A Good Standard for YA Novel Word Counts

Some agents/publishers explicitly state a word count range in their submission guidelines, so follow that if available. If not, 80-100k is a
good standard to aim for, though YA novels tend to be on the shorter side (less than 80k).

Resource: Word count for Publishing?: Creative Writing Forums: Apr 12, 2012

www.writingforums.org › Forums › Creative Writing › Publishing

Flexibility in YA Word Count

More thoughts on the subject: Young Adult: Young adult fiction allows for a lot of flexibility in word count. Middle Grade, Young Adult Fiction Length:

The average middle grade is 30k-40k. Upper middle grade can hit in the 50k word count range (possibly longer, if it’s something really special).

Resource: Ask The Agent: Your Novel Word Count Guide and More: Feb 18, 2013


How Many Words in a Young Adult Novel?

I’m working on a young adult novel and the most publishable book length is a question I have been researching.   I will be posting on ‘optimal YA novel length’ for several days. I would love to hear what you have discovered, too, so please use my comments block to tell me about your experience with YA novel length.

One answer from Writers Digest is a simple spread:  55,000 – 69,999 words.
WritersDigest.com: Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books: The Definitive Post: Chuck Sambuchino: October 24, 2012

My novel is historical, and I am wondering if the rules change for contemporary fiction including romance, or science fiction, or dystopian, or any other genre.

Teresa of the High Sierra

Grand Tetons at Colter Bay
Jackson Lake, Grand Teton National Park

Some poems are inspired by friends–snapshots from a moment or tributes to their uniqueness. Here is one: 

Teresa packs alone
and wearies
only after miles on narrow trails.

California wild oats
burrow in her socks.
She slows
to yank the most tenacious burrs.
Achilles tendon
she climbs on.

Oak. Blue spruce.
Sage and scrub waist-high.
Trail vanishes in the undergrowth.
Teresa shrugs, regains her footing,
there’s no cause
for alarm.

After packing in for days
the scent
of her humanity
all but disappears.
Squirrels beg her dehydrated
apples when she sits down to eat.

Other hikers follow at a distance.
They seek her clear direction, her
feel for changing weather,
her knowledge of the stars.

Teresa keeps one prudent fear,
of snakes.
She treks through heavy peat,
prods her elm rod
into loamy earth.

Once, she stumbled on a rattler.
Would have fallen on him, but for that
walking stick. She backed up one step.
He slid the same. His silver and
chocolate diamond scales glistened in the sun.

The rattle quieted. Her hand
relaxed around the red Swiss Army knife swinging
from a chain around her waist, its blades
honed clean
from whittling dry kindling,
from parceling out dried fruit.

C 2015 Mary A. Schultz All rights reserved

1909 Singer

The wrought iron treadle
rocked back and forth
Grandma’s foot,
her stocking creeping down,
rested on the top
while I held Mabel by one stuffed cotton arm.
The leather cable spun ‘round and ‘round the wheel.
Mabel’s blue embroidered eyes and mine
were mesmerized.
I thought the pulley must be a monkey’s arm, and
Mabel thought so too, I knew.
We didn’t know that Grandma’s knee
made the treadle rise and fall,
the needle rise and fall on
scraps of pale blue cotton flannel that
smelled fresh off the bolt and
flew beneath the presser foot.
Chomp. Chomp.
I thought the stitches ate the cloth.
Mabel believed it too.
Round and round Grandma’s wrinkly hands
pushed the flannel.
The chomp stopped and
with a flick of her thumb
she raised the presser foot.
Grandma tugged the flannel out and
snapped long strings of thread with her front teeth.
She snipped and clipped out tiny triangles
then turned the fabric right side out
and showed us what she’d made for Mabel,
a soft nightgown with puffy sleeves and
smocking on the shoulders.
I undressed her right there in the room
in front of the cat and everything.
Mabel didn’t care.
I knew she wanted to wear that gown for always
and never put it in the wash
and never let that light blue fade
or lose that brand new smell.

C 2015 Mary A. Schultz, All rights reserved

He Never Gets Skunked on that Road

Yellowstone Falls
Yellowstone Falls from a distance

My love and I round the first turn.
Our snowmobile engines whir, then stop.
Silence marks our ground.
Snow markers perch, a shimmer of diamond picket fence.
The river whispers over rocks.
Ice floes trip and weave.

Helmets off. Crystalline flakes fall on our heads.
Soft, a munch, munch from the river shore.
An elk, grand man, eight-point rack, reaches for tender shoots.

The Yellowstone loop takes all afternoon, over moguls, through bison breath frozen mid-air.

At Snow Lodge, we drag our packs on a sled, dine on trout and huckleberry pie.
Showered and windburned, we near sleep. More snow, lighter snow, falls and surrounds our haven like down.
We speak in whispers, reliving the day, that wondrous bull elk on the shore.
My husband, my mate, laughs and reminds, “Count on me, Mama, count on me. I never get skunked on that road.”