Word Counts in Large Amounts

by Diana Sousa
Paper Crane by ADrawer4ever

My latest worries (which my inner editor keeps taunting me about at the worst times) are about word count. Is this chapter too short? Are things happening too soon? Should I add more random words here? Can I even write a long book, or is that impossible for me?

So I started to do a bit of research, which I think might be worth sharing. I’ve seen a lot of questions about word counts, and if this can help even just one person I’ll be glad. Even if that person is me. Because I really shouldn’t be worried about this.

Some great people have said it better than I ever could here and here. But I wanted some FACTS. Facts are good to calm silly brains. This will focus mostly on YA since that’s what I write, but I can update it with other categories if anyone wants.

So, according to those links YA books should be around 55k to 75k words. If you are writing science-fiction or fantasy, this could go a bit higher (85k, perhaps even 90k); but anything higher than 100k and you might raise some red flags. These are safe numbers for debut authors, but there are always exceptions. Lately I’ve seen higher word counts even when it’s the writer’s first published book. If you’re an established writer, or if you’re writing sequels, more often than not you’re allowed to disregard this.

And now some shiny numbers:

Debut Authors/Books:

– Boy Meets Boy, by David Levithan – 51,8k (Contemporary)
– Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher – 62,5k (Contemporary)
– Mexican WhiteBoy, by Matt de la Pena – 65,7k (Sports)
– Ash, by Malinda Lo – 67k (Fantasy)
– Jackaby, by William Ritter – 67,2k (Historical Paranormal)
– Looking for Alaska, by John Green – 69k (Contemporary)
– The Key to the Golden Firebird, by Maureen Johnson – 70k (Contemporary)
– Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo – 81k (Fantasy)
– Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins – 81,1k (Contemporary)
– Otherbound, by Corinne Duyvis – 86,7k (Fantasy)
– Cinder, by Marissa Meyer – 86,7k (Science Fiction)
– A Great and Terrible Beauty, by Libba Bray – 95,6k (Paranormal)
– Pantomime, by Laura Lam – 100,5k (Fantasy)
– Divergent, by Veronica Roth – 105k (Science Fiction)
– The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern – 121k (Fantasy)

Average – 75k

Science Fiction / Fantasy average – 93k

Authors with previous books:

– 13 Little Blue Envelopes, by Maureen Johnson – 63k (Contemporary)
– Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Saenz – 65,5k (Contemporary)
– The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green – 65,7k (Contemporary)
– Every Day, by David Levithan – 74,6k (Magical Realism)
– Isla and the Happily Ever After, by Stephanie Perkins – 78,5k (Contemporary)
– Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones – 75,4k (Fantasy)
– Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater – 91,7k (Fantasy)
– The Name of the Star, by Maureen Johnson – 92k (Paranormal)
– Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein – 92,2k (Historical)
– Adaptation, by Malinda Lo – 94,7k (Science Fiction)
– Shadowplay, by Laura Lam – 99,5k (Fantasy)
– We Were Here, by Matt de la Pena – 105k (Contemporary)
– The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey – 117k (Science Fiction)
– Cress, by Marissa Meyer – 138,2k (Science Fiction)
– The Diviners, by Libba Bray – 157k (Paranormal)

Average – 94k

Science Fiction / Fantasy average – 108k

Conclusion: Too many numbers, and I don’t know what I’m doing.

No, actually, as everyone can see YA has a lot of flexibility towards word count, but it tends to be higher rather than lower. There are always exceptions, of course (“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart is 50k, “If I Stay” by Gayle Forman is 49,6k, “Artemis Fowl”, by Eoin Colfer is 56,7k) but it seems these days books tend to be longer.

I knew I wasn’t going to reach a proper conclusion with this, I just wanted to analyze some numbers and see if that would help me have less questions. And it did. It seems I should be aiming a bit higher with my word count, since I write mostly fantasy and science-fiction. Try and be the rule instead of the exception kind of thing.

But what I should be doing, actually, is writing. If I don’t get the writing done, I won’t have any word count to worry about. At least now I have some answers, and I know I can get there. Agents and editors are also excellent people that can help you raise that word count if that’s needed, and beta readers will also tell you if the book needs to be longer or not. What’s important is the story, and the pace it needs, not what is expected as a general rule.

