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#1 curmudgeon

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Posted 07 January 2016 - 01:59 PM

I have written a 40,000 YA adventure novel set in Peru. Four teens are abducted by terrorists from an Amazon jungle resort and held for $1 Million ransom. The story involves a lot of fast-paced action, some romance, a fair amount of terrorist violence and grizzly jungle deaths. The pace is rapid because I wanted to keep even a distracted, video game-centric teen engaged. However, I checked word count stats for YA on the "QueryTracker" website and found almost no historical agent interest in YA novels having less than 60-70,000 words. Will my 40,000 wordcount be a disqualifier? 



#2 Ireth

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Posted 07 January 2016 - 02:10 PM

I have written a 40,000 YA adventure novel set in Peru. Four teens are abducted by terrorists from an Amazon jungle resort and held for $1 Million ransom. The story involves a lot of fast-paced action, some romance, a fair amount of terrorist violence and grizzly jungle deaths. The pace is rapid because I wanted to keep even a distracted, video game-centric teen engaged. However, I checked word count stats for YA on the "QueryTracker" website and found almost no historical agent interest in YA novels having less than 60-70,000 words. Will my 40,000 wordcount be a disqualifier? 

 

Strictly speaking, unless you're writing MG, anything below 50,000 is counted as a novella. I'm not sure what the market is for those, so you'll probably ether have to do some research or bulk up your book a bit.


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#3 RSMellette

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Posted 07 January 2016 - 02:11 PM

You are on the low-end of MG with that word count.

 

And the trick is that adding to a story is harder than cutting. You don't want to put in fluff - but it's a good opportunity to build on the story. This is where the pros are separated from the also-rans.


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#4 LucidDreamer

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Posted 07 January 2016 - 03:59 PM

As the others have said, you need to add a bit to reach YA novel length.  You might actually be ok at 60K, but that is low end.  (My first YA scifi, FACSIMILE, is 65K, which is relatively short, but --like your book -- it is fast-paced so that word count worked).

 

See if you can add a subplot, extend each chapter a bit, etc.  You'd be surprised how quickly you can add 20 -25K.



#5 curmudgeon

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Posted 07 January 2016 - 05:02 PM

Thanks for the comments. Looks like I need to pull up my socks and dig a lot deeper into the story.



#6 Darke

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Posted 08 January 2016 - 12:27 PM

Lol, the title of this thread made me snort coffee through my nose.  :happy:


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#7 curmudgeon

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Posted 09 January 2016 - 08:13 PM

Might I be better off turning the book into MG? I'm having trouble seeing an additional 20,000- 25,000 words. I would have to tone down some scenes. My characters are age ~15. Is that too old for an MG reader? The story would not work having characters under 14.



#8 LucidDreamer

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Posted 10 January 2016 - 08:33 AM

15 is too old for MG.  That usually caps out around 14 (which is the upper limit, and sometimes 14yo's do appear in YA).  Your characters would need to be around 11/12 for this to work as a MG.



#9 susanhughes@sympatico.ca

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Posted 19 January 2016 - 07:58 AM

You might find this article interesting. It discusses the difficulty of choosing whether your 14-year-old character should be in an MG or a YA novel. Mostly though, the real difference between the two book genres is tone and theme, not the age of the characters. Enjoy: http://project-middl...-mg-and-ya.html



#10 curmudgeon

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Posted 24 January 2016 - 01:18 PM

Agree and my themes and tone in this book are so not MG. Good article. Thanks



#11 speedchuck

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 02:27 PM

So I'm in a similar situation with my book. People read it and love it, and the pacing is great, but it is also 40k words. There is no way I am adding to it at this point. I suppose that means I should call it a YA Novella? How would that hurt my success? And, for discussion, is that fair?

#12 RSMellette

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 04:45 PM

That won't hurt you as much as saying "no way" to changes. If you're lucky, you'll get notes from agents, editors, acquisitions, etc. - sometimes they are good notes, sometimes they aren't - but if you're going to say no, you have to figure out a way to make them think you said yes.


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#13 speedchuck

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Posted 03 March 2016 - 04:53 PM

That won't hurt you as much as saying "no way" to changes. If you're lucky, you'll get notes from agents, editors, acquisitions, etc. - sometimes they are good notes, sometimes they aren't - but if you're going to say no, you have to figure out a way to make them think you said yes.

