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ILove2Write
07-26-2007, 11:20 PM
I'm not sure if I'm putting this in the right section, but I was just wondering if anyone knows, or if there is a good site that lists the genre and typical/average length of words for sending in manuscripts?

For instance, I heard somewhere that adult novels should be 50,000 words or over. Is this the same with Young Adult novels?

Thanks! ;)

ccarver30
07-26-2007, 11:45 PM
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=35603

Soccer Mom
07-27-2007, 12:14 AM
Young Adult is typically about 50K (rough estimate). Adult is longer. Fantasy is longer still. BFF is the longest. (That's Big Fat Fantasy. Not Best Friends Forever).

Jamesaritchie
07-27-2007, 01:18 AM
It's dangerous to generalize about length. You have to check publisher's guidelines and see what they want. A novel that's the perfect length for one may well be too short or too long for another.

scarletpeaches
07-27-2007, 01:21 AM
How long is a piece of string?

Today's episizzle of simple answers to simple questions was brought to you by S. Peaches, genius.

ccarver30
07-27-2007, 01:35 AM
How long is a piece of string?

Today's episizzle of simple answers to simple questions was brought to you by S. Peaches, genius.

Hey, you've used that before!!

scarletpeaches
07-27-2007, 01:37 AM
It's been asked before. ;)

ccarver30
07-27-2007, 01:39 AM
Only about 437924932842492398492 times. :)

scarletpeaches
07-27-2007, 01:42 AM
Your avatar increases in hotness each day. Have him washed and sent to my room.

ccarver30
07-27-2007, 01:50 AM
I change it like, 3 times a day. LOL I have to share the hotness.

Bo Sullivan
07-27-2007, 01:52 AM
My last book was 184 pages; twelve chapters and one appendix. My friends complained it was not long enough. My first book was 207 pages and sixteen chapters (and no complaints).

My new work in progress is currently 33,165 words with twelve chapters but it is nowhere near finished yet. I'm hoping for at least fifteen chapters. Tomorrow I am going to write about Newgate Prison and some notorious prisoners in 1692. I am looking forward to it and it should be good fun.

I read somewhere that a book should be between 12 and 24 chapters. I also read that each chapter should be about 2,000 words. That is not always adhered to by authors though, and some bestselling books out now, in the historical novel market have really short chapters. Some readers like that and others do not.

Jamesaritchie
07-27-2007, 02:27 AM
My last book was 184 pages; twelve chapters and one appendix. My friends complained it was not long enough. My first book was 207 pages and sixteen chapters (and no complaints).

My new work in progress is currently 33,165 words with twelve chapters but it is nowhere near finished yet. I'm hoping for at least fifteen chapters. Tomorrow I am going to write about Newgate Prison and some notorious prisoners in 1692. I am looking forward to it and it should be good fun.

I read somewhere that a book should be between 12 and 24 chapters. I also read that each chapter should be about 2,000 words. That is not always adhered to by authors though, and some bestselling books out now, in the historical novel market have really short chapters. Some readers like that and others do not.


There is no rule at all about number or length of chapters. I don't know where such "rules" come from, but certainly not from publishers, editors, or agents.

The "average" adult novel is 100,000 words, and the vast majority of adult publishers want novels between 80,000--120,000 words. Anything shorter or longer has a much tougher time selling.

Bo Sullivan
07-27-2007, 02:30 AM
There is no rule at all about number or length of chapters. I don't know where such "rules" come from, but certainly not from publishers, editors, or agents.

The "average" adult novel is 100,000 words, and the vast majority of adult publishers want novels between 80,000--120,000 words. Anything shorter or longer has a much tougher time selling.

Sorry, I was just trying to be helpful to the posters, by telling them of my experiences - I wasn't professing to be a wizard in the book writing industry! Nevertheless your figures are far more helpful than mine.

Birol
07-27-2007, 03:58 AM
Duped, your experiences and perceptions are as helpful and pertinent as anyone else's. While an accomplished writer, JAR's information is based on his own experiences and it does not always match other writers' information, which is based on their own experiences.

Jamesaritchie
07-27-2007, 04:33 AM
Duped, your experiences and perceptions are as helpful and pertinent as anyone else's. While an accomplished writer, JAR's information is based on his own experiences and it does not always match other writers' information, which is based on their own experiences.

Yes, his information is helpful. But it isn't my experience that says anyone out there cares about chapter length or number of chapters. No one cares. Period.

There's your own experience, and then there are facts, figures and guidelines put out by agents, editors, and publishers in general. Whenever possible, these are what writers need to go by, not anyone's own experience.

Shady Lane
07-27-2007, 05:17 AM
I'm not sure if I'm putting this in the right section, but I was just wondering if anyone knows, or if there is a good site that lists the genre and typical/average length of words for sending in manuscripts?

For instance, I heard somewhere that adult novels should be 50,000 words or over. Is this the same with Young Adult novels?

Thanks! ;)

50K-80K is generally good for a YA.

