How long should my novel be?

Writers have a universal skill of procrastination.

Hello, my name is Gemma and I am guilty of spending hours researching how to write on the internet instead of actually writing…

So, this post gives you (and by default, me) no more excuses to google this particular phrase.

I cannot tell you how many times I have searched for ‘standard novel lengths’ or ‘novel word count by genre’. The results always overwhelm and stress me out, leaving me less time for actual writing.

So, how long should your novel really be? 

How long is a piece of string?

Simple answer, it depends on the string (or in this case, the novel).

If we are talking about the standard word count which publishers ‘prefer’, then I could link and quote a series of resources which all state different values: just to confuse the hell out of you.

Or, I could be slightly more helpful and provide you with the average of the top eight Google results for the search: HOW LONG SHOULD A NOVEL BE.

Today, I’m feeling helpful.


So here it is, the definitive answer to the question: how long should my novel be?


I Googled ‘how long should a novel be’ and used the first eight results to create a table in Excel 2013 for the average length of a novel by genre.

(NOTE: after the top eight it started turning into – ‘Your novel should be as long as it needs to be’, which is nice, but not practical. Otherwise, I would have used the top ten.)




Flash Fiction 500
Short Story 6500
Novella 26250
Standard Novel 54583
Adult Fiction 88000
Sci-Fi and Fantasy 106875
Romance/Womens Fiction 83125
Historical 102500
Crime/Mystery/Thrillers/Horror 86000
Young Adult 60714

Yep, if you are writing a young adult novel it must be exactly 60,714 words. No more. No less. 😉

Of course, the real answer to this question is that there is no set length required for your novel to be successful. There are countless examples of unconventional novel lengths becoming major successes – eg. JK Rowling or Stephen King.

So, write using as many words as you need to get your point across, and try and enjoy the process rather than stressing yourself over a word count which, in the end, probably isn’t as important as it seems.

Happy writing,


(Previously published on The Storytellers Hub)




Manuscript Agency . com

Writers Digest . com

Writers and Artists . co

Writers Workshop . co 

Meg Cabot . com  <—- Worth taking a minute to read this article. I love her childrens books and she has some really interesting points to make.

Kevin T Johns . com

Stand Out Books . com

One thought on “How long should my novel be?

  1. Pingback: How long should my novel be? — alittlegemblog – I Suck at Writing

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