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Hi,

I'm new to SCBWI and am not yet published. While I have written several different books in a few categories, I am currently working on one that I feel is close to being ready to submission but I'm a bit torn on what exact age group I should specify. While I feel it would be best for somewhere between a 6 to 10 year old, there is also a large gap developmentally and the verbiage is more mature than a 6 year old would read by him/her self. That said, most books are around 1600 words so not long enough for chapter books for a 10 year old. Any suggestions? Do I add more content? Or cut the content down a bit and tone down the verbiage for younger readers? Just curious if others have approached this situation and how you handled it. Thanks!
Erin
#1 - August 04, 2019, 07:56 PM

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Hi Erin

Chapter books (ages 6-9) are usually 4000 (Daisy Meadows) to 10,000 words (Magic Tree House).

Have you compared your stories to books currently on the market? With chapters lacking in number or length, you may discover you are rushing the text a little - i.e. missing senses, skipping descriptions, characters too generic, etc.

But if the concepts and words are geared to the nine or ten-year-old, is it possible you have a collection of short stories and not number of books (like And Then It Happened)?

It's difficult to make suggestions without more insight.
#2 - August 04, 2019, 09:12 PM

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What David said and also have you run this manuscript by a critique partner or group to get their opinion? I would do that, too!
#3 - August 05, 2019, 04:22 AM
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Sounds like you might have an early reader or chapter book. It's difficult to judge without seeing the actual work. You might consider posting your story on the SCBWI critique board or ask for a manuscript exchange. Here's a good post on categories and examples of books that fall in that range. http://literaticat.blogspot.com/2011/05/wordcount-dracula.html  All the best as you go forward with your story.
#4 - August 05, 2019, 06:18 AM
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Thank you all! This is all great advice! I just officially joined a group this morning for critiques and my first meeting is in September. I agree that maybe I am rushing the text too much David. I"m going to look through and see where I can add descriptions, more character info to spice it up. I think looking at the text it has great potential for a chapter book, but just needs more context. And I Didn't realize there was a place to post manuscripts but I'm going to look into that. Thank you all!
#5 - August 05, 2019, 12:17 PM

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You've had great answers to some of your questions. I'm going to focus on language itself. In picture books, your word choices can be very sophisticated. The images and the adult reading to the child both support a higher vocab level. In chapter books, there are fewer pictures and the children are reading alone. This means the words have to be on or just above grade level.

Consider your story carefully. Which ages will the conflicts really appeal to? An eight or nine year old doesn't always have the same concerns as a five or six year old. That said, kids do like to read about kids older than themselves. I suggest exploring all the chapter books in your library and book store. The library will give you more of the history of the genre while th book store contains works that are new or evergreen in the field. Use this research to help determine what your work needs and how it might fit into the marketplace.

From a marketing perspective, chapter books are almost always series books. A stand alone book is hard to sell in the format. Have the first book perfected and outlines for a couple more, at least, before you try to sell one.
#6 - August 05, 2019, 06:09 PM
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