Ask Daphne! About Word Count

chanel-shoes1If you’re going to have numbers on your feet, you could do a lot worse than these Chanel Number 5 beauties! For S.C., who writes:

I was wondering if you would be able to answer a quick question I have been wondering about. I’ve heard that YA’s are anywhere from 40K to 60K word count. Do agents prefer it be in the middle (around 50K)? Is it bad to be on the short side (right around 40K)?

If you can tell your entire story in 40,000 words, why pad it? You’re just writing words that will have to be edited out later. Then again, you may need 60,000 to tell the story you want to tell — to make the characters jump off the page.

Like a lot of the advice I give on this blog — and a lot of the advice the many other fantastic agent bloggers provide — feel free to take this with a grain of salt and a “your mileage may vary.” For every slim YA novel on the shelves there’s a literal behemoth.

Try to remember it’s not the quantity of the words, but the quality. Am I going to turn down a YA novel because it’s too short at 40,000 words? Not if every one of those words feels appropriate.

Now, 20,000 words — that’s another story. A short one.

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