If you wondered how to tell the difference between books and novels and how long books are versus novels, you have come to the right place. In this article, we will be covering a lot of information about both books and novels.
The length of books and novels varies greatly. Books can be any length, from just a few words or pages to a few hundred words or pages. However, for novels to be considered as such, they must contain over forty thousand words or over 80 pages of text.
Before we get into the lengths of books and novels, we must first go through what novels and books are and how they differ. We will take an in-depth look into what both books and novels are, then discuss their lengths in detail. There are also a couple of interesting, fun facts in this article.
Factors that Impact Book and Novel Length
There are a few incredibly important factors that impact book and novel-length. Up next, we’ll outline each of these factors and how they affect the length of a book or novel.
Before we jump into the length of books and novels, we need to understand what word count is and why it is important.
Word count is the length of any literary work, and it is important because it helps authors select their readers.
The length or word count of a book may be suitable for some readers but not others. For instance, a child may be interested in a book but cannot read it due to its incredibly high word count. If an author writes a book that is too long fewer people will read it due to its size.
Word Count in Books
There is no fixed number of words or pages that a book has to be considered a book. This section will only cover books that are non-fiction or under forty thousand words.
The average length of a non-fiction book is somewhere between 40,000 and 70,000 words. However, there is no definitive word count for non-fiction books because of all the different genres.
Each non-fiction genre has to meet certain guidelines to be considered for publishing. Here are a few genres and their typical word count:
|Memoir||80,000 to 90,000|
|True crime||90,000 to 100,000|
|Self-help||30,000 to 70,000|
|History||100,000 to 150,000|
Here is some additional information on lengths of children and young adult books from least to most words, and list their recommended age group:
- Picture books should contain anywhere between 500 and 600 words, and they are meant for children between the ages of four and eight to teach them new words.
- Childrens’ books should have an average word count of 1,000 to 10,000 words, and they are meant for children around the ages of seven or eight since they are beginning to read on their own at this age.
- Middle-grade books should contain somewhere between 20,000 and 50,000 words, and they are meant for kids between the ages of eight and 12, with the shorter books being better for, the younger middle grades, and the longer books being better for the older middle grades.
- Young adult books should have an average word count of about 40,000 to 80,000 words geared towards teenagers due to the content being similar to adult novels.
Word Count in Novels
For a book to be considered a novel, it must contain over forty thousand words. However, there is a target word count for all adult novels, and there are target word counts for certain genres of novels as well.
The average amount of words in a novel is around 50,000 to 70,000. For commercial and literary novels to be published and read, they must be within a certain word count. Here are the lengths of novels from too short to too long:
|Word Count||Effects of Length|
|70,000 or Less||Usually considered too short and leaves something to be desired|
|70,000-79,999||May be considered too short but might be passable|
|80,000-89,999||The safest range for most literary works|
|90,000-99,999||Also pretty safe but could be trimmed down a little|
|100,000-109,999||Longer works cost more to produce|
|110,000 or More||Too long for most genres but acceptable for science fiction and fantasy novels|
If someone wants their novel published, but the word count is too high or too low, they will most likely be turned away or told to shorten or lengthen their story.
Before a book can be published, it must first be formatted or typeset. Typesetting is the process of arranging the margins, font size, and line spacing in a book before it is published. Typesetting plays an extremely important role in the number of pages in a book.
Most books typically use size 10pt or 11pt font. However, an author is allowed to choose the font size, which can be a maximum of 12pt font. The minimum font size that can be used in books, so it is still legible, is 7pt font. However, it is not recommended to use font this small.
The line spacing can vary depending on the type of book that is being typeset and the size and style of font that is being used. Typically though, the line spacing should be set to somewhere between 1.25 and 2 points.
When setting margins for a book, if the margins are bigger, there will be fewer number of words that will fit on each page. However, if the margins are too narrow, the pages may seem overcrowded with words.
