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Thread: How many words?

  1. #1
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    How many words?

    How many words should a novel that is targeted at a YA audience be? Also, what's the difference between a novel and novella?

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    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    YA likes to be on the shorter side. Typically 70-120K.
    But any good story will be allowed how many words it needs to come out.

    Novella is a shorter than a novel, longer than a short story. Typically under 80K, but I think the standard lands about under 60K.
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    Would a YA novel be sellable at 200,000 words?

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    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bri Perkins View Post
    Would a YA novel be sellable at 200,000 words?
    Ah... if the story needs 200K, and a publisher gets through it all without complaining, anything is possible. Chances are probably nil though. 200K is 800pages, and I've never seen a YA that long.

    I'm guessing that this is your first draft? Possibly first novel? I'm certain you can cut that down. I've seen people with 300K MS take a chainsaw to them and afterward, struggle to meet 100K. Otherwise, if the story is as compact and concise as you can get it and everything has been boiled down to the point that there is absolutely no way you can cut it down further, you can always break it up into 2 books of 100K, but each book needs to act as standalone novels, as apposed to 2 volumes of a book.
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    Quote Originally Posted by WillSauger View Post
    Ah... if the story needs 200K, and a publisher gets through it all without complaining, anything is possible. Chances are probably nil though. 200K is 800pages, and I've never seen a YA that long.

    I'm guessing that this is your first draft? Possibly first novel? I'm certain you can cut that down. I've seen people with 300K MS take a chainsaw to them and afterward, struggle to meet 100K. Otherwise, if the story is as compact and concise as you can get it and everything has been boiled down to the point that there is absolutely no way you can cut it down further, you can always break it up into 2 books of 100K, but each book needs to act as standalone novels, as apposed to 2 volumes of a book.
    You make a point. How many pages would 100K generally equate to?

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    The Crazy Man in the Sun. Feel me. WillSauger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bri Perkins View Post
    You make a point. How many pages would 100K generally equate to?
    A page of fiction, more or less equates to 250words (some people count a little higher, some lower).
    So 100K would be around 400pages.

    It all depend on the formatting the publisher uses, shorter/longer paragraphs, and other variables. as a example: A dialogue heavy book might be longer because there's more space taken up on each page.
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    I have to agree with Will, if you can't cut it down to 140K-ish, divide it into two separate books.

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    The cake is a lie. But still cake. shaldna's Avatar
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    200k is very long for a first novel, especially in YA.

    That said, if the novel needs to be that long and it doesn't drag then it's not necessarily going to prevent it being published, but bear in mind that longer novels cost more to physically produce, and that means more money has to be invested into the writer.
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    Angel Wing Fetish VoireyLinger's Avatar
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    200K is far over the target range for fiction, regardless of genre or target audience. Most guidelines I've seen call for YA books to be in the 50K to 100K range. That can vary depending on house or agency, but it's a good ballpark. The main genre will have some bearing on how much you can get away with, just as it does with adult audiences.

    The 250/page count is an old school industry estimate for formatted manuscript pages. (Double spaced, font size 12, 1 inch margins, 25 lines/page, TNR or courier.) Keep in mind it has no relevance on printed book pages.

    Novel vs. novella is often determined by publisher. I've had two books published as 'short novels' in the 30-40K range, but at other publishers those might have been called novellas. My base guideline for book length is -- Under 20K - short story, 20-40K - Novella, 40-60K - category length, 60+ - Novel. Before I sumbit anything, I check publisher/agency guidelines to how they define length and go with their definitions.

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    Always check agent guidelines for submissions when it comes to word count. Agentquery.com is a great place to start querying. Every agent has different word-count guidelines for each genre they read submissions of. The story would have to be a masterpiece, a wonder, to sell at 200k words in any genre, let alone YA.

    Just one random question: You've started like 5 threads in this subforum alone. Do you think you could post all your questions in one single thread? I'm just wondering. I've been lurking for a while, before actually joining 2 weeks ago, and I've never seen a member ask so many questions in the same subforum.

  11. #11
    writer, rider, reader...ex-pat! BethS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bri Perkins View Post
    You make a point. How many pages would 100K generally equate to?
    That can vary a lot, depending on the size of the font, the margins, and the kerning (space between the letters) in the published book. But a 100K novel is generally not a thick book.

    And to answer your original question, 200K is far outside the range of the typical YA manuscript.

    That said, check this vlog by agent Kristin Nelson about why length is the wrong question to be asking.
    Last edited by BethS; 01-04-2013 at 06:17 PM.

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    Benefactor Member Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bri Perkins View Post
    Would a YA novel be sellable at 200,000 words?
    I think it would be a very tough sell for a first time, unpublished author. Even an adult fantasy novel (the genre that's notorious for running long) would be a very tough sell at that length, or any length above about 120k words. YA novels tend to run shorter than adult novels, so 50-80k words would likely be pretty "ideal" for this target audience, and anything over 100k would be considered very long for a YA (or even an adult novel from an unknown writer in most genres).

    This oft cited article has some information about normal and expected lengths for various genres.

    There are exceptions to every rule, of course. An exceptionally well-written novel might be picked up if it exceeds the standard word count (though the agent and or publisher may still work with the author on editing it down, as needed). But something that is double the normal upper level of the standard length for the genre would have a huge strike against it.
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Bri Perkins View Post
    Would a YA novel be sellable at 200,000 words?
    hell no.

  14. #14
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    These sources may be slightly out of date. Word counts seem to be growing slightly higher, but that could just be my perception (or the recent popularity of sci-fi, etc., which tend to have longer word counts.) I'd say 200K is about 100K too long though, sorry to say.

    http://www.fromthemixedupfiles.com/2...d-young-adult/

    http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2011...t-dracula.html

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