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Word Count?

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What is the average word count and normal word count range for a middle-grade novel.

I've read that the word count can be anywhere from 20,000 words (that seems extremely low) to 55,000 words. I also read mg novels on average fall around 192 pages. One of the main agents I'm querying said between 45,000 - 55,000 words is the sweet spot for mg.

I know times have changed and word counts for mg have gone up (it seems). I'm writing an mg horror geared toward boys (in the vein of Are You Afraid of the Dark and Goosebumps). Granted R.L. Stine's books are quite old, they averaged a mere 30,000 words.

Thoughts?
#1 - March 28, 2018, 01:42 PM

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Justin, you have a little wiggle room. I think the agent's estimate is a good one, but an editor is likely to ask you to add or cut, anyway. If you're writing for lower MG you should probably keep it toward the low end of that range. The most important thing is to take the space you need to tell your story.
#2 - March 28, 2018, 01:50 PM
Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury, July 2016)
What Goes Up (Bloomsbury, 2017)
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Thanks for the response. I believe I'm writing for upper-mg (maybe not?). However, given what I'm writing it feels like 45,000 is a little high for the word count, especially given the subject matter.

Random samples of text are below:

Another gnat dive-bombed into my sweat, twitching erratically before fusing with my sticky skin. I felt bad for the little buggers, but I envied them as well. Their pain was over pretty quickly; mine was just beginning.

Justin, you have a little wiggle room. I think the agent's estimate is a good one, but an editor is likely to ask you to add or cut, anyway. If you're writing for lower MG you should probably keep it toward the low end of that range.


#3 - March 28, 2018, 01:53 PM
« Last Edit: March 31, 2018, 11:01 AM by justin-colon »

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Katie gave you great advice. Write the best book you can, make sure the pace flows well and the characters are fleshed out enough, then take a look at your word count. There's definitely a lot of wiggle room! Plus, you're within the typical MG range, which is great. If it ends up being 45,000 or so words and you and your critique partners don't think it needs to be streamlined, then go for it!

Your samples reminded me a bit of the tone of NIGHT OF THE LIVING CUDDLE BUNNIES by Jonathan Rosen. It's a scary/funny MG. He has a second book in the series coming out in the summer. You might want to check it out as a mentor text/possible comp. I tried to find out his word count online, but it isn't up on Renaissance yet, but you can check the word count of other books: http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=173364&l=EN&slid=125643187. Click on the quick or advanced search to find a book, then click on the title and it'll show details including the word count.
#4 - March 28, 2018, 03:33 PM

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Adding to what Mindy said" sometimes Amazon has a Concordance up for a book and that contains the word count. As a brand new author, you're probably in the best shape if you stay in the usual range. But great books sell if the market exists. (And I think horror is on the rise still.)
#5 - March 28, 2018, 06:00 PM
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Thank you. And I will definitely look up his book!

Katie gave you great advice. Write the best book you can, make sure the pace flows well and the characters are fleshed out enough, then take a look at your word count. There's definitely a lot of wiggle room! Plus, you're within the typical MG range, which is great. If it ends up being 45,000 or so words and you and your critique partners don't think it needs to be streamlined, then go for it!

Your samples reminded me a bit of the tone of NIGHT OF THE LIVING CUDDLE BUNNIES by Jonathan Rosen. It's a scary/funny MG. He has a second book in the series coming out in the summer. You might want to check it out as a mentor text/possible comp. I tried to find out his word count online, but it isn't up on Renaissance yet, but you can check the word count of other books: http://www.arbookfind.com/bookdetail.aspx?q=173364&l=EN&slid=125643187. Click on the quick or advanced search to find a book, then click on the title and it'll show details including the word count.

#6 - March 31, 2018, 11:04 AM

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Thanks, Debibe! Before writing this book I did a lot of research and it seems there's a demand for the book (at least from agents) ... so that's good. 
Adding to what Mindy said" sometimes Amazon has a Concordance up for a book and that contains the word count. As a brand new author, you're probably in the best shape if you stay in the usual range. But great books sell if the market exists. (And I think horror is on the rise still.)

#7 - March 31, 2018, 11:04 AM

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Thank you. Appreciate the help!
Justin, you have a little wiggle room. I think the agent's estimate is a good one, but an editor is likely to ask you to add or cut, anyway. If you're writing for lower MG you should probably keep it toward the low end of that range. The most important thing is to take the space you need to tell your story.


#8 - March 31, 2018, 11:05 AM

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