How Long Should My Novel Be?


hello everyone happy Saturday I’m so
stoked to be here with you guys today first of all let me just say that I am
so so sorry that I did not get a vlog out last week I had a million things
going on and well life happened as they say so I am really sorry about that
but I will make it up to you I promise I also wanted to say a huge thank you to
everyone who participated in the chance to connect Twitter chat and also in the
international chance to connect chat I was so blown away by how many new people
and new faces that I got to interact with and meet and it was fantastic so
thank you guys so much for participating in those events I hope they were as fun and
it’s helpful for you as they were for me we also had the Chance…uh..excuse me the
CP connect too many acronyms CP connect running on my blog for those of you who
are looking for critique partners and I would love to hear from you about how
that went sorry my dog is being like super needy
right super needy right now say h hi Dawson say hi to the interwebs. um..so if you were able to find a critique partner or that worked out really well for you I’d love
to hear from you I’d love to know how all of that went so let’s get down to
business shall we today we are going to be tackling a
question that I think every single writer in the world this is a metaphor
for life right now you’re ruining my videos you know that
you’re ruining the video anyway today we’re going to be answering the question
that every single writer in the world has asked at some point or another
we’re word weavers after all so not only are we concerned with what we say and
how we say it but we’re also really concerned with how many words we should
actually be writing so today we are going to look at the word count how
important it is and answering the age-old question of how long should my
novel be now here’s the thing guys I have done a lot of research in
the past week about word counts and what I’ve discovered is this there are really
no hard and fast rules regarding word counts so if you’re looking for a
concrete answer of your novel should be X number of words guess what you’re
probably not going to find it there are some established guidelines but what I’m
noticing from all of my research is that these guidelines tend to be rather fluid
and they also tend to vary depending on a variety of different circumstances and
factors so should a writer really be concerned with word count well I think the
answer is both yes and no when you’re writing a book you definitely want to
take these word count guidelines into consideration for example if you’re
writing a middle-grade contemporary novel you probably don’t need to turn in
a manuscript that’s over a hundred thousand words just because based off
what I was reading that’s generally not expected or anticipated with a
middle-grade novel so when you’re writing a book you definitely want to
you know look at the guidelines take them into consideration but at the same
time they’re not really something that I would carve in stone or make law or
really spend a whole lot of time stressing over so in today’s video I’m
just going to kind of be sharing those guidelines with you giving you like a
word count range you can kind of work in but I think it’s important to know that
again there are no hard and fast rules regarding word count
they’re very fluid and flexible so definitely take these ranges as they are
meant to be which is merely a guideline so if you guys are ready to get started
let’s get to it alrighty so I got my cheat sheet here
because there was no way I was gonna remember all these numbers all by myself
so okay if you are a picture book writer then your manuscript needs to fall
between 300 and 600 ish words I even go so far as to say
around 700 words is probably kind of your your high end of that range now
some picture books according my research will kind of inch upwards
toward a thousand words but those tend to be really heavily rooted in like
mythology and folklore so unless you consider yourself an expert in those
things I would definitely try to kind of pare it down a little bit and get it
more in those lower ranges to give you kind of an example I don’t know if this
will help or not but one of the most popular books with my children is where
the wild things are and that book sits at a little less than 350 words so that
might give you a little bit of a range but yeah so if you’re writing a picture
work picture book try to aim for between 300 and 600 words. for those of you that
are writing early readers it’s important to remember that early readers are of
course met for children who are learning to read or who are fairly new readers
and those are often marked by level so with early readers it’s often best to
kind of check with the publisher to see what their guidelines are but most of
those tend to fall between a hundred and twenty five hundred words little bear
for example is around 1600 words and frog in the toad readers I used to love
those as a kid those are little less than 1800 words so early readers that’s
kind of the range you want to work in chapter books you get a little bit more
wordage for that you get between 4000 and about 13,000 words though there is kind of a sweet spot that you want to aim for which is right around six to ten
thousand words one of my favorite childhood chapter books was my father’s
dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannit and that is a little less than eight
thousand words so if you’re planning on writing chapter books for children then
you definitely want to kind of stick between that six and ten thousand words
although this was a range that was definitely really fluid and I saw lots
of different things via my research so definitely kind of look into your
publisher speak with your agent about it to get a definite range but I think six
to ten is probably where you want to be for chapter book now middle grade novels
can be a little trickier mostly because the word counts of those general
