I have a plot of a mystery/thriller, and I want to start writing a novel.

What should be the minimum length of a novel so that a Publisher becomes interested?

  • 2
    Long enough for it to be interesting, but not so long it overstays its welcome. Word count is irrelevant. Apr 17, 2017 at 14:09
  • @LaurenIpsum - Is that true though? Irrelevant to whom? Publishers definitely have word count preferences, and readers tend to as well. Sep 25, 2018 at 13:24
  • @ChrisSunami I would not want a first-time writer to focus too much on word count, but rather on telling the best possible story. A beta reader/editor and then an agent can say "this is too short/needs expanding here and here" or "this is too long; trim it." My comment is definitely more of a quip, which is why I didn't make it an answer. Sep 25, 2018 at 19:30

3 Answers 3


I recommend reading this article: https://jerichowriters.com/average-novel-wordcount/

The author is very experienced and active in the industry, so he knows what he's talking about.

He says: "So, the average wordcount for a typical novel is anywhere from 70,000 to 120,000 words."

And furthermore: "CRIME AND THRILLER GENRES: Crime novels often run a little longer than women’s fiction, so although 75,000 words is fine as a lower limit, anything up to 130,000 words is standard. Don’t go below 75,000, though."


A given publisher might have specific rules.

In general there's no hard and fast rules, like a novel must be at least 40,000 words, so if your story is 39,998 words it's not long enough to call a "novel".

Realistically, if you write a story that is 50 words long and submit it to a publisher as a novel, they're not likely to be interested. Maybe a publisher would print a one-page novel as some sort of novelty (no pun intended), but it would be a hard sell, more a joke than a serious book.

I'd say in general you'd have to have 30,000 to 40,000 words to be considered a "novel". Anything less than that is a novella or a short story.

I'm suddenly reminded of the classic, "Shortest Horror Story Ever Told": "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door."

  • "Baby shoes for sale. Never worn." Sep 26, 2018 at 7:24

This seems to very widely depending on who you ask. The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America define it as being 40,000 words or more.

I'm not a thriller writer, but I have heard on the writerly grapevine that thrillers tend to be shorter than other genres so as to maintain the feeling of tension and allow the book to be read in one sitting (which is an advantage for a page-turner).

  • so, how many pages are recommended?
    – user23354
    Apr 17, 2017 at 14:44
  • 1
    You can extrapolate a standard of 250 words per page. But in professional publishing, word count is the metric to go by, since page count depends on style (i.e., lots of short paragraphs or long blocks of unbroken text), back-and-forth dialogue, etc.
    – Same Ghost
    Apr 17, 2017 at 15:03
  • @SameGhost Not to mention the physical size of the page, margins, and font size.
    – Jay
    Sep 26, 2018 at 20:43

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