I'm asking this because I wrote a novel with 40K words, but somehow I feel it would sell more, or at least be more like a "novel" if I add stuff until it's 50K (I checked on Amazon and most best-sellers are 60K+). Now, the stuff I'm adding isn't entirely unnecessary: they fix some plot holes and add some background to the characters. Still, the novel reads just fine with the 40K.

Is my novel more likely to sell/become popular if it has 50K words? Or it won't make any difference?

  • 5
    You keep asking this and we keep telling you: Don't pad your stories. writers.stackexchange.com/questions/6095/is-it-a-bad-idea-to-turn-a-short-story-into-a-full-length-novel/ and writers.stackexchange.com/questions/5894/… Really, it's okay that you're not writing a brick. Some readers just want a one-night stand and not a GRRM-length dynasty. Jun 2, 2015 at 16:53
  • @Lauren Ipsum I see. I think my problem is that sometimes I don't know whether I'm padding my stories or adding stuff that is actually making them better.
    – wyc
    Jun 3, 2015 at 1:54
  • 1
    Train yourself to leave 'padding' out of your writing mind. Don't even think about it. Think only about what will make your writing better. When confronted with something you want to add, ask yourself, 'how does this make the story better?' If you're in the habit of automatically adding things just for the sake of adding things, you will need to get out of that habit first. Jun 10, 2015 at 17:09

3 Answers 3


40k is a good volume for a MG novel. YA is more like 60k. There are some questions here that give more detail.

If two books are equal in everything else, a publisher will buy the book with the "best length". But, as is more likely, if two books are different in everything including length, a publisher will buy the better book.

So, if your book is good enough that a publisher will buy it, length won't decide them against it.

  • I know what YA stands for, but 'MG'?
    – evilsoup
    Jun 3, 2015 at 11:11
  • @evilsoup "Middle grade fiction is defined as novels with characters aged 8-13 or novels intended for that audience age range." google.com.tw/… My novel has suicide dogs, blood-dripping cats, and stuff like that. Not sure if it'll be suitable for them.
    – wyc
    Jun 3, 2015 at 12:06

I can't see that padding it out will make it sell better. It would put me off.

A novel doesn't have to be long to sell well. Look at 'Of Mice and Men', 'A Christmas Carol', 'Animal Farm', etc.


Since @what's answer and your comment clarified that it is neither MG nor YA, 40k is way closer to a novella than a novel.

A manuscript standard length is about 100k; the general range is 80k-120k.

Yes some best-sellers may be short, but the author name can help sell a thin book.

Now, it does depend on genre too, in some genres 60K may be the norm, while in others 150k-200k may be more common.

Personally if I am hesitating to buy a few similar books, I’ll decide based on width to get the most “bangs for my bucks”.

So yes, size matters :)

NB: Some great novels are created when 2 smilingly different ideas are merged. So maybe you could develop another concept to novella length and intertwine it with this one.

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