How Many Words should be in a Novel

how many words are in a novelIf you’ve been deciding how to set writing goals for yourself, chances are you’ve asked, “How many words are in a novel anyway?” Well, let us tell you: a lot. Writing a novel or a memoir or a cookbook is a lot of work, but in the end it’s so worth it when you have that book in your hands. The beloved yearly writing initiative, National Novel Writing Month, which happens every November and rallies writers from all over the world, encourages writers to write at least 1,667 words per day. Meeting these daily word counts allows writers to complete a novel-length piece of work by December.


A lot of writers partake in National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo). It can be fun and provide authors with a sense of community. This being said, writers must decide for themselves how to set writing goals. Some writers may be able to easily write thousands of words a day. Others may be lucky if they can write a couple hundred. So before you Google, “How many words are in a novel?” and set an impossible goal for yourself, take a step back and instead figure out how to set writing goals that will fit within your lifestyle.

So, how many words are in a novel?

The minimum word requirement for a work to be considered a novel is 50,000 words. This is what NaNoWriMo aims for with its goal of 1,667 words a day (1,667 x 30 = 50,010). That being said, 50,000 words is the minimum. Most books are well over that word count. Just asking, “How many words are in a novel?” is too limiting. Different factors will add into your final word count, such as scope, point of view(s), character(s), and genre. Different genres will have different average word counts. Fantasy books, for example, tend to be on the larger side, and may be upwards of 100,000 words.

The best way to decide on the word count goal for your book is to visit your local bookstore and peruse the shelves of your chosen genre. Look at the bestselling books in this genre and see if there seems to be an average size or length to the stories. Let this influence your overall goal. Sometimes, structure and narrative style are as important as the story itself. More likely than not, a memoir won’t be as long as an epic fantasy novel.

Remember, when figuring out how to set writing goals, take into consideration your genre as well as your schedule, and figure out how to set writing goals accordingly.

Aiming for Realistic Word Counts

In the previous blog in this series, we discussed setting realistic deadlines. The danger of setting lofty writing goals is that if you can’t meet them or exceed them, you may get discouraged, rundown, or quit altogether. It’s easy to get burnt out, because writing is an incredibly demanding act.
Writing a book is an astronomical goal, one that can seem daunting or nearly impossible. We’re here to assure you that it is possible so long as writers know how to set writing goals appropriately. What works for you may not work for someone else.
A good baseline to start at is aiming for five hundred words a day. If this is a breeze, increase it to a thousand. If a thousand is easy, then keeping increasing. You want to push yourself (the more you write per day, the faster your book will be done!), but you also want to make sure your daily word count is feasible. If you increase your word count only to find that the new number is too difficult to get to, drop it back down.
Remember: you can always go above and beyond your daily word count. Let the daily word count act as a minimum, with the goal to be going past it. This way, you won’t only feel like you’re achieving something; you’ll feel like you’re over achieving, and that’s a great mindset to have.
If writing daily just isn’t possible for you, consider setting yourself a weekly word count. If that doesn’t work, try a monthly word count. Make writing fit into your day-to-day life.

A Realistic Timeline for Your Book

Don’t get us wrong, National Novel Writing Month is great. As an incentive to get words onto the page, it does its job. However, it’s not very realistic to think you’ll write a complete, perfect novel in just thirty days. Writing anything, be it a novel (fiction) or a nonfiction book, takes time. Edits and rewrites take time.

Your book will go through intense metamorphosis over and over again throughout the writing process. Countless drafts await you. Giving yourself a deadline for each task is a great idea. Maybe you’ll allot yourself a couple of months to write the first draft, then a few weeks to edit it, then another month or two or three to finish the second draft, and on and on. This process could take months or years; it depends on how much time the author can dedicate to it and if they stick with their writing goals.Having high expectations for your novel is expected. You’re excited, and you want others to experience your story. In order to bring your dream to life, we recommend learning how to set writing goals that work for you. Be realistic with what you can accomplish so that you don’t end up feeling rushed or unhappy with the end product.

When you feel like your manuscript is in perfect publishing shape, then it’s time to self-published with DiggyPOD! We offer the highest quality of printing for an affordable price. After all the hard work you’ve put into your book, you’ll be thrilled with how it looks.
Let 2019 be the year you publish a book. Whether you’re a novice or a veteran, by setting realistic writing goals, you’ll be well on your way. We hope this blog helped answer how many words are in a novel and how to set writing goals. Remember, the answers will be different genre to genre and author to author. Start with an easily achievable daily word count (or weekly or monthly) and work your way up from there.
For any and all questions, you can rely on DiggyPOD to be with you every step of the way.
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