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word count on your recently published pb?

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Hey everyone.  Just finished my first draft on a pb manuscript and know I need to do some cutting back on the word count during revisions.  I'm at around 1200 right now and I'm targeting a 4-8 year old audience. For those of you who have published books for this age group, could you please share the word count?  I'm expecting to hear that the lower the word count, the better, but just wondering if any of you were around the 1000 word range?  Thanks!  Kathy 
#1 - February 20, 2011, 06:38 PM

My last for that age group was 106 words; I have never gone over 250.  It's a *really* tough market right now.  :-|

#2 - February 20, 2011, 08:08 PM

I just checked out the last several I sold. The shortest was about 200 words, the longest was 450.
#3 - February 20, 2011, 09:02 PM
twitter: @literaticat
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I keep reading that most editors want really short picture books (i.e. 500 words max), and I find it really frustrating to hear.  Is this true for 5-7 year olds as well?  I know it's important to keep the word count low, especially for the very young - and I applaud those authors and illustrators who create some truly amazing work using so few words.  However, as an aspiring author, and a kindergarten teacher (of 20 years), it sometimes worries me. I feel that sharing a story that's rich in language and new vocabulary, can provide such a great opportunity for language learning.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not out to bash books with fewer words.   I've used these books and they do provide a great opportunity for discussion (especially when they have rich illustrations).  It's just that from my own experience, I relish the opportunity to help a child expand their developing vocabulary and love it when they ask me to explain a word that's unfamiliar to them. I'm currently working with a deaf and hard-of-hearing population (at an auditory-oral school), and for these kids, learning to understand and use spoken language is our number one priority. Picture books are one of our most important tools.  While it's important to provide them with vocabulary that's accesible, it's also important to challenge them.  I guess I worry sometimes that with the push for shorter and shorter picture books, it will be harder to do that.  I'm not sure if I'm explaining myself clearly, but I guess it just makes me sad to think that in some cases the opportunity for language learning is being sacrificed to satisfy word count.  Thanks for letting me vent!   :groan  Kathy  
#4 - February 20, 2011, 09:06 PM
« Last Edit: February 20, 2011, 09:10 PM by kathym44 »

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My pb Mostly Monsterly came out last fall. It has 348 words.
#5 - February 20, 2011, 09:55 PM
COMING SOON: Making a Friend*Wordy Birdy Meets Mr. Cougarpants*A Little Chicken*Nugget & Fang, the SEAquel*The Farm that Mac Built & MORE

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Have you seen some of the other threads on this board about word count? (Search "word count") You shouldn't feel so discouraged with your higher word count. Ultimately, the story (and the way it is written) is more important than word count.

If you want to check the word count of some published books, look here: At the top, you can enter any title (or author), and it'll give you the word count, as well as some other helpful info like page count and reading level:

Good luck!
#6 - February 21, 2011, 01:40 PM


Thanks Syoon.  I have read the other posts, and they are definitely helpful.  Think I was a bit overtired when I posted, and didn't mean to sound so whiny!  What a great link you offered!  That will be a great resource.  Thanks again!  Kathy
#7 - February 21, 2011, 02:52 PM

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The three picture books I've sold have all been in the 300-500 range.
#8 - February 22, 2011, 04:57 AM

HIDE AND SEEK -Scholastic '13
WAKE UP MISSING- Walker, Fall '13

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My latest two come in at 680 and 450.
#9 - February 22, 2011, 05:49 AM
Coming soon:
Elwood Bigfoot - Wanted:  Birdie Friends (Sterling)
Teeny Tiny Toady (Sterling)
If a T Rex Crashes Your Birthday Party


Thanks so much everyone.  I'm so intrigued by some of your book titles - especially Stink Soup!  :dr  I'll be looking to share these with my students!

#10 - February 22, 2011, 11:15 AM


THE MONSTORE was 476 when it sold last May...and 589 after revisions with my editor. Yes, we added! So that's a bit on the long side. But the story's the thing--you don't want to cut so many words that the story no longer make sense, but you don't want too many words that the number turns an editor off before they've even read it. A friend's book was 750 words and she told me, "That was way too much--don't write that long." I do think 750 is the top part of the range. Flashlight seeks 1000-word manuscripts, but they only publish a few titles a year.

