Word Counts for Children, MG, YA, and Adult books, by genre

I’ve been getting a lot of word count questions from Pitch Wars hopefuls, so I though I’d write everything out in a post for ease and convenience.

These ranges are generalizations and there are always outliers. If you have a book that is a little bit outside these ranges, it’s an extra hurdle and your book needs to be really great for the agent/editor to take a chance on it. If you’re a lot outside these ranges, it’s going to be nearly impossible to get a publisher to commit to a book from a debut author. Established authors have more leeway.

Childrens Books

  • Picture Book: 0-800 words, preferably in 300-550 range
  • Early Reader: 100 – 2,500 words, depending on level
  • Chapter Book: 4,000-13,000, preferably 6-10k

Middle Grade

  • Contemporary: 25,000-60,000, preferably 30-45k
  • Fantasy/Sci-fi: 35,000-75,000, preferably 40-60k

Young Adult

  • Contemporary: 40,000-95,000, preferably 55-80k
  • Fantasy/Sci-fi: 50,000-140,000, preferably 65-90k

Adult

  • Contemporary: 75,000-110,000
  • Literary: 60,000-80,000
  • Fantasy/Sci-fi: 90,000-125,000, preferably ~100k
  • Women’s Fiction: 80,000-120,000
  • Romance: 40,000-100,000
    • Category Romance: 45-60k
    • Romantic Suspense: ~70,000
    • Historical: 60-95k
    • Single Title Contemporary: 60-100k
    • Novellas: 20-45k
  • Mystery/Thriller: 65,000-95,000, preferably ~80k
  • Memoir: 65,000-100,000
  • Historical: 80,000-120,000, preferably <100k

8 thoughts on “Word Counts for Children, MG, YA, and Adult books, by genre

  1. You just solved my dilemma. I am writing a Young Adult Sci Fi and was confused because in some sights says that YA are in an average of 70k and Sci Fi 90k or more and I was in a dilemma as how it work when having a situation like mine. So thank you for this post

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  2. Pingback: Successful Queries Start with Honing Your Craft - Pikes Peak Writers

    • From my friend who is an award-winning MG in verse author: Novels in verse vary wildly and it’s the rare case where it’s genuinely about how long it needs to be. Love That Dog by Sharon Creech is only 4000 words. Long Way Down is only 12,000. But there are MG novels in verse more like 30,000. And Ellen Hopkins’ books are like 70,000. YA, but there’s not as much of a word count distinction in verse between MG and YA.

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