Friday, October 17, 2014

Length of Novels - It Matters

Happy Friday! Welcome back to the humble ablog! Exciting things coming for you next week! Here's the current lineup: Monday - Author Interview with Christina Mercer, Tuesday - Your First 100 Words, Wednesday - Book Review: The Fly House, Thursday - Crypt Keeper Tour K. A. Young, Friday - Fractured Glass Cover Reveal. Yeah, so you wanna come back for all that.

Also, I'll be putting together the official reading list for UtopYA. A page will be dedicated to that endeavor. Be sure you check that out, as well as voting for the official poster design (coming soon)!

Today, we're gonna talk about the length of your novel and why it matters. Remember that post on genre from yesterday? We're keeping with that theme. So, grab your pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Let's begin by thinking about why page count plays into your novel writing. If you write epic fantasy, your books will be really long (think LOTR) because you'll be taking time to explain things and build characters and worlds so the reader can see and feel them. You can't label a book that's 100k words in length as epic fantasy and not expect backlash from fans of the genre. In contrast, you don't want a contemporary romance to end up with a 300k word count, either.

So how to know?

Your research lies in the best seller list. Go look at the most popular books in your genre and see how many pages they have. I'll get to the math on factoring an approximate page and average word count in a moment. Write down the top three best sellers and navigate to their Amazon pages. See how long they are.

Now for the math.

I'm gonna use some numbers I grabbed really quickly from the Young Adult list here:

320 pages: If I Stay by Gayle Forman
337 pages: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
306 pages: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

See a trend? Yeah... So, we now have a page count that we'll average. Add all the numbers together:

320 + 337 + 306 = 963

Divide by three:

963 / 3 = 321

For every four pages, you have about 1k words. So, divide by four:

321 / 4 = 80.25

Multiply by one thousand:

80.25 X 1000 = 80,250

Now, I don't know about you, but I've heard Young Adult books range from 35-75k. Our number is slightly more. Go figure.

So, you can gather readers of Young Adult enjoy a length of around 80k. 

This matters because you don't want to try and sell a 300k word novel to a crowd that enjoys, on average, 80k words. You won't do well. After all, you write so others will read your work, right?

I hope this helps you in some way.

What do you think? Did you try it for your genre?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!



  1. I forget the precise numbers (and can't find them now...) but, counter-intuitively, I think 2/3 of the LOTR books are pretty much normal length for epic fantasy (120k or a bit over).

    It's good advice to try and be in the right sort of area, but I'm wary of trying to force the issue if the story doesn't quite fit. You either end up cutting bits off that should be kept, or writing filler. Mind you, that's as much about planning at the start (if you're a planner) as redrafting at the very end.

    1. I dunno. I know the trilogy could take out a horse if wielded properly ;) 481,103 is the combined length, with The Fellowship of the Ring owning almost 200k of that. My reference. Thanks for the comment, Thaddeus. Always good to see you :)

  2. If you're querying the length of the novel matters too. I've had experience with publishers of romance novels who require a 90-100k minimum. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Heather! That's so very true. They probably won't take anything over 130k, either. :)

  3. Great post! The math helps too, anything to help novelists make their work better :D Thanks for the info Jo

    1. You're welcome, Danielle. Glad you found some useful tips here :) I love the math. LOL

  4. WOW I think my Adult is running between 70-80K but that is just the first round. Once winter breaks comes I will be working like a man women reading, editing, scraping, adding for round two

    1. That's about right for an adult novel. You'll likely end up adding 30k, then cutting 10% of the total because it's filler, Kat. Thanks for the comment :)


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