depend on the subject matter of the book and the age range of the characters most
sources it looks like place middle grade books around 20 to 55 K but I think that
you probably want to aim more for about 20 to 40 K unless what you’re working on
could be considered tween or kind of upper middle grade something that’s for
more advanced middle grade students and if that’s the case I think you could
probably go as high as 55K if you wanted to but again it really just kind
of depends on the content to make sure that you’re really looking at what age
range is most appropriate for the book and go with the range for that so now
let’s talk about good ole YA of all of my research this was the category that
was the most flexible it was also the category that tended to have the most
exceptions if you know what I mean so in general most YA novels fall
between about 50,000 to 80,000 words but once you kind of start breaking things
down by genre well that’s where you get some of that wiggle room so for example
let’s see contemporary stories are generally about 45 to 75,000 words a
popular example for you The Perks of Being a Wallflower is about 63,000
words sci-fi and fantasies are anywhere between fifty and a thousand words but
from what I read there is a sweet spot that says to kind of keep it between 65
and 85 thousand words and I think this was a category that I really saw a lot
of different ranges so I definitely think there’s some flexibility here a
lot of wiggle room if you will Keeper for example is a contemporary fantasy and at
this current point in time it’s 92 thousand words so definitely went over
that range a little bit it seems like kind of those upper ranges for this
genre tends to kind of appeal more to like high fantasy things like you know
Lord of the rings and like Sarah J Maas’s stuff that’s where you kind of get into
those upper ranges they’re generally afforded a higher word count
you know 120-130 k but you know that’s kind of that’s kind of pushing it so
you’re writing a sci-fi and fantasy you definitely have a little bit of wiggle
room but unless you’re writing a high fantasy I would try to keep it under a
hundred thousand word the word counts for adult novels also tend to kind of be
broken down by genre so let’s see commercial and literary fiction
generally falls between 80 and the 90 thousand range romance is anywhere
between 50 to 100 thousand words but I read that there is a sweet spot for this
if you’re writing you know like a romancer or chick lit that I love so much
then they say that the sweet spot for that is about 70 to 75 thousand words
but then historical and high fantasy of course those are definitely afforded by
higher word count ranges capping out at about em 120,000 or so mysteries and
thrillers are generally between about 70 and 90 thousand words so those ranges
are kind of similar to what you see in YA but again very flexible and fluid with
those as well alrighty guys so from my research those are the ranges that I
have compiled that I have found for you in regards to how long your novel should
actually be but let me just say this there are exceptions to the rules
let me say it one more time there are exceptions it seems like every time I
found with an established number like a range that really seem to be consistent
throughout multiple sources I would also come across like an author
or a novel that was a complete exception to the rule
so I really really really want you to understand that there are guidelines and
you should certainly work within those guidelines but don’t don’t stress so
much about work count because there are certainly exceptions to the rules there
Oh one thing I will say though is that I
did see that multiple sources mentioned that for debut writers you definitely do
not want to debut a book and that is over 100,000 words like that which is
kind of a general rule that a lot publishers don’t really want to take the
chance of publishing something that beyond that with a first-time brand-new
new to the scene writer so if you’re a newbie and this would be your
debut book try to keep it under 100k once you’re JK Rowling or Stephen King or
Sarah J Maas well then all bets are off and you can pretty much write however
many words you want to but yes so those are the established guidelines so really
at the end of the day what I want you guys to take away from this video is
that yes word counts are important you should definitely consider them but
don’t stress about it don’t worry so much about word count you need to be
focusing on writing the best story that you can by creating this amazing world
in these dynamic characters and focus more on pacing and plot structure and
those things because ultimately that’s going to matter way more than however
many words you written or haven’t written or whatever so word counts are important
but not something you guys need to be stressing over So that’s all I’ve
got for you today guys I hope this video was helpful to you in some way I know
when I first started writing I freaked out about word count but at the end of
the day again really you need to be focusing on writing an amazing story
that’s what matters so if you guys have any questions for me about word counts or writing or anything else please let me know you can leave me a
comment below or you can tweet me at underscore Kim chance if you’re new to
my channel hello welcome I hope you will consider subscribing on your way out I
post weekly writing videos on Saturdays As for the rest of you thank you so much
for joining me today I just think you guys are the bee’s
knees and it is always so wonderful spending my Saturdays with you I hope
everybody is having a fantastic and productive weekend I will see you next
week bye guys

100 Replies to “How Long Should My Novel Be?

  1. My science fiction bounces from 75k to 100k, though my publisher would prefer it in the 60k to 80k range. 

    Could you do a video on the lengths of the stuff shorter than a novel?   What really differentiates a novelette from a novella or short story etc?

