Write Here, Write Now | Know Your Word Counts


I thought I would take Fridays to give a little something back to the writing community instead of constantly posting about my own writing and my own work. Today, I thought I’d talk about word counts.

Since I started interning for a literary agent reading the slush pile, it has amazed me how many don’t seem to have any idea what the recommended word count for their manuscripts should be.

I’ve seen this primarily with middle grade fiction. It’s either far too long or far too short. Below, I’ve linked five websites below that all have estimated word counts for the different genres and age groups.

I like this one because it has infographics on it, and who doesn’t love a visual to go along with any data? This one does focus on New York publishers’ expectations and covers General Fiction, Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Mystery, YA, and Memoir.

This is the one that I usually point people who ask about word counts towards. When they say definitive list, they’re not kidding! This one covers Adult novels (literary and commercial), Sci-Fi and Fantasy, Middle Grade, YA, Picture Books, Westerns, and Memoirs. It’s a thorough list with a great level of detail and is always a good reference point when considering your word counts.

As you’re probably starting to tell, these websites are all giving pretty much the same thing when it comes to a word count estimate for each genre. This one breaks them down age group and category but is a little lacking when it comes to middle grade word counts. Their idea isn’t the best one, in my opinion, but their other word count estimates pretty much match what the other websites are all saying.

This is a good one to look at because it doesn’t just cover the same topics as above, but it also covers things like New Adult, Paranormal, Short Stories, and Flash Fiction too. Definitely worth looking at if your genre of choice hasn’t been in any of the other lists so far.

This one has a list to outline how many words typically go into a Flash Fiction, Short Story, Novella, Novel and then breaks the Novel category down into genres. It’s a good site for reinforcing all the information that’s already out there.

What are your thoughts on word counts? Do you try and stick to the suggested counts or do you fall drastically short or over each time? I’d love to know your thoughts.

Have a great day x


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