20 October 2012

Word Count Expectations for Popular Genres

This weekend I've had the pleasure of taking part in a retreat with several other writers (it's wonderful, I highly recommend it) representing a variety of genres including Scholarly, Women's Fiction, Horror and YA. Last night, over wine, we discussed our current projects and got to talking about word count requirements. This is a confusing subject. My internet searches yielded vastly conflicting results, leading me to believe that the "rules" are not steadfast. They seem to be subject to trends in the literary world, and of course the "rules" are bent quite regularly.

That said, it's still helpful to know what most editors want or expect to see from writers. After comparing a number of agent blogs, publisher web sites and other resources, here are what I found to be the generally accepted ranges for some popular genres:

Horror: 80k - 120k

Sci Fi: 80k - 120k

YA: 50k to 80k

Single Title Romance: 75k - 120k

Women's Fiction: 75k - 90k

Mystery/Crime Thriller: 70k - 100k

There are exceptions for every genre mentioned, but keep in mind that if you are a first-time author you may not want to aim to be one of those exceptions. If you've written a debut novel and find that your piece is far outside the desired range, be sure to keep an eye on your word count and make adjustments during your revision process. It'll only make the query process easier for you later!

What do you think about the word counts stated above? Is your current project on target?

(image from freedigitalphotos.net)  


  1. I was on track, but as I rewrite I find I'm creeping closer to 100 000, so I'm going to have to keep an eye on it.

  2. Yeah I thought this info was interesting, even if you end up bending the rules.