Friday, February 17, 2012

The Goldilocks problem: how long is just right?

Q: I read somewhere that your book is 113,000 words. Isn't that too long for a debut author?

Funny you should ask. I thought the same thing, like, oh crap, Jill is going to scream and throw things when she sees how freaking huge this is. But all she said was, "it is long, but I really feel like every scene is necessary." #EditorLove :)

So that's the short answer. There is no too long or too short. There is only just right, the length your book needs to be to tell its story. However, I realize this answer is totally unsatisfying, and to be truthful 30,000 words is probably too short for a YA and 250,000 words is probably too long for, uh, anything. (Good news. You didn't write a novel. You wrote THREE novels.)

I have gathered together the word counts for some of my favorite YA books, just to give you an idea of where you stand. For more great word count info, including the secret to finding out exactly how long most books are, check out this post over at my awesome agent's blog.


The Unwritten Rule: 48,921
Pretty Little Liars: 58,917
Same Difference: 74,118
The Summer I Turned Pretty: 57,671
Anna and the French Kiss: 81,100
Perfect Chemistry: 92,337
Along for the Ride: 98,980
Before I Fall: 117,295


Revolver: 32,545
The Luxe: 88,982
The Book Thief: 118,933
Leviathan: 77,962
A Great and Terrible Beauty: 95,605
Venom: 113,093


Shiver: 94,502
Paranormalcy: 72,883
Hush Hush: 85,363
Nightshade: 101,718
Daughter of Smoke and Bone: 99,472
City of Ashes: 120,608
Twilight: 118,975

Dystopian/Sci Fi:

The Hunger Games: 99,750
Divergent: 105,143
Matched: 89,124
Delirium: 114,476
Uglies: 87,274
Unwind: 95,297
Ender's Game: 100,609
Ashes: 104,605
Cinder: 87,661

Obviously there are some trends within the different genres, but if your YA book is falling somewhere between 40K and 120K words, there's probably no need to panic. However, the rules of good writing trump the hard numbers every time. Infuse dead passages with sensory detail. Tell the whole story, but cut every word that doesn't need to be there.

And most importantly, keep writing!

Friday, February 3, 2012

And the autographed copy of Bloodrose goes to...

Before I tell you, let me say this:

These were all really good, guys, and as a new author whose book won't be out for another nine months it is sometimes difficult to get people to enter contests. I decided after my first contest, that I wasn't going to require people to follow the blog to enter my giveaways. One, because that's kind of like bribing people to be your friends, which is pathetic, no? And two, because I read all fifteen of those blogs over there *points at sidebar* and I am not an 'official follower' of any of them.

So anyway, thanks for taking the time to come here and share your writing with me. You guys rock, you know? Readers make it possible for writers to sell books. Sure we dedicate stuff to our parents and boyfriends and occasionally our fluffy assistants who are currently knocking things off the table and trying to walk on the keyboard and in general making us second-guess our decision to adopt pets, but in the end, it is all about you.

Okay. There were two entries that really blew my mind. First, Jeni's. It is so evocative and sensory and I went 'oooh' when I read it. The words paint a visceral picture. I love the ending, the blood falling like rose petals.

Second, Erinn's. I'm not a big fan of rhyme, but I know how hard it is to pull it off without ending up sounding like Dr. Seuss and I think Erinn's poem is stellar.


I flipped a coin and Jeni won. Email me your mailing address, Jeni, and I will send you the autographed copy of Bloodrose!

Erinn, I peeked at your figment page and it looks like you're a writer. If you would be interested in a partial MS critique, a query critique, or for me to read and review something of yours on my blog (this can be later, after my books comes out and more people actually read my blog) shoot me an email and we can set something up. Jeni the same deal goes for you, though I peeked at your blog (Fiona=super-stalker!) and it doesn't look like you are a writer. Which is just fine, as long as you keep reading :)

Everyone else: Thanks again for entering. If you're interested, I will be having Venom ARC contests in the next few months, some of which will be international. But no worries: I will love you whether you love Venom, hate Venom or never even peek at the back cover. (OMG the back cover is going to be so spooky-cool!)