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Book Length for Contemporary/Urban Fantasy

Ned Marcus

I've started writing a new series—this time urban fantasy, which is new for me. I've recently realized that the first novel in the series will only be about 44,000-55,000 words. Do you think this can work? I understand that book length is determined by the story—and I agree with that. But would I be going against the expectations of urban fantasy readers? I've started reading more urban fantasy myself, but haven't yet read enough to develop a strong opinion on this.

Ned Marcus

I plan to self-publish, but I was concerned about reader expectations. I've asked in a few places and the general opinion seems to be that 50,000 to 60,000 would work.

A. E. Lowan

Forum Mom
We're indie urban fantasy writers. Book 1 came in at about 136K (403 pages in print). Book 2 was 85K, a much more intimate story. And we're estimating that Book 3 will come in about 210K but we're also going to have a 3 army war. It all depends on two things - are you indie, and the needs of the story. If you're indie, you have more leeway than if you are traditionally publishing. If your story needs to be longer or shorter, obey the story.
I sort of finished my story at 40k and thought that was enough. I wonder though... its a bit YA and to me it reads a bit like a graphic novel.

I am writing book 2 now and am at 23k, and considering I should just combine the two into one... but there is a natural break point between the two that makes me not want to do that. hmmm.

I am hoping that since I don't plan to publish in non-digital form, that 40k is fine for a cheap 'novella' style series... like if I did six short 40k books and priced them accordingly... more like the old serialized books of yore. that way you aren't spending the big bucks on a giant tome that you may not like.. but jsut a buck or two and if its amusing enough, you spend another buck or two for the next one.

Edit: I do expect that not many people will want to buy the first one, if they don't already see there are many more in case they like it.


Generally, it seems most Urban Fantasy that I have read, the first novel is around 70,000 words, give or take. As series progress, the word count seems to expand.

But really, I think word count isn't as vital with ebooks, and if you're self-publishing. If you're seeking representation from an agent and/or going the 'traditional' publishing route, then the word count is probably a bigger factor.

But like was said, the story is the story, and adding words to reach a word count mark...probably will weaken the tale, rather than enhance it.

Toby Johnson

i'd say a good fantasy book should be about 70,000 words, but that's a short one. a fantast novel like LOtR should be about 100,000+ words. just write 2000 words a day and youll get it done in 50 days, pace youself