How long should my young adult novel be?

When writing for young adults – that is teenagers and the early 20s crowd – your book typically needs to be shorter than what you would write for adults. Generally, 70,000-90,000 words works for adult readers, with fantasy and science fiction novels able to go a little longer, sometimes up to 110,000 words.

For 8-12 year olds, however, 25,000-35,000 words is a good range. For example, Dan Gutman’s “The Homework Machine” is 26,448 words while “The Kid Who Ran for President” is 34,098.

For 13-15 year olds, 30,000-45,000 words is fine. Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” is at the high end of this count at 43,617.

For 16-20 year olds, 40,000-70,000 words works well. Jay Asher’s “Thirteen Reasons Why” is 62,496.

As with adults, fantasy and science fiction novels usually can go a little longer.

Of course, there always are exceptions to the rule. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, after all, break all of the above word count rules. Her works also are exceptionally brilliant, and a YA reader likely will put back on the shelf a book of the same length by most other authors.