author life, JAFF, Jane Austen, Jane Austen Fan Fiction, journal, novel, novella, publishing, Romance Writers of America, RWA, Science Fiction Writers of America, self-publishing, word count, writing, Zoe Burton
Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!
Saw this statement at a fan fiction site last week. It was part of a book description. “This is a short novel of 75,000 words.” I thought, “What the heck?” Immediately, I went to my friends and said, “Please explain to me how 75,000 words is a SHORT novel.” Their response: “Some people think a novel is 100,000 words.” What???
This explains a lot of comments in reviews that call my novels, novellas. Folks, according to the Romance Writers of America, an outstanding organization to which I belong, 40,001 words make a novel. Forty thousand one. NOT 100,000. Not 75,000. Forty thousand one. My novels so far have been 40,001 to 60,000 words, at the minimum. (Novellas are 20,000 to 40,000 words, in case you were wondering.)
Now, maybe in other genres, 100,000 is indeed a novel. Not in romance, according to RWA, not according to National Novel Writing Month (write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days in November) and, I have discovered, not in science fiction. Here is a link to a Wikipedia article with a chart that lists their word counts.
I’m not entirely certain where this ridiculous idea came from in the first place, but I suspect it was from traditional publishers way back in the day. However, if you are a new author writing commercial fiction that’s 100,000 words or longer and send it to a publisher, it’s likely to be rejected due to the cost of production versus the unknown quantity of a new and untried writer. They’re not going to spend all that money on someone who might not make them a profit.
Please keep these figures in mind the next time you knock stars off a review because of length. Or make a silly statement in a book description.
Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! ❤