Update: June 7, 2019, 5:02 p.m. Word Count for “Shadows and Stars…”

For my sci-fi novel, Shadows and Stars Lying Down, I am shooting for a word count of between 80,000 to 100,000. I currently have a little over 54,000 words. I am past the point of no return. I have to finish this.

When I research word count for a novel, short story, or novella, I find a lot of varying answers. The most recent general consensus seems to be that to be accepted as a first novel by most publishers these days, the word count should be around 80,000-100,000. That may vary considerably by publisher (I have seen one that accepts 50,000 words as a first novel and another as 40,000, a more traditional count).

Other figures I have found for other formats for fiction are:

6-300 for micro-fiction

Up to 1,000 for flash fiction

1,000-21,000 for a short story (sometimes longer)

Around 10,000 for a novelette (a debatable category)

Circa 20,000-50,000 for a novella

Of course, there are lots of subcategories and nuanced categories that one might find, particularly under the flash fiction category.  There is even a Twitter novel/story of what can fit into a single tweet.

For what it’s worth, I did a quick search of Duotrope, which I use for submitting short stories. In general, Duotrope considers 40,000+ words to be a novel. Granted that this is very small slice of novel publishers, but I found out  the following, which may give an indication of generally accepted lengths for a novel (there are a whole lot of possible caveats here). I won’t list the publishing company names. Note the range of differences. Note also that some of these companies overlap the different pay rates. For example, a company might pay pro rates and semi-pro rates (though I tried to separate those here).   In any case, this gives an idea of the range of opinions of the length a novel should be.

I have surpassed the 40,000+ point with my novel, but to tell the story as I think it should be, I will need at least 80,000 words anyway.

For a market paying Duotrope’s “pro rates” for a novel on any topic there were six matches. Here are the lengths considered novels:




80,000+ (two companies)


For a market paying Duotrope’s “semi-pro rates” for a novel on any topic there were six matches. Here are the lengths considered novels:

40,000+ (four companies)



For a market paying Duotrope’s “token rates” for a novel on any topic there were six matches. Here are the lengths considered novels:

40,000+ (four companies)



Let me know you opinion of these lengths and nuanced categories/formats you find interesting.

Update: Major Changes to the Website

After some deliberation, I have decided to make a couple of major changes to this website.

  1.  I will be taking submissions of literary fiction of all genres and announcements for publication on this website.  Please see my submissions and announcements page for more details and guidelines. There will be no pay in the foreseeable future. You will have, however, all the glory that comes with being published on this website. They will probably be published on Friday nights.
  2. I am changing the name of the website to Slattery’s Magazine, so that the publication credit will look good on the resume of anyone published here.
  3. I will be focusing less on horror on this website and will be leaning more toward mainstream and popular fiction.  That does not mean that I will not publish horror.  I love good horror. I will just be throwing other genres into the mix.
  4. I have removed the pages focused on horror and migrated them to The Chamber Magazine, which is also accepting submissions.  The guidelines are close to the same as these, but focused more on horror and on flash fiction.
  5. I am restarting the Saturday Night Special feature that I ran for 43 installments a few years ago.  It will run on Saturday nights, of course, at 6:00 p.m. eastern standard time (11:00 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time–i.e. in London, England).  In accordance with the website changes, I will incorporate more mainstream literature into it, though I will initially re-run a lot of the original horror stories until I can find some good mainstream stories. Originally, I ran stories from prior to 1923, the year of institution of copyright laws in the US, in order to avoid copyright problems. I will probably continue to do so. I will focus on what are generally considered to be classic short stories, e.g. by Poe, Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce, and others.

Stand by for more updates as they occur.  Check back frequently.

“The Scent and Other Stories: the Dark Side of Love” is Available on Amazon Kindle and in Print

In this collection of short stories, I explore the dark, sometimes violent, sometimes twisted, sometimes touching side of love, the side kept not only from public view, but sometimes from our mates. Set in the modern era, these stories range from regretting losing a lover to forbidden interracial love in the hills of 1970’s Kentucky to a mother’s deathbed confession in present-day New Mexico to debating pursuing a hateful man’s wife to the callous manipulation of a lover in Texas.

To read a sample and to view my other works as well, visit my Amazon author’s page at: www.amazon.com/author/philslattery.

Praise for Stories Contained in “The Scent and Other Stories”:

The Scent

“This story has a lovely dreamy quality whilst being unsettling too. It lingers on half processed emotional experiences and leaves the reader asking ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ – feelings that are familiar for so many people.”

“You wrote about something we can all relate to – how, out of the blue, the scent of something evokes a memory of something long past; and the emotions we felt at the time! A clever story …”

“This descriptive piece about remembrance, the thought of what might have been, is a common sad thread that will resonate with those have experienced the pain of that one love lost. Slattery’s use of scent was exquisite as we feel Quinn’s pain and hope that he finds his peace, at last.”


“Fantastic writing – I held my breath for most of the story. The descriptions of the countryside and the people were beautiful and the tension compelling. This could possibly be the start of a novel or a suite of stories. Thank you very much and good luck with your writing in the future”

“Suspenseful and engaging. The dialogue and descriptions kept pace with the action. Well done.”

A Good Man

“Lots of detail examining an old question of how do you judge a person’s life. It left me wondering.”

“Great job capturing the social climate of the sixties. Good choice for how to present the story – deathbed “confession” by the mother. I enjoyed it.”

The Slightest of Indiscretions

“Excellent writing brings this poignant story to life and makes the reader work to understand more of what might be. Very many thanks for a satisfying, emotionally intelligent read…”

If you enjoy poems about love, check out my poetry collection Nocturne: Poems of Love, Distance, and the Night, a callous and disinterested lover.