How Long Should My Book Be?
Aug 19, 2021 by Dalene Bickel
How Long Should My Book Be

Many writers wonder how many words or pages comprise a book so they can establish daily writing goals and meet a literary agent’s expectations.

The answer, however, isn’t straightforward or universal for every author. Your book’s word and page count will depend on three main factors:

    1. Genre
    2. Format/Trim Size
    3. Publishing Industry Standards

Genre

Every genre has differing page count expectations. For example, a children’s book will naturally contain far fewer pages than an adult nonfiction book, whereas a novel typically has more pages than a nonfiction book. But even within each genre, page ranges differ.

Nonfiction dictionaries will have more pages than devotionals. Children’s early readers will have fewer pages than middle-grade books. And fictional epics (think War and Peace) will contain many more pages than cozy mysteries.

 

Format

The format of your book vicariously affects the page count. Consider that each page of an average trade paperback contains about 250 words (double spaced, 12-point font). If you select a smaller trim size such as a digest or pocket book, then the amount of words per page is reduced, which increases your total page count.

If, however, you’re creating a coffee table book or 8.5”x11” workbook, there will be more words on a page, which lowers your total page count.

Also, if you’re writing an e-book rather than a print book, the page count expectations are also lower. Although word counts per page remain similar, the acceptable page counts can be vastly different. I’m aware of a number of e-books that are only in the 50-page range.

 

Publishing Industry Standards

For those of you looking for hard data (i.e., actual numbers), see below. These are a few of the sub-genre standards that the publishing industry tends to follow:

 

Fiction:

Novels: 50,000 – 110,000 words

Romance: 70,000 – 100,000 words

Science Fiction: 90,000 – 120,000 words

Historical Fiction: 80,000 – 100,000 words

 

Children’s/YA

Early Readers: 200 – 3500 words

Middle Grade: 25,000 – 40,000 words

Young Adult: 50,000 – 80,000 words

 

Nonfiction

Business/Thought Leadership: 70,000 – 80,000 words

History: 70,000 – 80,000 words

Memoir: 80,000 – 100,000 words

Biography: 80,000 – 200,000 words

How-to/Self-Help: 40,000 – 50,000 words

 

As you can see, there is no single, precise page count for your book. However, there are expected page ranges depending on your genre.

My advice?

Write your rough draft with freedom – simply put your thoughts on the page. Then add to your manuscript (or cut, as the case may be) to meet the publishing industry’s average page/word count for your genre. 

 

Have writing and self-publishing questions of your own? Want to connect with fellow nonfiction writers and authors? Join me in the free Ink & Impact Facebook group! 

 


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