Writing Tip: most agents and publishers will reject a 100,000 young adult novel without ever reading it.
Because it’s too long. Without reading a word, we know it’s too long. The fact that an author is submitting it suggests a few different things:
- The author is too wordy and the book hasn’t been edited for length.
- The book has been edited for length and the author didn’t listen.
- The author has doesn’t his/her homework to understand the genre.
Let’s take a look at that last one. That one has nothing to do with the quality of your work, and it’s super easy to fix; there’s no reason any author shouldn’t do it before submitting.
Novels in similar genres are never exactly the same length, but there are guidelines that will at least help you get past the literary gate keeps by providing an appropriately sized book for your target market.
Here’s what Writer’s Digest has to say about acceptable manuscript lengths (with a few personal comments added):
and Literary Adult Novels: 80,000–100,000 words
- 70,000–80,000: might work, but might be too short
- 100,000–110,000: might work, but might be too long
- Less than 70,000: too short
- More than 110,000: too long
- Fantasy/Science Fiction (and some historical novels): 100,000–115,000 words
- Upper Middle Grade (12+ years): 40,000–55,000 words
- Middle Grade (young adult style with middle grade themes): 20,000–55,000 words
- Middle Grade (style and themes): 20,000–35,000 words
You’ll notice young adult novels aren’t listed separately because it depends on who you’re targeting. If you wrote a YA fantasy novel with 18-year-old characters that could be read by an adult audience, you can probably get away with 100,000 words. If, however, you’re writing it for the 13-year-old set, you might want to go shorter. The best way to know how long to make it? Check the publisher’s website and guidelines!
Is this list finite and absolute? Of course not, but now you have a good idea of whether or not your 30,000-word historical romance is ready to submit (hint: it’s not, unless you plan for it to be a novella).
What genre do you write? Let me know if you have specific questions about the length of your book!