The Publishing Process, Word Counts, Writing Advice

More Word Counts by Kathryn Evans

Word Counts!

The post with the most hits on my website BY FAR  is ‘Word Counts’.  Clearly, we writers are a bit obsessed with counting them there words. . Funny that, how numbers occupy so much  of our brains. I think three deep concerns are the drivers for this:

  • Trying to ensure we’re a good fit for our genre
  • Not wanting to leave ANY excuse for rejection
  • Desperately wanting to know ‘Are we nearly there yet?’

Given that’s it’s such an interesting topic, I thought I’d dust off that old post and update it a bit….

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:

E M Lochart,  We Were Liars – 50189

Louis Sachar’s ‘Holes’ – 47079

Patrick Ness,  The Knife of Never Letting Go – 112022

Sally Gardner’s, Maggot Moon –  31057

John Green, A Fault in Our Stars –  65752

Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games – 99750

David Almond’s ‘Skellig’ –  31202

Michael Morpurgo’s  ‘Private Peaceful’ 46316

Francesca Simon’s ‘Horrid Henry’ between 5,000 and 7,500

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

Pat Walsh, The Crowfield Demon – 75652

Anthony Mcgowan, Hello Darkness – 47426

Philip Reeve & Sarak McIntyre, Oliver and the Seawigs – 17544

Strange how similar they feel in story weight – The Hunger Games didn’t feel like it was 3 times as long as Maggot Moon!

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….

I take requests, name your book and I’ll do my best!

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!


10 thoughts on “More Word Counts by Kathryn Evans”

  1. So now you’ve peaked my interest. How did you come up with those word counts. Do you have a minion chained to you bookshelves with one of those little clickers grasped weakly in his hand, begging not to be given Order of the Phoenix as his next book?

  2. Thank you for writing this item. I find that my word count is too low – constantly! I understand the idea of Draft 1 – 10% for Draft 2, but somehow my draft 1 is already so low it is scary. I do have a question, if you could find the word count for Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lusy Ivison, could you let me know, please?
    Many thanks and all the best, Caroline

      1. Thank you, Kathryn. I appreciate your help here. I find David Almond’s Skellig the one to take heart from, too. All the best, Caroline

  3. Your idea about “story weight” is interesting, but a lot of it depends on the skill of the actual writer. If the text is an effortless read, then the book flies by. I’ve been reading The Lies of Loche Lamora, and although the idea is interesting, I’m finding it a real slog to get through. Compare that with, say, Feist’s Magician. Feist uses quite a modern writing style compared to many fantasy writers, but it works really well. He draws you in and that’s it… BOOM!… Book finished.

  4. I think there’s something quite comforting about counting words – the increasing number as we write a first draft acknowledging we have moved forward and are getting nearer the end. In the rewrites the change showing us again we have achieved something. It’s an interesting point you make about story weight and I agree with Andrew; effortless text doesn’t feel as long as it is and even the shortest book can feel as if it goes on forever if we fail to be drawn in.

  5. For some reason some of those books looked like they had more words in them. Some books look a lot thinner when you just see the amount of words instead of the book itself. Keep on blogging in a free world – The False Prophet

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