Word Count

Word Count

By Rory C. Keel


As writers, it’s easy to become absorbed in our writing. We are the defenders of our plot and characters, sometimes to a fault. We create new worlds and imaginary realms where the impossible becomes possible, where truth and justice prevail and love conquers all.

But then there’s reality.

When we pitch our project to an agent or publisher one of the first questions asked is, “What is the word count?” As the writer it may not matter, after all, it’s the story that counts, right? However in publishing it means Money.

It is estimated that for every 10,000 words over the stated guideline of a publisher, it could equate to a ten percent increase in publishing costs.

While researching word counts for my writing projects, I have found the following basic word counts to be a standard measure in the industry.

Chapter book (6-8 yr.) 5-25,000 words

Middle reader (8-12 yr.) 25-40,000 words

Young adult (12-18 yr.) 40-75,000 words

Novelette 7,500-20,000 words

Novella 20-30,000 words

Short Contemporary 50,000-60,000 words

Long Contemporary 70,000-80,000 words

Short Historical/ Mainstream 90,000-100,000 words

Romance novel 90,000-100,000 words

Long Historical/Mainstream 108,000-120,000

Remember, these are averages and the submission guidelines for your particular agent or publisher should be the final say.