Comparing Word Counts

AR BookFinder“How long should my chapter book be?”

“I want to write a picture book biography like the ones Holiday House publishes.  How long should it be?”

When my students came to me with questions like this, I used to refer them to Renaissance Learning’s AR Quiz store.  Unfortunately, when Renaissance stopped selling quizes individually, I could no longer find the book information I used to use.  I assumed that they had removed this data from their site.

Fortunately, I recently came upon an online discussion of book length.  Several people said that they used the Renaissance numbers.  No one had a link into the quizes but now I knew the information was still there. I’m not going to say that Renaissance made it easy, but I finally found a way to locate a specific book.

Follow this link to AR Book Finder.  You have to select teacher, parent, or student.  I always just tell them that I’m a parent.  Then you can search for the name of the book you need.  For this example, I searched on Poison is not Polite by Robin Stevens.  Select the correct book and you find a variety of information including:

  • ATOS reading level
  • The book’s interest level
  • Word count

Search on the book you are using as a mentor text and you’ll have how long it needs to be and at what reading level.  Search on several books from the same publisher and you get a feel for what they want in a middle grade novel. This can give you a target to focus on if you want to submit to a publisher but also an area to avoid if you don’t want your book to be in direct competition with another.

If you’ll excuse me, I’ve checked my book’s word count vs the competition.  Now I need to run the test for an ATOS reading level.