Self-publishing Guest Post – Ask the Book Doctor

Q: Please give general guidelines of word counts for short stories, novellas, novelettes, and novels. What is the minimum length for a short story? I have several that are only a few hundred words long. Are they short shorts?

Also, what is “dark fiction?”

A: Short stories have no minimum or maximum, but some publishers or contests have preferred lengths or maximums, so check with the publications or competitions where you plan to send your stories. A few hundred words may be considered a short-short, yes. Flash fiction might be even fewer than a hundred words.

The recommended length for a novel is between 50,000 and 100,000 words; anything under that word count might be considered a novella or a novelette; the two terms mean the same thing. Anything over that length might get a manuscript rejected, or a publisher might request that the manuscript be cut down to 100,000 words or under, to save on printing costs, unless you already have a strong following.

When you think of dark fiction, think of vampires, werewolves, serial killers, things that go bump in the night, Stephen King, horror, skinheads, Bram Stoker, zombies, evil, bloodthirsty beings, and the like.

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Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at