Writing: Word Counts in Fiction – How Long Is A Novel?

This post by Debbie Young originally appeared on ALLi on 9/18/14.

Is it a novel? Is it a novella? Is it a novelette? It can be hard to decide what to call your book, but it’s important to get it right so that you don’t confuse or disappoint readers. This post offers guidelines suggested by experienced self-publishing author members of ALLi.

When promoting any work of fiction, it’s important to use the right terms of reference. This will create appropriate expectations in your readers and help guard against disgruntled reviews such as these:

“This turned out to be a short story, not a novel!” (left on a single short story)

“I hate short stories hence my one-star review.” (left on a novel-length collection of short stories)

“I only read non-fiction.” (left on a full-length novel with a cover and title that could have been misconstrued as a biography)

It’s particularly important to get it right when promoting ebooks because the purchaser cannot physically assess the length of the book by picking it up in his hands. Yes, most sites state an approximate page length, but few readers check that detail, which is usually tucked away in small print along with the ISBN and publisher’s name. (Why approximate? Because the actual page length of any ebook will vary in practice according to the settings of the ereader that it’s read on, depending on the text size the user has chosen.)

 

Common Fiction Classifications

 

Click here to read the full post on ALLi.

 

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