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)

 Title  Word Count*
 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

Average: 94,200
Median: 92,000

*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

 Title  Word Count
 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
Median: 83,615

Most impressive is Goldie the Special Kittenwhich 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)
2016: 99,468
2014: 83,829

B&N and NY Times Bestsellers Average Word Counts
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 2016 edition
Do Word Counts Count 2015
Do Word Counts Count? 2014 update
Do word counts count?2013






YA Author Series: Top 10 Blog Tactics

wireless miceCrap! There are rules to blogging? I might be in trouble.

With this week’s topic, I needed to do my research. And here are the results in easily digestible chunks…My Top 10 Best Blog Tactics from other blogs.

10.  Help a Sister Out – (advice by iFabbo) If you see something on another blog that is useful, re-blog or re-tweet it. Your followers will appreciate that you are helping them find others of interest.

9. Make a Date – (advice by Log My Calls) Continue reading “YA Author Series: Top 10 Blog Tactics”

YA Indie Carnival: Words of Wisdom

The YA Indie Carnival topic of choice this week is Indie Words of Wisdom. When I think about it, some of the best bits of wisdom for indie publishing are the lessons that we were taught long ago and perhaps forgot or didn’t know how to apply.

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine – An indie’s reputation is only as good as his/her work. Sometimes authors get in a rush to publish; churning out work after work with little mind to the quality of the work. Even the best story can be destroyed by spelling and grammar errors. A prematurely published novel can unravel an entire career.

Work Smarter Not Harder – A writing plan, proper outline, Continue reading “YA Indie Carnival: Words of Wisdom”

It’s All English, Ain’t It?

british vs american grammar and spellingSeveral months ago, I helped a fellow indie author with some final proofreading on her novel. When I opened her draft, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe all the spelling and grammar errors from an author that had been listed in at least one of Amazon’s top lists. Then, I realized she had not lost her mind, she’s British.

As an American author, I knew that there were some differences between American English and English across the Pond. However, I was blissfully ignorant to the extent of those differences. I write this today in the hope of helping other American indie authors find their way when writing for British audiences. I am not an expert on the subject, but here are some things that I’ve noticed along the way. Please research local style guides before making your final edits.

Don’t forget the U

We’ll start off with an easy one. Most Americans realize that several words Continue reading “It’s All English, Ain’t It?”

YA Indie Carnival: Busting Blocks

justin and reece

This week at the YA Indie Carnival we’re talking about solutions for what every author dreads…writer’s block.

We all experience it from time to time. I’m sure, for the most part, I handle it like many others with freewriting and brainstorming. However, I have to admit that I do have a secret weapon when it comes to writer’s block. It’s called “The Make Up  Story Game”.

Allow me to explain. I live on a 1,000 plus acre farm along the Ohio River, the inspiration for the Hayes farm in my books. Part of my daily life is a 30 minute commute to the nearest town. The drive is very boring; the road is poker straight with little traffic and the same speed limit the entire way. My kids, Justin (10) and Reece (7), early on created games to make the drive more bearable. One of Justin’s contributions was The Make Up Story Game.

It’s a round robin where each person adds to a story. Justin will start with a line like, “Once upon a time there was a magic cow.” Then Reece adds another line or two; then it’s my turn. We keep taking turns until we come to the end of the story. Justin and Reece are complete opposites, not only in what they like, but also in how they think and approach problems. This helps to create some very neat twists and turns in a very unpredictable story.

So, back to our writer’s block problem. When I am hopelessly blocked, the boys will allow me to start my scene in The Make Up Story Game. Now, keep in mind, they’re 10 and 7 and pretty mischievous. I never actually use their ideas as they typically involve dragons that burp lightning or mogdocs that play XBox. Their ideas raised to a whole new level of craziness after they accompanied me on a book research mission to the Great Serpent Mound last fall (pictured). However, what does happen is that they approach the scene in a whole different way. They get me thinking about it differently too. It gets me out of the box that I set myself in. Life is nice outside the box.

Take a look at how these other YA Indie Authors step out of the box and overcome their writer’s block:

1. Laura A. H. Elliott author of Winnemucca & 13 on Halloween, Book 1 in the Teen Halloween Series 2. Bryna Butler, author Midnight Guardian series
3. Heather Self 4. T. R. Graves, Author of The Warrior Series
5. Suzy Turner, author of The Raven Saga 6. Cheri Schmidt, author of the Fateful Trilogy
7. Rachel Coles, author of Into The Ruins, geek mom blog 8. K. C. Blake, author of Vampires Rule and Crushed
9. Patti Larsen, The Hunted series and The Hayle Coven series 10. Amy Maurer Jones, Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy
11. Dani Snell’s Refracted Light Reviews 12. Fisher Amelie, author of The Understorey
13. M. Leighton, Blood Like Poison Series, Madly, The Reaping 14. Kimberly Kinrade, Bits of You & Pieces of Me, Forbidden Mind
15. Madeline Smoot, Missing, Summer Shorts, and The Girls 16. Cidney Swanson, author of Rippler
17. Gwenn Wright, author of Filter 18. TG Ayer
19. Melissa Pearl, Author of The Time Spirit Trilogy 20. Heather M. White, author of The Destiny Saga
21. Roots in Myth, PJ Hoover 22. Courtney Cole Writes