Novel Length: How Long is Long Enough?

This is a complex question. Let’s say you’re anxious to start off writing, and you’ve got your writing plan almost ready, but you’re not exactly sure about the word count. How many words or pages should your book be? What’s a normal length for books? How long is long enough and how short is too short? 

All these questions and more are totally normal when it comes to deciding how long your novel should be. Here at HotGhostWriter, we’re here to help. In this post, we’ll cover: 

  • The definitions of story lengths
  • How to find out what’s a normal length by genre
  • How to determine your own book’s word count

Story Lengths 

The length of a story depends on what you’re writing. This list can help give you a general idea of various lengths to help you work out what could work for your story. (These numbers are pretty general)

  • Flash Fiction: 500 words or less
  • Short story: 1000-8000 words
  • Novella: 10,000-40,000 words
  • Novel: 40,000+ words

On a normal book page, about 250-300 words fit on a page. This, of course, depends on the font, but that’s the standard. So a 40,000 word novel would be about 130 pages in a standard book. In the past, authors didn’t care so much about these general rules, so it’s best not to use older classic stories as your model for book lengths. 

These days, most novels are even more than that 40,000 word minimum. It’s pretty unusual to read a 130-page book and call it a novel. In fact, most novels reside in the 60-110,000-word range. When I ghostwrite novels for various companies, they usually request the length to be 60-80,000 words.

Once books begin to get over the 110,000-word  mark, then they’re probably edging into “too long.” It might be a good idea to break it up into a series, but some books, especially historical fiction/fantasy books like the Game of Thrones series, go over this word count, no problem. This leads us into our next point: finding out word length by genre.

What’s Normal for Your Genre? 

You want to fit the trends for your genre because it shows you’re a professional who’s trying to play by the rules. Besides, the readers in your genre are used to reading certain lengths, and you want to keep those readers around. 

But word count varies by genre. Here are some general guidelines on word length for various genres: 

  • Adult Fiction: (general fiction): 80-100k
  • Romance: (varies by time period): Historical: 50-80k, Contemporary: this tends to lean towards the shorter side 
  • Sci-Fi and Fantasy: 90-110k or more!: Sci-Fi and Fantasy readers are usually in it for the long haul, and they are very happy with longer “epics”
  • Historical Fiction: This could also be in the 90-100k mark because your readers are also very into world-building and enjoy the long word count. 
  • YA Fiction: 50-80k
  • Crime/Thrillers/Mysteries/Horror: 70-90k
  • Non-Fiction: This is incredibly varied because there are innumerable non-fiction topics. My advice would be to look at nonfiction books with your topic and see generally what word count or page amount they’re going for. 

Determine Your Book’s Word Count

Now, where do you go from here? It’s time to sort out your own book’s word count and what would be best for your readers! Check out our tips at HotGhostWriter to help get you started: 

  • Follow the genre suggestions. That’s just the way to go in so many areas of fiction writing. Follow the trends to make sure you’re fitting in and that your book will get noticed. 
  • Look at 3-Act story structure in percentages. First Act-25%, Second Act- 50%, Third Act- 75%. Can you fit everything in within that time? 
  • What do you really want in terms of book length? How long do you want your book to be? Even though there are standards, you can create your word count partially based on what you want. 
  • Calculate and estimate lengths of specific scenes. For example, if you’re a romance writer, you want to think about how many love scenes you have in your story and how many pages you want them to be. These can be helpful in determining word length as well.  
  • Know who you are as a writer: do you generally under or overwrite? I go back and forth, but I tend to underwrite if I don’t have a proper plan. It’s very helpful for me to have a set word count so I know exactly where I’m headed. If you’re an underwriter, give yourself at least a minimum word count to begin with, and then you have the freedom to write more! For general fiction, there is a lot of wiggle room! 


The length of your novel is a very important consideration as you’re planning out your story and creating a plan to get your book finished efficiently and on time! Find out what’s normal for the kind of book you’re trying to write and determine your book’s word count based on that. 

Check out these helpful resources!

If you need help determining your word length and would either like a detailed outline or for someone to take care of all the writing process for you, contact HotGhostWriter! We know the market; we know what sells, and we will provide you a high-quality book at just the right word count!

Kerilee Nickles

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