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.