The Publishing Process, Word Counts, Writing Advice

Word Counts

By Kathryn Evans

Getting a feel for the right length of your novel is a puzzling thing. I know it shouldn’t matter – a story takes as long to be told as a story takes to be told BUT I do tend to obsess about it. I think I like guidelines – like to know I’m on the right track. So here are some for comparison – they’re my choice, books I love – some of them quite surprised me:

Louis Sachar’s ‘Holes’ – 47079

Candy Gourlay’s ‘Tall Story’ – 47405

Meg Rosoff’s ‘How I live now’ – 46920

Maurice Sendak’s  ‘Where the wild things are’ – 336 ( the film had more words)

Philip Ardagh’s  Eddie Dickens ‘Dreadful Acts’ – 25104 ( Suprisingly long, they’re always over so quickly)

Alice Sebold’s  ‘The Lovely Bones’ – 97914

Kathryn Stockett’s ‘The Help’ – 158012 – really??!

‘Sarwat Chadda’s  ‘Devil’s Kiss’ – 68567

David Almond’s ‘Skellig’ –  31202 ( so short – who knew?)

Michael Morpurgo’s  ‘Private Peaceful’ 46316

Francesca Simon’s ‘Horrid Henry’ between 5,000 and 7,500 ( but you have to read them over and over again to persistent small children)

Sally Gardner’s  ‘I, Coriander’ 66497

J.K. Rowling’s  ‘Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone’ –  77325

Strange how similar they feel in story weight – ‘The Help’ didn’t feel like it was 3 times as long as ‘Holes’.

This is fun too – for when you’re daydreaming about holding that finished book in your hand:

Ok, maybe I’m getting a bit carried away…..and if I’ve listed your book – do feel free to dispute my word counts – I didn’t actually count them all myself – I’m not that desperate for procrastination tools…although….

Kathryn Evans is the author of  More of Me. She’ll be appearing at  YAShot on 22nd October 2016.  If you enjoyed More of Me, please vote for it in the EdBookFest first book award🙂 You have until the middle of October. Thanks!


14 thoughts on “Word Counts”

  1. Wow, how did you get these word counts? I thought mine was over 50k. Surprised at The Help – I was sorry when it ended, I wanted to read more! and surprised too at Skellig!

    … just checked and you’re right!

    1. It’s an American website – spent far too much time playing on it and now I’ve lost the link – I’ll put it up when I’ve found it again!
      Actually, probably best if I don’t find it again.

  2. That site is addictive – I’d forgotten about it. Will have to go and play again soon!
    So interesting looking at those counts – especially given I’ve just had a rejection because at 47500 the wordcount was considered too low…

    1. Really? Uh oh – My current WIP is hovering at 46k , I was worrying it was too short but looking at these reassured me….can you remember what the website is Nicky?

  3. We were looking at that site at the retreat – Is the first Harry Potter really that long? Really? Maybe I need to waste time counting the actual words 🙂


  4. I’m a bit obssessive about wordcount. I used to love it when Amazon listed the wordcount on most books in the stata, they don’t seem to do that now. I thought Skellig was a short book but then I whizzed through it so quickly! I think we all need that link Kathy!

  5. How interesting! I wrote 83.000 for the first book, 93,000 for the second and 63,000 for the third. This one I’m working on will probably be done at 23,000…I think I’m joking…

    1. am chopping so much out of mine at the moment, 23000 looks good to me…. was Almost True really 93,000? Didn’t seem that long!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s