What is the best word count for a novel? - Page 2


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Thread: What is the best word count for a novel?

  1. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by EternalGreen View Post
    Thrillers are usually 90-100 thousand words.
    Thanks for your response! I am aiming in that range now. And trying to be on the lower side since I am a first time novelist.
    Last edited by Taylor; January 16th, 2021 at 02:31 AM.
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  2. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Nicola View Post
    Coincidently, I have just watched a few videos on YouTube of an Agent speaking about word counts amongst other things. 80,000 words does tend to be the average, and most agents/ publishers would be put off by a word count much less than 70,000. The maximum mentioned was 130k and above as it's asking a lot from readers. But as already pointed out, for already established authors a lengthier novel is not as much of a risk if they already have a fan base etc.
    Thanks for the confirmation. It's good to know the average. Originally, I was shooting for 70,000. But I'm leaning more towards 80,000 now. I think it is still low enough not to scare off publishers.
    Last edited by Taylor; February 25th, 2021 at 10:05 AM.
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  3. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor View Post
    Thanks for the confirmation. It's good to know the average. Originally, I was shooting for 70,000. But I'm leaning more towwards 80,000 now. I think it is still low enough not to scare off publishers.
    Yes I think you should be safe with 80,000 from what I have read.

  4. #14
    Another case in point that the works published by an author tend to get a longer as they advance into their career, is Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series:

    Twilight – 118,975 words
    New Moon – 132,758 words
    Eclipse – 148,971 words
    Breaking Dawn – 186,542 words

    Total: 587,246 words

    = more author confidence, and more publisher relaxation.

    At 66,506 words, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar is shorter than The Catcher in te Rye.

    I found this online:
    Novella: 17,000 – 40,000 words.
    Longer than 40,000 is generally considered a “short novel”.
    Short story: Under 7,500 words.
    If it's under 1,000, then it might be called “flash fiction”.

    Re. "The story should be as long as it takes to tell (in the best manner possible)" VS. The harsh realities of publishing pragmatism:

    It's such a hard tension to navigate the hard bottom lines of publishing VS. the individual creativity and unique expression required to write a book/story, with the one enterprise potentially killing the other, but neither can live without the other. Sounds an unhealthy co-dependent relationship to me, but we're willing to grapple with it because the rewards when it works are so sweet.

    The 2009 film 'Julie and Julia' I think had a great scene showing Julia Child breaking the mould in publishing 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' which was longer than the typical cookbook at that time.

  5. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Private Universe View Post
    Another case in point that the works published by an author tend to get a longer as they advance into their career, is Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series:

    Twilight – 118,975 words
    New Moon – 132,758 words
    Eclipse – 148,971 words
    Breaking Dawn – 186,542 words

    Total: 587,246 words

    = more author confidence, and more publisher relaxation.

    At 66,506 words, Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar is shorter than The Catcher in te Rye.

    I found this online:
    Novella: 17,000 – 40,000 words.
    Longer than 40,000 is generally considered a “short novel”.
    Short story: Under 7,500 words.
    If it's under 1,000, then it might be called “flash fiction”.

    Re. "The story should be as long as it takes to tell (in the best manner possible)" VS. The harsh realities of publishing pragmatism:

    It's such a hard tension to navigate the hard bottom lines of publishing VS. the individual creativity and unique expression required to write a book/story, with the one enterprise potentially killing the other, but neither can live without the other. Sounds an unhealthy co-dependent relationship to me, but we're willing to grapple with it because the rewards when it works are so sweet.

    The 2009 film 'Julie and Julia' I think had a great scene showing Julia Child breaking the mould in publishing 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking' which was longer than the typical cookbook at that time.
    That's a good obsevation about the length continuing to get longer as the authors and the publishers get more confident.

    I always think I have this figured out at about 80-100K for a first novel. But then I see that Kevin Kwan broke in with his first novel Crazy Rich Asians, coming in at 120,000.

    Anyway, I do think what you say makes sense that it will take as long as it takes...
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  6. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by Private Universe View Post
    Another case in point that the works published by an author tend to get a longer as they advance into their career, is Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series:

    Twilight – 118,975 words
    New Moon – 132,758 words
    Eclipse – 148,971 words
    Breaking Dawn – 186,542 words

    Total: 587,246 words

    = more author confidence, and more publisher relaxation.
    It's more a matter of the more successful the author, the more terrified the publisher is to force them to use an editor. The same is true of J.K. Rowling and why the last Harry Potter books got so insufferably long. They were making so much money off of her that they were afraid to piss her off.

  7. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Cephus View Post
    It's more a matter of the more successful the author, the more terrified the publisher is to force them to use an editor. The same is true of J.K. Rowling and why the last Harry Potter books got so insufferably long. They were making so much money off of her that they were afraid to piss her off.
    Plus they knew fans were hooked so wouldn't be too bothered about the length. They might grumble but they'd still read to the end.

  8. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Private Universe View Post
    Plus they knew fans were hooked so wouldn't be too bothered about the length. They might grumble but they'd still read to the end.
    Or maybe they thought they would give them more for their money. Although the piss-off factor sounds more likely.
    Sometimes in the waves of change we find our new direction...
    - unknown

  9. #19
    Are micro or flash fiction good for a new author to try to get published? Would publishers be more likely to take a chance on someone who can spin a good yarn with fewer words, and if the books were successful, could always ask the author to write meatier?

  10. #20
    Ideasmith, I've studied flash fiction for years. Have taught online courses in it for years. I've also written on the topic for all sorts of publications (including articles for Writer's Digest). My first book on the topic was recently released. I love good flash fiction. This kind of fiction is as difficult to write as good poetry. It's not easy writing merely because the writing's short. So that's a bit of my my background on the topic.

    Here's a bit of my personal history with the form. I read a tiny story by Padgett Powell, fell in love with his writing, and purchased his recently released novel. I read a couple of tiny stories by Lydia Davis, fell in love with her writing, and bought three of her collections. Other purchases have happened similarly (Jorge Luis Borges and Eduardo Galeano, for example). Clearly, I'd guess it's clear anyway, I love good flash fiction.

    Yes, micros or flash fiction can be good for a new author to try to publish. Their use elsewhere shows the novel publisher this writer knows how to write, knows who to approach to get his/ her ideas viewed, and who shows their hard work is valuable to many others. Just try to avoid thinking of flash as less meaty work. After all, many recent novels are flash pieces done in novel form. So the tiny pieces, like bricks, can make a larger form. Good luck. You will find many treasures in the flash fiction world. I love think think of you adding to those treasures.
    Last edited by Pamelyn Casto; February 22nd, 2021 at 04:56 AM.
    Free Download of My Chapbook: Flash Fiction: A Primer
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    List Stories: Lists of the Literary Kind.” See my essay at Hidden Content



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