Word Count??? Genre???

I sort of panicked (I think I still am) when I read about the right word count for a novel. According to my word processor, my manuscript has roughly 116,000 words. According to some of the info I’ve read, a young adult novel has to be 75,000 words at most (or a little more is fine), for a fantasy novel, around 85,000, for a thriller, around 120,000 words.

Is this really a standard for novels?

They say that word count can sometimes be the reason why your book gets rejected (when you reach that stage) and some say that it’s best if you aim for success from the start, meaning doing your best to follow what most agents want to find in a book.

My next worry… how to classify my work…

It really makes me wonder. My book can be considered as a Young Adult novel because my main protagonist is in the age range of 12-15 years old, or an Adventure novel because of the “exciting and sometimes dangerous plot or setting” (according to the definition of an Adventure Novel), or a Fantasy novel because of the use of magic and other supernatural phenomena as a primary element of plot, theme, or setting. I’m still debating over Low or High Fantasy because I’m using a real world setting, but creating my own city with normal real world qualities.

Any tips on how to classify your work?


5 thoughts on “Word Count??? Genre???

  1. amymarie says:

    Here is a link to a great post by Vickie Motter, a literary agent, about word count. It is broken down by genre. http://navigatingtheslushpile.blogspot.com/2011/09/word-count.html I hope that’s helpful. I think you numbers are a touch off, at least for the American market. As far as classifying your novel, if you think it’s a YA, then it probably is. YA has a ton of different genres within itself; like YA fantasy, YA paranormal romance, contemporary YA, etc.

    • Thank you so much! I’m also wondering if my manuscript’s word count of 116,000 is too high and if i need to shave off some things.

      • amymarie says:

        It really depends on how you’re going to categorize it. Adult fantasy is allowed to be the longest, between 100,000- 120,000 words. YA fantasy is between 70,000 and 100,000. As a new writer looking for representation, it’s probably best to try to be right in the middle of those counts. My first YA novel was a fantasy that was 96,000 words, and I had an agent flat out tell me she was rejecting it because it was too long, that she didn’t want anything over 90,000 words. On the plus side, lots of new writers are unnecessarily wordy. Usually, if you know what to look for, it’s no problem to cut 5,000-10,000 words.

  2. I like Amymarie’s link–concise and pithy. I had similar concerns a while back and posted a much longer breakdown of genres http://worddreams.wordpress.com/2010/12/08/word-count-by-genre/

    Not my intel–got it from others who would know. My thriller is north of 115k. My agent wants it shorter. Thrillers are allowed to be longer, but I abused that privilege.

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