Published scifi novel word counts

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ANinfinity

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Anyone care to post the lengths of scifi novels?

Normally 50k words+ is considered a novel. And normally something in the range of 70k - 150k (depends) is considered over the first publishing hurdle.

But can you guys think of any published scifi novels the skirt these "limits"? And what are the word counts of some famous novels regardless of the range above?

I can list them in this post as you add them.To start it off, I believe

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 is roughly 46,000 words long.

Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five is 49,459 words long.

Robert Heilen's Starship Troopers is 84,769 words long.

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game is 100,609 words long.


The following thanks to inarticulatebabbler:


John Scalzi's Old Man's War is 90,566 words; The Ghost Brigades 103,335 words.

Joe Haldeman's Forever Peace is 104,759 words

Frank Herbert's Dune 185,723 words

Kevin J. Anderson's Hidden Empire 171,596 words

Orson Scott Card's Ender's Shadow 140,238 words

Ben Bova's Mars 175,598 words

C.J. Cherryh's Hammerfall 157,557 words

Paul Di Philippo's Steampunk Trilogy 88,693 words

Steve Perry's The Musashi Flex 91,922 words

Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell's The Mote in God's Eye 178,674 words

Octavia E. Butler The Parable of the Sower 101,065 words

Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep 61,237


The following posted bye eyeblink:


Cassandra Clare, City of Bones - 130,949

Anthony McGowan, Hellbent - 66,824

Melissa Marr, Wicked Lovely - 73,426

Stephenie Meyer, Twilight - 118,975

Simon Morden, The Lost Art - 115,175

Patrick Ness - The Knife of Never Letting Go - 112,022

Peadar O Guilin, The Inferior - 98,774

Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now - 46,920 (it's arguably borderline SF)

Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl - 144,616

China Miéville, The City & The City - 107,940

Cherie Priest, Boneshaker - 145,503

Catherynne M. Valente, Palimpsest - 103,670

Robert Charles Wilson, Julian Comstock - 181,494
 
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Xelebes

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Some chronicles, sagas and trilogies are considered single works. Lord of the Rings comes to mind with 454 000 words in all. Jordan's Wheel of Time has 3 304 000 words in all. Stephenson's Baroque Cycle & Cryptonomicon has 1 540 000 words.
 

ANinfinity

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I'm surprised that more people don't find this fascinating. Word count has been extremely interesting to me. I would have thought more people would have posted word counts by now. I'm going to research more.
 

ANinfinity

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Yeah, I'm surprised writers and readers don't hate that book, we would have nothing to do. :)
 

PortableHal

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My brother LOVED that book. Mmm.. When he told me about it I almost started crying, though.. trying to imagine a world without books is imagining a very sad, dismal world.

I loved the book, too.

I'm impressed by how much Bradbury did with his 46,000 words. I wish I could do as much with 80,000 words.
 

Inarticulate Babbler

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80 - 120k is what Sci-Fi likes these days:

John Scalzi's Old Man's War is 90,566 words; The Ghost Brigades 103,335 words.
Joe Haldeman's Forever Peace is 104,759 words
Frank Herbert's Dune 185,723 words
Kevin J. Anderson's Hidden Empire 171,596 words
Orson Scott Card's Ender's Shadow 140,238 words
Ben Bova's Mars 175,598 words
C.J. Cherryh's Hammerfall 157,557 words
Paul Di Philippo's Steampunk Trilogy 88,693 words
Steve Perry's The Musashi Flex 91,922 words
Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell's The Mote in God's Eye 178,674 words
Octavia E. Butler The Parable of the Sower 101,065 words
Philip K. Dick Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep 61,237

Keep in mind Heinlein. Dick, Vonnegut and Bradbury didn't just break into the market. Slaughterhouse Five was copyrighted in '69, Starship Troopers in '59, Fahrenheit 451 '50 (Under the title The Fireman in Galaxy Science Fiction), and even Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game was published in 1977--33 years ago. Publishing has changed. Readers and their expectations have changed.


Fantasy:
Brandon Sanderson's Elantris 199,091 words
Robin Hobb's Assassin's Apprentice 164,088 words
Robert R. McCammon's The Wolf's Hour 197,684 words
Dan Simmons's Ilium 220,520 words
David Gemmell's Legend 113,314 words
 

efkelley

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A book is as long as it takes. Some authors write shorter, some write longer. Don't sweat it too much. And don't pad your story! Readers can tell.
 

Sevvy

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80 - 120k is what Sci-Fi likes these days

Yeah, 50,000 seems to be the low word count for a novel because of NaNo's popularity. I'm not knocking it, I'm just saying that this is the first place I heard of that word count and it seems to be where everyone I know gets it from. Inarticulate's estimate seems to be correct from my reading experience as well, though I was surprised to see that Elantris was nearly 200,000 words. Didn't seem that much when I was reading it.

A very interesting discussion.
 

childoflight

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Yeah, I'm surprised writers and readers don't hate that book, we would have nothing to do.

I know, I seriously started crying because I couldn't fathom a world without books.. no books to read, no books to write.. how terribly sad that would be!

