This is topic length in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by MDBHarlan (Member # 9557) on :
At the risk of sounding like that kid in class who always asked "how long does it have to be?"....
Are there any general guidelines for getting published with regards to length? I write mostly YA and haven't yet taken to (the) plunge for sending things in. At what point is a story too short or too long to be considered?

Edited for punctuation because I forgot how to use a question mark
[This message has been edited by MDBHarlan (edited July 15, 2011).]

[This message has been edited by MDBHarlan (edited July 15, 2011).]

[This message has been edited by MDBHarlan (edited July 15, 2011).]

Posted by Meredith (Member # 8368) on :
We're talking novels here, right?

There are few hard and fast rules.

For YA, I would usually shoot for around 70,000 to 75,000 words. (My SEVEN STARS is actually under at 67,000. How did that happen?) Middle grade, around 50,000 to 55,000. (My MAGE STORM is 56,000.)

But there are exceptions.

Posted by mrmeadors (Member # 6378) on :
Agent Kristin Nelson said in a workshop on writing YA sf and fantasy that YA, according to her, should be about 75k in length. That's about average.
Posted by Wordcaster (Member # 9183) on :
This is kind of lame advice, but questions of length seem to be the most popular.

Another thing you can do is think of maybe 2-3 books that your work is most like (modern titles). Then you can do a web search on the title and "word count." There are variations in word counts depending on genre and sub-age groups (e.g. middle grade vs upper middle grade).

Posted by axeminister (Member # 8991) on :
These numbers are way higher than I've seen. This doesn't mean anything, as the numbers can very widely, but I thought I'd mention I've seen them lower.

The book Aquamarine is 105 pages. (My daughter likes this one, leave me alone.)
Here's what one Amazon reviewer had to say: "Though a bit too short and a bit too shallow, it's sweet."

However, it sold, and then was made into a movie, so are there "rules" as far as page count?



Posted by posulliv (Member # 8147) on :
I've also found that going to Smashwords and searching for works similar to mine is somewhat informative. They list the word count in the summary information for each title.

Backlist works from traditionally published authors strike me as a good guide to acceptable lengths. A lot of these modern indie-published works seem much shorter than similar works from traditional publishers.

Hours of fun await the inquisitive.

Posted by KayTi (Member # 5137) on :
Hardest rule with YA is that unless you're an established writer or writing something pretty unique/not seen before/manage to break in, it's got to be under 100k.

My YA/MG novels clock in around 60k each time. It's a nice length, around 250 pages. I write at the young end of YA, borderline middle grade, so this length feels perfectly appropriate to me. I have decided to independently publish my books and nobody cares the length there (other than they'd feel cheated paying $5 for a short story of 8k words. I charge 99c for those.) In submitting through normal channels, though, I received no negative feedback reacting to length (for the 65k word YA sci fi novel I was submitting.)


Posted by MDBHarlan (Member # 9557) on :
Thanks everyone. This has been really helpful.

I write at the young end of YA too, KayTi. I worry about it not being publishable because of that. My fairy tale characters get married at the end (older reader) but I think plot wise it is more simple (younger reader).

I have decided to twist a few more things into my plot to take it from the 49k that I have to the recommended lengths. Maybe this will help with the above mentioned problem.

Posted by micmcd (Member # 7977) on :
Meredith, I am so happy you answered with a version of my immediate reaction to the question asked, or else I would have been forced to make the same joke. Is it wrong that I'm worried your frequent (& awesome) crits of my books may have inclined you to such highbrow humor? If you ever accidentally drop an f-bomb in one of your YA works, feel free to blame me.

As to the subject at hand... the rule of thumb for word <==> page conversion is 250 words/page on average (and indeed that's what Scrivener uses). YA will be shorter, on average, than adult fiction. If it helps with a reference point, the "target" for adult fiction is 400 pages, or 100,000 words. No length limit is ever hard and fast, but it's one of those things that is nice to hit somewhere in the ballpark of. Write till it's done, then cut it in half, then cut it again. It should be just about tight enough then.

[This message has been edited by micmcd (edited July 16, 2011).]

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