Aye. I guess what I meant was that I wasn't adding another half of the length of a book to it. XD Looking back at it, it looks like I wrote that the book is perfect and unchangeable which... no.



#14 Niambi

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 05:47 PM

Aye. I guess what I meant was that I wasn't adding another half of the length of a book to it. XD Looking back at it, it looks like I wrote that the book is perfect and unchangeable which... no.

 

 

When I went through a rough and tough editing session with a beta she literally tore my novel apart.  Sent me back edits and critiques that could be a novel in themselves.  

 

Suffice it to say, that after the edits and changes were made, my 75k book turned into a 112k novel.  

 

It wasn't fluff or filler or anything, I just had to go in and clarify things that I as the writer understood, but didn't come across clearly to a different reader.

 

You may just find that two more revisions from now, you'll have a longer book on your hands.



#15 RSMellette

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Posted 18 March 2016 - 05:56 PM

Niambi,

 

The next step is to get that 112K down to 90.  :) Not because you have to, but because I bet it comes out better that way.


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#16 Niambi

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Posted 19 March 2016 - 12:33 AM

Niambi,

 

The next step is to get that 112K down to 90.  :) Not because you have to, but because I bet it comes out better that way.

 

 

I would agree.  And I'll ask this question here as well as in a more appropriate thread: is it a good idea to use the same Beta Reader twice?  Or should I find a new set of eyes?  Or both?



#17 RSMellette

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Posted 21 March 2016 - 08:10 PM

I would agree.  And I'll ask this question here as well as in a more appropriate thread: is it a good idea to use the same Beta Reader twice?  Or should I find a new set of eyes?  Or both?

 

Only you can answer that question.

 

If you're working on notes from that reader, I would let them see the changes you made. But as for an over all assessment... your call.


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#18 Niambi

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Posted 23 March 2016 - 12:16 AM

Only you can answer that question.

 

If you're working on notes from that reader, I would let them see the changes you made. But as for an over all assessment... your call.

 

 

Thank you, and since they're involved, and know where the novel is coming from, I will at least give them a second read to see if it's gotten better.



#19 curmudgeon

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Posted 23 April 2016 - 10:09 PM

OK. I increased the WC from 38k to 50k. But based on queryTracker very few YA manuscripts less than 60k get agent interest. I think their artificial, old school view needs to be rethought for the video game generation.



#20 Ash12

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Posted 07 November 2016 - 07:17 PM

Sorry, I'm a new member so I'm quite late to jump in here! If you're writing a YA book then yeah, 60k is pretty much the lower end. For an adventure book? I would say 70k at least is needed.

 

You need to give readers a chance to breathe--your book can't be all action all the time, that's what pacing is all about. You need some lull moments that allow your characters to grow and develop. 

 

Keep in mind that a) while YA books might be marketed for teens, the majority of readers of YA books are actually adults, and b) teenagers have a much better attention span than people give them credit for.

 

I don't mean to be snarky but waving a hand over the entirety of today's youth and labelling them 'the video game generation' as if they're incapable of processing intelligent thought is incredibly insulting and misinformed (I'm Gen Y, by the way so I don't fall into this category but I think I'm still young enough to get a little peeved here). Sure there are plenty of kids who would rather play video games or watch Netflix than pick up a book, but there have always been teenagers who would rather do anything else but read, this is absolutely nothing new. On the flip side, the fact that there are so many fantastic books marketed for teens nowadays means there are actually way more kids who would rather read than sit in front of the TV than there were twenty to thirty years ago. But give them some credit, they're not stupid and don't need to be pandered to.

 

If you have a look at some of the most popular YA books out there at the moment you'll see ones like Cassandra Clare's Shadowhunters world books, which vary from about 150k-250k words long, Sarah J Maas's Throne of Glass books, which started at about 120k and keep getting longer and longer. Even Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books, which are intended for a Middle Grade audience (but definitely appeal to adults) are about 100k words long. The Hunger Games, which is arguably the most popular teen book of the last decade is roughly 105k words.

 

I suppose the point I'm trying to make is, unless you're happy to market your book as a novella (and there's nothing wrong with that) you really need to bulk it up a LOT. Focus less on plot and more on characters. Make sure you've explored the relationships fully and that each character has been given the chance to grow throughout the book.






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