Length of Books in Pages
The typical font size used for children’s books is 12pt to 14pt font, making the number of pages increase. When children are younger, they require a bigger font size when they read books, so the number of pages can be a bit harder to distinguish from children’s books to adult books.
Children’s books typically contain pictures with small lines of text on each page. So, a children’s book could contain only a few hundred words, but those few hundred words might take up a few dozen pages due to the font size and the pictures on each page.
Length of Novels in Pages
It may be easier for you to wrap your head around how many pages long novels are supposed to be instead of words. With that in mind, the average novel length in pages is about 200 to 280 pages.
It is easier to figure out the number of pages in a novel by using the word count than figuring out the word count by using the number of pages because depending on the size of the page, the number of words can be more or less than the average of 250 words.
Fun Fact: The longest book ever published is Venmurasu by Jeyamohan, and it is 3,640,000 words or about 22,400 pages long, broken up into 26 volumes.
Fun Fact: One of the first novels ever written was The Tale of Genji, and it was written in 11th century Japan by Murasaki Shikibu.
Shorter chapters will create a fast-paced experience, whereas longer chapters will create a more leisurely-paced experience. The word count of novel chapters is crucial for novels to flow right and have optimal stopping points.
Chapter lengths help reset a story to keep readers from getting too overloaded on information and keep readers in the story. Chapter lengths also help the author adjust the pacing of their story.
Chapter breaks can also let the reader know there is a shift in the plot, but if the chapters are too short or too long, the story might become hard to follow or make the reader want to stop reading.
Chapters in Books
The length of a book chapter can be any number of words or pages a writer sees fit to ensure their book reads how they expect it to. There are a few great ways to decide how long each chapter should be.
Building a World
With fantasy and science fiction stories, building up a world is super important, so having longer chapters may be necessary to establish a world.
Keep Readers Engaged
To have chapters varying in length, one could structure their chapters with a big reveal or an uptick in action at the end of each chapter to make readers turn the page and continue reading.
Chapters in Novels
How long the chapters of a novel are has everything to do with the flow and plot of the story being told, so it may be appropriate for some novels to have long chapters and for others to have short chapters. Again, it all depends on the story.
The average word count per novel chapter is between 1,500 and 5,000 words, but the most common chapter length is between 3,000 and 4,000 words.
The length of chapters in novels is quite important because it typically serves as a stopping point for most readers. There are a couple of different ways to decide how long novel chapters should be.
This type of chapter-length can lead to some very short chapters. However, it may be beneficial for certain types of novels like romance or suspense novels.
Point of View Change
In some novels, there is more than one point of view character, so writers may use chapter breaks to change the point of view character.
Chapter Lengths in Novels
The typical amount of words per chapter in a novel is anywhere between 2,000 and 4,000 words. Here are the different word counts of chapters from too short to too long:
|Word Count||Effects of Chapter Length|
|1,000 or under||Too short, and it may feel like there is an overabundance of chapters|
|1,000 to 1,500||Still a little bit too short but may be acceptable for certain books|
|1,500 to 2,000||Almost long enough, but not quite|
|2,000 to 4,000||The typical chapter-length range is perfect for most novels|
|4,000 to 5,000||Very long but can work for certain types of literature|
|5,000 or over||Too long, it may feel like there are not enough stopping points|
Trim size is just another way of saying book size in publishing. The size or dimensions of a book when it is published affects the overall length of a book, so it is important to take that into account when writing and to decide on a book or trim size.
After books are printed and bound, they are mechanically trimmed, so all of the pages are the same. Books are trimmed in Width x Height format, and the measurements are in inches for this article.
As stated before, the trim size determines the page count, meaning a smaller trim size will require a larger page count, whereas a larger trim size will require a smaller page count. Not only will the trim size affect the page count, but it can also change how many words are on each page.
There are standard book sizes in publishing, so as long as an author knows which genre their book fits into, they could save a lot of time and effort by adhering to the proper dimensions when typing their book.