Writing shorter took a lot of practice for me. When I began I was consistently writing 1200, then I slowly got down to 1000, 800, 600...and now a first draft is typically around 400.
#11 - February 22, 2011, 12:19 PM

Sudo Nimm

My first pb, ANIMAL HOUSE, is 750 words.  My next couple of books, RIBBIT RABBIT and MOO HOO, are each about 150 words long (these two books are also 24 pages long, as opposed to the standard 32). 

Currently, my agent is submitting a 34-word picture book with the extra-fun feature of using only three different words-- each starting with the letters "squ." 
#12 - March 02, 2011, 02:03 AM

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I've sold three pbs - each around the 550 mark. I used to write longer, but a first draft generally runs somewhere between 400-800 for me these days, although interestingly one book became longer in revisions. The Truth About Penguins was about 300 at first-draft stage and ended up at 560, after editorial advice. Seems the story was 'a bit slight' to begin with. Actually, it wasn't a narrative in its original form, but just a series of vignettes, so there was a lot of fleshing out done during revisions.
#13 - March 02, 2011, 04:14 AM

The pb I just sold to flashlight press was 416 words. That's pre-edit so it could go up or down. The other two pbs that I-m shopping around are 306 and 450.I'm an author/illustrator so that might make my texts a bit smaller.  I do think a great story will ultimately win and if an agent/editor loves your story, they will help you trim. Just polish it till you can see your reflection.  :grin2:
#14 - March 02, 2011, 05:46 AM
"Maya was Grumpy"
Flashlight Press 
May 2013.

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Peachtree is another example of a publisher that sometimes does pbs up to 1000 words.
#15 - March 02, 2011, 08:01 AM
Adventures of Jenna V. Series
Caroline Grade Mysteries
The Journey of Emilie
Anne Bradstreet: America's Puritan Poet


I just sold a pb with 850 words...but I haven't gotten then edit letter yet...
#16 - March 03, 2011, 11:32 AM

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The first two were 900 words each (2005 and 2006); just-published ALOHA FOR CAROL ANN is 800 words.  Everything else I'm writing now is 500 words or less.  Good luck with revisions! :goodluck
#17 - March 08, 2011, 05:14 PM
PB CALVIN'S LAST WORD, Tilbury House 2020
PB LITTLE CALABASH, Island Heritage 2020
and 28 more

My first two books came in at 206 and 495, next two (out this year and next) sold at 577 and 647 (we've done edits, but I don't know final wc- must look into that!). The two I sold last year were at 257 and 530 when they sold, but have yet to go through edits.

Interestingly, one of my newer PBs came in on the longer side, 850ish, with a slightly older protag (7-year-old), and two editors said it was more "beginning of a chapter book" than a PB. I'm going to be turning it into an early chapter book for one of them, but I couldn't help wondering if current trends (think: that NYT article!) affected their consideration.
#18 - March 22, 2011, 11:41 AM
Hush Little Dragon (Abrams)
I Had A Favorite Dress (Abrams)
The Class (Beach Lane)
and others

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One of my recent PBs came in at over 1200 words in the first draft. Two revisions later and it's now at 520 words.

Just wanted to add a note of encouragement that revising a 1200 word PB to 500 can be done!
#19 - March 22, 2011, 04:04 PM
BOOK SCAVENGER, Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt 


Thanks for the feedback, everyone!  I've got it down to around 500 words.  In the process I found that I actually enjoy revising!   
#20 - March 22, 2011, 04:27 PM

It really does come down to the publisher. There was a call for submissions in January for a PB publisher and their guidelines said up to 1500 words. And then there is the age range to consider as well. If it's younger definitely under 500 words if it is a self-read.

Each week I do interviews with published authors who share their experiences of getting published and give tips from what they’ve learned.Today I posted an interview with a PB writer who does non-fiction books. You can read it at...
#21 - March 22, 2011, 09:14 PM
If you would like to read interviews by current published children's authors on their writing experience, you can see a new one each week on my blog


My first book was 300+, the latest (out in September) is 136! How low can you go...

(I'm the illustrator as well, so I "write" with the pictures too.)
#22 - March 26, 2011, 02:40 PM
« Last Edit: March 26, 2011, 02:51 PM by df »


Thank you to all the authors who gave word counts.  This definitely helps me in knowing that I need to prune my manuscript's word count down to 500 or less.
#23 - June 23, 2011, 06:44 AM


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