Asking “How long is my book? How long should my book be? What genre is my book or novel?” Keep reading. If you’ve written a novel, use this article to make sure your book meets the basic guidelines of literary agents and book publishers. You’ll be more likely to get published if your book follows the “rules” of its genre (be it romance, suspense, western, fantasy, young adult, historical, or horror).

Disclaimer: Please note that the following information is an overview of the guidelines. For best results, always look for information specific to your project.

The rules of fantasy novels Fantasy is generally about world building (creating alternate worlds). Avoid clichés in your characterization and let your main themes be strong but subtle. Always research the publisher’s guidelines: A publisher sets warnings such as “no time machines please.”

Fantasy novels can be between 80,000 and 150,000 words (approximately). Fantasy novels can be a bit longer than other novels and are sometimes serialized.

Fantasy subgenres include: high, manners fantasy, alternate history, dark, historical, steampunk, urban, wuxia, and more.

The rules of romance novels A romance usually emphasizes the heroine’s perspective, and the reader must be immersed in the love story. Romances end with a happily ever after of some kind.

How long is a romance novel? A stand-alone romance novel is typically between 80,000 and 100,000 words. An upmarket romance novel (such as those published by Harlequin) is generally shorter, and each “impression” will have its own criteria. Make sure you know which publisher you’re targeting before you start writing.

Romance subgenres include: Women’s Fiction, Regency, Historical, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Contemporary, Christian, Time Travel, Paranormal, Erotica, and more.

The rules of historical fiction genre novelsResearch and attention to detail are paramount in historical fiction. The characters must behave according to the times. Plots can be “big” (featuring lots of strong characters and tackling big or complex issues). Some stories are part of a saga (a series of books that covers generations within a family or many characters).

How long is a historical novel? An independent historical book can be between 85,000 and 100,000 words. Publishing a book over 100,000 words is difficult (especially for beginners), but historical novels are sometimes longer.

The rules of mystery novels Pay special attention to the plot and rhythm in this genre. Present the murder or crime early and investigate the methods by which the crime was committed. Research forensic, criminal justice, and detective procedures to lend credibility.

How long is a mystery novel? The mysteries vary in length. Stand-alone mysteries (which can overlap with thrillers) can be between 75,000 and 100,000 words. Cozy mysteries, like those in a series, are usually shorter.

Mystery subgenres include: crime, hardcore, true crime, cozy, amateur sleuth, supernatural, police procedural, and more.

The rules of thriller genre novels The emphasis in thrillers is on strong characters, action, and fast pace. Thrillers often show clear antagonists and protagonists. Thrillers can be graphic and gritty or something more tame. The focus is always on suspense.

How long is a suspense novel? Thrillers are usually between 90,000 and 100,000 words (loosely), but they can also be a bit longer.

Thriller subgenres include: conspiracy, crime, action, politics, disaster, erotic, ecological, legal, and more.

The rules of horror genre novels Fears and phobias play on the emotions of the reader in this genre. There is often a supernatural and paranormal element, but as always, stay away from cliches.

Horror novels vary in length and are generally between 80,000 and 100,000 words.

Horror subgenres include: ghost, erotic, psychological, body horror, strange threat, occult detective, and more.

The Rules of Young Adult (YA) Genre Novels Young Adult Fiction (YA) is aimed at boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18. The tone, style, and content of YA novels change depending on the specific age of the target audience. The genre can address G-rating issues or it can be very edgy.

YA books are typically between 40,000 and 75,000 words, depending on the target age group.

“Edgy” ALREADY tackles controversial or difficult topics. Otherwise, the YA subgenres are the same as the adult fiction subgenres.

The rules of western genre novels Westerns must be set west of the Mississippi River and before the year 1900. Historical details must be accurate. Westerns are very specific and specialized, but make sure you don’t rely on clichés!

How long is a western book? Westerns tend to be shorter, between 45,000 and 75,000 words (vaguely).

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