Words, smurds…how many to use

When I was hosting my local writer’s group meetings, one of the most frequent questions to come up was ‘What is the average word count for xyz type novel?’

The answers have been pretty consistent over the years, however, there seems to be a few minor changes, according to CA Marshall, Freelance Editor, Lit Agent Intern and YA writer.  You can find her complete blog here but I’ll share the highlights with you below.  Remember, there are always exceptions to the rules. When in doubt, check and double-check the Agent’s and/or Publisher’s website for submission guidelines.  Happy writing and editing!

Average Word Counts

Micro-Fiction – up to 100 words
Flash Fiction – 100 – 1,000 words, usually no more than 500.
Short Story – 1,000 – 7,500 words
Novellette – 7,500 – 18,000 words
Novella -20,000 – 45,000 words
General Novel – 50,000 -110,000

Genre Guidelines

Picture Books -200-500 words
Early Readers – 500-2000 words
Chapter Books – 5,000-10,000 words
Middle Grade – 25,000-45,000 words, most averaging 35k.
Young adult – 55,000-90,000 words
– YA contemporary tends to be on the shorter side, 60-70k
– YA fantasy, sci-fi, and paranormal tends to fall on the longer side due to world building, 70-90k
Adult – 70,000-115,000 words
– Romance – 85,000-100,000 words
– Cozy Mysteries – 70,000-85,000 words
– Mysteries, Horror, Crime – 75,000-95,000 words, most averaging 90k
– Sci-fi and Fantasy – 80,000-120,000 words, most averaging 100k-115k
– Literary and Women’s Fiction – 80,000-100,000 words