Word Counts - Do they really matter?
I've always been curious about word counts in books I love as I read, and curious about the word counts of similar books as I'm writing.
Though there's a more important reason to care, at least if you are interested in traditional publishing. Of course, not everyone is.
So this list is for those who are just curious and those who are interested traditional publishing.
So before I get to the list, I'll explain the importance of word count and traditional publishing.
First, you have to know if you're writing a short story, a novel, or an epic. And these can change based on what the publishers want for the genre, but the generic industry standard word counts are as such:
Short Story: 1k - 7.5k
Novellette: 7.5k - 20k
Novella: 20k - 50k
Novel: 50k - 110k
I've seen a lot of debate about the above chart, but it is what it is. It's been the industry standard for a long, long, long time now. Yes there are trends where some readers and/or authors demand a book not be called a novel until X number of word count. But preference isn't what makes the rules. It's just what it is and has been.
Either way, when you are trying to traditionally publish, whatever genre you are writing in, you need to make sure you follow the agents/publishers guidelines! I can not emphasize how important that is.
And moving on!
If you want to traditionally publish you will quickly find out that publishers and agents will expect a certain word count for the book you're submitting based on genre. For this blog post I will talk mostly about Fantasy.
I'll say now, that there will be rare exceptions, but we will stick with the general expectations and not get too into the outliers.
After scouring the web, the word count number I found for fantasy novels, that agents and publishers are looking for, should range around 87-113k.
Much shorter than that and it doesn't fit the expected story that agents and publishers look for. Longer than that and it is believed that the author doesn't know how to edit down their book and that the MS holds a lot of unnecessary fluff.
But readers keep saying they want longer and longer novels. Yes, but that's something indie authors are more freely able to deliver. Traditional publishers are looking for something that fits their standards.
I've heard (bu have yet to find the source) that Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas was originally closer to 200k and rejected over and over until it was closer to the 100k mark. Because it did so well is the reason I believe they gave her the freedom to reach outside the expected norm, which is why her later books are quite a bit longer.
if you plan or wish to try traditional publishing, I highly recommend you research what word count agents and publishers are looking for. It is different for Fantasy, Young Adult, Middle Grade, Memoirs, Nonfiction, and so on.
So now on to the list. Again, this is sticking straight with fantasy series of YA, NA, and Adult.
THRONE OF GLASS
Throne of Glass - 113,655
Crown of Midnight - 114,494
Heir of Fire - 163,266
Queen of Shadows - 183,840
Empire of Storms - 195,332
GAME OF THRONES
A Game of Thrones - 292,727
A Clash of Kings - 318,903
A Storm of Swords - 414,604
A Feast for Crows - 295,032
A Dance with Dragons - 414,788
LORD OF THE RINGS
The Hobbit - 95,022
The Fellowship of the Ring - 177,227
The Two Towers - 143,436
Return of the King - 134,462
THE HUNGER GAMES
Hunger Games - 99,750
Catching Fire - 101,564
Mockingjay - 100,269
Divergent - 105,143
Insurgent - 106,028
Agilent - 110,354
The Maze Runner - 101,182
The Scorch Trials - 96,869
The Death Cure - 87,385
Philosopher’s Stone - 77,325
Chamber of Secrets - 84,799
Prisoner of Azkaban - 106,821
Goblet of Fire - 190,858
Order of the Phoenix - 257,154
Half-Blood Prince - 169,441
Deathly Hallows - 198,227
Twilight - 118,975
New Moon - 132,758
Eclipse - 148,971
Breaking Dawn - 186,542
HITCHHIKERS GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
If conforming your book to word counts is not for you, that's okay. It's okay to aim for the word count that you want. There's a rare chance that you find an agent or publisher who is okay with you going outside their norm. And it's more than okay to go with your own word count and self publish.
No one will force you to write something you aren't okay with.
In the end it is up to you and what you want from publishing, and what your goals are. Don't let anyone tell you that your goals aren't what they should be. Only you can know what is right for you and your journey.
Is there a book or series you want to know the word count for that I didn't mention? You can look up word counts HERE.
I'm also happy to add to this list at any time. So if you don't see a series listed and you're interested in the word count, just leave a comment and I'll add it!