Last year, I compiled a post called Do Word Counts Count? which continues to be the single most viewed post on my blog. It’s not a shock that authors are perplexed when it comes to the subject of word counts. There seems to be no single resource. No hard and fast rules.
So in lieu of rules, I offer you examples. Here’s a look at word counts for some of the most popular YA books on the market.
|Barnes & Noble Bestselling Teen Fiction 9/10/2014|
|Novel||Page Count||Word Count*|
|If I Stay by Gayle Foreman||320||80,000|
|Where She Went by Gale Foreman||304||76,000|
|The Maze Runner by James Dashner||400||100,000|
|Four by Veronica Roth||304||76,000|
|To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee||384||96,000|
|The Revenge of Seven by Pittacus Lore||371||92,750|
|The Giver by Lois Lowry||240||60,000 LOWEST|
|The Fault in Our Stars by John Green||336||84,000|
|Gone by Michael Grant||576||144,000 HIGHEST|
|The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey||320||80,000|
*Word counts are estimated based on the standard of 250 words per page
B & N Bestsellers Average Word Count: 88,875
To get an idea of word count average for indie authors, below are the current bestselling books from Smashwords, a leading distributor of indie novels. As you will see, these are significantly lower word counts than their B&N counterparts.
|Smashwords Young Adult/Teen Bestsellers 9/10/13|
|Lending Light by Rose Christo||94,250|
|Courting Magic by Stephanie Burgis||34,590 LOWEST|
|Haunted by Sherry H. Dec||57,920|
|Rooming with Ash by Zee King||48,150|
|The Dogs of Balboa by Rose Christo||81,420|
|The Posterchildren: Origins by Kitty Burroughs||133,870 HIGHEST|
|B Chord by Mike Robertson||84,440|
|Notice Me by Lili Lam||92,360|
|Storm Shells by GJ Walker-Smith||126,680|
|Ashley Fulton & the Secret of Europe by Ross Rossin||85,610|
Smashwords Bestsellers Average Word Count: 83, 829
I found it interesting that a novella made it into the Smashwords bestsellers. If you read my article of last year, you’ll see one novella in that list too. Also, our highest word count, The Posterchildren: Origins, appeared on last year’s list; however, the author must have uploaded a lengthier, revised version as last year’s word count was only 127,604 (compared to stated 133,870 words this year).
And speaking of last year, I thought it would be fun to compare these numbers to the article I wrote last year to see if I could spot any trends. And I did. Average words counts for 2014 are noticeably lower than those of last year. The Smashwords (indie and small press) novels dipped slightly in word counts; while the traditionally published bestsellers from B&N greatly decreased in word count, nearly meeting the typically lower counts of the indies.
Did indies get it right? Are traditionally published authors now scrambling to produce shorter works? Is less more in the fiction novel industry? I’ll let you be the judge.