Word Count: How Much Is Too Much?

numbersWhen you’re writing for a magazine or online market, word count isn’t all that tricky.  You just look up the author’s guidelines and take note of what the publisher wants to see.  But what are the appropriate word counts for books?  Sometimes you can find them on the guidelines but not nearly as often.  Here are some numbers I found online.

Board Books: The only listing I found for this type of book was from 1/2 to 1 manuscript page.*  Otherwise short, short, short!

Picture Books:  Most picture book manuscripts are from 2-3 manuscript pages long.*  Aim for a word count between 500-600 words.**  Nonfiction picture books can be longer, up to 1000 words.

Easy/Beginning Readers: 10-20 manuscript pages.*  If I’m not mistaken, this one varies a lot by publisher but it is also something that they are pretty specific about in their author’s guidelines.

Chapter Books:  40–60 manuscript pages.*

Middle Grade: 100–250 manuscript pages.*  Recently on Twitter Tu Books said that middle grade should be more than 40,000 words. Chuck Sambuchino listed 20,000 to 55,000 words.**

Young Adult:  200–350 manuscript pages.*  I also saw 55,000 – 70,000 words although they have begun to trend longer.**  Tu Books posted on Twitter that these novels should be more than 50,000 words and that, although they could go over 100,000 authors were warned to aim for 90,000 or less because the shorter, tighter books tended to be stronger.

*SCBWI’s From Keyboard to Printed Page
**“Word Count for Novels and Children’s Books” by Chuck Sambuchino.

I tend to write short so I’m going to have to push myself a bit on one of my works in progress.  Why do I feel like I’m the only person who has this problem?  Oh, well.  Back to the salt mines (one of my mom’s favorite sayings).