Novel Classifications and Word Counts

Benefits of Understanding Fiction Novel Classifications and Word Counts
When people purchase a book from an online or physical bookstore they typically focus on a couple of items; the cover and image on the front, the author, and a brief summary of the plot. While these can all tell you important information about the novel that you are looking to buy, there are other important items that can help as well, namely the word count of the novel and how it is classified. 

Fiction novels can be classified in a variety of different classes, from classical to science fiction and romance. Each of these can be fiction novels, but each can have a different style and feel to them overall. Paying attention to these classifications can help you to find your new favorite book.

The word count should be viewed as well. You want to make sure that you are not buying some wordy tome that you are going to carry around if you are using it to commute with and want to avoid a short word length if you need it for entertainment on a long vacation.

Novel Classifications

One of the first things a potential author needs to know before they submit their book but after they finish the manuscript is novel classifications.  You have to be able to tell the agent, editor or publisher what type of novel you've written.  There are almost as many of these as there are writers, especially when you take into consideration subgenres.

Action/ Adventure-

This is the genre that has lots of action and adventure, such as Tom Clancy novels and James Bond. This would be the books that people are in car chases or are being shot at. While most of the genre is geared toward male protagonists, there are starting to be more geared toward women.

Children's books-

This is a genre geared towards kids in preschool all the way up to eighth grade. This can be retelling of old fables up to learning moments for a younger audience. Two of the more popular names would be Dr Seuss or RL Stine. These are usually stories that are more fun for the audience.


This is the genre of sexiness and basically porn in written form. Erotica would be for the people who like 50 Shades of Grey and similar books. The stories are extremely stimulating in a sexual way and has more interpersonal interaction of a flirtatious variety. It can contain fetishes and situations that the normal person would fantasize about.


The modern form of this genre was started by JRR Tolkien and can be best described as having elements found in Dungeons and Dragons. There is magic in many of these stories. Most of the time there is a lack of technology, though there are hybrids that are a more modern take.


This is the genre that delves into history, from books dealing with ancient Sumeria all the way up to the war in Afghanistan. This could be minor inclusions, such as what Clive Cussler includes, or in-depth stories, like what is included with the book series that inspired the show Outlander.


The basic premise is that someone is going to die, and most likely in a horrible manner. This can include dealing with Frankenstein's monster to the evil that a truly psychotic person can do to others. Most associate this with lots of gory attacks, but many horror stories are also all about the mental anguish that the monster of the story can bring.


This is the genre started by Aristotle and is more of an abstract style that does not fit into other categories. In a sense, poetry is considered literary. The books in this area are more about the tone, technique, and content over bringing in content such as magic, advanced cultures, or lots of adventures.


Anytime there is something to be solved in a story, this brings elements of this genre into it. The most recognized stories are those of Sherlock Holmes. The more modern variants are stories like Nancy Drew, books by the writer of The Da Vinci Code, or books by Janet Evanovich. There is a lot of asking who did it.


People wanting to read about love between primarily two people read thi the romance genre. Most of these stories are male and females falling in love, but the more modern times have included LGBT stories that allow for more readers. The books may have a sex scene, but this is far from the purpose. The pursuit of love is the main push of the story. romance books typically have happy endings.

Science Fiction-

People who want to read on what is possible if we keep improving science read these books. This could be the melding of minds and space colonization of the Anne McCaffrey Talent's series, or just enjoying the Star Wars Extended Universe books that are no longer canon. People get to read about advanced cultures, mindsets, and technologies to get away from current problems.


Thrillers are close to being psychological horrors, but have fewer monsters and more evil humans. They are usually intertwined with other genres, which allows for more chances to spice the story with different aspects. There is a lot of suspense and moments that will startle the reader, though they are not done in a jump scare manner.


People wanting to read cowboy and Indian stories or those dealing with old cavalry conflicts. In a way, it is a sub-genre of historical novels, but is extremely popular. The books that many John Wayne movies were based on are this genre. The stories have been given modern twists with them being mixed in science fiction, such as what in the movie Serenity.

Young Adult-

These are the stories for those who are teens, such as the Harry Potter series, the Divergent series, or books by Judy Blume. They are geared specifically to coming of age stories that can connect with their specific readers. Many of these novels have attracted older adults, but the main characters are always teens who are learning life.

Vampire - 

The vampire genre encompasses everything vampire. It's technically a subgenre. the most common subgenres are romance, horror and thriller. Although, you could certainly have a vampire western, vampire young adult or science fiction/ fantasy book.

Popular, Mainstream, or Commercial Fiction-

A genre that is made to appeal to the largest audience possible, and not geared to be thematically genre specific. The stories are paced in a speedier fashion that can keep people reading. The plot is far more important than building up the characters of the story. The writers that are known for these stories are Stephen King with his horror, John Grisham with his legal conflicts, and similar writers.