Please don't jump on me for this answer. I'm just trying to be helpful.

Azraelsbane
07-27-2007, 05:31 AM
50K-80K is generally good for a YA.

Please don't jump on me for this answer. I'm just trying to be helpful.

*pounce* Ha!

Ageless Stranger
07-27-2007, 02:12 PM
Hmm, well I'm writing a dark fantasy that's at about 70K over about 30 chapters, some being tiny, less than half a page, others beiing stretched across ten or more pages. The story decides the length.

scarletpeaches
07-27-2007, 02:17 PM
Yes, his information is helpful. But it isn't my experience that says anyone out there cares about chapter length or number of chapters. No one cares. Period.

There's your own experience, and then there are facts, figures and guidelines put out by agents, editors, and publishers in general. Whenever possible, these are what writers need to go by, not anyone's own experience.

Surely one's own experiences are as the result of dealing with these self-same industry gods?

Julie Worth
07-27-2007, 02:42 PM
For instance, I heard somewhere that adult novels should be 50,000 words or over. Is this the same with Young Adult novels?


It's a buyer's market. Agents get so many queries that they look for quick ways of rejecting them. Adult novel, fifty thousand words, pass. One hundred and fifty, pass. No need to even read the query. That's not all agents, by any means, but you can be sure you will lose a good percentage. And even with the others, you have one strike against you. (Unless you have a recognizable name, of course.)

YA is shorter, generally ranging from 40 to 75 thousand. So 50 thousand is a good number.

Nathan Bransford
07-27-2007, 07:41 PM
I don't know what's in the water, but I've been receiving quite a few queries for novels over 300,000 words lately. I try to be open-minded about word count, but WOW. That makes you pause.

Calla Lily
07-27-2007, 07:48 PM
I'm currently copyediting a historical fiction that should finish at around 100k. That's not as gasp-inducing as it could be--the original ms was 285k. :eek: The author decided he'd have a better chance if he cut it in 2. (I agreed with him.)

Enraptured
07-27-2007, 07:57 PM
I'm a bit worried about my 150,000-word novel that I'm currently sending out queries for. But I don't think it can be cut down any further; I've already trimmed about 45k off it. The original was 194k :eek:

Kristin Landon
07-27-2007, 08:07 PM
At a writers' conference I once met a writer who was suffering agonies with his WIP because he seriously believed that all chapters must be exactly 20 pages long, no more, no less. Someone he trusted had told him this, and he was sawing and padding and mutating his story to fit. He was tremulously grateful to be told it wasn't true.

Chapters are tools like paragraphs. If a short chapter serves a purpose (say, to set off a complete POV and setting shift at a swiftly moving turn in the story; or to briskly bring a story to an end), I say use it. And I do; my current book ends with a couple of two-page chapters.

I was told to aim for 100K for my book and its sequel, with very little wiggle room. From what I see, the standard does get more flexible with success.

Soccer Mom
07-27-2007, 08:14 PM
I don't know what's in the water, but I've been receiving quite a few queries for novels over 300,000 words lately. I try to be open-minded about word count, but WOW. That makes you pause.

300,000?

:Jaw:

ChunkyC
07-27-2007, 08:31 PM
Wasn't me. :D


At a writers' conference I once met a writer who was suffering agonies with his WIP because he seriously believed that all chapters must be exactly 20 pages long, no more, no less.
Yikes. When I first started trying to write a novel, I heard things like this too. But all you have to do is pull a novel off your bookshelf and check chapter lengths to see it isn't true at all. I just finished a book by Ray Bradbury where a 21 page chapter was followed by one only a page and a half in length. Everything, from chapter length to paragraph length, etc., just has to serve the story.

Julie Worth
07-27-2007, 08:57 PM
I don't know what's in the water, but I've been receiving quite a few queries for novels over 300,000 words lately. I try to be open-minded about word count, but WOW. That makes you pause.


One of the contestants in the Gather/Simon & Schuster contest entered a novel of more than 600 thousand words. And he wasn't even insane.

Birol
07-27-2007, 09:04 PM
And he wasn't even insane.

Are you positive about that?

maestrowork
07-27-2007, 09:11 PM
One of the contestants in the Gather/Simon & Schuster contest entered a novel of more than 600 thousand words. And he wasn't even insane.

Reminds me of the scene in Wonder Boys: Grady Tripp types his new chapter... Page 2434 (or some such).

:WOW:

blacbird
07-27-2007, 09:44 PM
I don't think it can be cut down any further;

The first symptom that it can be.

caw

scarletpeaches
07-27-2007, 09:45 PM
Haven't any of you ever read A Suitable Boy?

ccarver30
07-27-2007, 10:37 PM
random: Don't call me Nicky either. Ick!

blacbird
07-27-2007, 10:38 PM
Haven't any of you ever read A Suitable Boy?

