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Readers want books that hit a perfect sweet spot in terms of length. Short books can leave readers feeling like they didn’t get their money’s worth, while long books can feel like a slog.
Knowing the ideal length for your genre will help you plan the order of events and story arc of your book.
So, how do you know the best length for your book?
This article will explain what an average book length is and how you can calculate the right word count to aim for in your own manuscript.
How Long Is a Novel?
Let’s start by looking at the average length of a novel. The answer varies a lot depending on what type of novel you’re writing, so here are some ranges you can use as a benchmark.
What Is the Average Novel Word Count?
Most publishers consider novel length to be anywhere between 50,000 and 110,000 words. The average length of an adult novel is about 90,000 words.
Novels for younger readers run shorter than novels for adults. Young adult novels have an average length of 50,000–80,000 words, while middle-grade novels have an average length of 25,000–40,000 words.
Genre can also make a difference to how long your novel should be.
Science fiction and fantasy novels tend to have higher word counts than most other genres, averaging around 90,000–120,000 words, since they often need a lot of words for world building and introducing magic systems. Big, epic stories, such as George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, can even be 120,000+ words.
Romance novels, on the other hand, often have shorter word counts, averaging 50,000–100,000 words. Some even go as low as 40,000 words, depending on the specific subgenre.
Mystery, thriller, and horror novels also tend to run on the shorter side since they’re fast-paced and often focus more on action than on exposition. They average around 70,000–90,000 words.
Historical fiction is fairly average in terms of length, usually falling between 80,000 and 100,000 words.
If you’re a first-time writer and don’t know your exact genre, aiming for around 90,000 words for an adult novel is a safe goal.
What Is the Average Novel Length in Pages?
Books come in various sizes and are printed with different fonts and spacing, so page count isn’t always consistent. The best way to calculate length is by the number of words.
If you really want to estimate the number of pages for your book, you can divide the total word count by the number of words on a page.
A double-spaced document with standard manuscript formatting in 12-point font contains about 250 words per page. If you format your manuscript as a single-space document, it will be about 500 words per page.
So, if the average novel is around 90,000 words, that breaks down to about 360 double-spaced pages.
Here are a few more quick conversions to save you from having to do the math:
A 50,000-word book is about 200 pages
A 60,000-word book is about 240 pages
A 70,000-word book is about 280 pages
An 80,000-word book is about 320 pages
A 90,000-word book is about 360 pages
A 100,000-word book is about 400 pages
A 110,000-word book is about 440 pages
Even if you write only one page per day, you’ll have a completed manuscript in less than a year.
What’s the Average Word Count of a Book?
There are many types of books other than novels, such as textbooks, memoirs, and self-help books. Let’s look at what those average word counts are.
How Long Is a Self-Help Book?
The average self-help book is shorter than the average novel, coming in at around 40,000–50,000 words. Readers want a quick, concise read that can teach them something new in a short span of time.
How Long Is a Memoir?
Memoirs have similar word counts to novels. Most memoirs are 80,000–100,000 words long.
How Long Is a Biography?
Biographies tend to run longer than memoirs, often going as high as 200,000 words. A good target range is 80,000–200,000 words.
How Long Is a Textbook?
Textbooks vary widely in length depending on the subject you’re writing about and the audience you’re writing for.
A biology textbook designed for college students might be 200,000 words, while an arithmetic textbook designed for elementary schoolers might only be 30,000 words.
One useful way to figure out the target word count for a textbook is to look at the word counts of other textbooks with similar topics and target audiences. That can give you a more specific sense of what word count to shoot for.
How ProWritingAid Can Help You Hit Your Word Count
It’s important to hit the right word count for the type of book you’re writing.
If you’re hoping to traditionally publish your book, editors at publishing houses know the right book lengths for their genres, and they’ll be less inclined to take a chance on your story if it doesn’t meet their expectations. And if you want to self-publish, you’ll have a better chance of selling your book to your target audience if you give them the length they’re expecting.
You can run your manuscript through ProWritingAid to look for ways to hit your target word count.
If you need to cut words, you can use the Pacing Check to look for sections that are particularly slow-paced, such as long sections of introspection, and tighten them up. If you need to add words, you can look for fast-paced dialogue and action and add more description.
You can also consider adding an extra subplot to a novel that’s too short or splitting a novel into a series if it’s far too long. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
Good luck, and happy writing!