Basic Word Counts

  • Flash Fiction - Less than 1,000 words (five pages)
  • Short Stories - Maximum of 7,500 words (I've seen magazines accept up to 12,000) (30 to 48 pages)
  • Novelettes - Between 7,501 and 20,000 (30 to 80 pages)
  • Novellas - Between 20,000 and 40,000 (80 to 160 pages)
  • Novels - Between 40,000 and 99,000 (160 pages to 400 pages)
  • Epics - Greater than 100,000 words (More than 400 pages)

Advanced Word Counts


  • Middle-Grade Students - Somewhere between 20,000 and 55,000.
  • Young Adult - Somewhere around 60,000
  • Adult Novels - These needs to have substance AKA: A main plot and lots of subplots.  They also need to reach between 70,000 and 90,000 words.  Some sites say they need to be between 80,000 and 90,000 to be marketable.  My first set of queries went out with a 75,000 word count.  I've since increased it to 85,000 after getting only one bite and never hearing back.
  • Romance - These tend to be between 70,000 and 90,000.
  • Science Fiction and Fantasy - Between 100,000 and 150,000.  I am venturing to guess they have to be this high due to the fact that the author has to create an entirely new world and sometimes new races and all of that needs descriptions.
  • Mysteries - These tend to be between 60,000 and 80,000 words




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How Long Should a Vampire Novel Be?
Vampire novels never fully go out of style. Tales of undead blood-sucking creatures of the night have emerged time and time again in various forms, from classic Transylvanian counts to sparkly teenage heartthrobs.

But before you go penning your first entry into the vampire canon, it's a good idea to ask yourself how long of a book you're aiming for. With this creative choice already made, you'll be able to more easily structure the plotline and save yourself countless hair-splitting hours in the editing and revision process.

What word count should authors strive for?

For vampire novels, you'll generally want to aim for somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000 words. While it is true that a book can be as short as 40,000 words and still considered a novel, most of the books you'll find on the shelves - or more frequently, these days, on the webpages of online bookstores - are at least 50,000 words long.

Finding the Vampire Goldilocks Zone for Word Count

It's important to remember that there are no hard-and-fast rules for how long your Vampire novel, be it steamy or suspenseful or otherwise, is "supposed" to be. These guidelines are, as any author already knows, meant to be taken with a grain of salt. The only person who can determine what's best for your vampire novel is you, the writer of it.

That being said, word count often has a strong impact on the readability of a novel. Some readers tend to shy away from longer books, while others avoid them entirely. There is definitely an audience for fat, juicy 1,000-page vampire tales, it's not going to do any favors for your book's mainstream appeal - if that is your end goal.

On the other hand, vampire books that are too short might leave the reader wanting more - but in a bad way. If your undead characters aren't fleshed out enough - cold and pale flesh as it may be - readers won't have much of a chance to connect with them and their plight.

It's particularly important in these types of fantasy stories for the "rules" - how your particular vampires work, the internal logic of your world - to be satisfactorily explained. Without an understanding of your vampires' abilities and vulnerabilities, for instance, your audience won't know what the stakes are - potentially including the wooden stakes sometimes known to kill vampires.

Too Big For One "Bite"

If you've written an epic vampiric narrative that spans beyond the realm of 100,000 words, it might be time to consider breaking up the story into two or more books.

Simply splitting your hard work in half may not be as simple as it sounds. It's often hard to find a logical cutoff point when you've already arranged the structure of your plot to fit into one story. But you might be surprised by what you can accomplish with a few minor tweaks.

Expanding might be necessary if you don't have enough story or a high enough word count to fill out two complete books. But it's important to be careful not to simply draw out unnecessary scenes, go into excessive detail, or add subterfuge. Everything you expand on should add meaning or deepen the existing meaning to the narrative.

However, if you've spent a significant amount of time exploring your world, you probably have a wealth of material to draw from.

Tighten Up The Tale

When your book is too long, you might also consider cutting out parts of it. Read your work as critically as possible to determine where there's fat to be trimmed. Anything that's nonessential to the plot, that distracts from the main overarching goals of the characters, that disrupts the flow or pacing of the story - all of this has to go.

Brevity is the soul of wit, and readers have ever-shortening attention spans and are always in a hurry. So if you can tell your tale in fewer words and still do it justice, it's time to start crossing out some sentences, paragraphs, or entire chapters in some cases.

Don't worry, though - you will always have your omitted material on the cutting room floor. You may be able to repurpose it for another story later down the line.
How Long Should a Romance Novel Be?
Whether they're an escape from the humdrum of everyday life or a realization of your real-life fantasies, romance novels have long been a valuable outlet for all kinds of people. And just as there are all kinds of people, there are all kinds of romances to suit the tastes of every kind of lover.

For writers, determining the ideal length for your novel depends on the type of romance you've got brewing. Once you've taken a good look at your plot and the relationships between characters, you'll have a much easier time organizing your story into a structure that fills the perfect number of pages.

How long can this affair go on for?

Romance novels almost always fall somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 words in length. Although 40,000 words is sometimes considered the minimum length for a novel, this is generally a bit too short to fill out this kind of book. However, if you're extremely efficient in your storytelling and have a fairly simple romantic situation to convey, it is possible to tell a complete love story in 40,000 words that satisfies.

