Thanks to everyone who has made this biennial post a favorite of the blog. Whether you are a seasoned novelist or a newbie author, I wish you good luck on your work in progress. Now on to word counts for traditionally published and indie authors.

To get a sense of the traditional market, we look to the New York Times. This year, I’m going to switch it up a little and look at the monthly Young Adult Paperback list.

NY Times Young Adult Paperback Bestsellers List June 2020

 Title Word Count*
 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak 152,000
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven104,000
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez92,000
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green76,000
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne53,750
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds84,000
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon96,000
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson72,000
The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu96,000
Dear Martin by Nic Stone60,000

Average: 88,575
Median: 88,000

*Word counts estimated based on reported page count

I believe this is the first year since I’ve been doing the study that as many as 8 of the 10 were under 100,000 words. This is the first year it has been that high since 2014. And further confirmation of the belief I’ve had that readers are trending toward shorter books. However, I have to wonder if the current pandemic will have an affect. Perhaps more time at home will result in a desire for longer reads? It’s still too early to tell.

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 – June 16, 2020
Note: Includes only English books and excludes book sets

 Title Word Count
Pawn by Karen Lynch101,600
This is Falling by Ginger Scott100,590
Scholar of Magic by Michael G. Manning184,110
Feather & Bone by Melissa Wright48,770
Refuge by Karen Lynch145,330
Rogue by Karen Lynch90,210
The Viking’s Captive by Quinn Loftis89,530
(Sur)real by Melissa Haag74,520
(Dis)content by Melissa Haag98,880
The Viking’s Consort by Quinn Loftis96,500

Above chart includes actual reported word counts. Smashwords makes it easy. Box sets and non-English books were excluded.

Average: 105,318   
Median: 98,880

Wow. I mean wow. These numbers show a significant increase over their NY Times counterparts and even a healthy increase from my last word count study in 2018. It may also interest you to know that every single book that made the list was part of a series. Only two were first in series, two were second in series, three were third in series, one was fifth in series, and two were sixth in series. Three series had two books on the list. A real testament to the thought that if you have something good, roll with it.

Bottom Line for 2020,
in regard to traditionally published books, 72,000-96,000 seems to be the magic range; while indie published books range a little higher at 90,000-100,000 words.

And speaking of past years, how does 2020 measure up? Time for a pretty graph!

Smashwords Bestsellers Average Word Counts
2020: 105,318
2018: 85,790
2016: 99,468
2014: 83,829

B&N and NY Times Bestsellers Average Word Counts
NYT 2020: 88,575
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 2018
Do Word Counts Count 2016 edition
Do Word Counts Count 2014