How Long Should Your Book Be? — A Word Count Guide for Fiction


Length matters . . . am I right?

If you don’t believe me, try reading the 200,000-word autobiography of a snail. Unless that’s the kind of kinky stuff you’re into, you’ll probably rather it was no more than two hundred words . . . no extra zeros allowed. Poor snail. The problem was he didn’t read this word count guide for books.

Granted, this particular guide is more for fiction than autobiographies, but that’s okay. Research is research. And if you’ve done even one Google search, you know the range of word count for short stories, novels, and specific genres varies from source to source.

So I thought I’d offer up a cheat chart of the average word count range for fiction. Please note the word average. As I said, the range is pretty wide and different from source to source. Yes, I know I’m repeating, but I really wanted it to sink in.

A Word Count Guide for Fiction and the Most Popular Genres:

WAD Word count chart 3


Remember this is just a baseline, and there are exceptions to the rules. But if you’re just starting out, it’s probably better to be safe than sorry.

4 thoughts on “How Long Should Your Book Be? — A Word Count Guide for Fiction”

  1. I’m actually obsessed with word counts. I look them up all the time. It is interesting to see what popular books come in at. Many of the most popular books come in over the typical word count for their genre. Then some books that seem longer are actually not very long at all. then we have Epic Fantasy or as it came to be known BFF( big fat fantasy ).

    Anyway I will stop myself before fully nerding out.

    Nice cheat sheet.


  2. I like knowing these things so I can mentally classify what I’m editing. And of course, a chart is always a plus . . . kind of like buying new pens and notebooks, or browsing the office supply store. I’m sure you remember when I got some “short stories” to look through and they were actually novelettes. Now I have a chart to prove I’m not crazy.


    1. LOL I do remember! And yes I think this information is helpful for authors, all kinds of editors, and even beta readers. I dislike googling and scrolling and scrolling to find the ones I needed and therefore the chart was born! 😉


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