Word Count for Novels
I am obsessed with word counts for YA and MG novels. Especially debut books. When I go to the local bookstore and browse the YA and MG sections, I sometimes take out my iPhone and take a quick shot of the cover. It makes me feel like I'm in a John LeCarre novel. When I get back home, I look up the book on one of the sites below and find out the word count.
I don't know why I do this.
I've only written a few novels. The first one was a MG at about 60k and the second one was a YA fantasy at about 59k. But the one that got me signed--Hurray--is a 36k MG.
My research tells me that around 36k is the sweet spot for MG. Although, I'm sure we've all seen MG books that are 80k+.
I find it interesting to see how many words a writer uses to tell a story. Some writer--I forget who-- said to use as many words as it takes to tell the story. I don't think I'll ever be a writer with high word counts for my books. I like paring down as much as possible.
Right now, I'm working on a contemporary YA with only one very crucial fantastical element in it.
I feel like it's done at almost 30k. But that can't be right. From what I understand, contemporary YA can be a lot shorter than other categories like romance, paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy. We'll see what happens. I still need some plotting to do on it and it may grow in length.
Here are a few really short books that were well-received and went on to win major awards:
When You Reach Me is only 39k words and won the Newberry Medal and a slew of other awards.
(That's an interesting word: slew. Say it with me: sleeeewwwwww. Let it roll around your tongue. Yum. Very satisfying word.)
Skellig comes in at only 31, 202 words. It won the Carnegie Medal, the Whitbread Children's Book of the Year, was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book of theYear and received many more accolades.
Anyway, two sites have been helpful in satisfying my need-to-know for word counts. Maybe you'll find them helpful, too.
One is AR BookFinder. The other is RenLearn.
I hope that 2014 brings you success in your writing endeavors!