Thursday, 24 April 2008

Agent feedback – the word-count issue

As I’ve said in an earlier post, feedback from an Agent is a rare treasure, but that it exactly what I received today. She makes some useful comments about my writing but the really interesting point she raised concerns word count, where she says:

In 8-12 Junior fiction in the shops you would be shelved next to the Alex Rider books and Young Bond and Robert Muchamore which are all now approaching 80-100,000 words and are very sophisticated and grown up.

Now this is interesting as up until now I’ve been working to the following length guidelines for children’s fiction:

7 - 9-year-olds. 49 - 80 pages, 12,250 - 20,000 words.
8 - 12-year-olds. 80 - 160 pages, 20,000 - 40,000 words.
10 - 14 year-olds. 128 - 200 pages, 32,000 - 50,000.
YA: 12 plus. Up to 250 pages, 62,500.

Looking in the bookshops it’s clear that the very successful titles for 8-12s do have longer wordcounts than the guidelines suggest - Golden Compass, Alex Rider, Harry Potter, Invisible City etc. This would seem to confirm what the Agent says here. And of course, a children’s book can’t take padding – this would have to be plot driven.

At 26K words my current submission is clearly much too short to easily expand to this kind of length. However my WIP has plenty of scope for plot development.

Time to get on with some writing. I’ve got a lot of pages to fill.

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