PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?

PROMOTING YOU: What’s Your Word Count?

Natalie Bright

We had a great discussion at last week’s critique group meeting about word count. Nandy Ekle found this bit of information on Pinterest:

Short Story = 7 scenes

Novella = 27 scenes

Novel = 60 scenes

Our current group project in progress will feature six novellas around the common theme of the famous highway that goes through the Texas Panhandle: Route 66. We are striving for around 20,000 words each, but it can be a struggle. Sometimes you have to tell the story you want to tell, however long or short it turns out to be.

Here’s another word count guideline I found, which includes several options I’d never thought about:

Twitter fiction (really?)

Under 1000 words = flash fiction

Under 7500 words = short story

7500 – 17500 = novelette

Up to 40,000 = novella

Around 90,000 – 100,000 words = novel (360-400 page manuscript)

Series = 1 scene 1500 words (a change of setting or location is a scene change and usually signals a new chapter)

Let us know your thoughts and suggestions on word count. Thanks for the comments and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

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.

Consistency creates success

Consistency creates success

At the 2012 Frontiers in Writing conference in Amarillo Texas, I had the opportunity to speak to the “First Timers” class. Several years ago this type of class proved to be very helpful in preparing me for my first writing conference. Important writing information is shared such as what to expect when attending a writers conference, appropriate attire, behavior toward guest speakers and agents, how to choose which classes to sit through, and how an individual can maximize their learning experience for a profitable return on their investment paid at registration.

During the open forum portion of the class, a student asked the question, “Does an author become successful because they write a minimum number of pages or words a day?”

The truth is, each writer is different. Some write minimum word counts; others write volumes of pages quickly or stretch those words out over hours.

When you look at successful writers the one thing that is common among them all is consistency.

Whether it’s one word or ten, slow or fast, they write every day.

Rory C. Keel