1. Iaevich
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    Iaevich Member

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    Word count on children's books

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Iaevich, Jan 12, 2009.

    My book is aimed at 13 through to adult, and it currently has a word count of 148,000 words. I think I can edit this down, but shaving more than 10k off is going to be very difficult. I've been told that typical children's books are approximately 50k. In addition to the obvious preference for shorter manuscripts, publishers prefer a thinner volume because of reduced production costs.

    Anyway, my question is, if I can get what I've written down to sub 135k is that in any way going to be acceptable to a publisher? So far I've submitted the first 3 chapters to 3 literary agents, and had 2 rejections.

    Cheers guys

    I
     
  2. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    It would be acceptible to some adult publishers, but definitely not kids.
     
  3. Iaevich
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    Iaevich Member

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    Hi Rei - thanks for your response. I think I was using Northern Lights as a bit of a marker (which I then overshot!). Having read the email on 50k though, would I be correct in assuming that a book the length of Northern Lights for a first time author would be the exception rather than the rule? If I changed some of the wording, and tightened up parts of the dialogue, I would say that I could probably make what I have written suitable for a similar demographic (but I haven't been published before, and now that I understand a little more of the publishing world I expect that to influence a literary agent's decision).
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's not a good idea to use an exceptionally rare exception/fluke as your guide... a first YA novel by an unknown new writer won't do well at such an excessive length... even 135 is way more than most publishers will take on for the 13-up market...

    it's too long for the adult market, too, as first novels are preferred at 80-100k by the vast majority of houses...

    how did you get to submit sample chapters to those agents?... did you query first and they requested them, or what?... and how long did it take after submitting, to get the rejections?... did they include any specific info on why the work was rejected?... or were they just form letters?
     
  5. Iaevich
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    Iaevich Member

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    I completely agree on my use of material as a guide. It just never occurred to me when I was doing my initial research (perhaps because I never anticipated my book to be so long).

    The agents all requested the sample chapters after a brief chat to people on the phone, but I think they were taking anything at that point to be honest. Both rejections were form letters, and time frame was 3 or 4 weeks (over Christmas as well). I've since improved the sample chapters, so I'm not feeling too downhearted about it now. I'm also going through one of the chapters that I was quite comfortable with, and being brutal (in terms of editing!). Hoping to be able to reduce it to 60 or 70 per cent of original length, which should get the whole book (scaling up) down into the 80k - 100k bracket (appreciate that still isn't ideal for a children's story though).
     
  6. othman
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    othman Member

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    first of all, thirteen to adult is not a childrens' book but a young adult. Now fifty k for me (being the age for YA although I mostly read A) is tiny, not worth buying. But a lot of teenagers these days seem to not read and have really bad vocabs (my english class frustrates me to hell and back!!) and so for them I would think about 80k, but anything above that will need to have a new occurrence every couple of thousand as they have really low attention spans. So it is up to your own judgment and I'm sure if you edit it grammatically you could get some teens to scan read it.
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Twilight was Stephenie Meyer's first book. It is over 600 pages.

    So it is not impossible, but typically from what I have read publishers like shorter books, especially for an authors first book.
     
  8. writer_chick
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    writer_chick Member

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    I am writing a chapter book for children - age approx. 9 - 12. I have been told that £25k is the max for this kind of work. I agree with the above. I think around £50k for a YA is what publishers are looking for, However; there are always exception to the rule. If you think in terms of Harry Potter. The first book had no volumn to it at all - the last one was gianormous! J K Rowling had established her audience so...she could do what the hell she liked! Good luck anyway x
     
  9. othman
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    othman Member

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    Nah, she just wrote until her hand hurt...and why do you have £ signs, we're talking about length not money
     
  10. Iaevich
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    Iaevich Member

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    Cheers guys for the responses. I got the last rejection today, but I think they may have been put off by the word count as so many on here have already said. Completely agree that it looks as if I haven't researched my audience properly.

    I'm meeting a friend that works in a publisher's on Tuesday night, and a couple of other mates are reading the edited first 3 chapters at the moment, so we shall see what they think!

    Cheers
     

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