Have you ever asked how long should my book be?
Did you know what a great question it is? GREAT question!
Many debut authors dive into their manuscript with wild abandon and with little thought to structure, plot or word count.
How long should my book be?
When you’re planning a book (even if you’re a pantser) it’s important to know a few things about your genre ahead of time—things like, well, what genre it is.
And what the theme is. And how many words it will be. Yeah. Even word count should be pre-planned.
And I know how weird that sounds if this is the first time you’re hearing it.
Wondering how to structure an outline? It will help you plan your book!
I’ve created a PDF worksheet walking you through the broad strokes of creating an outline. This is a free resource but it’s part of my resource library and you’ll need a password. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.
Once you’re in the library, navigate to the writing section and look for “How to Write an Outline for Anything Worksheet.”
What!? There’s a word count for novels!? Yup.
And it’s kind of one of those things you should abide by unless you’re crazy-famous and/or already a successful author (because obvs these guidelines don’t apply to you) or you don’t care about selling books.
Because word count matters. And the rules change for every genre.
So, your first task is to figure out what genre your book is in. After that, check the list below to find the answer to your question how long should my book be?
General guidelines: How long should my book be?
- Middle Grade—20,000 to 50,000 words
- Young Adult—45,000 to 80,000 words
- Novels—50,000 to 120,000 words
- Paranormal Romance—85,000 to 100,000 words
- Romance—85,000 to 100,000 words
- Category Romance—55,000 to 75,000 words
- Cozy Mysteries—65,000 to 90,000 words
- Horror—80,000 to 100,000 words
- Western—80,000 to 100,000 words
- Light Paranormal Mysteries/Hobby Mysteries—75,000 to 90,000 words
- Historical Mysteries/Noir—80,000 to 100,000 words
- Thrillers/Crime—90,000 to 100,000 words
- Chick Lit—80,000 to 100,000 words
- Literary—65,000 to 100,000 words
- Science Fiction—90,000 to 110,000 words
- Romantic Science Fiction—85,000 to 100,000 words
- Space Opera—90,000 to 120,000 words
- Contemporary Fantasy—90,000 to 100,000 words
- Other Fantasy—90,000 to 120,000 words
Do you want to write a book? Start here
I’ve created a PDF fillable worksheet walking you through four important steps to take BEFORE you start writing. This is a free resource but it’s part of my resource library and you’ll need a password. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.
Once you’re in the library, navigate to the writing section and look for “You’ve Decided to Write a Book Worksheet.”
- Devotional—30,000 to 50,000 words
- Self-Help—40,000 to 90,000 words
- Memoir—50,000 to 90,000 words
- Narrative Non-Fiction—50,000 to 110,000 words
- Biography—50,000 to 110,000 words
- Prescriptive/How-To—50,000 to 150,000
Of course these guidelines are only just that—guidelines. And there are WAY more genres and sub-genres (e.g. new weird and slipstream…what now!?) so it’s best to do your own research.
But do pay attention and at least be aware of publisher AND reader expectations. Because you still have to list your word count in your query letter or book proposal!
When you’re ready to write a book and you know the genre and how many words it will be, your next step is to create a writing schedule.
I’ve created a PDF worksheet to help you realistic schedule. This is a free resource but it’s part of my resource library and you’ll need a password. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.
Once you’re in the library navigate to the writing section and look for “Create a Writing Schedule Worksheet.”
Other posts relating to publishing (although not answering the question how long should my book be but they’re still relevant!)
One more thing. You may be interested in my free resource library. This is where I keep my files, downloads, ebooks, worksheets and whatever else I manage to create. I love sharing what I learn and want to keep adding to this library so it becomes a wealth of helpful goodness.
This is a free resource but I do require a password to access the library itself. You can get access by popping your email address into the form below.