Recently, one of our favorite author-bloggers wrote a comprehensive post about word counts. You may not think word counts matter, or you may be unsure of your word count because you're still writing your book. But we encourage you to think of the bigger picture: your finished book. Depending on your genre, your final word count matters to your audience!
Readers in your genre have an expected book-length. If you go outside of the guidelines listed below, you are putting readers outside of their comfort zone, and they will have a tough time buying your book. Even self-published books must stay within a predictable word count range.
While you're outlining your book, think about your final word count. Consider where you want to be when you're mid-way through your writing. Plan out your word count for each chapter. For example, if you’re writing a mystery novel that is nine chapters, and then your word count should be roughly 90,000 words, and each chapter should be approximately 10,000 words. Halfway through the book, you should have written roughly 45,000 words. It is always good to vary chapter lengths and word count but stay on track so that your readers can trust that you won't take them down a path of never-ending words.
Nathan Bransford breaks it down like this:
Chapter Books (i.e. pre-Middle Grade) – 5,000 – 20,000
Fantasy – 80,000 – 120,000
General Fiction – 75,000 – 100,000
Historical Fiction – 80,000 – 120,000
Literary Fiction – 40,000 – 120,000
Middle Grade – 30,000 – 60,000
Mystery – 75,000 – 90,000
Novella – 20,000 – 40,000
Romance – 50,000 – 90,000
Science Fiction– 90,000 – 120,000
Thriller – 80,000 – 100,000
Young Adult – 60,000 – 80,000