If you haven’t checked out Chuck Sambuchino’s Guide to Literary Agents Blog, it is definitely worth a gander. Sambuchino is the editor of the Guide to Literary Agents, which has been published for 15 consecutive years by Writers Digest books, and his blog is filled with helpful information for writers.
He wrote a great post on word counts for everything from adult to children’s books. In it, he estimates ranges that are marketable in each specific genre and discusses the importance of staying in range.
“Agents have so many queries that they are looking for reasons to say no. They are looking for mistakes, chinks in the armor, to cut their query stack down by one. And if you adopt the mentality that your book has to be long, then you are giving them ammunition to reject you.”
So without further ado, here is the children’s genre breakdown of the word counts:
MIDDLE GRADE — 20,000 – 45,000 words
PICTURE BOOKS — 500 – 600 words
YA — 55,000 – 69,999
However he did make this exception on YA’s: “A good reason to have a longer YA novel that tops out at the high end of the scale is if it’s science fiction or fantasy. Once again, these categories are expected to be a little longer because of the world-building.”