Some of the standard sizes in publishing are as follows:
|Types of Books||Book Dimensions in Inches|
|Textbooks||6” x 9”||7” x 10”||8.5” x 11”|
|Fiction||4.25” x 6.87”||5” x 8”||5.25” x 8”||5.5” x 8.5”||6” x 9”|
|Non-fiction||5.5” x 8.5”||6” x 9”||7” x 10”|
|Children’s||7.5” x 7.5”||7” x 10”||10” x 8”|
|Memoir||5.25” x 8”||5.5” x 8.5”|
|Novella||5″ x 8″|
Things to Consider When Choosing a Trim Size for Your Book or Novel
Since there are usually a few different trim sizes to choose from for each type of book, it cannot be easy to decide which one is the best. There happen to be three main things to consider when choosing a trim size, and they are:
- The trim size should fit the book’s word count, so if an author’s book has a very high word count, their book’s trim size should be bigger to reduce the page count. Vice-versa, if an author’s book contains a shorter word count, their book’s trim size should be smaller to make the book feel and seem more substantial.
- Choose the right trim size to meet the genre standards, so when an author’s book gets published, potential readers are not thrown off by a book that is the wrong size for that genre. Reader’s tend to gravitate toward books that have a familiar look and feel.
- Consider how much the trim will cost because print-on-demand printing presses charge based on word count, so if an author’s book has more pages, the more it will cost to have the book trimmed.
Why Book and Novel Length is Important
Book-length matters a great deal since the length of a book determines how long it will take to write it, and writers have a better chance of getting their book published if they keep the word count smaller since longer novels cost more to print.
Here are some of the great reasons why book-length matters:
|Attention Span||A shorter attention span makes it hard to concentrate on reading for a longer period of time. It’s harder to grasp and comprehend anything read after the attention span has been exhausted.|
|Reading Speed||If someone is a slow reader, it will take them a long time to finish a lengthy book.If a slow reader is reading a long book, they may become bored and stop reading the book altogether.|
How Book and Novel Length Affects the Writing Process
When a writer is writing up their first draft or working on an outline, it is unnecessary to worry about the word count of the book or novel. However, once the first draft is complete and the writer notices the word count is too high or too low, they can begin to cut or add words wherever necessary.
Here are some fantastic tips on how to adhere to strict word count guidelines:
- Do not begin editing until the first draft is completed, and be sure to take some time away from it since it is easier to see what things should be edited or not once you have a clearer perspective.
- Cut extraneous character movement because it is unnecessary to know the character’s every move, but it may be a bit of a challenge to figure out how to move characters from one scene to another.
- Cut extraneous details that serve no purpose since not all of the information a writer has is vital to understand the story, and the details that are removed can make room for more information to help develop the main character or further the plot.
- Find other ways to introduce information on characters instead of having the characters explain what they already know about themselves or other characters in the story.
- Remove adverbs and add stronger verbs to lessen the word count and make the story sound more sophisticated.
- Find and remove over-used words because many writers have a certain word or even a few words they tend to use a lot while writing without being aware of it.
- Do not use too many adjectives; otherwise, the text may become too long due to the lengthy descriptions of scenes or characters.
- Use contractions wherever possible since they add a more direct and natural feel to the story.
Genres of Books and Novels
Here we will go through the different genres of books and novels to better understand the types of writing that make books, books, and novels, novels.
Genres of Books
There are two different types of books out there, and they are non-fiction and fiction. Non-fiction books are filled with factual things, or things that have happened in real life, where-as fiction books are filled with made-up stories.
