How Many Words in a Book?

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How many words in a book? Different kinds of books are different lengths. This video explains why word count is important and the word count ranges for various kinds of books.

How Many Words in a Book

Fiction books have certain word count ranges.  It even varies within genre. For example, among novels, romance is generally shorter than books in the fantasy realm. In fantasy, it’s common to tell the same story across multiple books in a series. But each book in the series falls within accepted word count standards.

When it comes to nonfiction, history and biography tend to run long. How-to and self-help books tend to be shorter. With How-to and self-help books, people are seeking solutions to problems, so word length is of secondary importance if you have the solution they seek.

Modern writers need to understand that, overall, book length is shrinking. In previous eras, novels were a main form of entertainment. Now they are competing with TV, films and the internet. Here’s an example of what I mean. War and Peace (1869) by Russian author Leo Tolstoy is 565,146 words in the English edition. The Di Vinci Code (2003) by Dan Brown is 138,380 words.

I offer specific word count ranges for particular types of books in the video. There are always exceptions, but usually only by those who have a track record of being able to sell what they write. When novices try to defy convention, they often seem foolish to the writing community. Such writers tend to quietly slip beneath the waves. Feel free, however, to set new standards after you sell your first million books.

What is “best practice” for authors? Keep certain types of books in certain ranges. It’s not an area where you want to blaze new territory by writing too short or too long. Readers have expectations both in terms of the amount they are willing to pay and the amount of time they have to read.

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