  2. Very informative video!  My novel is @ over 175,000 words and over 600 pages.  NOT that that was what I was aiming for.  Sometimes, you just have a lot to say.

  3. This is such a great video, and this cannot be stated enough. Word count is a good thing to pay attention to, but if your Fantasy story lends itself to a +/- 10K words then so be it. As long as it tellls the story!

  4. Your videos are always inspiring. It is nice to know others out there live the life of a writer too. I forget. It gets weird doing this kind of art alone all the time. Oh! And my word count thingy says I'm at 150,000 words. I'm guessing maybe 200k before it is done and ready for beta readers. Thanks for the videos!

  5. Hi Kim, thanks for the video it was super helpful! I also have a quick question I was hoping you could answer. When writing a series, do you think it's important to plot the entire series before writing the first book? I have a vague idea of the direction I want to go in, and the conflicts that are going to be presented but i'm afraid I might derail from the original storyline if i dont already have everything mapped out.

  6. Ok, so I came up with a kind of funny problem while writing my book, so I was writing a the first encounter with the villain/s. I know why they are there (hopefully), and I know that the have a interaction. The only problem is….. I don't know how to make them go away….. Back at to there castle/base/magical fortress doodad thingie. XD

    (Edit: well, I kept writing and I fixed that funny problem)

  7. I got a little over 90k and 54k for two different YA/New adult series I'm working on. So it looks like I need to trim down one and beef up another. At least I have a general idea of what to shoot for until I reach a JK Rowling level. A boy can dream. Haha!!

  8. I am so gutted I missed the international chance to connect chat as I was really looking forward to it. Are you going to be holding another one?

  9. You're one of those people that I don't want to like because of your boundless positivity, but end up liking because of your boundless positivity…

  10. I have written two books. The first is 90k the second is 100k. I am a fantasy writer young adult type books. I enjoy it so much as well. 🙂 Currently working to self publish my book and get some good advertising on it. My biggest problem is developing a website. I will probably have to have someone develop that for me. Thanks for the awesome videos Kim!

  11. Life does happen! As a mom and vlogger and full time high school teacher (!) all your videos really connect to me. Thanks! I just write, but plan word count depending on the genre and age. I've also heard people worrying about chapter lengths – I just go until I have something that pushes the story forward and would make it hard to put the story down! Good luck with everything!

  12. Now every author should know that your novel should be as long as it has to be. I feel the best page count is 300 to 450 pages.

  13. OK. I've admittedly been living under a rock, but what exactly is CP connect? #askingforafriend lol

  14. What was your range when you first sent your query out? Did you reach 92,000 after your agents advice?

  15. I have written over 13,000 words at this point, but I am concerned that my story isn't interesting or fluid enough. Possibly words without enough substance.

  16. I just found your channel today. My manuscript currently sits at 185k, and there's not much I can think of now to take out to keep the story straight. I may have to work on a new one and put that one on hold.

  17. I'm writing a YA historical fiction and I'm currently at around 60,000 words, but I'm nowhere near the end of the story. Should I start trimming it down a little bit? If so, can you share any tips for over writers please. Thank you! I'm loving your videos, they are super helpful!

  18. I have an issue where I don't write enough. My writing is too short- do you have any tips to slow the pace of a story without babbling on about nothing?

  19. I wrote a mico-book (fictional) with probably Middle School grade level grammar and themes (no cussing).
    Word count is only 4,500 with 5 chapters.

    What yall think this would be?
    P.S.
    I guess it qualifies as a Fable because the whole point is to teach: not entertain.

  20. This video was soo helpful and i'm glad i found it!! 🙂 i'm on the fifth draft of my dark fantasy ya novel and i'm so close to 40,000 words. But now i feel a tad better knowing i don't have to go above or even hit 100,000 unless the story stretches out to be that long!! Thank you!! 🙂 Also just subscribed! 🙂

  21. Thanks Kim, found your video very understandable and satisfying as a debut author, just subscribed to your channel 😃😃

  22. I’m on Part One (or the first major arc) of my book and already past 100K words. It’s almost over, but geez is this thing long.

