Fiction Ed’s Blog: Quick Word-Count Q&A

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Here on the Fiction Desk, we’re always happy to answer your queries about writing for “The People’s Friend”.

Lots of the answers to your questions can be found on our website.  All the members of the Fiction Team blog regularly with their writing advice.

Something we’re often asked about is word counts. So here are your most-asked questions around story lengths, which I hope you find helpful, when you’re planning future submissions.

“Which word counts do you need most of?”

2000 and 3000-word stories are most-needed. The word counts we use fewest of are 1200, 4000, and our ‘long reads’ – which are between 9,500 and 10,000 words long, and used in every alternate Special.

“How important is it to stick to word count requirements?”

We work to a template on all People’s Friend publications – that’s why we ask that stories fall within certain word counts.

“Which word counts should I submit, for the weekly magazine?”

Our weekly word counts are 3000, 2000, 1800 and 1200 words.

“Is there any flexibility on word counts?”

Yes – we offer 10% flexibility on all word counts, either way. So for a 2000-word story, we accept anything from 1800 words right up to 2200.

“Are there any word counts you don’t accept?”

Yes – we don’t publish ‘flash’ fiction, stories of under 1000 words, or anything between 4000 and 10,000 words.

“What are the word counts for serials and series?”

For each serial instalment, our word count is 5000 words.

For each series instalment, it’s 800 words.

“Is there a suggested word count for pocket novels?”

Yes. We’d suggest around 37, 000 – 39, 000 words per novel.

“How do I know which word counts you’re looking for at any time?”

Published authors can check with their assigned editor.

Published and unpublished authors can check out the website and our Twitter Writing Hour, regularly.

Three Quick Suggestions

* Word counts vary between publications – you can check our Annual word counts here.

*Focus on your story. Word count can be amended later – it’s normal to be asked for a rewrite if your editor feels your story may sit better at a different length. And occasionally, we need to cut your story to fit available space.

*Some authors feel most comfortable writing to a particular word count. Why not try a different story length, and see where that takes you?

Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!