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emma_kate
06-03-2010, 05:35 AM
Is there a gerneral word count bracket YA novels should run between? I was just reading this morning on an author's blog that her work was about 82k words...and my novel is currently sitting on 103k and I anticipate it to be around 120k give or take when its done.

So question...is this way too much? Or is word count specific to publishing houses/agents/etc?

I can cut things out if worse comes to worse and I most likely will when I edit it after I complete this first draft, but I was just wondering...as I kind of start writing and don't stop! :P

Thanks! :D

Smish
06-03-2010, 05:38 AM
120,000 is definitely long...

If it's a fantasy-type novel, the novel can be longer to account for world-building, etc. Even so, I think a 120,000 word YA novel is going to be a hard sell.

suki
06-03-2010, 05:39 AM
Is there a gerneral word count bracket YA novels should run between? I was just reading this morning on an author's blog that her work was about 82k words...and my novel is currently sitting on 103k and I anticipate it to be around 120k give or take when its done.

So question...is this way too much? Or is word count specific to publishing houses/agents/etc?

I can cut things out if worse comes to worse and I most likely will when I edit it after I complete this first draft, but I was just wondering...as I kind of start writing and don't stop! :P

Thanks! :D

This question comes up a lot - I mean, a lot a lot.

If you go to the search function up top - and hit advanced, it will bring up a search options thing. Search for wordcount (all one word) - and you can even search just in the Young Adult forum. And it will bring up lots of threads on the subject, but to get you started:

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=102280&highlight=wordcount

ETA: And here's a post from Agent Colleen Lindsay. http://theswivet.blogspot.com/2008/03/on-word-counts-and-novel-length.html Obviously she's only one agent, and some agents won't really care, but her viewpoint seems pretty common among YA agents.

The short answer is anything over 100,000 words is going to raise eyebrows unless it is fantasy. And the further away you get from 100,000 words, the harder it will be to get an agent to read it. The sweet spot for contemporary YA is under 80,000 words, but if you query under 90,000 you should be ok. The further you get from that, the harder it will be to get partial/full requests. Not impossible, but harder.

~suki

The Kidd
06-03-2010, 07:17 AM
Welcome to AW :)

You are going to have an very hard time getting an agent to look at a 120,000 word manuscript. YA tends to run between 45k-80k that is what most people consider to be the 'safe' zone. Every now and then you will have a new writer that pumps out one of those 100,000+ whoppers but it doesn't happen very often, and those that do usually are picked up from a publisher's slush pile.

If you are worried maybe you could have a beta reader look over it and find where you can trim it down. You have to make sure you need those words, if doesn't move the story along then you don't need it.

Sage
06-03-2010, 07:47 AM
And here from our invisible FAQ are some word count threads:

What's the right word count for YA? Is your novel too long, too short, does it matter?

What Constitutes YA Fiction (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=98377)
Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult: How do you categorize your novel? (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=164605)
Word Count for Young Adult Novels (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=102280)
YA length? (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=150737)
YA Word Counts (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35265)
I don't believe that 50k-70k can be applied to YA anymore (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=147605)
quick question about word count (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=43463)
Why can't it be okay? (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=115681)

kaitiepaige17
06-03-2010, 07:51 AM
What kid said. No less than 45k I would say, and probably not more than 85k for a new writer.

suki
06-03-2010, 07:59 AM
Thanks Sage! I was looking for some of those earlier and got frustrated when I couldn't find them.

~suki

emma_kate
06-03-2010, 12:16 PM
Aw gosh, I should have done a search before posting this thread *smacks head* It didn't occur to me - whoops! :D

Thanks for the responses. I've managed to chop a few scenes out and I really appreciate all the links everyone gave me - they'll help a LOT! :D

And next time I'll remember to search before posting an already popular question ;) :D

Thanks! :Hug2:

eyeblink
06-03-2010, 12:17 PM
On the other hand, it can be done. One regular poster on these boards has agent representation for her 120,000-word YA novel...

The question is, for your novel, is 120k the right length? Can it be edited?

