What's a sweet spot word count for a YA fantasy series (for each book)

A friend of mine had suggested to submit my YA fantasy series to agents, but trad companies expect a certain word count. What are my options?

It’s been a while since I googled, but I think the 80-90,000 word range is the sweet spot, with some exceptions of course. About 300 pages is golden, but we’ve all seen them creeping up into the 400 and 500+ range.

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Okay because it’s like 380-390 pages and like 86-87K word count.

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So far im at 66k with no plans of stopping soon :flushed:

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I think that’s perfect.

I plan on making it into a trilogy.

There was another thread where someone shared a list of the word counts of YA fantasy debuts this year. I believe that all were above 80k, and some were as high as 130k.

Higher word counts are cause for pause when querying, for sure. I think anywhere from 70-140k could get picked up though. And editing will almost always help cut down the number of words in your manuscript, anyway.

I’m currently querying at 120k, which is pretty risky, but no one has mentioned word count in their rejection. You’re definitely free to query with a big word count! It just all depends on how well you can sell the story and if your word count fits that story

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Oh wow…I’m just trying to make it to 50k. :grin:

Fantasy has traditionally been in the higher word count, so I would go for a minimum of 80K, but keep it under 100K for young adult.

It’s under 100K around 85-86K…can’t remember as I’m not looking at the document right now.

So that seems to be within the usual range.

I don’t plan on submitting it to agents until I feel ready for it.

Unfortunately, anything much over 100k for a YA fantasy is likely to result in an automatic rejection, which means agents won’t give a specific reason for the rejection, hence why you wouldn’t have noticed it. I know YA agents who use 100k as a somewhat arbitrary cut-off when going through the slush pile. You might be able to get away with 110k or 115k, but for a new author without an agent already, more than that is going to be difficult.

A lot of the time, too high of a word count indicates that a manuscript hasn’t been edited/revised enough to tighten it. YA fantasy is very different from adult fantasy in that it tends to move faster with a tighter pace. So while you might find an agent with a word count that high, it’s a lot less likely.

Here’s a good guide on general manuscript word counts from a children’s literary agent, Jennifer Laughran.

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True. But even those which weren’t form rejections, word count hasn’t been mentioned as an issue. Based solely on what I know, while it is a risk to query higher, it’s not an automatic dealbreaker for many. Professional editors will work with authors to trim word count if it doesn’t suit the story, and I’ve been told to query many times with 120k. I think for those I’ve interacted with, it becomes more of a problem around 150k-180k.

And I think longer stories are becoming more and more acceptable in the trad publishing world. Audiences seem to be wanting longer books, and publishers seem to be okay with newer authors writing those longer books. This was a really cool list someone shared of the word counts of anticipated YA fantasy debuts in 2019.

I do agree that it’s more of a risk, but not impossible! Although there’s definitely no shame in pitching smaller works first and establishing a reputation while keeping longer works on hold either. I’ve just decided to give it a shot with this one first.

I wish you luck with selling a 120k-word YA, but from my experience working in the industry (I’ve worked in publishing for 12+ years now; kidlit specifically for 9 years) it’s very difficult to do for a debut novelist, unless it’s something so incredible it blows agents and editors away. For most writers, though, more than 100–110k is unlikely.

While longer books are becoming acceptable, that’s for later books in an author’s career, not their debut. You will find outliers, but they’re just that—not very common.

Unfortunately, editors at large publishing houses are a lot less willing to work with writers on editing than they have in the past. Unless they know it’s a guaranteed seller, they’ll usually pass on the book and tell the agent they can resubmit later if the editor if they revise. Very few editors will do extensive revisions anymore. I see it all the time, and it’s incredibly frustrating because some amazing books aren’t published because editors are too overworked and don’t have time to develop writers like they used to.

Unless I misunderstood what you meant by “professional editors,” as in freelance editors that a writer can hire, in which case yes, you can pay someone to help you tighten your book, but that would have to happen before the book is acquired by a publisher.