How Many Words Should a Young Adult Novel Contain?

Writing a young adult (YA) novel brings its own unique challenges and rewards. One prime concern being how long or how many words should a YA novel have? It’s a valid question and one that often puzzles aspiring writers. Now, while there are no strict rules about novel length, there are guidelines which can provide a useful framework.

Word Count Guidelines for Young Adult Novels

Generally, the word count for YA novels typically falls between 60,000 to 90,000 words. One subset, YA fantasy, may sometimes allow for a higher word count, tolerating between 75,000 to 110,000 words due to the added complexity of plot and extensive world-building. There is also a category called ‘New Adult,’ focusing on protagonists in college or early twenties, which has a typical word count of 80,000+ words.


Understanding Your Audience

In tailoring your word count, it’s crucial to understand your audience. YA novels cater mostly to teens but are enjoyed by readers across different age groups. The YA age group ranges from 13+ years, while the New Adult age group starts from 16+ years.

An age group of 13+ can enjoy a mainstream YA novel, while a book with more mature themes may be labeled 16+.

Why Word Count Matters

Being aware of your word count is important due to several reasons:

  • It affects the opinion of publishing houses, readers, and determines your book’s price point.
  • It can help improve your book’s readability, making it more attractive to readers.
  • Understanding the ideal word count helps you better structure your work and plot development.

Remember, any text containing around 40,000 or more words can be termed a fully-developed novel. However, genres may differ as the average word count varies within each.

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Why Does it Vary?

The variation in word count arises mainly due to:

  • The reader’s age, light or complex content, and attention span demands
  • Specific genre requirements. ‘Genre’ novels like fantasy, historical, sci-fi, often involve large-scale settings or intricate plots and may demand a higher word count.
  • The sub-genre that the novel falls into. For instance, sci-fi novels top out at 377,000 words, while short stories average around 30,000 words.


In conclusion, the best word count for your YA novel depends greatly on your book’s themes, audience, and genre. These figures are not carved in stone but serve as useful guides. Stick to your plot’s demand, add substance without fluff, and aim to offer real value to your readers. Ultimately, it’s the quality of your story that counts, but sticking close to these word count guidelines can significantly increase your chances of getting published and being read. Make sure you also strike a balance between meeting these word count expectations and maintaining the authenticity and pace of your story. A skillfully written YA novel that resonates with its readers will always find its place in the sun, regardless of its word count.

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