I see this question a lot so here’s a quick answer:
Novels are typically 250 to 350 pages; with about 250 to 300 words per page.
This will depend on genre and word count.
Average novels are 75K to 95K, though some genres can go longer – still, it’s very rare for a novel to have more than 150,000 words altogether, and if you’re angling for a publishing deal, anything longer than 100K will raise eyebrows (in a bad way).
It has nothing to do with the book, it’s just about what can fit in a standardized product.
That said, longer word counts are often a sign of weak and amateur writing: they point to an author who hasn’t learned what to cut, or how to trim, so that the story is revealed without all the extra padding.
It’s about cutting the excess and leaving the core, like sharpening a knife.
Sometimes, fantasy writers will have written 300,000 words of an epic story, and insist that it’s *all* crucial and necessary. The easy advice is to split this into three books: not only to be able to package and market it as a series, but also because – with ONE long story, you won’t have the right turning points in each section, and it will be slow and plodding.
A 75K book, means that with my 24 chapter outline, each chapter is about 3000 words; and I have two sections in each chapter. Having more BREAKS is crucial, because a scene manifests until the point of change, when something new happens. Having more chapters and scenes, keeps you focused on what is actually happening, rather than backstory filler that isn’t active.
Moreover, if you’re using my basic Plot Dot writing formula, each major turning point happens in 25% sections, or 12.5% for the inbetween sections. That means, regardless of what’s happening in the chapters, you’ll reach big, pivotal, satisfying story progression markers every 9000 words or so.
If you just have one massive sprawling story, it’ll probably be missing these.
And the story has to have momentum and pacing, or readers will give up hope that it’s all leading them somewhere.
Average novel page counts
How many pages should a novel have?
A 300-page book, with 300 words per page, has a word count average of 90,000 words
A 200-page book, would have about 60,000 words.
So that’s an easy way to estimate, assuming the industry standard of 300 words per page.
Here’s a list of classic and famous books, with their word counts and page numbers
|Book Title||Author||Word Count||Page Count|
|The Grapes of Wrath||John Steinbeck||169,481||464|
|The Fellowship of the Ring||J.R.R. Tolkien||177,227||432|
|The Poisonwood Bible||Barbara Kingsolver||177,679||576|
|Great Expectations||Charles Dickens||183,349||544|
|Little Women (Books 12)||Louisa May Alcott||183,833||759|
|Jane Eyre||Charlotte Brontë||183,858||532|
|Wuthering Heights||Emily Brontë||107,945||416|
|Pride and Prejudice||Jane Austen||122,011||432|
|The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn||Mark Twain||110,000||366|
|The Scarlet Letter||Nathaniel Hawthorne||63,604||238|
|Animal Farm||George Orwell||29,966||112|
|The Great Gatsby||F. Scott Fitzgerald||47,094||180|
|To Kill a Mockingbird||Harper Lee||100,388||281|
|One Hundred Years of Solitude||Gabriel Garcia Marquez||144,523||457|
|A Tale of Two Cities||Charles Dickens||135,420||544|
|Don Quixote||Miguel de Cervantes||386,059||1056|
|Crime and Punishment||Fyodor Dostoevsky||211,591||545|
|War and Peace||Leo Tolstoy||587,287||1392|
|Anna Karenina||Leo Tolstoy||349,736||864|
|Les Miserables||Victor Hugo||530,982||1232|
|The Brothers Karamazov||Fyodor Dostoevsky||349,736||912|
|The Picture of Dorian Gray||Oscar Wilde||78,422||254|
|Lord of the Flies||William Golding||59,900||208|
|Brave New World||Aldous Huxley||64,531||288|
|Fahrenheit 451||Ray Bradbury||46,118||158|
|Their Eyes Were Watching God||Zora Neale Hurston||50,954||219|
Is 50,000 words too short for a novel?
Yes, usually. Anything less than 50,000 words is considered a novella.
But, 50,000 words is the perfect length for a rough draft. When I use my 24 chapter outline templates, I try to make each chapter have two scenes, of about 1000 words each – so roughly 50K for a barebones plot structure with everything there. Then I do 5 rounds of editing and revision, which will push more over 75K.
novella length: how many pages is a novella
A novella should probably be at least 15K. And if your novels is shorter than 50K it’s not a huge deal – maybe you’re writing a series. But readers may expect a certain amount of content based on the price point, so it’s worth figuring out at least how to make sure the story satisfies them.
Short story length
Short stories can range from 1000 to 15000 words, but the average length for professional short stories that get published is 3K to 5K. Shorter than 1000 words and it would be flash or micro-fiction.
A kid’s book or story book (with pictures) is usually about 32 pages long, and between 500 to 1000 words altogether (600 is a good number to shoot for).
How to write and edit a book
If you’re writing a book and worried about word count, it’s probably because:
A) your book is too long and you’re not sure what to cut out
B) your book is too short and you’re not sure how to add volume.
These are different problems but they can both be fixed.
I have a ton of tools you can play with to improve your writing, as well as writing resources that will improve your writing. But here’s some useful stuff you might enjoy:
Fiction scene checklist & common writing mistakes
Plotting is important, but even when you have the right stuff in the right place, it doesn’t mean your story will be any good. The fastest and easiest way to resolve that is to use this scene checklist, which includes the 3 types of conflict you should include.
And then check these out:
- 25 Self-Editing Tips for Indie Authors (and 8 amateur writing mistakes)
- The 6 signs of weak writing (how to tell if your book sucks)
Best book writing software
Personally I still use microsoft word, but if you’re looking for something a little more powerful, there are some good alternatives. There’s also some new AI software which can be great for brainstorming story ideas, doing research (name generation, even suggesting plot outlines – and then for editing and revising. Writing is hard enough already; use any tool that helps in any way, even if it just relieves the burden on your brainpower, which is an exhaustive resource that you need to protect.
If you want to play with something new and fun:
- promptoria (writing prompts generator)
- ghostthewriter (summon a spirit to do your bidding)
I made a handy chart for when to reveal crucial information; it’s a response to the questions the characters are seeking. Basically, never give info for free – it has to be asked for first (noticed the lack) and resisted (difficult to find) before the reveal will be meaningful.
You keep what’s important private and hidden until it is forced out of you. I made a clever little graphic for when you should be revealing what type of information, depending on what type of questions your protagonist is asking.
In the beginning, they’ll be asking
- “What is going on?” then,
- “Who is doing this” or “Who am I?” and finally
- “Why is all this happening” or
- “why am I willing to sacrifice everything for this…”– you don’t get to the big reveals or why’s or critical, full backstory flashback until very late in the book, often in the middle of the final battle scene (that’s a whole thing on its own but I have a video about that too).
I’m a philosophy dropout with a PhD in Literature. I covet a cabin full of cats, where I can write fantasy novels to pay for my cake addiction. Sometimes I live in castles.