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)
|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|
*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
|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
Most impressive is Goldie the Special Kitten, which 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)
B&N and NY Times Bestsellers Average Word Counts
NYT 2018: 94,200
B&N 2016: 95,225
B&N 2014: 88,875