So I should focus on that, on putting the words on paper. Stop worrying so much. Stop using these worries as a way to procrastinate (ahah, as if *cough*). Get the story out, worry about the rest later.

So I’m going to do that now. I’ll see you when my next worry comes along ;)

An Unexpected Journey

by Diana Sousa
Books, by Zhen Yang

It was almost a year ago that I started to actually dedicate myself to trying to publish a book. Since then I have read so many articles on writing, queried so many great agents, met so many excellent people… I discovered a great community, gotten amazing feedback and support. Two years ago I would never have guessed any of this.

I finished writing and revising a book, started another one, decided to take a break on that one, and I’m now researching for a completely new one. If it wasn’t for college I’d probably have done more in this area. But it’s my last year, and in a bit more than six months I’ll be free and part of the statistic of unemployment… so, yay? (I’m actually looking forward to this one, I need time to focus on some of my own projects.)

I started working on Edwardian Promenade in January, on Lytherus in August, and started my internship with Pooja Menon of Kimberley Cameron & Associates in September. I’ve read so many amaaazing manuscripts because of this last one, learned so much while editing, reading queries, what works, what doesn’t… And yet I still wonder why anyone would want my opinion on any of this.

(I’ve also learned how hard it is to say no sometimes, because even though there might not be anything wrong with the book, it just isn’t the right one. It has given me a new perspective on the query responses I’ve gotten.)

I have read less books than I wanted, less comics and graphic novels, I haven’t drawn near as much I’d like to, but I have still procrastinated and wasted time when I should be working. But that’s the same as it has always been.

Overall it’s been a good year. I need to remind myself of that sometimes. I don’t want to be soppy (I need to maintain my image of evil, after all), but it’s true. Let’s hope 2014 is even bigger and better. It’s going to be different, I know that. And scarier. But doesn’t that make it more interesting?

(At least I hope so. I’m overly optimistic today, must be the lack of sleep.)

Maybe I should go back to work now. Yes, stop this silly procrastination nonsense. Yes… *goes back to playing video games*

P.S.: One of the things that’s going to happen in January are the results of PitchWars! I was chosen to be part of Team Michelle (or Team Mostly Harmless, how great is that?), but I’ll do a more in-depth post about that then. Wish me luck!

On Moving On To New Projects

by Diana Sousa
Paper Thoughts by Julia Davis

What have I been doing over the past weeks, you ask? Summer holidays should mean I have all the time in the world to do whatever I want, to make those plans happen and be… productive! Truth is I have been procrastinating more than I should, but I think I needed it. I had a break to catch up on TV shows, to draw and play some games, to do quiet things while recovering from a long year. But this blog post is not about that.

This week I attended an online writer’s conference, Write On Con. It was amazing, I met some great people, and received a lot of positive feedback (two Ninja Agents commented on my manuscript, and my query got requested live!). I recommend it to every writer, and can’t wait for the next conference (which I’m sure will be even better). Here’s Day One and Day Two for those who missed it.

It feels really good to be part of this community, and the overall experience made me think about how I perceived myself as a writer. Just one week ago this blog post was going to be about how I felt ready to move on to other projects, but how at the same time I felt a bit wary of starting another manuscript. SINCERELY YOURS, THE VILLAIN has been getting better feedback that I could have ever hoped for, and I’m not giving up on it. But I can’t get stuck on a single project. The idea of starting a whole new thing from scratch seems scary, but now I finally have the motivation to do so.

So, yes! I’m going back to more familiar grounds, and I’m now planning and outlining a new Sci-Fi manuscript. I’m a mixture of plotter and pantser, and although I can’t throw myself head first without any plans, I can’t outline everything to exhaustion either. I’ve been doing some research, and who knows, maybe in the next days I will actually open Word and WRITE! It’s going to have spaceships,  aliens, conspiracies, and a Battlestar Galactica-ish feeling that I’ve been wanting to explore for a long time.

Motivation feels good. I’ll admit I’m using this blog post to push myself further, and by putting this new project out there it makes it more real. Maybe I’ll finally stop wandering about and start putting words into paper. The unknown is scary, but if it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be worth exploring. I will never know until I try it.

To infinity and beyond!