  23. I’m not that old, but I’m writing a fantasy novel, and so far I’m 20k words in.
    I need some advice.
    My story follows a girl who realises she’s in an inheritance called Elementals.
    A group of 5 magicians that share each element.
    Should I change the POV for each book?
    Or should I keep it the same?

  24. This helped me so much. I wrote 234,507 words before I reached my last 8 chapters. I wrote 3 books long in 7 months when I could have had the whole trilogy done by now. Thank you for saving me. Time to kill my darlings, write everything and get this book out asap.

  25. Apparently Brave New World written by Aldous Huxley is a bit over 6,300 words. This actually surprised me because I thought books like sci-fi or historical fiction were suppose to have a ton of words, but like you said there are exceptions to books. Have you read Brave New World and if so which part melted your mind?

  26. I’m currently writing a book on Wattpad called the Heart of the Red Rose it’s a romance with a twist

  27. "your ruining my video" lets be real… that dog probably mutilplied this videos views by an order of magnitude. Animals on the internet. Still, this deserves more views.. and more subs.

  28. Let's hope I'll get anything near those numbers. I have 4000 words and hardly ever happened, bur… I'm not sure uf it's good or bad anymore…

  29. Allow me to take the time for not ramming it down our throats press the subscrimmer then the darn bell. Ypu know your shit I love that.

  30. I have to admit that I'm a bit concerned. Although my editor and I are working on slimming my YA Fantasy novel, it currently sits at about 161K words. Kind of like C.S. Lewis' imaginings, it incorporates a fantasy realm that connects to ours, so world building is significant. However, I just don't know how to trim it enough to satisfy most agents' "standard" word count expectations. I also cannot see a good splitting point to make it two books, though I know that's not impossible. Anyway, thank you for sharing this video, Kim!

  31. Hello, I wrote a 50 chapter page book, how to I figure up my
    word count on this? can you reply back and give me tips? just love your videos.

  32. I'm aiming for 120,000 words. I have 40,000 now. It's a dark fantasy (maybe epic). I am serious about it because I plan on having 3-5 novels in the series. It's 3rd person limited that switches POVs. Apparently, the length is okay if 1st book in this genre, but too much for a simple mystery novel.

  33. I wrote 65,000 words and I thought that took forever. However I found out after I finished it that everybody was saying that it should be longer. It is fantasy and everybody is saying things like 100,000 words. I can think of more of the story and I kind of left it on a cliffhanger but that is where I wanted to leave that book. I will try to publish it for like 6 months and if I get no bites I will just write another book and try to get it published instead.

  34. Firstly, Kim, I AM a relative newbie to your channel; I just subscribed not more than perhaps a month ago, at least.
    Secondly, I am ALSO one of those ones that despite my natural talent, intelligence, skill and love for storytelling, can still have some trouble of sorts knowing, being privy to, and entirely understanding as of yet, word count; it is certainly ONE of a few things that even I still have yet to master as a storyteller/writer. As a relatively more experienced one, would you please perhaps lend me at least a few pointers as to how to somehow, little-by-little, master that aspect of storytelling so I know what to do and NOT do in the future. Would you please get back to me at whatever time if YOUR best convenience to let me have the answer. Thank you.
    Oh, and a fun aside here, Kim: you strike a fair resemblance to my cousin Patty, which- – especially to anyone who knows her inside [and] out, believe me, is a true compliment.
    Good day, Kim, and please keep up the excellent work in the future.

  35. Oh my gosh! Where the Wild Things Are. I remember that. I even had a Max doll complete with wolf suit. Some things are timeless. See – not all my boyhood experiences are now stories with no point.
    Edit – Frog and Toad – Toad's the relatable one. Surly and a slave to routine. Remember the list and how he refused to catch it when it blew away because that was not on the list of things to do? He'd be a plotter, not a pantser.

  36. I don't even know how to start one, I have some ideas for different Novels but I don't know how to start them. :/

  37. Kim, I was freaking out about the word count! But ignoring my feels and watching your vid instead. lol. I'm only at 29,308

  38. I love this and the fact that you put exceptions Nicholas sparks wrote the notebook which is a novella that's 38,000 words and it's an ready read that I've read multiple times. I'm hoping to be able to write novellas as well

  39. I am writing a YA novel in English which is my second language and I am a bit worried about not fulfilling the vocab area throughout the novel.. what would you advice me?

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