How Long Should My Novel Be?

How Long Should My Novel Be?

While you’ve always loved writing and you’ve penned tons of stories for your own enjoyment, you’ve finally decided to take the big leap and turn your passion for writing into a career – or at least to try sell a book.

You know exactly what you want to write and you’re pretty certain that it’s going to be entertaining and make some pretty big waves in the literary world. However, before you start writing, there’s something that you want to make sure you focus on: How long it’s going to be.

The length of a novel can vary significantly, with some best sellers being only about 70,000 words and others being as long as “War and Peace”. With that said, you may be wondering why the length of your novel is so important.

Why Length is Important

The length of your book is important for two major reasons:

  • It ensures that your readers are captivated
  • It prevents your readers from feeling cheated

If your novel is too long, there’s a pretty good chance that you are going to lose the attention of your audience. While they may have started out being captivated, if it’s taking too long to get to your point, then they might lose their stamina and could end up putting down the book. However, if it’s too short, they may feel like they have been cheated, that their questions weren’t answered, and that they wasted their valuable time and money on your short book.

So, with that said, what is the ideal length for a novel? Below, we share what many consider to be the ideal word length for novels in different genres.

Recommended Word Length Based on Genre

Here’s a look at what literary agents, publishers, and well-written authors recommend for word lengths for novels in some of the most popular genres:

  • Middle grade novels. Books in this genre are written for children between the ages of 9 and 12. Their attention spans are anything but long, yet they want to read something that they feel is fulfilling and entertaining. You can achieve that – and hold their attention – by writing a novel that’s between 25,000 and 40,000 words.
  • Young adult novels. Young adults are older teenagers and people in their young to mid-20s (though many older adults read this genre, too). With that said, the attention span of this audience is longer, but they aren’t looking for long, drawn out books. Instead, they want something entertaining but that they can easily digest. A novel that’s between 45,000 and 80,000 words is ideal for this genre.
  • Sci-fi and fantasy. With books that fit into this genre, you can get away with a lot more words. In fact, a higher word count is expected. Generally, sci-fi and fantasy novels are between 90,000 and 100,000 words; however, you may be able to get away with more than that, as long as you stay on top and don’t get overly wordy, otherwise, you’ll lose your readers’ attention.