Novel Word Counts

Depending on where you’re submitting your manuscript, these specific requests can vary. This causes a few discrepancies in word counts and their definitions between a short story, novella and novel.

While there are no set rules for word counts there are highly-suggested guidelines in the traditional publishing industry that you might want to keep in mind. 

In general, anything over 40,000 words can be considered a novel but by industry-standard 50,000 is typically the minimum word count.




Desired Word Counts Vary According to Genre


  • Romance Novels – Readers like both ends of the scale here. Though short, fast 50,000 reads seem to be the latest trend, many romantics are still reaching for the epic 100,000 novels.
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels – The world-building in these genres is substantial, making the word count larger. There is a lot of work involved when it comes to inventing a whole new environment. As a result, these novels typically range between 90,000-120,000 words.
  • Thriller, Horror, Mystery and Suspense Novels – It takes time to build suspense, but a thrilling mystery also needs to keep the plot moving to hold its reader’s attention. Ideally, the word counts of these novels should be between 70,000-90,000.
  • Historical Fiction  Similar to Sci-fi and fantasy novels, deeper detail will be required raising the word count. Therefore most historical fiction novels will end closer to the 100,000 words mark.
  • Young Adult (YA) – These novels are fictional, geared for ages 14 and up. They bridge the gap between middle-grade and adult fiction. Minimally, the word count should be between 40,000-80,000 though they often range from 60,000-100,000 words.
  • Middle-Grade Novels – These are shorter books, 20,000-50,000 words, relative to 8-12 year-olds.
  • Non-Fiction – Non-Fiction has a wide range of subgenres that would need to be taken into consideration when looking at the word count. 


Flash fiction, Short story, Novelette, Novella or Novel?



Flash Fiction

This is a short story of 500 words or less. 


Short Story

Anything above 1,000 words is considered a short story, but ideally, a short story should be between 5,000-10,000 words.



A Novelette is a narrow in-between work of fiction that overlaps a short story and novella with a word count of 7,500-17,000.



Ranging from 10,000-40,000 words, novellas are fictional pieces between short stories and a novel. 



Depending on the genre, Novel word counts range from 40,000-100,000 words. Fiction novels above 110,000 words are considered Epic Novels. 


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