How long should my novel be?

When I sat down to write my novel it crossed my mind early on, “How long is this thing gonna be?” Then I wondered, “How long should it be?” Then I got worried. “How long do publisher’s want it to be?”

I looked at several sites addressing these questions. First off, number of pages isn’t how to gauge it. It’s all about word count. The range is all over the place. Considering the category you’re in will change things.

A Young Adult novel might be 40,000 words, where a Sci-Fi/Fantasy novel often hits the 100,000 mark. Each genre, and the publisher’s of those books, do expect you to hit around the established marks just because they see what sells.

The average length of all novels (up to 2012) is 64,000 words according to the Huffington Post. (


This graphic from Writer’s Digest shows where you should end up if you’re writing main stream fiction. ( As you can see my target of 95,000 is considered “safe.” That said, I don’t really expect to stay at 95,000. I expect that after editing I’ll hit 80,000 words.

Why did I choose 95k? Well, I didn’t choose that goal from the beginning. When I started reaching the end of Act I, (see 3 Months In), I was around 20,000 words. I assume that Act I and Act III will be almost equal in length, though it’s more likely Act III will be shorter, and I also assume Act II will be double Act I. All that adds up to 80,000. Then I kept writing and was still in Act I and said, hmmmmm, I might go over 80k. So, 95,000 is my best guess.

Like I said above, I will have to edit this beast down in the end, so anywhere from 80k to 90k will be fine by me. Of course when I talk to publishers who say, “Cut twenty thousand words you fool!” then I’ll say “You betcha!” and buy a box of red pens.

What length is your novel going to be? Tell me about it in the comments.

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