Here are some of the different genres of books, and short definitions of each, from non-fiction to fiction:
|Cookbook||A book containing recipes and more on how to prepare and cook food.|
|Autobiography||A self-written account of a person’s life.|
|Guide||A thing that helps someone make a decision or form an opinion about something.|
|History||Any books that contain known facts about a specific event or time in history.|
|Textbook||A standard work that is used to study one particular subject.|
|Science||Any work was usually written by a researcher or scientist|
|True crime||A telling of a crime that is a mix of fact and fiction.|
|Dictionary||A resource that contains a list of words used in a language.|
|Self-help||Written to help readers solve personal problems.|
|Mystery||A story about detectives solving crimes.|
|Satire||The use of wit to draw attention to certain issues in society.|
|Comic book||A publication of a comics art that is in the form of panels that represent different scenes and dialogue in word balloons.|
|Romance||A book focusing on the romantic relationship between two people.|
|Thriller||Books that give readers heightened feelings of surprise, anxiety, suspense, excitement, and anticipation.|
|Fantasy||Writing set in an imaginary universe and featuring supernatural or magical beings.|
|Action||Any written work that utilizes suspense.|
|Adventure||A written event that happens outside the protagonist’s everyday life.|
|Anthology||A collection of short stories, plays, or poems written by different authors.|
Genres of Novels
Just like with books, there are two different types of novels, which are commercial and literary. Commercial novels are designed to make money, and literary novels are a work of art. However, sometimes novels can be both commercial and literary at the same time.
For additional examples of novel genres, you can revert to the fiction genre table above.
Here are just a few of the different genres of novels:
|Science fiction||Futuristic and imaginative writing, or alternatives to reality.|
|Historical||Written with a plot that takes place in the past.|
|Horror||Any work that is written with the intent to scare, disgust, or frighten the reader.|
|Western||Written work with a plot set in the late eighteenth or nineteenth century in the American Old West frontier.|
What are Books and Novels?
There are too many occasions when the terms’ Novel’ and ‘Book’ are used interchangeably by many people, but those people don’t know that these two words have different meanings.
Understanding the difference can help determine where you’re going with your writing and where you’re overall vision is headed.
What is a Book?
A book is any written work of literature centered around a specific subject matter, and it can be a work of non-fiction, fiction, or both. The reason why books are written is to expand the knowledge of the reader on a particular subject.
- Books are meant to record important information that should not or cannot be forgotten. There is not an exact date, but books have existed since somewhere between 618 and 907 AD.
- Books have been the biggest source of information and knowledge until the advancement of the internet.
- It is estimated that there are well over 129 million published books in the entire world.
What is a Novel?
A novel is any book written in a narrative and fictional form specifically for a reader’s enjoyment. The purpose of novels is to tell complete stories; however, the novelist deems fit for readers’ entertainment.
- Novels are a subset of books since novels only contain stories that are mainly fictional but can be non-fictional. Novels, as forms of books, started to appear in the 9th century.
- For novels, 50,000 words are the minimum word count, but any fiction book with over 40,000 words is considered a novel.
- Novelists often write stories that highlight problems in society, and they expose these problems through the actions of their characters.
What Makes Books and Novels Alike and Different?
In this section, we will explore in-depth and uncover the ways that books and novels are alike or different.
How Books and Novels are Alike
There are a few similarities between books and novels, and they are as follows:
- Both books and novels are written or printed on paper that has been bound together and protected by a cover. Books and novels can be sourced digitally as well.
- Even though books and novels contain different kinds of content, they are both sources of information.
- Just like books, novels are segmented into chapters or parts to make reading and referencing easier.
How Books and Novels are Different
There are some distinctive differences between books and novels, and those differences are listed here:
- Books are written on various topics, and all books are centered around a specific subject, whereas novels contain stories, and that is it.
- Books can be any literary work, from fiction to non-fiction, but novels only contain fictional stories.
- People that write books are often called authors, but they can also be called writers, and people that write novels are typically referred to as novelists, but they can be called writers too.
- In terms of structure, novels use structural features like setting, theme, character formation and development, and story plot, whereas books that are not novels lack emotions.
- Books have existed since the beginning, and the very first books were in the form of scrolls. However, novels did not make their appearance until much later.
- There are many book genres, but there is only a portion of those genres available for novels.
This article should have answered any questions you may have had about the book and novel lengths and some other important aspects of books and novels. With all of the information in this article, one should have a pretty good understanding of how long books and novels should be.