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Thread: Word count for YA?

  1. #1
    Copyediting Queen oneidii's Avatar
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    Question Word count for YA?

    Hello all, I was on the Novel writing board and saw something where they advise YA writers that the minimum-maximum word count is 80-100K! When I started they advised that for first time writers (and YA writers, coincidentally) the word count is somewhere between 50-70K.

    What do you think? Who is right? 50-60? 60-70? 80-100? Thanks!
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  2. #2
    Outside the box, with the bunnehz KimJo's Avatar
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    Most publishers whose guidelines I've looked up have minimum word lengths for YA in the range of 40,000-50,000 words. Some will take shorter (I've seen a couple with minimum lengths of 35,000 words), and there's a whole different set of rules for free-verse novels.
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  3. #3
    haz a shiny new book cover Christine N.'s Avatar
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    I was told once (and I don't remember who it was that told me) that 40-60K is the standard. Of course, first time authors should probably try to keep it closer to 40, where the already pubbed one might be able to get away with over 60.

    I usually try to aim for 50k, some books a little more, some a little less. I think my first book (see sig) came in around 49K after editing.
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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW mdmkay's Avatar
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    The standard I use is for a short to med (I'm talking novels here) YA-55,000-70,000 and a long is 80,000 plus. Alot of depends on how complicated the story plot is and more important than any word count is that the plot moves fairly quickly and well. With a YA you don't want to go with one simple plot but one main plot that branches into several sub-plots that nicely come together at that end. It's also very important that the sub-plots relate somehow to the main plot so when everything ties together it does so in a fairly seamless way. It doesn't have to directly be part of the main theme but it has to be related to it in some way. The sub-plots can't go willy-nilly in every direction either or you lose sight of the main theme and lose the reader.
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  5. #5
    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. AW Moderator Torgo's Avatar
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    I'm going to go for the lower limit, actually - I think minimum 25-30K, although most things are going to be quite a lot longer.

  6. #6
    NatashaFX
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    Word count for YA

    Hi,

    It depends on the publisher you are going to try to submit to, not whether it's your first book or not. Smooch an imprint of Dorchester has a word count of 45K max and they target teens and preteens, no swearing, no sex, romance sans sex okay etc. Think the Super What! series.

    Jam is 60K max and they targer older teens and look for books that are edgier, sex, drugs and alcohol okay..think Gossip Girls, the A-list etc.

    The book I'm writing can go either way but I'm leaning more towards Smooch's standards.

    Both lines are actively seeking fresh material. I know several ladies who have gotten multi-book deals from both lines this year.

    Good luck.

    Natasha
    www.NatashaFX.com

  7. #7
    blueiguana
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    I've noticed that a lot of YA SF/Fantasy tends to be longer in length - even books from 1rst time writers.

  8. #8
    haz a shiny new book cover Christine N.'s Avatar
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    Well, yeah. And that's what I write, so, that's the wc I kind of go by. Actually, it's MG, so it's kind of long for that.
    I like the new catagory of 10-14 year olds. You can write longer than you can for 8 yo's.
    Christine

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  9. #9
    practical experience, FTW Provrb1810meggy's Avatar
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    I'm marketing my book as YA and it's 48,000 words. Only one agent rejected me based on that, saying it was too short. I believe my book would be aimed more toward the 10-14 year olds, than say the 14-18, or the 8-12.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Torgo
    I'm going to go for the lower limit, actually - I think minimum 25-30K
    I'd say that 25-30k is very short for a YA novel. Bear in mind that kids in this age group are probably already reading adult novels, whether chick-lit or Stephen King. However, there is space in this market for those teenagers who have a low reading age, but don't want to be stuck with 8-12 age group books. If that's the case, then this audience should be considered from the outset because you're going to have to be careful with vocabulary.

    I'd agree with Mdmkay up there, that it's not necessarily the word count you should worry about, but the focus of the story. Adult novels can wander here there and everywhere, have loose ends, subplots that are left and resurrected (basically, just bad writing ). YA novels require a lot more control.

    I guess the best way to find out how is to read everything you can get your hands on - and not just the good stuff. We often learn more from the books that miss the mark than the trying to unravel the mysteries of the YA blockbuster.

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  11. #11
    practical experience, FTW stephblake24's Avatar
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    I am shopping a light YA/MG for ages 10 and up @ 20,000 words. Harper Collins imprint has asked for a partial.

  12. #12
    practical experience, FTW Toni1953's Avatar
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    When I was at the Backspace Conference a few weeks ago, agent Jenny Bent said that 50,000 words was "perfect" for a YA novel.
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