Word count is one of the most important pieces of information for determining what type of story you’ve written (short story, novella, novel, etc.) and for helping sell your story, be it to a traditional publisher or to help figure out independent and self-publishing.
Some typical counts for various story formats include:
- Flash or Microfiction: Less than 1,000 words. Microfiction especially can be less than a hundred words.
- Short stories: between 1,000 to 7,500 words or so. There’s still a lot of leeway here, as there isn’t an exact definition or cut off between having a short story and having something longer.
- Novelettes: are about 7,500 to 17,000 words. Again however, this isn’t a hard and fast definition, since there’s plenty of bleed between this and a short story.
- Novellas: somewhere between 20,000 and 40,000 words. Notice the huge gap between this and the novelette? Depending on the genre as well, what you might think of as a ‘novel’ is far too short for that genre’s standards.
- Novels: 40,000 to 110,000 words. Though generally, you’ll find a traditional standards and guidelines ask for around 60-80k. And again, depending on the genre you might have a slightly different range.
Genre can change a lot about the accepted range for a piece as well. Science Fiction and Fantasy tend to have a little leeway on the upper end of the range as they rely heavily on world building and description to immerse readers in the world. By contrast, romance novels can be shorter because the focus should be on the characters and plot.
If you’re planning on publishing your story with a publisher or a house, always check and follow their guidelines. If you’re looking at self-publishing, you may want to consider how long other works in the same category and genre are.