Average Book Length

Hugo Awards Logo
Hugo Awards Logo

Books vary in length. There are many factors such as the font, the size of the font, page size, etc. Typically we assume an average page contains 350 words. Then you have to ask yourself what is the “normal” length for a fantasy novel? Well, I have an answer that most people should accept seeing as it comes from a very good fantasy source.

The Hugo Awards state for their award categories they use the following word count:

  • Best Novel: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of forty thousand (40,000) words or more.
  • Best Novella: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) and forty thousand (40,000) words.
  • Best Novelette: Awarded for a science fiction or fantasy story of between seven thousand five hundred (7,500) and seventeen thousand five hundred (17,500) words.
  • Best Short Story: Awarded for science fiction or fantasy story of less than seven thousand five hundred (7,500) words.

So, 40,000 words for a novel. Most novels I read, such as urban fantasy, are around 70,000 to 90,000 words. Takes me around 6 hours to read. My last novel was 135,000 words. So wow, poop on a stick! I should be splitting my novels into their two parts and selling them that way!  I would have FOUR books on the market by now!

Just kidding. I just write a lot of – very meaningful – words. I’ve always been verbose. I spend time describing the world that most best-selling authors don’t do. Lots and lots of dialogue interspaced with a little tell. That’s the big drive for acceptable mainstream novels these days. Writers always preach “Show don’t tell“. At its simplest, this phrase means to show the reader what is happening, or what the character is feeling by showing it, not telling. For example, you don’t write “He felt sad.” Instead, you would show it. For example: “The man hung his head and lifted a finger to wipe away a stray tear.” You’ve just shown he is sad instead of saying that he is sad. I admit it is a much better way of writing and lets the writer show his/her talent. That being said, it’s reached the point that if you don’t show and do tell, people will harshly critique you. I think it’s a step backwards in some ways. I love the tell that the classic fantasy authors provided – and don’t tell me they didn’t. Pun intended.

So why blog all this dribble? I have decided that after Freamhaigh, the fourth novel in the New Druids series, I will reduce the words in my next novels down to around 80,000 to 90,000 words. And publish more often. The New Druid series will embark on a series of smaller tales after Freamhaigh. Many ideas. Just need the time to write them.

Ciao!

Edited to correct grammar and the like. I rushed this blog post earlier today.