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Do word counts count? 2018 edition

Has it been a year already? Time flies when you’re writing words. But just how many words should we be writing? Here’s my annual look at YA word counts for traditionally published and indie authors.

To get a feel for the mainstream market, I usually pull Barnes & Noble’s list of teen bestsellers, but I’d like to change it up a little and instead take a peek at the New York Times.

NY Times Young Adult Hardcover Bestsellers List July 29, 2018
(released early online)

 Title  Word Count*
 The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas  111,750
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi 134,250
Hocus Pocus and the All New Sequel by AW Jantha 132,000
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green 76,000
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus 92,000
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds 80,000
The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert 92,000
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli 92,000
Legendary by Stephanie Garber 116,000
The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth 116,000

Average: 94,200
Median: 92,000

*Word counts estimated based on reported page count

I don’t know about you, but for me, the three bestsellers at 92,000 words really pops out. Two more are just 14,000 words more at 116,000. Two more are within just 16,000 less words at 76,000 and 80,000.

We now take a look at the Smashwords Young Adult or Teen bestsellers to get a look at the books getting notice aside of the big publishing houses. Unlike the NY Times list, this list not only includes novels, but novellas, novellettes, shorts, minis, and everything in between.

Smashwords Bestselling Young Adult or Teen – July 25, 2018
Note: Includes only English books and excludes book sets

 Title  Word Count
 Skating Through by Jennifer Cosgrove  70,430
Her Elysium by Emmy Engberts 81,440
No Sad Songs for Me by Daniel Fleischhacker 67,740
Ice Kingdom by Tiana Warner 85,790
Goldie the Special Kitten by Linda J Oliver 2,450   (selling for $7.99)
Quantum Civil War by Stephen Arseneault 90,210
The Burning Claw by Quinn Loftis 125,540
Cinderella Boy by Kristina Meister 89,180
Luna of Mine by Quinn Loftis 86,320
Love is Blind by Shayna Bueckert 74,170

Above chart includes actual reported word counts.

Average: 77,327   Average excluding 2,450 book: 85,790
Median: 83,615

Most impressive is Goldie the Special Kittenwhich hits the list at a microscopic 2,450 words but sells for $7.99 a copy! The description is riddled with grammatical and typographical errors, but the cover has a kitten in a toilet, so there’s that.

These numbers show a slight decrease from the 2016 B&N numbers, compared to the larger decrease shown in Smashwords word counts.

Bottom Line (yes, I know it’s not really at the bottom)
For 2018, YA bestsellers seem to be steadily set at 85-95,000 words, with 92,000 being a seemingly magic number.

And speaking of past years, how does 2018 measure up?

Smashwords Bestsellers Average Word Counts
2018: 85,790 (excluding Special Kitten)
2016: 99,468
2014: 83,829

B&N and NY Times Bestsellers Average Word Counts
NYT 2018: 94,200
B&N 2016: 95,225
B&N 2014: 88,875

Check out past Word Counts articles on this blog…
Do Word Counts Count 2016 edition
Do Word Counts Count 2015
Do Word Counts Count? 2014 update
Do word counts count?2013

 

 

 

 

 

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