Also: I'm pretty sure the guy who wrote it wrote it in like a week or something.. not quite sure on the details, but I think he was borrowing a typewriter so he had to do it sorta fast. Regardless, I'm impressed.
 

waylander

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As Inarticulate Babbler postulated, I think it is unhelpful to look at the word counts of 'classic' SF books and use that as a guide to the length an author should aim at for their own work. Publishing has changed since many of these books appeared. Quoting them as examples is just going to lead to disappointment
 

entropic island

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A book is considered 50,000 words or about.

This changes with different publishers' and agencies' guidelines.

Looking at other book's word counts is kind of pointless.
 

ChaosTitan

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As Inarticulate Babbler postulated, I think it is unhelpful to look at the word counts of 'classic' SF books and use that as a guide to the length an author should aim at for their own work. Publishing has changed since many of these books appeared. Quoting them as examples is just going to lead to disappointment

It would also be more useful to make sure you're looking at the word counts of debut SF novels, rather than novels written later on in their career.
 

ANinfinity

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A book is considered 50,000 words or about.

This changes with different publishers' and agencies' guidelines.

Looking at other book's word counts is kind of pointless.

Disagreed.
 

Inarticulate Babbler

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50k is a perfectly acceptable length for YA or Mid-grade. YA is usually 50 - 80k, 50 k is standard Mid-grade.

Waylander is correct in saying my reference was toward focusing on today's market. I am also in agreement with Chaos Titan that--unless you've already published your first novel--looking at any novel other than a first novel won't give you correlative knowledge on the average accepted length of such. In fact, the only reason I did not use ALL first novels is I couldn't get all of their word counts.

Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time novels were progressively more than 200k, Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind was well over 200k, Brent Weeks's The Way of Shadows most assuredly capped that, too--but I can't show you exact numbers. Fantasy is IN, so readers right now are expecting door-stoppers. Cherie Priest juist guessed Boneshaker--though not her first--was about 125k. I would've guessed higher due to the size of the book, but that's Steampunk and a growing trend in Sci-Fi.

Now, I wouldn't say, "discard everything before 2009," but its value is NOT in getting published in today's market.
 

eyeblink

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Here are some debut YA SF/F novels published since 2004:

Cassandra Clare, City of Bones - 130,949
Anthony McGowan, Hellbent - 66,824
Melissa Marr, Wicked Lovely - 73,426
Stephenie Meyer, Twilight - 118,975
Simon Morden, The Lost Art - 115,175
Patrick Ness - The Knife of Never Letting Go - 112,022
Peadar O Guilin, The Inferior - 98,774
Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now - 46,920 (it's arguably borderline SF)

All of these are debut YA novels, though Ness had had two adult novels published previously. Morden had had a novella published previously.

Stats from the YA/MG-specific Renaissance Learning site. I posted this list (plus some non-SF/F titles) previously in a thread in the YA forum.
 
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eyeblink

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And here are some of this year's Hugo nominees, courtesy of the Worldcon Hugo voters' packet. Some of these counts include prelim material:

Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl - 144,616
China Miéville, The City & The City - 107,940
Cherie Priest, Boneshaker - 145,503
Catherynne M. Valente, Palimpsest - 103,670
Robert Charles Wilson, Julian Comstock - 181,494

The Bacigalupi is a debut novel.

Related thread: why are SF/F novels so long (and, I'd argue, overlong) these days?
 
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Xelebes

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Related thread: why are SF/F novels so long (and, I'd argue, overlong) these days?

The British market has books that are a bit longer than the North American market, by about 10 or 15%. Largely, this is due to an expectation from the audience with certain movies re-enforcing the stereotype (The Neverending Story, Lord of the Rings, etc.)
 

efkelley

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Also, a thicker book allows publishers to justify a higher cover price. Trees being so incredibly pricey, you know. ;)
 

ANinfinity

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I just wanted to say that it is very hard to find word counts. Now the counts may mean nothing at all to one, but you know what they say... one man's trash is another man's treasure.

I am hoping that we can make this the most complete and comprehensive list of Sci-fi novel word counts available on the internet. It is already probably the longest. Let's keep it going.

as several posters have mentioned, comparing our own novels to some of these is unhelpful because many lower novel counts were not debut novels. We could have some listed under a "debut novel" header to distinguish them, but I think it is interesting to see the word counts of any scifi novel.
 

Inarticulate Babbler

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I am hoping that we can make this the most complete and comprehensive list of Sci-fi novel word counts available on the internet. It is already probably the longest. Let's keep it going.

Amazon has a section called "Text Stats" under the "Inside this Book" section (scroll down on the page under "More About the Author"), which has the published wordcount, number of "harder" words and number of words for the dollar. Check it out. Here's Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0812550706/?tag=absowrit-20
 

ANinfinity

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Amazon has a section called "Text Stats" under the "Inside this Book" section (scroll down on the page under "More About the Author"), which has the published wordcount, number of "harder" words and number of words for the dollar. Check it out. Here's Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0812550706/?tag=absowrit-20

That's awesome! I wish I had know that. Now my conundrum... I can't find it. I tried following your directions but I have the observation powers of blindfolded zombie.
 

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That's awesome! I wish I had know that. Now my conundrum... I can't find it. I tried following your directions but I have the observation powers of blindfolded zombie.

It's right underneath the reviews section. Starts with Inside This book, Text stats is in the new section.
 
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