How many pages should a fantasy novel be?

How long should a fantasy novel be?
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Today we will talk about the optimal length for a fantasy novel.

Authors often wonder about the optimal pages for their manuscripts, and they’re not wrong. The length of your story matters, especially if you’re looking to publish traditionally.

Of course, there are exceptions, but there is no guarantee that you will be one.

A while back you had complete freedom over the pages you wrote for your story, it could be just 50-something or as big as 500K, but if the story was worthy the public would have loved it.

Well, times have changed.

Now there are some specific word counts that require your attention if you want to attract literary agents or publishers. And that’s especially true when we’re talking about a debut novel.

However I’m not trying to scare you, I’m talking about word count in general. I’m not saying it only works in excess. Some genres need a lower page count, and today we will look at that part as well.

Why the Pages of a Novel Matter

There are many reasons why the words, the chapters, the dimension of your story matter so much, but I think I can boil it down to these two points:

Long novels: There is no real guarantee that your book will sell. And that’s not just a sad truth for you. If you publish traditionally, a lot of people are taking a risk, losing money before they know if they will get it back.

Printing your book costs money, and printing a book over 100,000 words costs even more. When you have to take those risks plus space on the shelves of many physical libraries, the truth is that it’s not worth it when we’re talking about a debut novel.

Shorter novels: While novels today are shorter on average than in the past, there are still some limits. Yes, if you are that good, you can write an intricate, interesting story in 40 pages.

But sometimes, often, when you limit yourself that much, it’s because you’re not telling everything there is to tell. Maybe the characters need to appear more, maybe you lack descriptions, or maybe the end of the story is a little rushed.

How many pages should your fantasy novel be?

Word count by genre

As you can see here, I took some recently traditionally published manuscripts to see what their average, accepted, length is. We can assume that this is still the standard today, since the books are fairly recent.

Here we compare the average pages of a fantasy novel with those of a romance novel.

These are the results:

Romance Novels:

Brush with Love: A Novel by Mazey Eddings 

  • 336 pages about 84k words

The Treehouse on Dog River Road: A Novel by Catherine Drake 

  • 320 pages about 80k words

Love & Other Disasters by Anita Kelly 

  • 384 pages about 96k words

Fantasy Novels:

Shanghai Immortal: A richly told debut fantasy novel set in Jazz Age Shanghai

  • 400 pages about 100k words  

The Unspoken Name (The Serpent Gates, 1) by A. K. Larkwood

  • 464 pagine about 115k words

Kings of the Wyld (The Band, 1) by Nicholas Eames 

  • 544 pagine about 140k words

Fantasy novels vary from 100k to about 150k words. Even for debut novels. This genre of fiction allows you to use your creativity and has more room for it.

This length comes from the fact that a serious fantasy book requires a lot of word-building, often involving many characters, each with their own story.

Romantic novels, on the other hand, usually have fewer words and fewer pages, because the reader is most interested in the development of the relationship between the two main characters.

If you want more information about other genres, I’ll put two useful links down here.

You should check both of them out, because both blogs have some great tips.

Optimal Word count by genre
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This chart of word counts by genre was created by Nathan Bransford, author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series. He was a literary agent and his blog can be found here.

I really recommend to give a look to this word count chart by Jennifer Laughran, I find it very useful for answering the question “How many pages should a fantasy novel have? Check it out!

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