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3-6 Words to Pages + Book Lengths

(c) 2010 Mona Leeson Vanek

The boundaries of word count to published story or book fluctuate. Every writer can cite examples that violate the following word ranges. However, below are the word counts a writing group member recently came up with, derived from the number of times the question about story and book lengths was asked by writers, from various articles and conferences, discussions with agents, agent blogs, and those self-help books that all writer's love.

In general:
Flash Fiction, 1 - 500 words
Short Shorts, 501 - 2,000 words
Short Story, 2001 - 20,000 words
Novella, 20,001 - 50,000 words
Novel, 50,000 - 150,000 words (For first-time novelist, best to be 60,000 -90,0000.)
Big novel - over 100,000 words (a significant investment by the publisher)
Epic Novel - 150K+ (Think "Lord of the Rings", "Gone With The Wind", etc.)

Manuscript page count is relatively unimportant, since it is word count that seems to drive the whole process. If you're using courier new font, divide each of the above by 250 to get the number of double-spaced pages you would submit. Actual publication pages will vary depending upon how the book is typeset.

Words to pages = book size
Each publisher usually has a formula for determining the number of words per manuscript page and how that translates into words per printed page for that particular publisher's template(s), but a given formula won't necessarily be accurate in relation to books published by a different publisher.

One set of writer's guidelines I received from a publisher gave the following approximations of how many words = how many pages:
  • 30,000 words = 107 typed pages, 104 printed pages
  • 40,000 words = 142 typed pages, 139 printed pages
  • 50,000 words = 178 typed pages, 174 printed pages
  • 60,000 words = 213 typed pages, 208 printed pages
  • 70,000 words = 248 typed pages, 243 printed pages
The variation from publisher to publisher, and even from book to book within the same publishing house, depends on several factors:
  • Book format (the same exact book in hardback and paperback rarely have the same number of pages.)
  • Book dimensions (an "oversized" paperback or "softcover" can get more words on a page, given the same font size, than a "pocket book" or standard paperback-font size. Publishers also use a smaller font size as the page count for a popular book increases.
  • Text formatting. Bullet lists and tables use fewer words than continuous paragraphs of text. Also, whether there are photos, drawings, etc., inline in the text.
Title page, dedication page (optional), preface, contents, acknowledgments, and section title pages (optional) count as part of manuscript length.

None of the above figures should be taken as hard and fast rules, but rather as rough guides.

Advice FromThe Pros:

Chapter 8 - Newsgroups, Forums and Reference Desks:

Next: 3-7, Let Writing Careers and Writers and Artists Glossary Terms Enhance Your Vocabulary:


  1. thx so much. I have been looking for a website just like this for a long time.Thx again

  2. Thank you, I am writing a suspense/thriller and using Times New Roman 12, double space. my margins are 1" top bottom side side, gutter left. When I switch between print layout and book layout my number of pages goes from 130 to 224. I thought the 224 was realistic, but its only 15 double spaced lines per page. I notice that James Patterson has 25 or 26 lines on his pages. Depending on the book size. I was worried about going way over 400 pages for my 1st novel. Now I'm worried if I'll have 300. This is going to be a series whether I'm published or not. I'm in a different universe when I write. One that I control. I can't believe I waiting until I retired to start writing. Damn, writing is fun. Thanks again.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Gene. Good luck to you. You might want to read, "Plussing Your Novel,"
    at "Advice From The Pros."

  4. Thank you. I have read most of your tips list on the right. I have a question. I'm a conservative--, ok maybe a libertarian. I watch The FOX Network all day as I type. My novel takes place in 2015-2016. Its a political espionage thriller. I have blurbs in the novel of actual Fox news people saying things that have happened and somethings I hope never happen. I believe some of these events can and will happen if the government doesn't wise up. Am I opening my self up to a law suit? Should I just create a fake news station and alter the names. i.e.; Ratchet Madcow at CNC. Crisp Wallet at Foxtrot News.

  5. Gene, The safest (and courteous) way before using quotes from any published source is to contact the source and request written permission, unless you're using only a line or two. TV programs are copyrighted sources just like newspapers or any other media.
    Study up on using quotes, and also on how to reference or annotate them.

  6. Thanks Mona,
    The fun part is the writing. The un-fun part is getting permission to print it.

    I will research. I sent Fox News legal a letter. Let's see how long before I here back.

  7. Gene, You'd benefit from joining The Internet Writing Workshop,

    It's the best writing group online, and about the oldest, too. I recommend it highly.

  8. As a first time writer I'm extremely grateful for this information.


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