Word counts are huge. They matter a lot. I know a lot of us just want to write what we want to write and how ever long it take is however long it takes, and sometimes that is fine. But we can't advertise a novel when it is only 25,000 words long. Or call an 80,000 word book a Novella. It is good to know these terms so we not only can talk about our work correctly, but so that we can also follow general guidelines when getting ready to submit our work. Or if you are self publishing its helps to know the general word counts your audience is expecting too.
So what is the story with word counts anyway? Here is a brief rundown of what you need to know.
Lets give you a list that you can work with when thinking about the length of your story:
I will tell you that if you google this these numbers do shift around so this is just to give you a basic idea. These are general ranges, that will change depending on your genre, for example if you write fantasy you usually are at the top of the range because you need room for world building. Yes there are always exceptions to the rule. I am sure you can think of books that are published that go outside of the norm for the word count requirements but if you are trying to get published it is always a good idea to start inside the rules first.
It also depends on the contest you are entering and the requirements of a publisher. For example you might see the average range for a middle grade book is 20,000 to 50,000 but the publisher you are looking at only wants books above 40,000 words if you submit one at 20,000 words that is a red flag for them. Check if they have word count requirements.
ALWAYS look at the word count requirements for the contest you are entering or the usual word counts that the publisher you are looking at as as well as everything else that they require. You don't want to miss out on an opportunity just because you didn't have the correct word count.
Anyway I hope that quick rundown helps you out!
*word counts were googled and gathered from various locations