Thursday, February 27, 2014

Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books: The Definitive Post

by Chuck Sambuchino

Here's the beginning of a great post by Chuck Sambuchino about the optimal word-count range for novels of various genres, and also includes recommended length for YA, middle grade, and picture books. Click on the link below to read the rest of the article.

Word count for novels and books is something I don’t think about too often until I travel to a writers’ conference, and then someone asks a simple, innocent question: “How long should a book be?” With that in mind, I’ve tried to put together the definitive post on word count for fiction (novels, young adult, middle grade, children’s books and even memoir).

The most important thing here is to realize that there are always exceptions to these rules. And man, people love to point out exceptions—and they always will. However, if there is one thing I remember from when my wife dragged me kicking and screaming to He’s Just Not That Into You, it’s that you cannot count on being the exception; you must count on being the rule. Aiming to be the exception is setting yourself up for disappointment.
What writers fail to see is that for every successful exception to the rule (e.g., a first-time 150,000-word novel), there are at least 100 failures if not 300.

Almost always, high word count means that the writer simply did not edit their work down enough. Or—it means they have two or more books combined into one.

“But what about J.K. Rowling???” asks that man in the back of the room, putting his palms up the air. Well—remember the first Harry Potter book?  It wasn’t that long. After JK made the publishing house oodles and oodles of money, she could do whatever she wanted.  And since most writers haven’t earned oodles, they need to stick to the rules and make sure they work gets read. The other thing that will make you an exception is if your writing is absolutely brilliant. But let’s face it. Most of our work does not classify as “absolutely brilliant” or we’d all have 16 novels at this point.

(Should you sign with a new literary agent? Know the pros and cons.)


Between 80,000 and 89,999 words is a good range you should be aiming for. This is a 100% safe range for literary, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller and horror. Anything in this word count won’t scare off any agent anywhere.

Now, speaking broadly, you can have as few as 71,000 words and as many as 109,000 words. That is the total range. When it dips below 80K, it might be perceived as too short—not giving the reader enough. It seems as though going over 100K is all right, but not by much. I suggest stopping at 109K because just the mental hurdle to jump concerning 110K is just another thing you don’t want going against you. And, as agent Rachelle Gardner pointed out when discussing word count, over 110K is defined as “epic or saga.” Chances are your cozy mystery or literary novel is not an epic. Rachelle also mentions that passing 100K in word count means it’s a more expensive book to produce—hence agents’ and editors’ aversion to such lengths.

In short:

 80,000 – 89,999:       Totally cool
90,000 – 99,999:       Generally safe
70,000 – 79,999:       Might be too short; probably all right
100,000 – 109,999:    Might be too long; probably all right
Below 70,000:           Too short
110,000 or above       Too long

Chick lit falls into this realm, but chick lit books tend to be a bit shorter and faster. 70-75K is not bad at all.


Science fiction and fantasy are the big exceptions because these categories tend to run long. It has to do with all the descriptions and world-building in the writing.

With these genres, I would say 100,000 – 115,000 is an excellent range....

For the rest of this excellent blog post by Chuck Sambuchino, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


I decided to change the title of my award-winning Editor's Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction from Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power to Fire up Your Fiction, so it's more easily evident what the book is about - amping up your prose and making it zing.

I've kept the same cover design and made it clear in the description and title
page that it's the same book, so hopefully nobody who already owns Style That Sizzles will buy this one by mistake.

*16 Great Guides to Writing, Publishing, & Selling Your Book, all $0.99 each on February 28!*

And serendipitously, author Bryan Cohen contacted me recently about participating in a fabulous group promo he's organizing for February 28, when 16 great guides on writing, publishing, and selling your book will all be on sale for 99 cents each.

Click on the title below to find out more about the event and view the list of books offered, with covers and a brief description of each book.

March to a Bestseller - A One-Day Sale on Books for Authors

And join the event on Facebook here.

