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How many words is a typical* novel?

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Old 11-06-2009, 01:51 PM
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Default How many words is a typical* novel?


I ask this because on reflection, my story is approaching the 50,000 word mark and it hasn't actually reached 1/5 of the way to the end. It's rather concerning I must say, but I know word count alters by genre- and bear in mind this book is a fantasy.

All the same, what would the typical word count be of a book you would pick off the shelf?

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Old 11-06-2009, 01:57 PM
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I like from around 75,000 to 150,000. Anything more is just daunting.
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Old 11-06-2009, 03:50 PM
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Anywhere from 30,000 - 120,000.
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Old 11-06-2009, 08:02 PM
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30,000 is a little too low to call a novel... you can squeak by at around the forty-fifty thousand word mark. Then it's a novel.

For a fantasy novel, I'd say your ideal length is 120,000 words. Publishers generally don't want to pick up anything higher for a first novel, because that approaches mammoth thickness and is a bit of a gamble production-wise. Most genres go 80-110,00 words as an average for their novels, but fantasy jumps everywhere. Definitely consider dividing into separate books--a 250,000 word novel, even by a guy like Robert Jordan, is just too much. For one thing, it's really hard to read at the table, and it begins to cut off circulation after a few chapters
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Old 11-06-2009, 09:31 PM
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30,000 does count as a novel, even though it's also counted as a novella.

But re-reading, typical novels are around 60-120,000 words.
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Old 11-07-2009, 02:25 AM
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i've seen some epically long fantasy novels that must be reaching 200,000 but your odds of getting published are bound to be so much lower. i'd just finish what you're doing and when you go back to editing you can see what needs to be cut. maybe your book could be a trilogy instead of just one volume. and personally when i see a book over 150000 by an unknown author i'd tend to stay away, i'd just feel like someone wasn't strict enough with the red pen
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Old 11-07-2009, 03:50 AM
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You know what the cruel joke is here? My story is a series (three books, trilogy then) and this would be the first volume...which I dare say, calls for some tremendous cuts. I'm glad I have my own editor, but I think I'll hack at this myself when I'm done.
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Old 11-07-2009, 03:53 AM
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It depends a lot on how well-known you are, too. If you are unknown, I suggest 70.000 - 100.000 words, give or take 30.000 words. If you are well-known and sell a lot, it can be anything.

May I ask why you haven't reached 1/5 of the book yet? It might sound like a silly question, but is it really? You say it's fantasy, so obviously you need to descripe a lot of things as you go along to let the reader know what the hell you are talking about. But you really shouldn't have too much descriptions either, or it will get boring. "A house blue as the dark sea, with six windows on the front side, a balcony on the second floor, two huge doors made from ebony wood with a wolfhead carved into them, a doorknocker made from the purest gold and a garden gnome dressed in tutus on each side" might be a bit too much for a normal house they walk past. "A dark blue house" is often enough.

When I go shopping for books, I usually check two things: The author and the title. In that order. The rest isn't so important. If I know the author and love him/her/them, the book is a purchase. No exception. (Well, sorry Dean Koontz, but you write too much crap. I often don't take the chance this is one of your excellent novels.) If the title is interesting, I get intrigued and purchase it.

Let me give you an example. I was in the bookstore a while ago found a book called Marked. I had never heard of it or the authors (there are two of them, a mother and daughter) before at all. At first, I wasn't really interested at all. It was on sale, though, so I didn't have many options. But they also had a book called Betrayed, by the same authors. Both titles sounded pretty uninteresting (another one who got betrayed? sheesh...), but I noticed they are in a series called House of Night. That title looked far more interesting, so I started reading the back of the cover of the first one and loved what I read. Turns out it's about vampires in a vampire school (at least people turning into vampires), and the writing made me laugh quite a bit even though the actual books are almost horror at times.

In the end, I got both of them and later ordered the three next on the internet before I even finished the second book. And that's a series I got based on the title. Who cares how long the books are?
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