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Thread: Fiction length

  1. #1
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    Fiction length

    I found this recently on theswivet.blogspot.com dated Sept 2010 and have saved it. The entire blog has some good info also.
    Sorry I don't know how to make 'links'


    Direct from the blog:
    Word counts for different kinds of novels vary, but there is are general rules of thumb for fiction that a writer can use when trying to figure out just how long is too long. For the purposes of this post, I'm only talking about YA, middle-grade and adult fiction here. And bear in mind that there are always exceptions, but good general rules of thumb would be as follows:

    middle grade fiction = Anywhere from 25k to 40k, with the average at 35k
    YA fiction = For mainstream YA, anywhere from about 45k to 80k; paranormal YA or YA fantasy can occasionally run as high as 120k but editors would prefer to see them stay below 100k. The second or third in a particularly bestselling series can go even higher. But it shouldn't be word count for the sake of word count.

    paranormal romance = 85k to 100k

    romance = 85k to 100k

    category romance = 55k to 75k

    cozy mysteries = 65k to 90k

    horror = 80k to 100k

    western = 80k to 100k (Keep in mind that almost no editors are buying Westerns these days.)

    mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction = A newer category of light paranormal mysteries and hobby mysteries clock in at about 75k to 90k. Historical mysteries and noir can be a bit shorter, at 80k to 100k. Most other mystery/thriller/crime fiction falls right around the 90k to 100k mark.

    mainstream/commercial fiction/thrillers = Depending upon the kind of fiction, this can vary: chick lit runs anywhere from 80k word to 100k words; literary fiction can run as high as 120k but lately there's been a trend toward more spare and elegant literary novels as short as 65k. Anything under 50k is usually considered a novella, which isn't something agents or editors ever want to see unless the editor has commissioned a short story collection. (Agent Kristin Nelson has a good post about writers querying about manuscripts that are too short.)

    science fiction & fantasy = Here's where most writers seem to have problems. Most editors I've spoken to recently at major SF/F houses want books that fall into the higher end of the adult fiction you see above; a few of them told me that 100k words is the ideal manuscript size for good space opera or fantasy. For a truly spectacular epic fantasy, some editors will consider manuscripts over 120k but it would have to be something extraordinary. I know at least one editor I know likes his fantasy big and fat and around 180k. But he doesn't buy a lot at that size; it has to be astounding. (Read: Doesn't need much editing.) And regardless of the size, an editor will expect the author to to be able to pare it down even further before publication. To make this all a little easier, I broke it down even further below:

    hard sf = 90k to 110k
    space opera = 90k to 120k
    epic/high/traditional/historical fantasy = 90k to 120k
    contemporary fantasy = 90k to 100k
    romantic SF = 85k to 100k
    urban fantasy = 90k to 100k
    new weird = 85k to 110k
    slipstream = 80k to 100k
    comic fantasy = 80k to 100k
    everything else = 90k to 100k


    Editors will often make exceptions for sequels, by the way. Notice that the page count in both J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series gets progressively higher. But even authors who have been published for years and should know better will routinely turn in manuscripts that exceed the editor's requested length by 30k to 50k words, which inevitably means more work for that author because editors don't back down. If a contract calls for a book that is 100k words and you turn in one that is 130k, expect to go back and find a way to shave 30k words off that puppy before your manuscript is accepted.
    ************************************************** ************************************************** *********************************


    I thought others might find it useful also



  2. #2
    imported_georgehadley georgehadley
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    Re: Fiction length

    ditors will often make exceptions for sequels, by the way. Notice that the page count in both J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series gets progressively higher. But even authors who have been published for years and should know better will routinely turn in manuscripts that exceed the editor's requested length by 30k to 50k words, which

  3. #3
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    Re: Fiction length

    Thanks for sharing the information. Very interesting!

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    Re: Fiction length

    Is there hope for a short (32,000 words) self-help that would add length with black line illustrations?

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    Re: Fiction length

    Self-help isn't fiction. I'm sure the word count varies widely.

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    Re: Fiction length

    This was very helpful, thank you for posting!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Frank Baron's Avatar
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    Bump.

    I don't think newbies are seeing older posts.

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    Think you're right Frank... this might help.
    if the wine is sour throw it out

    SatyricalRaven

  9. #9
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    Just a note on this that in the e-book world the wordage requirements go way down. The current EPIC awards contest, for instance, list a short story as under 10,000 words, a novella at 10,000 to 30,000, and a novel as over 30,000 words. More typically, e-publishers are listing under 10,000 as short stories, 10,000 to 25,000 as novelletes, 25,000 to 40,000 as novellas, and above 40,000 as novels.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satyrical Raven View Post
    I found this recently on theswivet.blogspot.com dated Sept 2010 and have saved it. The entire blog has some good info also.
    Sorry I don't know how to make 'links'

    Very useful information. It took me a moment but I found the blog post from "The Swivet"

    I did a Google Search for ebook word count and novel length and the consensus is about the same across the board. There are some variations based on opinion but not many.

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