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Maryann L

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I'm not sure if this is the right place for this post. I am trying to define my genre. I have written a few children's stories, but never had them published. Now that I am thinking about revising and publishing, I realize that I will need to identify my market. Also, how accurate are the word count guidelines I am reading online?
#1 - August 16, 2013, 05:03 AM

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Hi Maryann

There's variance in everything. I know of MGs that range from 23K to over 130K. But the ranges most often posted are the most common.
What you might want to do is look up the length of books you think are similar. You can use
http://www.renlearn.com/store/quiz_home.asp#quicksearch
or
http://www.perma-bound.com/library/
to find word counts if your usual book site doesn't list them.

As for genre, I'm not really sure what you're asking. Do you need a definition for each type or do you have aspects of different genres in your stories and you need to pick one?
#2 - August 16, 2013, 06:38 AM

Maryann L

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Thank you, David. I will check those out. Most of the stories are not quite pictures books, but definitely not MG. I have heard the terms early reader and young readers, but also Folk or Fairy Tales or Legends.  Saint George and the Dragon by Margaret Hodges would be a good example of what I am aiming for. Or, Harry and the Lady Next Door. Maybe my terminology is wrong. Maybe I am thinking of age level.
#3 - August 16, 2013, 07:51 AM

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So Saint George and the Dragon is 2500 words at a grade 5 reading level. Definitely not an early reader. I think it falls into 'Picture books for older readers' or 'Picture Story Books' - not my thing, so I'm not sure. Sorry.
#4 - August 16, 2013, 10:41 AM

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Examples of genres would be mystery, contemporary, fantasy, ect. I think you may be talking more about age level as you mentioned. Picture books are generally aimed at ages 8 and under and are mostly designed for adults to read to children. They can run anywhere from say, 100 words to 1,000 or more, with the average closer to 800 words. Examples of early readers/early chapter books would be the Frog and Toad series. The target audience is about 4-8 and they average about 15,000 words, broken into super short "chapters" that make kids feel like they're reading a "real" book. Chapter books are aimed mostly at ages 6-8 and run about 5-15,000 words. Examples would be Clementine, Ivy & Bean, ect. From there you get into middle grade, aimed at 8-12 year olds and averaging 35,000-60,000 words. There is definitely some overlap in the ages, but this gives you an idea. When you're first starting out, it's good to follow the rules as much as possible. Don't give an editor/agent any extra reasons to reject you. It seems they can come up with enough reasons on their own.  :grin
#5 - August 16, 2013, 03:18 PM
A Smidgen of Sky (Harcourt 2012)
A Sliver of Sun (book #2)
 A Million Ways Home (Scholastic 2014)
Just Left of Lucky (2018)
 www.diannawinget.com

Maryann L

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Thanks, Dianna. That is very helpful. I think I might be missing something, though. If picture books are up to 1,000 words and chapter books go 5-15,000, what is between? I tend to average about 1500-2500 words for young readers, about 4-8 years, although closer to the higher end of that range. St. George is way harder reading than Frog and Toad.
#6 - August 17, 2013, 05:36 PM

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Just pulled this offline with a quick Google--but you should definitely investigate more. There's also wiggle room. There are books going over and under those limits.

Picture books: 350-600 words.
Early readers: individual publishers set targets according to reading level, but under 2,500.
Chapter books: 6,000-10,000.
Middle grade or tween novels: 30,000-45,000.
Young adult: 55,000-70,000.
#7 - August 17, 2013, 06:07 PM
"The mind is everything. What you think, you become." ~Buddha   

Blog - http://yarghing.com

If you're self-publishing, the length of a picture book can be anything you like. But the Saint George book you mentioned was published in 1990 -- there were many more very long, very wordy picture books then. Today, there are a FEW publishers who do accept (and even like) wordy picture books (nearly 2000 words even) for older readers (Peachtree is an example).

So there has been a tradition of older, longer picture books so you'll definitely find some if you're willing to go back to 1990 for a publication date, or before. Today, many publishers have stayed with the shorter books for younger children as a better seller. BUT...there are a few of the smaller, independent publishers (like Peachtree) that will go with a longer, more involved story for older children.
#8 - August 17, 2013, 07:15 PM
ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT HOW HOLLYWOOD MOVIES GET MADE [Cherry Lake/2015]
GHOST LIGHT BURNING [ABDO/2015]
MONSTER HUNTERS [ABDO/2014&2016]

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For clarity, I think this was a typo, Maryann...I'm pretty sure she meant an early reader for 4-8 year olds averages about 1500 words.

