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.Continue reading “2020 Do word counts count?”
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
It’s that time of year again! Time for my annual Word Counts post where we take a look at YA word counts for traditionally published and indie authors.
So let’s get right down to the nitty gritty. First, we take a look at the traditional-pubbed market. For this, I’m going to pull the bestsellers in the category of YA from Barnes and Noble.
Barnes & Noble Teen Bestsellers for the week beginning June 28, 2016
|Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs||96,250|
|The Last Star by Rick Yancey||88,000|
|Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard||104,000|
|The Cellar by Natasha Preston||92,000|
|The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton||56,000|
|The Book Thief by Markus Zusak||144,000|
|The Novice by Taran Matharu||96,000|
|The Maze Runner by James Dashner||100,000|
|United as One by Pittacus Lore||120,000|
|Kian and JC: Don’t Try This at Home! by Kian Lawley||56,000|
*Estimated based on 250 words per page
Compared to last year’s list of B&N teen bestsellers, word counts are up 13%. I think it is important to note that some of the larger word counts in the list came from books that are the last in their series. Many readers already know to expect the last book to be a bit thicker as the author packs in everything needed to wrap up all the loose ends.
Word counts also increased among indie others when compared to previous years.
Smashwords Bestsellers Young Adult/Teen Category 7/2/16
|The Raven King by Nora Sakavic||105,410|
|The Wild Beasts of Anthony Mannis by Matthew Young||78,020|
|In a House Made of Bones and Teeth by Alyxandra Harvey||16,170|
|Memories of Ash by Intisar Khanani||122,640|
|Valley of the Shadow by Christina Ochs||176,720|
|The Posterchildren: Origins by Kitty Burroughs||133,870|
|Masters of Time by Sarah Woodbury||83,340|
|Between Heaven and Earth by TJ Rudolph||73,480|
|The Dark Wife by SE Diemer||62,180|
|The Alcantaran Key by Terry Compton||142,850|
The average word count for these ten is a whopping 99,468, the highest average for Smashwords bestsellers since I started the Word Count annual posts in 2013. This number also breaks trend by surpassing the B&N bestsellers word count average. Check out the dramatic incline over 2015’s average word count of 68,315 in the comparison chart below.
Those are the stats. Looks like word counts are growing and readers are buying, but let’s not forget the increasing popularity of novellas and Kindle singles. There is one novella-sized novel in the Smashwords bestsellers (there usually is at least one). Amazon’s Kindle Single bestseller lineup is starting to tout big names such as James Patterson, Diana Gabaldon, Lee Child, and Gillian Flynn with page counts ranging from 40 to 86 pages and price points at $1.99 and $2.99 making their work more affordable for the everyday reader and more competitive against indie authors who traditional charge these prices for full novels.
So take these stats with a grain of salt because as we all know…
Length is seldom a measure of a good story.