Book Word Count By Genre: How Many Words Should You Write?

As an author, there are many aspects of your book to think about. However, there’s probably one thing you’ve overlooked. That thing is book word count, an important aspect of the writing process.

It may seem like a meticulous detail to remember the average number of words in a book, but it can affect who reads your book.

Book word count

If you want to know how many words you should have in your book, keep reading to learn the ideal number of words depending on your book genre.

Why book word count is important

Do you feel like paying attention to the number of words in a book is another added stressor of writing? Well, it’s not as burdensome as it may seem. In fact, book word count can help you throughout your book-writing process, and here's how.

Book word count can help when outlining

As a writer, you know that a book outline is an essential first step. Thus when you create an outline with a specific word count in mind you can better outline the number of chapters in your book.

In addition, your book word count can help you stay organized while outlining and drafting.

Publishers care about word count

Book word count is important when publishing your book through the traditional route. According to Bryndonovan.com publishers do consider the average number of words in a book.

Preferably publishers don’t like books that are too long or too short. Larger books tend to cost more to print. In addition, audiobook versions tend to take more time and money to record and produce.

Readers have a word count preference

Readers have grown accustomed to the average number of words for particular genres. Thus if your book word count is more or less than the average, readers may be less interested.

Book word count helps you properly convey your message

An advantage of paying attention to book word count is that it can guide you in your writing. Knowing how many words your book should have can help you avoid fluff in your writing. Fluff writing is when you include extra and unnecessary information in your text.

You can better avoid unnecessary words or sentences by thinking of word count.

How many words should a book have according to the genre

Now that you understand the importance of book word count, you may be wondering, "how many words should a book have?"

That question can be answered depending on the genre. Here are the average number of words in a book according to book type.

Novels

Novels are a popular genre that serves as an umbrella for other subgenres. The average word count for novels according to publishingtalk.org is between 80,000 to 100,000 depending on the subgenre.

Below is the suggested word count for novels according to their genre.

Thrillers

Thrillers are exciting, and suspenseful, and keep readers guessing what will happen next. Thus a word count of 80,000 and 100,000 is recommended.

This allows you to write just enough to help the storyline move along without overwhelming readers with too much detail.

Romance

A romance novel is captivating, heartfelt, and also filled with dreamy characters. The Novelry claims the range of words for a romance novel is between 50,000-90,000.

So for more experienced authors, the recommended is about 90,000 words.

Historical fiction

This is a genre that often has to balance out historic events with fictional characters. In order to create space for facts and fiction aim for a book word count of around 102,000 words on average.

Sci-fi and fantasy

Science fiction and fantasy novels create their own worlds inside books. A good word count is 90,000 to 120,000, with sci-fi being slightly longer at 125,000. With this length readers are less likely to get lost in a complex storyline.

Young adults

When writing this genre it's crucial to keep your audience in mind. Young adult readers usually prefer shorter books around 60,000 words according to thewritepractice.com.

Novellas

If you’re unfamiliar with novellas they are shorter than novels but longer than short stories.

Similar to novels, novellas focus on a central conflict. However, Reedsy.com points out that novellas have a more concise conflict. The storyline usually focuses on one specific conflict and doesn’t explore any other storylines.

The average word count for novellas is 17,500 to 40,000 words.

Short stories

Short stories are often underestimated. However, they offer the same exciting elements that a novel does, just in a shorter form.

To be able to deliver so much in a smaller package it’s important to keep short stories at their average length of 1,000 to 7,500 according to Blurb.com

Non-fiction

Now that you understand the book word count for fiction, let’s take a look at non-fiction. Within this genre, the typical word count is 50,000-80,000 words. Here’s how that applies to certain genres.

How to/Self-help

Self-help books are growing in popularity as more people prioritize mental health. Self-help books offer readers tools and tips to create a better life.

Since self-help books focus on self-improvement it's best to keep these types of books at 30,000 to 70,000 words says authority.pub.

Memoirs

On the shorter end memoirs can be 60,000 words. However, the average is 80,000 with 100,000 being the maximum, according to the blog Strike the Write Tone.

If this word count seems too little for you, remember that memoirs aren’t autobiographies.

Memoirs are meant to share a life-changing event or experience that has helped you grow or changed who you are. Therefore any other information is not necessary.

Biographies

Telling someone’s life story is definitely going to fill up the pages. Therefore you want to aim for 80,000-200,000 words suggests prowritingaid.com.

Children's books

Children’s books are fun and imaginative stories that take young readers on an adventure. It’s important that children aren't overwhelmed by too many words. So here are the suggested word counts for writing different types of children’s books.

Picture books

Picture books focus heavily on their illustrations. Therefore it’s important that these books have the right amount of words to accompany their graphics. A 500-1000 word count is suggested.

Early readers

Early readers are children ages five to seven years old. Because they are a little older than children interested in picture books, an early reader can enjoy a longer word count. Typically these books are between 300 to 1200 words.

Chapter books

Chapter books are when stories start to be longer and more developed. Yet simple enough to maintain the interest of readers ages 7 to 10. To keep readers engaged, it’s best to keep the word count to 4,000 to 12,000 words. 

Middle grade

This genre of books focuses on readers between the ages of 8 to 12. The ideal word count for these young readers is between 25,000 and 55,000 words according to Writer's Digest.

How to reduce or increase your word count

Chances are even with these suggested guidelines, you’re most likely going to write too many or too few words. This is perfectly okay. Writing isn’t a get-it-right-on-the-first-try type of process.

During your revisions, focus on your book word count. However, you don't want to lose focus on the central message of your story.

When revising, cut out any unnecessary information, as suggested by wordcounter.com. Review your writing from the perspective of your reader. 

If your word count is too short, ask yourself what is missing. Perhaps you can develop a character more, share some background information or include a personal story.

Related articles on writing a book

Did you enjoy this article? Check out these related articles to learn more about writing a book.

Keep your book word count in mind!

Now that you've found answers for how many words should a book have, it’s important not to stress over it. This information is meant to guide your writing not restrict it.

With this in mind, focus on book word count when you’re outlining, editing, or revising. But while you are writing, allow yourself to just write.

Remember that when you release your book out into the world, it’s going to be competing against other books in its genre.

When your word count is within the average in your genre, readers will be more inclined to give it a read.

In addition to being more appealing to readers, your book word count helps your book be accepted by publishers or makes self-publishing that much easier!

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