Do Word Counts Count 2016 edition

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

 Title  Word Count*
 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

 Title  Word Count
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.

Past Word Counts Posts
>Do Word Counts Count 2015
>Do Word Counts Count? 2014 update
>Do word counts count? 2013



Indie Author Series: Pricing your eBook

I’ll bet the first thing you asked yourself when you completed your 200+ page novel after weeks and months of blood, sweat, and tears was, “how much am I gonna sell this for?”

What? No? Well, my friend, you are in good company.

The problem is that there is no magic price point. Every project is different and so every price is different dependent on variables such as popularity of the author, length, demand on the genre, release timing, etc.

In a study released in May by Smashwords, $2.99 is the most common price for an indie novel, up from 99 cents in 2012.


The study also says that lower priced novels Continue reading “Indie Author Series: Pricing your eBook”

Indie Author Series: Author Pages

WP_20130114_002Like my wise old lady pic? Thought I needed an intellectual look as I dish out advice on this week’s Indie Author Series subject…Author Pages. New indie authors often make author profiles/pages their first venture into the insanity that is modern book marketing.  I’m included. I remember spending a couple of weeks Continue reading “Indie Author Series: Author Pages”

Indie Author Series: Smashwords

swWelcome to the YA Author Series, a bi-weekly discussion on indie publishing topics brought to you by the Young Adult Indie Carnival crew.

This week’s topic is one of my favorite book distributors, Smashwords. I can’t think of a company who has contributed more to the indie publishing movement.

I’ve always thought of myself as a tech-minded person. I always have to have the newest gadget. I know just enough basic HTML and javascript to get myself in trouble. So when I made the decision to self-publish, turning my work into an ebook was a no-brainer. Still, I had a ton of questions. Continue reading “Indie Author Series: Smashwords”

Notes on Self Publishing

Since self publish ya paranormal romanceI released Of Sun & Moon, I’ve been asked a lot of questions about self-publishing. I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things that I’ve learned with you here as well as some of the answers to the most asked questions.

What software do you use?

I use Microsoft Word to write. I put the entire book in a single file. It’s more difficult to edit that way, but I think that it makes formatting the files for publication easier. It also allows me to go back quickly and re-read a section if I need to. Word files are also very easy to convert for submission to the distribution centers.

Where do you get your covers?

I design my own covers. I have a background in graphic design. The companies that self-publish will want either a .jpg or .pdf format of your cover and will be very specific about the size needed. Less is better on an ebook cover because they often appear very small on computer screens.

Who do you use for publishing/distribution?

I publish with Kindle Direct Publishing (an Amazon company) for the kindle version, Smashwords for the other ebook formats, and Createspace (another Amazon company) for the paperback. I looked into hardback, but couldn’t find a way to self-publish it and still make it affordable. I do pay extra for the upgraded distribution channel at Createspace and found that it is worth it. If you do the upgrade, your paperback flows into Ingram which feeds Barnes & Noble and is where many libraries and other bookstores buy their books. I’ve had a good experience with all three companies.

How do I go about Copyright and ISBN?

Getting your copyright is much easier than you think. You can do it online through the copyright office. There is a fee of $35. When I applied for the first one, I have to admit that I was a bit paranoid. I had read all this stuff about people being harassed because the copyright application is public information and the author’s address and phone number are listed. So, before I filled out the application, I picked up a prepaid cell phone at Walmart and opened a post office box in a nearby town – placing those two items as the contact info on my application. Now in hindsight, I don’t think I would have had to do all that, but better safe than sorry.

You will also need an ISBN. Some stores, such as Apple iBooks, require an ISBN to carry your books. You must have an ISBN for each format. For example, the ebook version cannot use the same ISBN as the paperback version. The three companies listed above all offer a free ISBN as part of their service. ISBN’s come in 10 or 13 characters; either is acceptable, but the newer method is 13 characters.

Why don’t you sell books yourself? Why don’t you sell books at book signings?

That is a conscious decision that I made from the start. My goal was the experience. I do this because I enjoy it, not because I want to roll in dough or become the next JK Rowling (although that would be totally cool). If I have to establish a business, apply for a vendor’s license, and submit quarterly sales tax it is no longer fun.

Do you make a bunch of money in royalties? Do you have to pay a lot to self-publish?

Kindle Direct Publishing, Createspace, and Smashwords do not charge an upfront fee. They take their share from each book that is sold. I did purchase the extra distribution channel at Createspace ($39), Copyright fee ($35), and I chose to purchase a proof copy of the paperback ($19.51 which could have been less, but I’m impatient and had to get the express shipping). That’s it in up-front costs.

I was able to recoup that with royalties, but no, I’m not getting rich from this hobby. I did some extra facebook advertising, book giveaways, and direct mail to hype book 2; so, until I receive my Apple and Nook quarterly sales totals in October, I’m showing in the red. Don’t worry, I’ve still spent far, far less than my husband with his hobby – antique tractor pulls.

As far as writing, what’s your best advice?

I read an article once that said the mark of an inexperienced author is when the author puts in a “he said”, or similar, for every piece of dialogue. Seasoned authors don’t do this. They trust that when the dialog is between two people, the reader is intelligent enough to follow the conversation without this. Omitting these extra words, especially during emotionally charged dialog, allows for better flow and intensity. Here’s an example of with and without. See if you notice the difference…


“Did I do something?” Keira asked.

“There are just too many secrets,” William said.

Keira responded, “My secrets? I’ve never even been to your house.”

“What are you always training for? You’re getting stronger and faster, that’s not due to piano lessons. I’ve never even seen a piano in your house. And what’s with the whole Cinderella routine every night at midnight?” William asked.

“That’s nothing,” said Keira.

“Oh yeah, and why did you tell the police that Colby was with us after the Halloween party?” William asked.

She shook her head and said, “I thought you were over that.”

WITHOUT (the better way)

Did I do something?”

“There are just too many secrets.”

“My secrets? I’ve never even been to your house.”

“What are you always training for? You’re getting stronger and faster, that’s not due to piano lessons. I’ve never even seen a piano in your house. And what’s with the whole Cinderella routine every night at midnight?”

“That’s nothing.”

“Oh yeah, and why did you tell the police that Colby was with us after the Halloween party.”

She shook her head. “I thought you were over that.”

Did you try to go the traditional publishing route?

Nope. I love my day job, so I never intended for this to be a replacement. I just don’t have the time to shop my manuscript around to an agent who (if I can find one who will accept it) will then shop it around to the publishing houses. Things may change one day, but for now, I still consider this a hobby.

Any other advice?

Before publishing a paperback, pull your favorite paperbacks from your bookshelf. Take note of their size, are they printed on white or cream paper, look at how the page numbers are formatted, and see how they adjusted the first page of each chapter. To make your’s look professional, you need to mirror the professionals.

Also Edit, Edit, Edit – I have no bigger pet peeve than a poorly edited self-published book. It makes the rest of us look bad. Spelling and grammatical errors are unprofessional.

Whispering Evil is Here!

Whispering EvilGuess you can call me a serial author now.

Book 2 in the Midnight Guardian series, Whispering Evil, was released today on Amazon Kindle and Smashwords.

The paperback is coming soon. Over the next few weeks, it will also filter into other major ebookstores like the B&N NOOKstore, Apple iBooks, and Sony eReader store.

As always, thanks for your support. I’ll keep you posted.