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Tyrannohotep

How long should a publishable novel be?

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I'm 20 chapters into my main WIP's first draft. I would say that I'm 2/3rds of the way through the whole story, yet today I checked my word count on Scrivener and found that it's around 36.4k words. Since my writing coach estimates that I need another 10,000 to finish the draft, my prediction is that the final word count will be ~45k.

Since this is a novel I want to publish through traditional methods, I feel that this is too short. My understanding is that the majority of publishers would prefer word counts well in excess of 50k, such as between 80-100k. I will admit that, as my writing coach has pointed out a few times, some areas of my book could use expansion, and that I've been rushing the last few chapters since I've grown bored and disillusioned with the whole project and want to get it over with. But is there a significant market for novels like mine which are under 50k in word count?

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Under 50k I think is classified as a novella. You can google the numbers, they are fairly standard. My guess is that you'll have a really hard time finding a home for it unless you already have had publishing success. At a shorter length, you would have a better chance of publishing in a magazine or anthology. As a novel, you'll want it to be longer. Some genres are fine with 60k-75k, but 80k seems to be the mark you want to hit for most of them, with epic fantasy trending more toward 100k. 

If you want to describe your plot, we can offer suggestions on where to expand on it.

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On 10/14/2019 at 10:03 AM, Banespawn said:

If you want to describe your plot, we can offer suggestions on where to expand on it.

No thank you, I don't want to spoil anything major right now.

EDIT: You know what, I'll sort it all out in the second draft.

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Generally anything over 40k can be called a Novel. In today's world of indie publishing, word count is really only a number. The story is all that really matters. I've read plenty of novels that were in the 40-50k range. I know for me I'd rather read something on that range than something in the 200k range.

Roh

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I'm aware it's been a while since this topic was started, but my experience with traditional publishing in Germany is that especially for a debut novel shorter is actually better. Literary agencies and publishers over here work with page count instead of word count, and debut novels in a range of 200-400 pages are usually fine (one page can have a maximum of 1800 characters including spaces, and at the literary acency I work for we usually estimate page count by dividing the character count by 1700 or 1750 - and we definitely cheat if a novel falls on the shorter or longer end of the ideal range, 'coz once a publisher is hooked by the story, they won't reject it solely because it's 10 pages shorter or longer than they hoped for).

Can't say for sure that those rules also apply for other countries, but I can't imagine the publishing industry in the US works completely different from the one I know - longer novels cost more to produce, so especially with debut novels, publishers lose less money if a novel doesn't sell if it's a shorter one, so they actually prefer the shorter ones in the case of unknown authors.

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