The Magic Number – What’s in Your Word Count?

I’ve had so many conversations about word count , and I’ve responded to many queries with a request for the author to add more material to make it marketable, or to edit (in some cases drastically!) to bring the word count within that same range that I thought I would share with you the one magic number. This isn’t the be-all, end-all number, and this isn’t for every author and every genre and every circumstance. But generally speaking, this is the number you’re looking for:

85,000 words.

If you are writing fiction for an adult market and you have not been published before, that is the magic number. A little high or a little low? It’s okay. Fantasy and Sci-Fi  run higher due to world building. YA can be 10,000-20,000 words less.

I don’t recommend you to try to write to that number, however. Tell your story. When you finish writing your story, take a look at your word count and then edit it down or beef it up as needed. Allowing details of the post-production to bog down the creative process is dangerous.

And what happens if you’ve written a story and it’s complete at 30,000 words, or even 50,000? You’ve got yourself a novella. Don’t fret, there are places to sell those, too. But that’s a post for another day.
Have you heard of any mainstream publishing word count recommendations? We’d love to hear from you.


3 comments on “The Magic Number – What’s in Your Word Count?

  1. chris says:

    Some sites really need you to comply with the minimum number of words. Some would require you to have 500 to 1000 words per article.

  2. Beth Browne says:

    Hi Michelle! Great post! The company I work for is reading novellas right now: and we would welcome submissions from your readers.

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