Word Counts By Numbers

I often talk about word count. It’s a big deal for me because I’m wordy. My newest book, Prophecy, is not a wordy book! Yup, that’s right I managed to keep it within industry standard.
According to Wikipedia, these are the classifications are Novel, Novella, Novelette, and short story.

Classification Word count

Novel 40,000 words or over
Novella 17,500 to 39,999 words
Novelette 7,500 to 17,499 words
Short story under 7,500 words

I talk more in-depth about this in Stories Classified

These are the basic classifications of what a book is by word count. Novels are 40,000 +, so what does that mean? Well simply put each genre and subgenre have their own word count limits. This number varies greatly and seems to change the range values.
Professional editors and publishers told me that when in doubt, get it or keep it to mid or bottom of the range. (For the first novel)

Science fiction between 80,000 to 125,000
YA (Young adult) 45,000 to 80,000 (Midrange is best for this genre)
Horror 80,000 to 100,000
Historical fiction/romance 90,000 to 100,000
General Fiction/Literary Fiction/New adult 75,000 to 110,000 words max 70,000 is considered too short for a first-time author/published novel.
Science Fiction and Fantasy 100,000 words to 115,000 (Some say 125,000)
Mystery novels 40,000 to 80,000 words. This is a genre of disagreement on numbers; I’ve seen the recommendation for a thriller or mystery 90,000 to 100,000. I would keep it midrange or close to 80,000 to be safe.

Now I bet someone rushed to a shelf to pull a book or ten down to dispute the numbers. There are always exceptions to the rules (The lucky ones or not a first novel) or they are older books from older standards. Times are tough and the market is flooded with new authors looking to have their books published.

So what about… let’s say, Harry Potter? Some of those young adult books were well over the limit. Yes, they were but not the first one. In addition, JK struggled for years to get it published. Once she gained the footing in the industry and had a book under her belt, she could increase the word count without worrying about the limitations.

The limits are guidelines and they can be ignored. I learned from my own experience that it’s not wise to disregard time-tested advice and limits set by those who will actually be judging your work and deciding if it’s worth their time.

Now back to my new book. It is a TREAT to revise and edit a book without the gloomy cloud of ‘cut, cut and cut’ over my head. I’m not worried about trimming the fat (Hopefully, it’s not there).

It is currently at 73324 and I have room to fix and embellish some scenes without sweating the numbers. For the first time, I have to add words, which is super exciting for me. I still have to finish the filter word edit, but I’ll talk about that another time.

My advice about Word Count
While it’s important to keep your word count within the limits it’s more important to make every word count. After all, we want to keep the reader’s interest.

-Sheryl

Other Word Count related posts

The “word count” down.

Redundantly Redundant Redundancies

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Interest
 

Too Much To Do…

Recently I’ve been thinking a lot about the story writing process. There is so much more to it than just writing the story. There’s plot structure, the story arch, characters, character development, sub plots, side stories, foreshadows, and so much more.

There’s plot structure, the story arch, characters, character development, sub plots, side stories, foreshadows, settings, story flow and so much more.

Then there is the editing and revision portion. This part seems to be ongoing for me. With this, there are options too. Self-editing, friends editing, professional editing and computer program assisted editing.

Following the editing, there is the ‘getting your book’ published phase. Once again there are options. First, is finding a literary agent by querying them with a query letter and synopsis. Second is vanity press/indie publishing and third is self-publishing.

It all seems rather daunting when summarized and that’s because it is. It is a big task and hard to do. Of course, there will be those that seem to ‘luck’ out and get published with minimal effort and those that struggle and give up after years of rejection.

When I look at this process I always have the grand scope of it in my mind, however, I only focus on the task or ‘stage’ at hand. Right now I’m re-writing and revising my book. It’s a big task but a necessary one. I know the next step will be putting it out there again to literary agents.

This will require me to rewrite my query and synopsis completely. A task I know is coming up and is in my mind but not my focus at the moment.

Once I have the rewrite done I will move on to the next phase and that’s using a computer program to assist with grammar and structure revision.

