20 Average Fiction Novel Word Counts - #WriteTip


A general rule to follow for fiction novel word counts should be based on the guidelines listed below (all of these updated estimations are based on current trends in 2017)

One thing I will say is that regardless of an average "genre word count" the length of a story depends on each unique story. And always, always prune a narrative once you get close to a finished draft. 

In early drafts, I use so many unnecessary words in my sentences, like “some” and “that” and “seem(s)” and “almost” and “about” etc. And just pruning and tightening sentence structure really helps flow. I use a software program that also points out wordy phrases and repetitive words. I have a list too that I use to “find and replace” or in this case, find and omit. It is tedious to go through the entire MS, but I know it’s an important step in revision.

It’s funny how when I’m drafting a book, I’m so concerned with increasing the word count, and then once I get an almost finished draft, I’m obsessive about trimming the word count.  

Middle Grade (or tween)

(Examples of published books: Coraline is 30,640 and Gingerbread is 44,510 and Mockingbird is 36,466.)

Average Word Count: 20k to 50k words
Average No. of Chapters: 20
Average Words per Chapter: 600

Young Adult Fiction

(It seems that paranormal YA or YA fantasy can occasionally run as high as 100k because of the world-building needed. Of course, there is always the exception on word counts in YA. Books in fantasy and paranormal genres will tend to have higher words counts, like Twilight  is 118,975 and New Moon is 132,758. Beautiful Creatures is 147,695 and A Great and Terrible Beauty is 95,605.)

Average Word Count: 70k to 90k words
Average No. of Chapters: 30 to 35
Average Words per Chapter: 1,900

(My own YA books have an average of 83k words, and my genres are mainly paranormal romance and Sci-Fi romance, so more world-building is needed. Almost all of my books have an average of 35 chapters, and my word counts per chapter range between 1,700 to 2,500.)

Cozy Mysteries  

Average  Word Count: 45k to 85k words
Average No. of Chapters: 25
Average Words per Chapter: 1,800

Paranormal Romance  

Average  Word Count: 80k to 95k words
Average No. of Chapters: 30
Average Words per Chapter: 2,000


Average  Word Count: 50k to 100k words
Average No. of Chapters: 35
Average Words per Chapter: 3,000

New Adult Romance

Average  Word Count: 85k to 100k words
Average No. of Chapters: 35
Average Words per Chapter:  2,500

Crime Drama, Mystery, Suspense/Thrillers 

(Historical mysteries and noir can be around 90k to 100k. Most other mystery/thriller/crime novels should be  around  90k to 110k.)

Average  Word Count: 150,000
Average No. of Chapters: 45
Average Words per Chapter: 3,000


Average Word Count: 85k words
Average No. of Chapters: 35
Average Words per Chapter: 2,000

Mainstream /Commercial Fiction

Average  Word Count: 65k to 90k words
Average No. of Chapters: 25 to 30
Average Words per Chapter: 3,500


Average  Word Count: 145,000
Average No. of Chapters: 45
Average Words per Chapter: 5,000

Historical, Memoirs, and Literary Fiction

Average  Word Count: 95k to 110k words
Average No. of Chapters: 30
Average Words per Chapter: 4,900

Science Fiction /
Space Opera 
Average  Word Count: 80k to 125k words
Average No. of Chapters: 30 to 40
Average Words per Chapter: 3,500

Urban Fantasy  

Average  Word Count:
85k to 120k 
Average No. of Chapters: 30 to 40
Average Words per Chapter: 2,500

Steampunk (a combo of historical / fantasy / Sci-Fi)

Average  Word Count: 75k to 95k 
Average No. of Chapters: 30
Average Words per Chapter: 2,500

Horror, Supernatural Thriller, Apocalypse

Average  Word Count: 100,000
Average No. of Chapters: 40
Average Words per Chapter: 3,000 

Chick-lit / Romantic Comedies

Average  Word Count: 50k to 75k words
Average No. of Chapters: 25 to 30
Average Words per Chapter: 1,500


Even if you've already published a few books or you're just starting out in the indie publishing world, there's always more to learn on the craft of fiction and book promotion. If you're determined to take your writing career seriously, you need to make sure that your author branding and book packaging are "genre specific" to hit your target audience and build a loyal readership. 


Take Your Writing Skills to the Next Level with these Amazing Self-Editing Handbooks! 


  1. Hi Sherry! Now this is a post I wish I'd read BEFORE I wrote my debut. LOL. My first draft was 120k. I whittled it down and queried at 85k. It's being published at 92k. :)

  2. I hear ya, Samantha! My YA was at almost 100k until I cut 20k off of it. Now I'm striving for 85k once I'm done with my revisions.

    My adult was at 120k, too. :-) Now I'm trying to get it down to 90k. I have too many redundant phrases and wordy sentences that I need to weed out.

    BTW, can't wait to read your book! Would you be interested in doing an interview?

  3. Great post!! I used to really stress about that. It's good to have a guideline.

  4. Hi Sherry. I came here from the bookshelf muse, and am now your newest follower.

    Nice ta meet ya!

    Don't even get me started on word count. I hate the "rules" but I understand why they're there, especially when it comes to debut novels.

  5. Great post! Thank you for sharing this, it's very useful :)

  6. Great post, thanks! Question: my novel comes in at 101K. I wrote it as urban fantasy, but the two agents who requested the full ms. both told me they think it is YA. I'd like to send out some more queries as YA but I'm concerned about word count. I'm told the pacing is tight by my beta readers (inc. pro editors). Should I cut to get it below 100K or not worry? Thanks.

  7. I think for any debut novel it should be under 100k and I'll tell you why. Because agents and editors will assume that you haven't done much editing as in, trimming redundant words and phrases and tightening up the MS as a whole.

    The ONLY acceptable genre is fantasy or science fiction because of the world-building.

    In most Young Adult novels, the teenage (12-17) protagonist(s) should centrally experience and grow by her dramatized choices, actions, and concerns, which drive the plot forward, and is narrated with relative immediacy to the teenage perspective.

    BTW, it should seem obvious, but thought I'd mention that teen novels have teenage protagonists, which sets them apart from adult fiction. It is all about VOICE.

    If you're still not sure if your MS is YA or Adult, please read this post: http://adventuresinagentland.blogspot.com/2011/03/ya-vs-adult-whats-so-different-anyway.html

  8. Thanks Sherry!

  9. You are very welcome, my dear. :-)

  10. Even though it is the average word count amount does it necessarily have to be. I want to make a teen novel that is 30k? Or do you think more is better?

  11. Hi chibicat16!

    Your word count at 30k is fine for a short story or novella. It would be perfect for an eBook publisher.

    For traditional publishing, it would be WAY to low, IMHO. You would have to bring it up to at least 80k to be considered for print publication.

    And always check the guidelines on a publishers or agents website or blog before submitting.

    Best of luck!!

  12. What's becoming a little worrisome is the explosive LENGTHS of these book requirements. It seems like that "requirement" is growing every year, like books need to be longer & longer but I'm hearing that author's advances have plummeted. Or am I hearing incorrectly?

    Not all books need to be that length or don't you end up with a lot of filler? I have a teen romance & it certainly doesn't take up 100,000 or even 90,000 words. And frankly, I don't feel like writing something THAT long, but I do want to write books (and have written many).

    Are other authors actually Happy with the latest development? More work, less pay? Thoughts on this, anybody?

    1. You're right. I've read quite a few wonderful middle-grade and young adults at a 50k word count.


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