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I was looking on AR Bookfinder,

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I was looking at one of the books I read as a kid (Winnie-The-Pooh). Turns out the length is 22,667 Words. I've recently built up to being able to do 10,000 words consistently, and sometimes up to 16,000 words.

Would a book (that's intended as early middle grade) be publishable at 23,000 words? (I tend to work around 1,000 words chapters, so a lot of my work tends to be short.)

That would mean working at 1,000 words a day for 23 days. Its challenging, but it seems a lot more doable than going for around 35,000 words. I'm not real sure how long this current project is going to be, and its intended as upper MG. I'm presently about half way done, at 8,000 words.

I'm looking more to find the next length to work up to, to build writing experience.
#1 - April 28, 2014, 10:52 PM
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I use Jennifer Laughran's "Wordcount Dracula" post whenever I have a question like this: http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2011/05/wordcount-dracula.html

Good luck!
#2 - April 28, 2014, 11:18 PM
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Oh thanks, that's actually where I found AR Bookfinder. That's where I found my book is in between that of a chapter book, and a realistic middle grade. (It's Dark Fantasy) Which makes it a bit hard to pitch.:/
#3 - April 28, 2014, 11:33 PM
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Dark fantasy does tend to have to be a bit longer and it's usually middle or upper middle grade -- hard to get all the world-building in under 40,000 words and often you see upper middle grade fantasy at 70K or 80K words.

Chapter book and early middle grade fantasies necessarily seem to be lighter and simpler, often drawing more closely on established fantasy tropes -- like a mermaid kingdom is a mermaid kingdom, not a wildly twisty one with a mind-blowing origin and dark secret behind it.

Shorter fantasy CAN be done, but as you say, the marketing is tricky. It may be that when you are done your fantasy at 20K words or so, you are able to revise it with a subplot and additional world-building to 30K or longer, which puts in more in range of the market. When looking at comps, try books that have been published in the past five years, which give a better idea of what is selling to publishers now and what readers might expect.

Good luck!
#4 - April 29, 2014, 05:03 AM
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Are these first drafts? Because it really doesn't matter how long a book is in a first draft. It's what you do in revision and how it looks when it's ready to submit that counts. I write short for novels (and long for picture books). After my first draft, I have to go back and add in details of all sorts.

Do you have a critique partner/group? If so, do they think your novels are too short?

Have you let them sit for a while before re-reading and seeing if there's anything missing (descriptions, world building, character development, dialog, etc.)?

Have you read books (current books, within the last five years*) that are similar to yours in age group and story type? If so, how did those authors handle the story? Does it seem like it's padded (too many words)? Or are they including information/scenes that are necessary but you don't have in your novels?

Good luck! It's hard to get the balance right, and some books need to be shorter/longer. It could be that you don't need any more words for your style and story. Or it could be that you need to add more later in revision.

* Winnie the Pooh and other classics are great books, but if you are looking to publish now, newer books will be a better guideline of what publishers want. Try to look at current books, that have been pubbed within the last five years, or better yet, the last year or two.
#5 - April 29, 2014, 05:43 AM
« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 05:46 AM by Stephanie Ruble »
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Realistically, if you're halfway done at 8K words, and this is upper MG, no, I don't think it's long enough. More precisely, the length would be a *handicap*, not necessarily a deal-breaker, in the marketplace.


If this is a first draft, nothing wrong with it. It may be your process to write a short first draft and expand in revisions.


What I'm hearing in your post is that you're trying to stretch yourself to write longer, which is fine. However, trying to publish a book at 23K words because you feel you can't (yet) get to 35K sounds flawed to me. Is there a reason you need to "knock this book off" in 23 days? If you're able to consistently write 1000 words a day, why would it be bad to take 35 days? Writing a MG draft in a month is very fast! If that sounds exhausting, you can skip a day here and there, or drop your daily production to 750 or 800. I'm not sure exactly what you mean by being able to do 10K words "consistently," or sometimes even 16. I hope I'm not totally misunderstanding, but it sounds as if you might be trying to turn novel-writing into a sprint, when really it's a marathon.
#6 - April 29, 2014, 06:45 AM
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Oh no, no reason at all. I just meant that's my normal writing rate.

But yea I need to find a critique group, and try to write for 35 days. And yes its a first draft. I have so much trouble with subplots. I'm not sure where to put them. I can do a diverging plot, but that's different sort of plotting.

Edit: OK cool beans, posted a Dark Fantasy critique group request. I'm not sure if what I'm thinking of is magic, or unexplained ancient technology.
#7 - April 29, 2014, 11:42 AM
« Last Edit: April 29, 2014, 11:55 AM by SarahW »
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