Why Your Word Count Matters
As a self-publisher, you might feel like you’re exempt from word count woes. This feeling might even be justified if you’re only planning to publish e-books—there are no page numbers and spine thickness to worry about. But word count does matter despite your chosen mode of publishing, mostly because of how it affects your writing experience. It’s also a big thing to consider if you plan to sell print copies or submit to traditional publishers.
What is goal-setting without timelines and milestones? Your word count is a great way to measure your daily writing progress. Without it, you’re bound to burn out pretty quickly. Finishing a 50,000-word book in a month is more doable when you pace yourself and write 1,700 words a day instead of writing 10,000 words in sporadic, espresso-fueled bursts.
Readers usually have a good idea of what they should see in a particular section of the bookstore. Each genre comes with an expected length; you wouldn’t expect a middle grade children’s book to have more than 100 pages, or a sci-fi novel to have less than 300 pages.
Familiarize yourself with the typical length of books in your genre so that readers are more likely to pick up your book. You could even aim for the higher end of the word count range to make readers feel like they’re getting their money’s worth.
If you’ve taken your readers’ expectations into consideration, then your book would be more likely to follow publishers’ requirements. Traditional publishers usually base their submission guidelines on readers’ preferences to increase the likelihood of making a profit. They’d only be willing to ignore industry standards when you’re an established author.
Word count guide
From the writing stage to the publishing stage, your word count can make or break your book. Use the following the figures as a rough guide to give your book a chance to succeed.
- Ages 3-8: 50–800 words
- Ages 5-9: 200–3,500 words
- Ages 7-10: 10,000–12,000 words
- Ages 8-12: 20,000–25,000 words
- Ages 12+: 50,000–80,000 words
- Short Story: 1,000–8,000 words
- Novella: 20,000–40,000 words
- Romance: 50,000–90,000 words
- Mystery and Horror: 70,000–90,000 words
- Literary Novel: 70,000–110,000 words
- Thriller: 90,000–100,000 words
- Historical Fiction: 90,000–110,000 words
- Science Fiction and Fantasy: 90,000–120,000 words
- Self-Help and How-To: 20,000–50,000 words
- Travel and Nature: 40,000–70,000 words
- Nonfiction Book: 50,000–100,000 words
- Memoir: 60,000–90,000 words
- Biography: 80,000–150,000 words
Do you find it hard to stick to your genre’s recommended word count?
Our in-house editors can take care of that for you. Call 833.262.8899
to learn how we can help you trim down, polish, and publish your book.