Word count is one of those things that becomes very important once it is time to edit and publish your book—and one I’d never really considered before interning at a press. If you are in a similar boat, this post might be of some use to you.
Word counts are ranges for suggested book lengths, separated by genre. While meeting the word count shouldn’t be your top priority when writing, it is something to keep simmering on the back-burner. If your work falls too significantly over or under the suggested book length for its genre, you’ll find it more difficult to secure an agent.
As an added bonus, realizing that there are preferred word counts can save you money. Say you approach an editor or agent with your fantasy manuscript and its 300k word count. More likely than not, they will request you cut a bit here and remove a bit there. And, more likely than not, you will be paying for this edit request. Trimming and adding are revisions you can do before seeking out paid and professional feedback, saving them from asking, and you from paying.
Though word counts can vary per press, most adhere to the following ranges taken from Writer’s Digest:
Adult Novels*: 80 – 100k
Memoir: 80 – 90k
Science Fiction and Fantasy: 100 – 115k
Middle Grade: 20 – 55k
Young Adult: 55k – 85k
Picture Books: 500 – 600
*According to Writer’s Digest, this includes literary, mainstream, women’s, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller, and horror.