You can certainly find cases where a romance novel of 110,000 words and beyond accrues decent readership, but these are in the minority. While there are still plenty of readers out there who want to dig into an epic affair and see relationships develop over chapter after chapter, most readers are looking for something they can get through in a matter of weeks, not months or years.

Determine the Type of Story You Have

The length you can get away with depends heavily on the complexity of your story and the likability of your characters. If you've imagined a detailed and extensive romantic development that involves countless layers and numerous scenes, your book probably warrants a higher word count. However, the longer your work is, the more important it is to break it down into digestible chunks, like short chapters or breaking up chapters into smaller sections.

Just Get to the Romance, Already

With romances, it's important to always get to the point. And everyone knows what the point of a romance novel is - the hot, steamy romance! No matter how long your book is, make sure that each chapter or section ends on some kind of development in your characters' relationship. If it doesn't seem like the story is working towards something romantic, in service of the budding relationships of the characters, then the reader may be tempted to ask themselves what they're reading this for.

That being said, a satisfying love scene is nothing without the buildup. As long as each page in your book is somehow serving to build up the sexual or romantic tension between characters, readers won't feel like they're wasting their time on your prose. By constantly thinking about setup and payoff in the way you arrange your novel, you'll find the perfect length and pacing of your narrative that will only leave readers wanting more.

Keep in mind that this doesn't mean that every scene or chapter has to end with romantic victories. Just because it's a romance doesn't mean characters have to be making out or otherwise all over each other throughout the whole book. Sometimes, the most satisfying romantic moments come after countless scenes of failure.

A Steamy Sequel - or Series?

In some cases, you may have an entire series on your hands. When your novel is leaning on the long side, you might want to try breaking it up into two distinct novels. The challenge with this, of course, is restructuring your whole book so that it fits in such a format. Even though it may seem like sacrilege to those who have fallen in love with their own work, it may be worth it to try changing a few things to see if you can get even more out of the story than you already have.

Sometimes, you might even discover that your standalone novel is actually the start of a whole new series. When you've written characters who you just want to see more of, whether due to their individual traits or the steaminess of their romances when they come together, it's hard not to want to keep the story going as long as possible.
What is the Ideal Erotica Word Count?
Erotica comes in many forms, but it's perhaps most commonly found online. This opens up all kinds of opportunities for story length because writers are dealing with the same limitations of those trying to sell physical copies of their work. This means authors can focus more on finding the story length that best serves their story and audience.

Erotica novels tend to fall somewhere between 40,000 to 100,000 words. However, these are not hard-and-fast rules, and many erotica stories vary widely in length, from only a few hundred words to epic multi-part sagas.

Finding the "Sweet Spot"

Some say size doesn't matter, but in some ways - as is the case with erotica - it kind of does. Many readers simply don't want to take the time to read an epic-sized piece of erotic fiction. They prefer a story they can read in one sitting and that "comes" to a satisfying conclusion while keeping them engaged the whole way through.

But of course, length isn't everything - it's also what you do with it. Some stories call for a longer narrative if the situation is complicated enough or the characters have enough compelling traits. The important thing is that every word is building up towards some type of sexual release.

In some cases, erotica may involve a series of erotic situations instead of just one or two. These stories tend to fall on the longer end of the spectrum because the multiple erotic scenes help to fill out the story.

The Erotica Saga

If you do have characters who are likable enough and a premise that is compelling enough, it may be worth it to consider expanding your work into a series. Erotica serials often do well because readers become comfortable with your characters and gain a sense of familiarity with them. It's nice to be able to read a new episode involving characters you know you'll love, and written in prose that you're sure will turn you on.

Even if you simply break up a lengthy erotica manuscript into a two-parter, you can do a lot to make the work more accessible to readers. It's a good way to test the waters to see if readers are interested in hearing more about the erotic exploits of these characters.

An Erotica Quickie

It's important to consider your audience when writing erotica - particularly, think about what they're likely to be doing while reading your work. If the pacing of your story isn't tight enough, readers might lose their sense of arousal and find themselves skipping ahead to get to the "good parts." You can save them the trouble by cutting out any unnecessary bits that kill the mood.

As is the case with other types of preferences, the most satisfying length of an erotic story varies from reader to reader. It all depends on what they're looking to get out of it. If a reader just wants a quick story that they can - for lack of a better phrase - get off to, a tight 3,500 words is more than sufficient.

With the rise of flash fiction, writers are able to get away with stories that are shorter than ever. If you've written an amazingly sexy scene that can be read time and time again and still be just as arousing, there's might be no need to expand on it at all. In as little as a few hundred words, some writers are crafting brief but highly erotic encounters in this innovative format.

Trim Out the Turn-Offs

The important thing to remember is that you should be focused on your erotic storytelling first and foremost and not worry so much about word count. As long as you're telling a good story, the length of it won't matter as much. Once you've got the final draft of your work written down, you should have no trouble determining if there are parts that should be expanded on or cut entirely from your work in order to keep the erotic flow going.

In cases where you have too much of a good thing, it's always a good idea to keep your leftover material and see if it can be reworked into something entirely new. With a few details tweaked, an erotic scene cut from one story might be the perfect fit in another.
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