Word Count 101: Novel? Novella? Novelette?

Many writers stress about word count while they are creating a book. My advice is actually not to worry about it during the first draft—just be true to your story and characters. Then, during the editing process, become the crazed axe murderer—okay, maybe more of a surgeon. But regardless, you need to be brutal.

In general, the count for most novels should fall between 80,000-100,000 words for almost any genre. Any debut novel over 100,000 words risks rejection from agents and publishers.  But again, don’t worry about this until you get there.  An interesting tidbit: the average length for all books on Amazon is 64,000 words.

One Step at a Timewriting novella w cat

Now, depending on the font you use, the average word count on a page is about 300 words.  Writing takes consistency, so instead of getting overwhelmed, celebrate the small things.

Write 300 words, you have a page.
Write 3000 words, you have a chapter.
Write 16 chapters, you have a book.

General Word Count Lengths

What category does your manuscript fall into?  Here is a general guideline:

Micro-Fiction: Up to 100 words

Flash Fiction: 100-500 words

Short Story:  1,000-8,000 words

Novelette: 7,500-20,000

Novella: 20,000-40,000 words

Novel:  40,000-110,000 (see genre notes below)

Epic: 110,000+

The novel isn’t cut and dry. Each genre has its own average. For example, Science Fiction tends to be longer than a Western, and so on.

Book Type Cloud
Created by Robin Woods on http://www.tagxedo.com

Book Lengths for Different Genres

Picture Books: 500-700 words (with an average length of 32 pages).


Writing Poetry: Sonnets, Haiku, and Tanka

Sometimes writing poetry is difficult, especially if you want to go old school and use a set rhyme scheme, or heaven forbid, attempt iambic pentameter. Fear not! Here is some poetry writing help.


Here are a few helpers:

For rhymes, check out: RhymeZone.com or Rhymer.com

Syllable Checker: WordCalc.com


I do a lecture on sonnets themselves. I have attached a PDF of my background lecture.

A sonnet is a 14-line lyric poem with a single theme, originated during the Italian Renaissance and later spread throughout Europe.  Usually written in iambic pentameter.  Most common themes are romantic love and religion.

There are three formats:  Italian (called “Petrarchan”), Spenserian, and English (called “Shakespearean”).  The most common are Petrarchan and Shakespearean; Edmund Spenser is the only poet to use the format that bears his name.

Sonnet Lecture Notes

Sonnet Lecture Notes

For more specific details, here are my lecture notes: Sonnet Notes Lecture PDF

Shakespeare’s SONNET 18