Word Counts of Popular YA Books

As I started drafting my new WIP – a YA sci-fi thriller – I began wondering what word count I should aim for. Writing towards a word count might not work for everybody, but having a rough goal in mind certainly helps me when I’m sketching out chapters and undertaking my first draft.

Unfortunately, word counts aren’t easy to find. There are various methods you can try, but even companies like Amazon only offer the page count (which varies by edition). Even more frustrating is the conflicting information from online sources – if you really want your novel to ‘fit’ within the genre, it’s helpful to know the ‘proper’ length of the competition.

This post unlocks the word counts of some popular YA series.

The Source.

In the quest for word counts, I stumbled onto this post by Andrew Winkel, first published in 2013. He had helpful directions to the AR BookFinder website, which (among other things, such as quizzes and ratings) helpfully has the word counts of hundreds of books.

Below are several different YA series, their word counts per book and total word counts for the entire series. Towards the bottom, I also checked the (ongoing) epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire and the original Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Only word counts are below, not page counts, as some novels vary between editions. Attempts were made to fact-check the word count, and some other sources vary on exact word count, but managed to agree within a 10% window.

The Numbers.

Hunger Games: 99,750 [AR Page]

Hunger Games: Catching Fire: 101,564 [AR Page]

Hunger Games: Mockingjay: 100,269 [AR Page]

Total: 301,583

The Maze Runner: 101,182 [AR Page]

The Scorch Trials: 96,869 [AR Page]

The Death Cure: 87,385 [AR Page]

Total: 285,436

Divergent: 105,143 [AR Page]

Insurgent: 106,028 [AR Page]

Allegiant: 110,354 [AR Page]

Total: 321,525

Harry Potter (Philosopher’s Stone): 77,325  [AR Page]

Harry Potter (Chamber of Secrets): 84,799 [AR Page]

Harry Potter (Prisoner of Azkaban): 106,821 [AR Page]

Harry Potter (Goblet of Fire): 190,858 [AR Page]

Harry Potter (Order of the Phoenix): 257,154 [AR Page]

Harry Potter (Half-Blood Prince): 169,441 [AR Page]

Harry Potter (Deathly Hallows): 198,227 [AR Page]

Total: 1,084,625

Throne of Glass: 113,655 [AR Page]

Crown of Midnight: 114,494 [AR Page]

Heir of Fire: 163,266 [AR Page]

Total (Incomplete Series): 391,415

Unwind: 95,297 [AR Page]

UnWholly: 116,298 [AR Page]

UnSouled: 116,477 [AR Page]

UnDivided: 106,465 [AR Page]

Total: 434,537

Twilight: 118,975 [AR Page]

New Moon: 132,758 [AR Page]

Eclipse: 148,971 [AR Page]

Breaking Dawn: 186,542 [AR Page]

Total: 587,246

By no means a YA series, but I was curious to find out just how dense A Song of Ice and Fire actually is:

A Game of Thrones: 292,727 [AR Page]

A Clash of Kings: 318,903 [AR Page]

A Storm of Swords: 414,604 [AR Page]

A Feast for Crows: 295,032 [AR Page]

A Dance with Dragons: 414,788 [AR Page]

Total (Incomplete Series): 1,736,054

And for my fellow Tolkien fans:

The Fellowship of the Ring: 177,227 [AR Page]

The Two Towers: 143,436 [AR Page]

The Return of the King: 134,462 [AR Page]

Total: 455,125

Some Thoughts.

Obviously this isn’t a complete list. However there are some interesting findings in the word counts.

Firstly, most YA books are far longer than I expected. I thought most would hover around the 85k mark, but instead, almost every novel in the list was over 100k words. The expert writing style and pace makes the words fly from the pages.

Secondly is the strange revelation that Lord of the Rings, generally regarded as the ‘first epic fantasy’ series, is handily beaten by A Song of Ice and Fire (no surprise there), but also beaten by the Twilight Saga. This might be because Twilight had four books, rather than three, but in any case, it’s interesting to notice the relatively low word counts in Lord of the Rings compared to modern YA novels.

And finally, the word counts between books of the same series don’t follow any observable pattern. Hunger Games remained relatively flat (around 100k), while the Maze Runner novels became shorter; as most people know, Harry Potter ballooned around ‘Goblet of Fire’ and ‘Order of the Phoenix’, but tapered away; yet Divergent increased the word count by a few thousand each novel.

The entire Harry Potter series tips the scale at over a 1 million words, perhaps one of the only MG/YA series to do so. A quick check of the Percy Jackson series revealed the novels all staying around 89k per book, for a very rough total of 450,000 words. Most of the other series fell somewhere within the 300k-400k mark.

How Does this Apply?

You can use this information as you see fit. When writing a new novel, page counts are almost completely useless, as the ‘finished product’ varies drastically among publishers – everything from the font size to the page gutter can affect the number of pages.

Word counts – although flexible – are a useful guide, especially when plotting the number of chapters and drafting your work. Although I wouldn’t recommend pinning your whole novel around a magic number, it certainly helps to know how many words other authors used. Something around the 100k mark seems more ‘normal’ for YA than 85k does (which was my original guess).

In Summary: Use this information as a guide only. It’s a helpful collation of many popular books, and should be used as a reference. If your book wasn’t listed here, feel free to search for it on the AR website.

If you have any comments, please leave them below. Thanks for reading!


13 Comments Add yours

  1. Heather says:

    This is super helpful, actually, and I’ve seen word count posts before but I like this one best. Nice math. I also think it’s interesting that LOTR has a shorter word count than some of the others, because those ones seemed to drag on and on and on for me (so true it’s painful to write) whereas readers tend to speed through the YA novels you mentioned, even though they’re longer. The length they feel is different than the length they are. This is also close to home, just because my current WIP is only 60,000 words right now, and still needs a lot of work into it—it’s good to see something a little higher to aim for. Thanks for the data!


    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      I’m glad I could help!

      You’re completely right about the *feel* of some books. Writing style plays a very big part, and some books seem to drag forever while others can be devoured. That’s for another post, I suppose – and everyone has their own style.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Keira Drake says:

    I LOVE this blog post!! I am about to query a YA sci-fi novel and I’m so interested in word count. Thanks so much for posting all this awesome information! 🙂


    1. Brett Michael Orr says:

      I’m glad I could help you out! Thanks so much for stopping by!


      1. Keira Drake says:

        My novel is 70K. I’ve always read that 50-80K was most appropriate for YA. This is so interesting. 🙂


  3. I’ve been working on my two novels for about five years now. One is about 30,000 words, while the other is about 50.000 words. They’re still in the editing process thought :). Great blog post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. brettmichaelorr says:

      That’s awesome dedication to your novels! Remember the only ‘correct’ word count is your own word count – focus on what feels right for the novel, rather than a fixed count. Thanks for dropping by!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Anna G says:

    Definitely surprising! Everything I had read previously told me to aim for 80-90K. I guess it’s a good sign young readers are eager to get through heftier books now!


  5. crownoffury says:

    This is what I was looking for! Thank you.


  6. Reblogged this on Carla Lee Suson, Novelist and commented:
    I was extremely worried about my 98,000 word YA sci-fi. This post shows that I’ll fit right in.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is really helpful information, thank you for sharing! I just had a great idea for my first ever YA novel (never written a novel before, just short stories), so I’ll make sure to go through your writing tips in preparation! 🙂


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