A list of some novels with an average number of chapters & word count per chapter
I tend to write (and enjoy, and translate) shorter novels and novellas, so it felt validating for me to get a bit of perspective on word counts. There tends to be a major privileging of massive word counts in certain communities devoted to writing and publishing, and this has always bothered me. Like, it’s not a test score; more words does not equal more better.
This is not a criticism of people who write longer stories, of course. I love huge novels, but diversity is good.
For me personally, I think the sweet spot for a book is around 50k-60k words, although I also enjoy French and Japanese novellas and short story collections of around 30k-40k words.
This is one of the many reasons I appreciate fanfic, by the way. Although I actively seek out the publications of small presses, these presses tend to be extremely male-dominated. Mainstream English-language publishing houses promote way more women, people of color, and other minorities than a lot of liberal-leaning critics give them credit for, but the books they put out are still depressingly homogeneous in a number of significant ways. There are a lot of online fiction magazines that do fantastic work, but they tend to be strict about word counts, with anything above 6k-8k words being immediately rejected. It’s therefore wonderful to have access to such a wealth of interesting writing that falls entirely outside the number-driven standards of what would ordinarily be published.