On Writing: A Chart of Popular YA Novels’ Word Counts

“Words are only painted fire; a look is the fire itself.”

–  Mark Twain

 

I’m sure there are other charts or lists like these elsewhere on the internet, but I wanted to contribute one as well.

Word count is something you get to disregard if you’re just writing for fun, but any manuscripts which hope to be turned into books should have at least some grasp of their length, at least according to the agents and editors of today’s publishing industry.

I’m not going to talk about official guidelines for word count because that information is already available from far more qualified informants. Plus, the guidelines vary. Some editors say middle grade novels should be between 50,000 and 70,000 words, whereas others might say 60,000-80,000.

My novel is YA Fantasy, most closely resembling Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson stories in terms of age range and the feel of the story. To roughly gauge my target word count, I looked into the word count of The Lightning Thief. That one is 87,223 words long. The final draft of my manuscript totaled to around the same, give or take a thousand words.

That’s kind of a bad example, honestly, because I would’ve been fine if it was off by even five or ten thousand words. Also something to note: I didn’t tailor my manuscript to that length, or any length. I just wrote, made sure the story felt full and complete, then went back and looked at word count. I cut probably two thousand words, but I wouldn’t have hesitated to leave them in if I’d thought they should be there. Like I said, the guidelines are flexible, so an estimate will often do. If I’d written a YA Fantasy that was 130,000 words long—roughly 520 pages—then that would bother some publishers. Not all, but some. Same as if I wrote one that came in at 110 pages. As it is, mine comes in at a healthy average of 324 pages.

Anyway! Enough about me. Should anyone reading this plan to take my advice and look at word counts of popular books, I’ve compiled a chart of some of those YA books here.

The standard formula is page count= word count/250, since most novels generally have 250 words per page. So you can guess any book’s word count by multiplying its page count by 250. That being said, I made this chart with the help of this handy website, which will tell you the exact counts of just about any novel.

Word Counts

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5 thoughts on “On Writing: A Chart of Popular YA Novels’ Word Counts

  1. Really useful to know. Cheers :)

    Although I agree that a story is finished when it is finished, it is useful to know where popular works of the same or similar genres lie in terms of their word count.

    Currently nearing the end of a first novel and running on track to finish within the ‘accepted’ range for my genre.

    • Best of luck! :) Like I said above, I think it’s not so much about having a ‘good’ word count as NOT having a BAD one…for example, the first Harry Potter novel probably wouldn’t have sold if it was nine hundred pages (like the fifth one was) since it was for little kids. Nor would an adult-aimed novel probably sell if it was only a hundred pages. I personally don’t worry too much over it as long as it’s in a reasonable range.
      Good luck with your novel! :)

  2. L. Marie says:

    Great chart! And how cool that your novel is within the acceptable range. :-)

  3. Great post, I found you’re little graphic/picture super helpful. I’ve been writing my first YA novel, the first draft came to around the 100,000 mark. After making some notable changes (cutting out the unnecessary backstories and character mainly) i’ve got it down to 60,000. At first I thought this was too small and I needed to rework some things but now i’ve seen this post I feel so much better :D thanks for the help!

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