Here are the answers to your question according to author Lee Masterson:
Lee Masterson is a freelance writer from South Australia, and offers on-line tips for the business of writing, how to get published, and other questions to do with writing. She also writes science fiction novels.
~ 1,000 – 7,500 words
The ’regular’ short story, usually found in periodicals or anthology collections. Most ’genre’ zines will feature works at this length.
~ 7,500 – 20,000 words
Often a novellette-length work is difficult to sell to a publisher. It is considered too long for most publishers to insert comfortably into a magazine, yet too short for a novel. Generally, authors will piece together three or four novellette-length works into a compilation novel.
~ 20,000 – 50,000 words
Although most print publishers will balk at printing a novel this short, this is almost perfect for the electronic publishing market length. The online audience doesn’t always have the time or the patience to sit through a 100,000 word novel. Alternatively, this is an acceptable length for a short work of non-fiction.
~ 50,000 -110,000
Most print publishers prefer a minimum word count of around 70,000 words for a first novel, and some even hesitate for any work shorter than 80,000. Yet any piece of fiction climbing over the 110,000 word mark also tends to give editors some pause. They need to be sure they can produce a product that won’t over-extend their budget, but still be enticing enough to readers to be saleable. Imagine paying good money for a book less than a quarter-inch thick?
Epics and Sequels
~ Over 110,000 words
If your story extends too far over the 110,000 mark, perhaps consider where you could either condense the story to only include relevant details, or lengthen it to span out into a sequel, or perhaps even a trilogy. (Unless, of course, you’re Stephen King – then it doesn’t matter what length your manuscript is – a publisher is a little more lenient with an established author who has a well-established readership)
Remember, these word counts are only estimated guides. Use your own common sense, and, where possible, check the guidelines of the publication you intend to submit your work to. Most publishers accepting shorter works will post their maximum preferred lengths, and novels are generally considered on the strength of the story itself, not on how many words you have squeezed into each chapter.
Copyright 2002 Lee Masterson
Lee Masterson is a full-time freelance writer from South Australia. She is the editor-in-chief of Fiction Factor (http://www.fictionfactor.com) – an online magazine for writers, offering articles on the craft and business of writing, tips on getting published, free ebook downloads, author interviews, paying market listings, and much more! She is also the managing editor of the AuthorsDen newsletter. In what little spare time she has, Lee also writes science fiction novels.