Do Word Counts Count? 2014 update

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
Novel Words
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.

Indie Life: Passion in Fandom

IndieLife7Every second Wednesday of the month, indie writers band together to post a little inspiration for the journey.

As I think of my indie life recently, one word comes immediately to mind…passion.

Not as in the *blush* New Adult genre that is so quickly gaining popularity, and not as in passion for the writing process per-say. The passion that I think of is that wonderfully, goofy feeling you get when you know, just know, you’ve stumbled across a story that is going to be your next obsession.

  • You imagine every setting in detail, as if you were the architect.
  • You guess and theorize on what’s next.
  • You roam the internet for any extra Team Whoever badge, sneak peeks, and tidbits.
  • You pick out what celebrities would play the characters in a movie.

I have a friend that actually shed tears when she first stepped into Hogsmeade at Universal Studios Florida. Real tears, and for what? A story. A great story.

This week, I’ve been completely obsessed with watching pics and news from the shooting of the new Morganville Web Series, based on the Morganville Vampire books by Rachel Caine. I am so excited for this show, all because I absolutely loved the stories first. Well, that and have you seen Jordan Farris, Chase Jeffrey, and Ben Easter? Whoa, mama!  (witness my obsession with MV first-hand at

And therefore, my dear writer friends, as your inspiration this month in your Indie Life journey, I ask you to make a new goal. Write a story, not for monetary gain, critical acceptance, or notoriety; write a story for your fans for they are the real passion behind this craft. I challenge YOU to write the story that will create an all-out, teary-eyed, jumpin’ on the couch, squeal with delight, geek out for your readers.

Already written it? Tell me and my readers about it in the comments on this post. (Shameless plug opportunity, you know you want to…)



Social Media: What works for you?


This week the YA Author Club talks about social media. I had to include the graphic above. I ran across this a year ago and keep a copy by my desk. It makes me smile.

I’m lucky to have a couple of friends that are social ninjas. I can go to them from time to time for advice. And that’s my advice to you. If you don’t know what you’re doing. Find someone who does. Every network has its own set of unspoken rules. Breaking those rules can harm your reputation online.

I’m also a bit of explorer (actually it’s more of a mindless wanderer thing); whatever Continue reading “Social Media: What works for you?”

YA Indie Carnival: The Joys of Writing Indie

Just a few quick notes before we begin. 1) Charlaine Harris (yes, the Charlaine Harris) will be at the WV Book Festival tomorrow. See you there. 2) Stop by the Info Booth at the Bob Evans Farm Festival today from 1-5 to see me. Not a formal book signing, but I’ll sign’em if you bring’em. 3) Just confirmed book signing at Silver Screen VII Gallipolis prior to midnight show of Breaking Dawn Pt. II. 4) Headed to Dallas (Grapevine actually) this Monday. Will be there for the week. If you’re in town, drop me a line.

This week at the YA Indie Carnival, the topic is “What opportunities has becoming an indie offered you and/or your writing career?”

The biggest opportunity of course is that I’m not tied down by the restraints of traditional publishing. My time is my own. I can give as much or as little to my business as I want; that decision is mine. I can continue to Continue reading “YA Indie Carnival: The Joys of Writing Indie”

YA Indie Carnival: Importance of the Wolf Pack

At the circus, everyone looks forward to the big show. It takes many folks to pull it off; from the ring master right down to the guy who cleans the elephant stalls.

Writing is like a circus.

The end product, a novel, is the big show that keeps everyone entertained. It takes many folks to get to that point; from the author right down to the guy who cleans up the grammar.

OK, I have to admit, I fail the test a little when it comes to assembling the wolf pack–that group of essentials to make a novel work, like proofers, editors, beta readers, cover designers, marketers, etc. I’m a bit of a lone wolf. (My New Year’s resolution was actually to become less of a control freak.) I design my own covers. However, I do so only because Continue reading “YA Indie Carnival: Importance of the Wolf Pack”

YA Randomness: Off to College

I leaned in to wedge the dry erase board directly between my video gaming chair and the suitcase grandma gave me for graduation. All had to be readjusted before I could close the trunk. Maybe that’s why I didn’t hear Josie come up behind me.

“Boo,” she giggled. Messy blond strands fluttered across her red punch-stained face. Being the awesome big sister that I am, I faked a startled jump and hit my head on the top of the trunk for real.

The thud made her eyes go wide. “You kay, Sissy?”

“I’m okay,” I said, rubbing my head. “All ready to head off to college.”

Over the last few weeks, many had attempted to Continue reading “YA Randomness: Off to College”