Remember, first and foremost, opinions vary hugely in this arena between different sources. However, most recognised professional sources are approximately the same. Here's a guide from 'The Write Life'.
What should my book word count be?
The following are average word-count ranges by genre.
General Fiction Word Counts
Fiction Genres Word Counts
- Mainstream Romance: 70,000–100,000 words
- Subgenre Romance: 40,000–100,000 words
- Science Fiction / Fantasy: 90,000–120,000 (and sometimes 150,000) words
- Historical Fiction: 80,000–100,000
- Thrillers / Horror / Mysteries / Crime: 70,000–90,000 words
- Young Adult: 50,000–80,000
For a great discussion on the fundamentals of fiction, and how to write a great story, check out this podcast interview.
Children’s Books Word Counts
- Picture Books: 300–800 words
- Early Readers: 200–3500 words
- Chapter Books: 4000–10,000 words
- Middle Grade: 25,000–40,000 words
Nonfiction Word Counts
- Standard Nonfiction (Business, Political Science, Psychology, History, etc.): 70,000–80,000 words
- Memoir: 80,000–100,000 words
- Biography: 80,000–200,000 words
- How-to / Self-Help: 40,000–50,000 words
All of these are average book word count ranges and should not be taken as the definitive word count you must reach in your book. We all know of outliers within each genre that have been published well under, or well over, these word counts.
Use these numbers as a baseline for your writing goals.
Know what readers expect in terms of your genre’s word count (even if the reader isn’t aware of their expectations when it comes to how long a book is).