How To Assess the Word Count of Your Novel To Fit Publishing Standards

The nuts and bolts of genre word counts, including children’s fiction

Sandi Parsons
3 min readMar 9, 2022

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Photo Credit: Sandi Parsons

If you’re heading down a traditional publishing route, word counts matter.

As a first-time author, you can’t start off peddling a 200,000-word epic love story. Your manuscript needs to fit inside industry standards before you can wedge your foot in the door.

You can find multiple sites that give you word counts for novels; most stick to recommending a board range between 80,000 and 100,000 words for first-time writers.

Foster Grant wrote an excellent post breaking down word counts into genres. The entire post is well worth reading, but if you’re a snapshot person, here are some quick references:

Flash Fiction, Short Stories & Novellas

Flash fiction is anything from 100 to 500 words

A short story is usually anything from 1,000 to 8,000 words, but many are often longer

A novella is usually between 20,000 and 50,000 words

The average novel is usually between 80,000 and 100,000 words

An epic novel is anything over 110,000 words

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Sandi Parsons

Sandi Parsons lives & breathes stories as a reader, writer, and storyteller📚 Kidlit specialist, dipping her toes in the big kid’s pool.