I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum. In its third draft, Partings and Greetings has just gone over 47k for the first time in its life, and I've had people say, "Isn't that a bit too short?"

shaldna
06-03-2010, 05:44 PM
YA is getting longer.

I remember a time when YA ran at around 20k. These days it can be anywhere from 35k-130k and anywhere inbetween.

Glenakin
06-03-2010, 10:34 PM
120,000 is definitely long...

If it's a fantasy-type novel, the novel can be longer to account for world-building, etc. Even so, I think a 120,000 word YA novel is going to be a hard sell.

No, it's not. Beautiful Creatures is 147,695 words.

@ OP, keep it btw 80k to 150k. The thing is, every word has to count. So all your 120k words, are they mostly fillers? In which case, they need to leave. If the words count, if they're necessary, then an agent/publisher won't mind.

Don't be bothered about YA readers reading big books. That happens all the time. Like I mentioned, Beautiful Creatures is well over 120k and people ate that like chocolate ;)

wandergirl
06-03-2010, 11:14 PM
No, it's not. Beautiful Creatures is 147,695 words.

@ OP, keep it btw 80k to 150k. The thing is, every word has to count. So all your 120k words, are they mostly fillers? In which case, they need to leave. If the words count, if they're necessary, then an agent/publisher won't mind.

Don't be bothered about YA readers reading big books. That happens all the time. Like I mentioned, Beautiful Creatures is well over 120k and people ate that like chocolate ;)

aaaaughhh

YES, a YA book over 100k is indeed going to be a harder sell. A YA book over 120k is going to be an even harder sell, and a YA book closing in on 150k is going to be a TREMENDOUSLY hard sell, both to agents and to editors. They're more expensive to print. They're harder to sell to bookstores. But most importantly, in almost every case -- and I might argue, including the book you alluded to -- massive wordcounts signify a whole lot of wordage that can be cut.

Pointing out the rare, rare exception to a set of guidelines does not shatter them, and it definitely doesn't mean new writers should disregard them. Of course, there's no need to follow every rule, every time -- as long as you understand the reason behind them, because there's usually a good one.

"Make every word count" is what's really important. Thing is, it can be extremely difficult for newer writers (heck, even established authors) to determine what words and scenes and subplots and tertiary characters are necessary and what's fluff. That's why having multiple betas is important. Not the kind of betas who just compliment you, but mean ones. Ones with chainsaws.

Bottom line: this is such a hard industry to break into. Why make it any harder on yourself?

wandergirl
06-03-2010, 11:18 PM
also, emma, the renaissance learning quiz store (http://www.renlearn.com/store/country.asp?back=%2Fstore%2FDefault.asp&refer=) is a great place to research the word counts of various books.

YAwriter72
06-03-2010, 11:18 PM
On the other hand, it can be done. One regular poster on these boards has agent representation for her 120,000-word YA novel...

The question is, for your novel, is 120k the right length? Can it be edited?

I'm at the opposite end of the spectrum. In its third draft, Partings and Greetings has just gone over 47k for the first time in it's life, and I've had people say, "Isn't that a bit too short?"


HA! This is me. I cannot for the life of my write a book over 52k. Can.Not. I've written 4 books, the longest was 52k. I typically come in right around 48-50k. I write UF and/or paranormal YA.

Smish
06-04-2010, 12:52 AM
No, it's not. Beautiful Creatures is 147,695 words.

@ OP, keep it btw 80k to 150k. The thing is, every word has to count. So all your 120k words, are they mostly fillers? In which case, they need to leave. If the words count, if they're necessary, then an agent/publisher won't mind.

Don't be bothered about YA readers reading big books. That happens all the time. Like I mentioned, Beautiful Creatures is well over 120k and people ate that like chocolate ;)

Yes, it most definitely is.

I didn't say it'd be impossible, just harder. A whole lot harder. Many agents and editors will automatically reject a novel of that length.

Sure, there are longer novels for teens, but they are the exception to the rule. If every word in your novel counts, and it absolutely must be over 100,000 words, so be it. That may indeed be the perfect length. But it WILL be a harder sell.

