What's the Right Length for a Young Adult Novel?

When getting ready to pitch your novel, it's important to know if your project aligns with industry standards. Here, Scott Francis outlines some key information for young adult authors.
Author:
Publish date:

Q: I'm working on a middle-grade novel, and I'm worried that it's too long. What's the appropriate length for middle-grade and young adult novels? —Anonymous

(The Key Differences Between Middle Grade vs Young Adult)

A: The are no set-in-stone rules when it comes to the length of middle-grade and young adult novels. It varies from publisher to publisher and project to project. Middle-grade novels can range from 10,000 to 30,000 words, and young adult novels can range from 25,000 to 50,000. Recently, though, the Harry Potter series and Christopher Paolini's Inheritance trilogy have offered page counts exceeding what anyone though middle-grade readers could handle. And YA novels, which have grown in popularity, can often be the same length as a standard novel (80,000 words).

The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) does offer length guidelines in terms of the appropriate number of manuscript pages for various genres (meaning the number of pages a writer would submit to a publisher). For fiction, they suggest middle-grade works be anywhere from 40 to 150 manuscript pages and YA from 175 to 200 pages.

What's the Right Length for a Young Adult Novel?

Consult listings in the current edition of Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market for information on both fiction and nonfiction word counts for various publishers. Also, consult submission guidelines for individual publishers that interest you.

It's unlikely your work will be automatically rejected if your submission exceeds a publisher's guidelines by a few thousand words. However, if they generally publish mid-grade books that are around 25,000 words and you send them 65,000, you'll likely get a quick rejection. Try your best to stay in the ballpark, but also do what's appropriate for your story.

writing the young adult novel

Are you new to writing fiction for young adults? Do you want to learn how to write a young adult book and break into the market? Let Writing the Young Adult Novel be your guide. When you take this workshop, you'll get step-by-step instruction on writing for young adults and learn how to sell your novel.

Click to continue.

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2021

Writer's Digest Best Live Streams, Podcasts, and YouTube Channels 2021

Here are the top live streams, podcasts, and YouTube channels as identified in the 23rd Annual 101 Best Websites from the May/June 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 576

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a back to blank poem.

Where Are the Toxic Families in Children's Books?

Where Are the Toxic Families in Children's Books?

Christina Wyman discusses how for children who suffer difficult family dynamics, seeing their experiences reflected in books is few and far between.

the island

The Island

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, build yourself an island.

Nawaaz Ahmed: On Personal Identity in Literary Fiction

Nawaaz Ahmed: On Personal Identity in Literary Fiction

Nawaaz Ahmed discusses how his personal experiences acted as the impetus for his new book, Radiant Fugitives, and how it went from novella to novel.

Comedy vs. Comity (Grammar Rules)

Comedy vs. Comity (Grammar Rules)

There's nothing funny about learning when to use comedy and comity (OK, maybe a little humor) with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Shugri Said Salh: On Writing the Coming-Of-Age Story

Shugri Said Salh: On Writing the Coming-Of-Age Story

Debut author Shugri Said Salh discusses how wanting to know her mother lead her to writing her coming-of-age novel, The Last Nomad.

100 Ways to Buff Your Book

100 Ways to Buff Your Book

Does your manuscript need a little more definition, but you’re not sure where to begin? Try these 100 tips to give your words more power.

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson: On Internal Roadblocks and Not Giving Up

Kaia Alderson discusses how she never gave up on her story, how she worked through internal doubts, and how research lead her out of romance and into historical fiction.