How to know if your book is the right length

The words come and the words go, but where do we stop, I don’t know.


Some days I’m ready to stop after one paragraph. Other days I think the story will be a saga the likes of War and Peace. Not! But truth be told, I just hope to write something somewhere in the middle. A story that a few people, other than my family, will enjoy reading.


Then there is the question, how long or short is enough?

Apparently, it depends on the genre. I’ve written about this before, but it seems I’ve more to learn.

This article Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books: The Definitive Post  By  breaks it down by genre.

Like with most “rules,” there are exceptions. However, if you’re the least bit like me, you like to have a general goal to shoot for.

So here’s a cheat sheet for you!

  • Literary novel: 80,000-90,000 good average.
  • Memoir: Same as Literary Novel.
  • Short Stories: 1,000-25,000
  • Novellas: 25,000 – 55,000 words, over 55k you’re so close you might as well expand it into a novel.
  • Literary saga: 100,000-110,000 (over that and you might want to consider a series.)
  • Science fiction and fantasy: 90,000-100,000 on average. However, some can go to 115,000. Readers expect this genre to be lengthy.
  • Westerns: 50,000-80,000 is the range for this genre, so aim for the middle.
  • Middle grade is a bit tricky. Depending on age and subject matter, shoot for 20,000– 55,000. Younger kids = lower word count. Older teens = higher word count.
  • Young Adult (YA) genre, according to Chuck gives the writer more flexibility. Somewhere in the 55,000-70,000 range is a safe bet.  Science fiction or fantasy can go a bit longer.
  • Children’s Picture Books: Standard is 32 pages and no more than 500 words.

More reading on word count:

LitRejections Word Count Genre Guidelines 

What is the Ideal Word Count for a Novel? by CG Blake

Ask The Agent: Your Novel Word Count Guide and More!