Examples of early readers/early chapter books would be the Frog and Toad series. The target audience is about 4-8 and they average about 15,000 words, broken into super short "chapters" that make kids feel like they're reading a "real" book. Chapter books are aimed mostly at ages 6-8 and run about 5-15,000 words.
#9 - August 17, 2013, 07:36 PM
"The mind is everything. What you think, you become." ~Buddha   

Blog - http://yarghing.com

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Thanks, Dianna. That is very helpful. I think I might be missing something, though. If picture books are up to 1,000 words and chapter books go 5-15,000, what is between? I tend to average about 1500-2500 words for young readers, about 4-8 years, although closer to the higher end of that range. St. George is way harder reading than Frog and Toad.
Whoops! Aimee was right, I did mean 1,500 not 15,000. Sorry. And these are just meant as a basic guideline for word length, but should give you a good goal to aim for.
#10 - August 17, 2013, 09:40 PM
A Smidgen of Sky (Harcourt 2012)
A Sliver of Sun (book #2)
 A Million Ways Home (Scholastic 2014)
Just Left of Lucky (2018)
 www.diannawinget.com

Maryann L

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 :) It didn't occur to me that it might be a typo! I just thought I was a terrible guestimator! So, when you write a story, do you aim for the genre, or just write it and then fit it into a particular market? Like, what would I do with my nearly 2,000 word storybook?
#11 - August 18, 2013, 07:16 AM

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I write contemporary middle grade, Maryann. So I write the story I need to write and then send it to my agent for further direction. But as I write, I keep the average word length in mind, my books average around 40,000 words. I also keep the other general "rules" and guidelines that I know to apply to middle grade in mind as well. So, write your story, but tailor it to the guidelines you know apply to the age group you're aiming for. For example, what age would your 2,000 word story appeal to? If your answer is 5th graders, then I think  you'd have a tough time marketing it, as 5th graders fall firmly into the middle grade category. If on the other hand, it's suitable for say, 7 or 8 year olds, then you might get away with marketing it more as a early chapter book. As David mentioned earlier on the thread, find other stories that fit as closely as possible with yours and look at their word length and what ages they're aimed at. Hope this helps a little.  :flowers
#12 - August 18, 2013, 10:57 AM
A Smidgen of Sky (Harcourt 2012)
A Sliver of Sun (book #2)
 A Million Ways Home (Scholastic 2014)
Just Left of Lucky (2018)
 www.diannawinget.com

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I've seen others post this as well, but I have Jenn Laughran's blog post on word counts bookmarked. http://literaticat.blogspot.ca/2011/05/wordcount-dracula.html

I write early illustrated chapter books for emerging readers (5-7 year olds) and they are about 2500 words. There are other books in the line that range from 700-1700. (I guess I'm a bit long winded, lol) but this is a fairly new line. I'm not sure how common this format is, but I hope spreads! But I agree with Dianna about figuring out who your readership would be to determine the word count rather than the word count to determine the readership. The words themselves are important as well. It's tricky writing for kids that are just learning to read. I try to have a good blend of sight words, as well as words that can be easily decoded and sounded out. But there are some words/concepts that are just too complicated. If you are writing for very young children, is your book going to be read aloud to them or will they be reading it themselves? Because the writing is very different for each of those.
#13 - August 18, 2013, 11:22 AM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

http://cyndimarko.com
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Maryann L

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Aha! Early illustrated chapter books -- here is a term that I have not heard before, but seems to fit! You know, I started writing these when my oldest was born, and he is nearly 17, so I am sure the market has changed. Where are you finding information on book lengths for specific titles?
#14 - August 18, 2013, 02:01 PM

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you can go here: http://www.renlearn.com/store/quiz_home.asp and put in published titles and find out word length etc. type in the title, and it brings up all the matches. click on the one you want and you will see word count and other stats.
#15 - August 18, 2013, 02:07 PM
THIS LITTLE PIGGY (AN OWNER'S MANUAL), Aladdin PIX June 2017 :pigsnort
KUNG POW CHICKEN 1-4, Scholastic 2014 :chicken

http://cyndimarko.com
@cynmarko

Maryann L

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You guys are amazing.  :pickle
#16 - August 18, 2013, 02:14 PM

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