Monday, April 29, 2013

The Word Counts of Some Popular YA Novels

We often go around thinking that fat, thick books with huge word counts are the best. But the thing is, that thick book that you see in a bookstore may actually contain fewer words than you think. For example, Twilight is around 120,000 words. I won't mention the Harry Potter or Inheritance series, because Harry Potter breaks the rules as it's so popular and hence word count doesn't matter, and Christopher Paolini could shave off 200 or 300 pages off of any of his Inheritance books and they'd still tell the same basic story.

But anyone, here, I'm going to go to a page in various YA books, count the number of words on one page full of text, and then multiply it with the number of pages. The result will probably be higher than the actual number, because I'm not considering the fact that pages that end when a chapter ends and begin with the beginning of a chapter have less words since the chapter name is usually spelt out, but still, as estimated word count is higher anyway, and that's what we're calculating, so these are a bit higher than normal.

1. Goosebumps: Escape From Horrorland- I know this book isn't technically YA and more qualifies as middle age, but I decided that I'd mention it anyway. But, as you're probably thinking, the Goosebumps books are usually pretty thin anyway.
Words per page: 120
Number of pages: 132
Approximate Word Count:  15,840
And another thing, R. L. Stine writes over hundreds of books in a series, so a low word count is actually acceptable.

2. Animorphs: The Revelation- Another book that's pretty thin, and it's part of a series of over fifty books, and each book was written in under a month anyway.
Words per page: 193
Number of pages: 136
Approximate Word Count: 26,248

But let's get on to some of those thicker books that you might see.

3. Sir Thursday, Fourth Book in the Keys to the Kingdom Series- Now, this book is actually the second largest of the series, with only Drowned Wednesday being thicker, but if you've seen it in your local bookstore, you'll notice that it's one of those books that make you think, 'Wow. What a big book.' Well, let's see exactly how many words it seems to have.
Words per page: Around 240 on the pages with large amounts of text.
Number of pages: 343
Approximate Word Count: 82,320
Do note that this is probably higher than what it actually is. Also note that this book is the fourth in a series by a well-established writer, and also that it is a fantasy novel, which generally adds around 14-20,000 words to any story anyway.

4. Gregor the Overlander, First Book in the Underland Chronicles: Some of you may know this book's author a bit better than the book: Suzanne Collins, the same person who wrote The Hunger Games trilogy.
This is book is also pretty large, though not as much as Sir Thursday.
Words per page: 200
Number of pages: 310
Approximate Word Count: 62,000
This is a debut novel, so something that you might want tot keep in mind.

So that's that for now. Please don't take any of the above values too literally. The point of this blog is to show that not necessarily all YA books you see have larger than life word counts. The fact is that an average of 55-65,000 words is probably a good choice. Of course, there are always exceptions, and if you think your longer novel is worth it with each word being important, than, well go for it. Unless a publisher tells you to trim it down so it can be published. In that case, cut it until it matches their standards.

The thing is, don't write a long novel just for the sake of writing a longer novel. That's the thing that you want to avoid, which is what this post is about.


  1. Hi. Goosebumps is considered chapter books for ages 4-8. Gregor the Overlander is middle grade (not middle age) for ages 9-12. I don't know if any of these are YA. But I found the word count info helpful. Thanks.

  2. Goosebumps books are widely regarded as for ages 7-12...

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