Mindy Hardwick's Blog

Author Mindy Hardwick Muses about Writing

Word Counts

on May 24, 2011

One of the things I’m asked the most in my workshops and educator classes is about the word count for children’s stories.  Often, I am greeted with shocked looks when I explain that a picture book should be around 300-500 words. Where the Wild Things Are is 336 words, and Fancy Nancy is 418 words.

Last week, Jennifer Laughran a literary agent who represents Children’s and YA books posted a great blog post about various word counts. I highly encourage you to read the post. I found her break-down of word counts to be very helpful.Last weekend, I attended the Oregon SCBWI Conference. As a part of the workshop, I attended a WOW First Pages session with editor, Bonnie Bader and author, Sandy Asher.  Sandy’s books include some great ones which I’ve enjoyed using when I work with young writers including: Where Do You Get Your Ideas and Wild Words: How To Train Them to Tell Stories.

Bonie Bader is an executive editor at Grosset and Dunlap who works on Chapter Books and Early Readers. Some of the chapter books Bonnie has edited include the series: George Brown, Class Clown, and Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo. After the workshop, I spent some time wandering around in Powells Books and jotted down a few ideas which might work for an early chapter book. However, I didn’t have any idea of what the word count might be in these early chapter books. I was glad to see Jennifer’s word count post which explains that early chapter books check in at 4,000-13,000 words, with the sweet spot being 6,000-10,000 words.

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