Shady Lane
06-04-2010, 01:24 AM
HA! This is me. I cannot for the life of my write a book over 52k. Can.Not. I've written 4 books, the longest was 52k. I typically come in right around 48-50k. I write UF and/or paranormal YA.

this. I have no idea how you guys use that many words. I'm going to finish a first draft in a few days, and I'll be damn lucky if it's over 25K. I can get it to about 45K in edits, but my stuff rarely gets any bigger than that.

BREAK is about 43K (first draft was 27K) and INVINCIBLE SUMMER is 51K (first draft was 23K).

Glenakin
06-04-2010, 02:27 AM
aaaaughhh

YES, a YA book over 100k is indeed going to be a harder sell. A YA book over 120k is going to be an even harder sell, and a YA book closing in on 150k is going to be a TREMENDOUSLY hard sell, both to agents and to editors. They're more expensive to print. They're harder to sell to bookstores. But most importantly, in almost every case -- and I might argue, including the book you alluded to -- massive wordcounts signify a whole lot of wordage that can be cut.

Pointing out the rare, rare exception to a set of guidelines does not shatter them, and it definitely doesn't mean new writers should disregard them. Of course, there's no need to follow every rule, every time -- as long as you understand the reason behind them, because there's usually a good one.

"Make every word count" is what's really important. Thing is, it can be extremely difficult for newer writers (heck, even established authors) to determine what words and scenes and subplots and tertiary characters are necessary and what's fluff. That's why having multiple betas is important. Not the kind of betas who just compliment you, but mean ones. Ones with chainsaws.

Bottom line: this is such a hard industry to break into. Why make it any harder on yourself?

Yes, it most definitely is.

I didn't say it'd be impossible, just harder. A whole lot harder. Many agents and editors will automatically reject a novel of that length.

Sure, there are longer novels for teens, but they are the exception to the rule. If every word in your novel counts, and it absolutely must be over 100,000 words, so be it. That may indeed be the perfect length. But it WILL be a harder sell.

Harder to sell does not equal impossible to sell. And writers have to figure out how to make every word count, just as they have to figure out how to structure characters, plots, etc. These are basic writing rules.

We don't see that many YA novels over 100k mostly becos, to be honest, how many YA stories actually require 100k words? A 90K limit is sufficient enough to tell a story, especially in YA.

Still, you never can say. I don't usually worry myself over these rules. I just write. When I'm done, I edit, revise, edit, revise, over and over, until I'm satisfied, which I would advise the OP to do.

If you write something that is really that good and is close to 120k words publishers will buy it without blinking. There are rare instances, yes, but it does happen.

Smish
06-04-2010, 02:56 AM
Harder to sell does not equal impossible to sell. And writers have to figure out how to make every word count, just as they have to figure out how to structure characters, plots, etc. These are basic writing rules.

We don't see that many YA novels over 100k mostly becos, to be honest, how many YA stories actually require 100k words? A 90K limit is sufficient enough to tell a story, especially in YA.

Still, you never can say. I don't usually worry myself over these rules. I just write. When I'm done, I edit, revise, edit, revise, over and over, until I'm satisfied, which I would advise the OP to do.

If you write something that is really that good and is close to 120k words publishers will buy it without blinking. There are rare instances, yes, but it does happen.

No one ever said it was impossible, or that fat books don't exist in YA. We simply said it was a harder sell, and it is.

And no matter how good the book is, with a 120,000 word count, the publisher will blink. I guarantee it. If it's good enough, they'll go ahead and publish it, but they'll talk long and hard about it first. As wandergirl pointed out, fat books cost publishers more money (and not just in printing costs. Fat books take more time and money to edit, etc). And money is the issue for the publishers at the end of the day.

Dot Hutchison
06-04-2010, 03:54 AM
Later books in the series are probably easier to sell if they're a bit thicker; by then, readers are already invested (Harry Potter, Twilight, Keys to the Kingdom, etc). But for a first book, agents and publishers are probably going to be a little leery of anything over the 100K mark.

That being said, Twilight is a little over 115K.