Here's the list of books that will be offered for $0.99 each on February 28:

- Your First 1000 Copies - Tim Grahl -

- Writing Online - Sean Platt -

- Fire Up Your Fiction - Jodie Renner -

- 77 Ways to Find New Readers for Your Self Published Book - Laura Pepper Wu -

- 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2 - Bryan Cohen and Jeremiah Jones -

- How Do I Decide? Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing – Rachelle Gardner -

- The Easy Way to Write a Novel That Sells - Rob Parnell -

- Writing Habit Mastery - S.J. Scott -

- How to Write for Kindle: A Non-Fiction Book in 72-Hours or Less - Nancy Hendrickson -

- How to Write Dialogue - Marcy Kennedy -

- Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View - Jill Elizabeth Nelson -

- Writing Fight Scenes - Rayne Hall -

- Practical Emotional Structure - Jodi Henley - -

- Author Publicity Pack - Heather Hart and Shelley Hitz -

- The Writer's Tune-Up Manual - Craig Hart - -

- Make Money Online - Connie Brentford -
Jodie has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Writing a Killer Thriller and Fire up Your Fiction (Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power), which has won two book awards so far. Look for Immerse the Readers in Your Story World, out soon. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, her blogs, Resources for Writers and The Kill Zone, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. And sign up for her newsletter.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Accolades & New Title for Sizzles, Great Links for Writers

The Okanagan Valley, BC
Just in case you haven't signed up for my occasional newsletter, here's the one I sent out today to my subscribers. Scroll down for new developments for me and my books, plus some links to great blog posts for writers and aspiring authors.


I’m busy selling my house and packing to move across the country May 1, so am cutting back on my editing until mid-May or June. I’m moving to the beautiful Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Canada, to be near my family. I know I'm going to love the area, with large lakes, fruit orchards, and vineyards nestled among low mountains!


I’m thrilled to report that my writing guide, Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power (soon to be retitled Fire up Your Fiction) has now won two awards, a Silver Medal in Sept. 2013 from the FAPA President’s Book Awards, and recently, Honorable Mention (third) in the 2013 Writer’s Digest Self-Published E-Book Awards. This is significant not only because it’s from the prestigious Writer’s Digest, but also because they only had two categories for this contest, fiction and nonfiction, so only a handful of awards.

Here’s a quote from the all-positive commentary from the Writer’s Digest judge:

“This book should be on the booklist for Master’s Programs in Writing for Publication.” 

Speaking of which, several college creative writing courses have added this book to their list of recommended reading for students. If you know of any college or continuing education courses that would benefit from adding my book to their lists, I’d love it if you could suggest it!


And I’ve decided to change the title of Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power to Fire up Your Fiction, so it’s instantly apparent what the book is about. And of course I'll make it clear in the description and the first few pages of the book that this is the same book, but with a new title.



I’m almost finished the third book in my series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction. This one, called Immerse the Readers in Your Story World, is full of ideas and techniques for engaging your readers and bringing your characters and story to life on the page. Unfortunately, with my big move, the release might be delayed until around mid 2014.                                


I’ve also been busy presenting craft-of-writing workshops at writers’ conferences, most recently, the excellent SDSU Writers’ Conference in San Diego, Jan. 24-26, where I gave two presentations, “Engage Your Readers with Deep Point of View” and “Revise for Success.” Feedback from attendees was enthusiastic for both. Here are a few samples, with more coming that will be posted on my website at

“Jodie Renner made my time a huge success at this year’s SDSU Writers’ Conference in San Diego. Her presentation on revision, titled “Revise for Success,” was thorough, informative, and succinct. ... Jodie Renner was a true find at the 2014 San Diego Writers’ Conference. I intend to stay current on whatever future projects include her.” ~ William Patterson, San Diego, Jan. 31, 2014

“Jodie Renner took 15 minutes to knock five years of bad writing habits out of me. Thank you.” ~ Lauren Monahan, Jan. 29, 2014

For a list of my past and future presentations to writers, as well as other comments from attendees, please visit 


Writers’ Conferences & Book Festivals in North America in 2014

Book Contests for Indie Authors 

Indie Publishing – Lessons Learned and Still Learning 

Fire up Your Fiction with Foreshadowing 

Using Thought-Reactions to Add Attitude & Immediacy 

Character Descriptions – Learn From the Pros! 

10 Tips for Attracting a Top-Notch Editor for Your Story 

10 Ways to Add Depth to Your Scenes 

Thanks, Amazon, for Promoting my Books for Free! 

Don’t Stop the Story to Introduce Each Character

Jodie Renner, a freelance fiction editor specializing in thrillers and other fast-paced fiction, has published two books to date in her series, An Editor’s Guide to Writing Compelling Fiction: Writing a Killer Thriller and Style That Sizzles & Pacing for Power. For more info, please visit Jodie’s author website or editor website, her blog, Resources for Writers, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Jodie also blogs alternate Mondays on The Kill Zone blog. Subscribe to Jodie’s “Resources for Writers” newsletter here.