After that, I have plans to look into a professional editor to assist with the polishing of the book, the query, and synopsis. That’s not soon so I think about it but not too much. One thing at a time for me.

It can quickly become overwhelming if I think too far ahead to all that needs to be done. I get that ‘too much to do’ panic and it can bog me down or derail me fast. So I slow down, sit back and take stock of it all then get back to focusing on what needs to be done first.

My advice about thinking too much.
There is enough stress in life you don’t need to add the anxiety of over thinking the book writing/publishing process and adding to it. Be aware of it, and plan for it but put most of the focus on the task at hand.

-Sheryl

I couldn’t find a way to work Edible into this blog so I’ll link one that already had it… Redundantly Redundant Redundancies 

Related posts

Read, revise and repeat. The shampoo process of editing.

Glance back to look forward

My Posts From The Start

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Stories Classified

I have written a few novels, a couple Novella’s and a handful of short stories. It occurred to me that not everyone might know what that means. 

There are five classification of Stories. (Technically four, but I think Flash fiction deserves its own classification.)

The Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story and Flash fiction.

So what is the difference?

Flash fiction is 1000 words or under. Flash fiction technically fall under the category of short story as they are often called short-short stories. They usually focus on one singular incident or event and have three characters or less. Too many are hard to keep track of in such a short time. These stories tend to skip or give a brief synopsis of the ‘beginning’ of the story and jump right to the middle. Because of the compact ‘one bite’ nature of Flash fiction, they are somewhat difficult to write well. Flash fiction do not commonly have chapters as they are written to be read in a single sitting. 

A Short Story is Under 7,500 words. There is some debate on the actual number some say 1000-4000. The guidelines have varied over time. Short stories generally follow the classic story arc but tend to be less complicated than a novel and more complicated than Flash fiction. They focus on one main event, one plot and generally one setting.   Short stories are difficult to market for profit on their own and are often found published or presented as collections to increase their marketability.  Short stories most often do not have chapters. Instead they may have white space breaks as they are meant to be read in one sitting.

A novelette is 7,500 to 17,499 words.  Novelette’s are similar to a Short story in nearly every way, but with more room to improve on characters, prose and exposition. The word count of a novelette is more popular for writers and often focused in competitions and awards. These are often marketed on their own or can be found in small collections.  Like Short stories Novelettes do not typically have chapters and generally use white space breaks. (Not a rule) 

A Novella is 17,500 to 39,999 words. Like the smaller versions of a short story and a Novelette, Novella’s don’t always have chapters. There is no rule to have chapters or not, but a book less than 40,000 words is considered a ‘single sitting’ book. Novellas are more complicated in prose, characters and exposition. They remain simple and generally focus on one plot, few characters and limited settings.  A sub-plot or side story may occur however, it isn’t as common due to the restricted amount of words they would require. Novellas are found published on their own and in compilations.

A Novel is 40,000 words or more.  Novel’s focus more on a larger story arc involving multiple complicated characters, a grand lesson or journey, sub plots and arc’s. Novels often focus on a more intimate experience with the characters and story. They are broken down to chapters and meant to be read in multiple sittings. (Though I’ll admit to reading more than a few in one sitting.)

Basically, all categories of Stories are a challenge to write and wonderful to read. Believing any category is better than the other is a farce. They each have their own challenges and depending on the writer, one may be easier to conquer than the other. I’ve been dabbling in the various categories, I can manage (Barely) flash fiction, short story (Sort of), novella (Not bad) and Novels I have no problem with. For some reason I can’t seem to hit a story in the Novelette word count. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m wordy and I do struggle to write short stories and flash fiction. 

My advice about the story classifications.
It’s good to expand and gain writing experience/practice. I recommend trying to write all classifications. Who knows maybe you’ll find a passion for something new. There are all kinds of WordPress challenges to participate in. There are contests etc. for each classification have fun and see what’s out there.

-Sheryl

Other posts about word counts

It’s really very unnecessary

I’m ‘that’ kind of writer

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Farce