Writing Your Book: Word Counts in 2020

Over the last year, I’ve received a lot of questions from writers about word count in their manuscripts. I’ve  helped writers edit and refine their manuscripts to be shorter and more specific to today’s publishing market.

Word Counts for Writers
More insight into Word Counts

If you’ve read my previous post about how word counts help authors and publishers, you might be interested to know what the word counts are for some published books.

I’ve split this list out into books that are shorter than the standard length, followed by the books that fit the standard submission policies for publishers today, followed by books that are longer than the standard length of a published book today.

Here are some word counts of a variety of published books:

Books of shorter length

  • The Metamorphosis, Franz Kafka– 21,810 words
  • The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway, 26,601
  • A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens, 28,944
  • Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck– 29,160 words
  • Animal Farm by George Orwell – 29,966 words
  • Double Indemnity, James M. Cain – 30,072 words
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl – 30,644 words
  • A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf– 37,761 words
  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis – 38,421 words
  • The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon – 46,573 words
  • Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury– 46,118 words
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – 46,333 words
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – 47,094 words
  • The Red Badge of Courage– Stephen Crane 47,180 words
  • The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton – 48,523 words
  • Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut– 49,459 words
  • A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle– 49,965 words

Books of standard length

  • Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – 63,422 words
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – 64,531 words
  • The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury – 64,768
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker – 66,556 words
  • Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson – 66,950
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green – 67,203 words
  • Ironweed by William Kennedy – 67,606
  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway – 67,707 words
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain – 69,066
  • Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston – 70,957
  • White Fang, by Jack London – 72,071
  • The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger – 73,404 words
  • Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding – 75,567 words
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling – 76,944 words
  • The Dressmaker’s Gift, Fiona Valpy – 80,101 words
  • The Crossing (Harry Bosch) by Michael Connelly – 80,376 words
  • Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – 84,845 words
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling – 85,141 words
  • The World That We Knew – Alice Hoffman – 95,021 words
  • The Girl on the Train – Paula Hawkins – 94,891 words
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – 95,356 words
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – 99,750 words
  • What the Wind Knows – Amy Harmon – 100,206 words
  • Hunger Games – Susan Collins – 101,451 words
  • Educated – Tara Westover – 99,854 words
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – 100,388 words
  • Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens – 105,000 words
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth – 105,143 words
  • The Storyteller’s Secret – Sejal Bedani – 110,000 words
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban – 107,253 words
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – 112,815 words
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer – 118,975 words
  • Atonement by Ian McEwan – 123,378 words

Books of longer length

  • The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger – 155,717 words
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien – 156,198 words
  • Beneath a Scarlet Sky – Mark Sullivan – 150,000 words
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling – 168,923 words
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith – 169,389 words
  • The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – 169,481 words
  • Dune by Frank Herbert – 187,240 words
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien – 187,790 words
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – 190,637 words
  • The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen – 196,774 words
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling – 198,227 words
  • Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel – 200,000 words
  • Moby-Dick by Herman Melville – 209,117 words
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon – 216,020 words
  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – 240,000 words
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling – 257,045 words
  • Ulysses by James Joyce – 262,869 words
  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin – 298,000 words
  • A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin – 300,000 words
  • A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin – 326,000 words
  • Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry – 365,712 words
  • Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – 418,053 words
  • A Dance of Dragons by George R.R. Martin – 422,000 words
  • A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin – 424,000 words
  • Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace – 543,709 words

An earlier version of this list was originally compiled by former literary agent Nathan Bransford from a variety of sources. I have added many additional books to this list along with other amendments and updates.


Keep Writing and Good Luck!