I started it a while ago, but then my forklift went on the fritz.

caw

RickN
07-27-2007, 10:43 PM
At a writers' conference I once met a writer who was suffering agonies with his WIP because he seriously believed that all chapters must be exactly 20 pages long, no more, no less. Someone he trusted had told him this, and he was sawing and padding and mutating his story to fit. He was tremulously grateful to be told it wasn't true.

Any chance I can get his name? I have all kinds of stuff I can sell to someone that gullible. :-)

Does he not read novels? Has he never noticed that there's not a single book like that? Anywhere.

This is like being told that his car must be painted in polka-dots and blissfully ignoring the thousands of non-polka-dotted cars around him.

Whenever I hear something like this, I renew my belief that there are people who are purposefully clueless.

Viola2007
07-28-2007, 05:54 PM
Please donīt be so harsh with us, novices. There are so many esoteric rules out there and they change everyday. :rant: I also agonized over the length of my chapters until some good soul set me straight.
My novel was trimmed from 230k to 120k. Still too long, according to many. After getting my second rejection,I am wondering if word count is among the 50 faults that forced the agents to reject it.
This novel, that I am seriously thinking of shelving for a better year, was originally part of a trilogy. Then, I was told that it stood a better chance as a single book. Is that so? Are there any writers that have began their careers with a trilogy?

RickN
07-28-2007, 08:13 PM
Please donīt be so harsh with us, novices. There are so many esoteric rules out there and they change everyday. :rant: I also agonized over the length of my chapters until some good soul set me straight.

I'm not trying to be harsh; I'm just incredulous. I don't think being a novice has anything to do with it, either. It's just common sense. If I told you that a novel cannot use the letter 'h' or it goes into the rejected pile, would you tell me "That's ridiculous, I've read hundreds of novels in my life and they all use 'h'; plus I've talked to agents, read writing 'how-to' books, read manuscript guidelines on publisher's website and none of them mention this." Or would you immediately start thinking of how to get around writing 'the' in your work. The fact that you're here and reading/learning/chatting about writing tells me how you would answer. So, when I saw the 20-page comment the first thing that struck me was that here is a writer that has not done the barest of due diligence in his chosen craft, i.e. reading a book. Any book.

Even the esoteric (I love that word) guidelines make sense. Double spacing, set list of acceptable fonts, etc are meant to make it easier on the editor/agents. Bizarre requirements (every chapter must begin with the word 'discombobulate') don't get my attention or my submissions.



My novel was trimmed from 230k to 120k. Still too long, according to many. After getting my second rejection,I am wondering if word count is among the 50 faults that forced the agents to reject it.

I spoke with an agent in the bar last week at the Harriette Austin Writers Conference in Athen's GA. His comment on this topic was that he prefers 100k or less; if it's your first book try and come in around 90k. Word count leads to page count leads to cost of printing -- publishers are less likely to take a first-time novelist's book if it costs too much to produce. The agents you're dealing with may have the same feeling. (the conversation dealt with mystery/suspense/thriller genre fiction, not young-adult, etc, so your page count requirements may vary.)

Azraelsbane
07-29-2007, 12:23 AM
So... that 20 page thing, was it single spaced, double spaced, or book pages? ;)

Sometimes I wish my chapters were only 20 book pages. They're a pretty maddening range, between 5-16 pages single spaced. I double space it later, because I can't stand to write with the gaps.

As for the ueber long word counts... Well, if I combine the four books in my series and do it LotR style, it's about 536,000 words, but I doubt that counts. :D

aruna
07-29-2007, 08:16 AM
Haven't any of you ever read A Suitable Boy?
One of my favourite books!

I'm one of those people who will grab the fattest book on a bookshelf just because of its fatness - I LOVE long books! And I know several other readers who do... (and one editor, my German editor. She told me she just adores fat books.)

My first published book, the one that sold within a week of being taken on by an agent, was 150000 words. They gave me a contract for two more unwritten books each of approx. 150000 words.

So the quick answer is, "it depends".

scarletpeaches
07-29-2007, 04:53 PM
I especially love Seth's verse at the start of the book: "...buy me before good sense insists/ you'll strain your purse and sprain your wrists." :D

ILove2Write
07-31-2007, 09:48 PM
Thanks to all who replied. I've been wondering if it really matters. Apparently it looks like every publisher is different with length so it's pretty much luck of the draw.

Will Lavender
07-31-2007, 09:58 PM
Reminds me of the scene in Wonder Boys: Grady Tripp types his new chapter... Page 2434 (or some such).

:WOW:

Hilarious scene when Tripp says something like, "I knew the book was doomed when I started getting into the genalogies of the characters' horses."

:D

SDBmania
08-02-2007, 11:31 AM
I've passed 30 chapters and I am almost at 58,000 words. My first book, which I self-published, was about 75,000 words around 35 chapters or so.

I'm getting close to the end on my second book. I'm hoping to reach around 80,000 words when I finish. It's going to be close.

I'd say 70-80 thousand is good, but the more the merrier. As long as the story is good, I think that's more important.