Roly
06-04-2010, 04:01 AM
I wrote about my own experiences with this on my blog (http://saraholutola.livejournal.com/8880.html). I hope it helps!

emma_kate
06-04-2010, 04:06 AM
Not the kind of betas who just compliment you, but mean ones. Ones with chainsaws.



Who's got a chainsaw?? :roll:That made me LOL :D ;)

There's a heap of good advice here. I guess my only problem right now is I have trouble finding beta readers I trust - the couple I've had either A. Turn into writers and flat out copy my work :cry:or B. Beg, cry, winge until they get to see part of the book and then never give me feedback other than "this is great!" and I'm like, well, thanks but I need a bit more than that...

So I'll work on finding someone...

I was mostly going to finish the book the way it is with plot and then hack what I can from it. There are a few scenes I've pinpointed that can definitely go, so I hope I'll get it into a good length in the near future...

But I have kept everything I've written and every outtake in case I cut something that I really shouldn't :)

This advice has been invaluable, thanks guys :)

Smish
06-04-2010, 04:30 AM
That being said, Twilight is a little over 115K.

Ah, yes, but when your agent is Jodi Reamer, well, your book will sell...

Glenakin
06-04-2010, 04:31 AM
No one ever said it was impossible, or that fat books don't exist in YA. We simply said it was a harder sell, and it is.

And no matter how good the book is, with a 120,000 word count, the publisher will blink. I guarantee it. If it's good enough, they'll go ahead and publish it, but they'll talk long and hard about it first. As wandergirl pointed out, fat books cost publishers more money (and not just in printing costs. Fat books take more time and money to edit, etc). And money is the issue for the publishers at the end of the day.
Blink or not, they'll still buy it if they want it. And sometimes they dont even have to blink. Justin Cronin wrote a book called the Passage (coming out June 8, 2010). Half way through in 2007, when it was clearly headed for the 120k mark, his agent sent it out. He got $3million for it (after an intense bidding war. And bidding wars usually equal Publishers NOT blinking). The book is probably bigger than Beautiful Creatures.

Now im not saying that that's what's going to happen to everyone who writes books that size. I'm saying, when great books come to publishers or books publishers think are great they don't care about size. They jump at it.

If there's one thing I've learned about the industry, there is no rule. There are only rudimentary guidelines, which can be broken from time to time. Anything is possible. Anything can happen.

Smish
06-04-2010, 04:51 AM
Glenakin:

I don't think we really disagree about much here. The rare 100,000+ word YA novel will occasionally be published. No one has said otherwise.



Emma-Kate:

About beta readers (I thought I posted a response about that earlier, but it seems to have been eaten). It's often best to know a little about your beta readers before handing over your manuscript. No, I don't mean friends or family members should be beta readers. What I mean is that it's useful to know a person's reading and crit styles before choosing them as a beta.

I've found my wonderful beta readers/critique partners here at AW in the SYW section (after seeing their fabulous crits in SYW, and after reading their writing and knowing they're talented writers, I asked them to work with me), and one through SCBWI (if you aren't a member yet, I highly recommend you join. The conferences and events are great.)

Best of luck.

Smish
06-05-2010, 06:39 AM
Just noticed this over in the Ask Kathleen Ortiz! Ask the Agent Summer Spree (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=180079&page=5)! thread. The specific post regarding word count is #111.

It's quite long. Most agents won't read a YA over 100K.

I would definitely make it under 100K, but under 90K would be even better for the sake of at least signing with an agent and selling it to a publisher. Definitely look to see if there's any fluff, scenes that slow the plot, etc that can be cut out.

~K

The Kidd
06-05-2010, 10:39 AM
No, it's not. Beautiful Creatures is 147,695 words.


And much of it could have been chopped in my opinion.

Alitriona
06-05-2010, 08:40 PM
I think YA are getting longer, especially when they are heading toward crossing over into the adult market.

My manuscript was over 150,000 when I finished my third draft and 120,000 when it was submitted for editing, it's on the older end of YA and a paranormal story with a lot of history included about the supernatural race invloved. If the word count is required to make the story complete keep it. As with any manuscript, if there are scenes that can be removed without affecting the story they can and should be removed.