – 99,999:       Generally safe

70,000 – 79,999:       Might be too short; probably all right

100,000 – 109,999:    Might be too long; probably all right

Below 70,000:           Too short

110,000 or above       Too long

Chick lit falls into this realm and 70-75K is fairly standard. 

SCI-FI AND FANTASY

Science fiction and fantasy are big exceptions. They tend to run long. It has to do with descriptions and world-building.

100,000 – 115,000 is an excellent range.

90K-100K is most likely all right

115-124K is probably all right, too.

MIDDLE GRADE

20,000 – 55,000, depending on subject matter and age range – is trending up vis a vis word count.

40,000 – 55,000 words for a book aimed at 12-year-olds ( “tween” or “upper middle grade”) Stick to MG themes and avoid hot-button, YA-acceptable themes such as sex, drugs and rock & roll.

YOUNG ADULT.

55,000 – 69,999 is a great range.

PICTURE BOOKS

standard is text for 32 pages. That might mean one line per page, or more. 500-600 words is a good number to aim for. When it gets closer to 1,000, it’s too long. 

WESTERNS

50K to 80K. 65,000 is a solid number to aim for.

MEMOIR

80,000-89,999, same as a novel.

More on MG Novels:

MG novels usually run 20,000-40,000 words, while YA is 40,000-65,000 words.  Protagonists are usually 12-13.  Someone once told me that readers like to enjoy a story where the protagonist is older, and in a situation they will soon be in.  So for MG, where the readers are 9-12, they want to read about 13-year-olds, etc.  For YA, where the readers are 11-14, they want to read about 16-year-olds or above.

Update: It’s not uncommon for MG novels to run 60,000 to 100,000 words (Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Artemis Fowl, to name a few popular examples).

excerpted from Writer’s Digest.com Editor Blogs Chuck Sambuchino 10/12