Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Middle Grade Word Length - Part II

Well, I received a couple of responses to my query about word length from agents, and wouldn't ya know it, they differed in their opinion.  Go figure.  Probably would get 100 different responses from 100 different agents.

The first agent I wrote to was Mary Kole from the blog Kidlit.com.  Very insightful agent and if you don't subscribe to her blog I suggest you do - lots of great tips and advice for new writers.  Of middle grade fiction length in a series, she said

"As a series progresses, the characters age and the books usually get longer, even in MG.  However, I'd be wary of thinking too much about the last book in the Harry Potter series until you're in a situation where you have a multi-book contract. That's a "if and when we get to it" type of question."

So she thinks the books usually get longer as the heroes age, but don't get ahead of yourself in thinking of a series before you've published the first book.  That's good advice, but in my case my agent and I have already decided to make it a series.  That's important because...

...how the heck do you end the book?  Mine ends with a bit of a cliffhanger, so it kind of has to be a series.  That's how Caitlin's going to push it and why she wanted me to write up the summaries to begin with.  BUT Mary's right in that it's better to focus on the first book.  Once I told her about our plans, she left me this little nugget:

"One thing to watch out for is saving the good stuff for book two. If book two seems really imbalanced in terms of complexity, compared to book one, you may want to add a few threads to book one."

Not really relevant to the discussion on word length, but good advice I thought I'd throw in anyway.

Now Caitlin, my agent, had a different take on MG word count in a series:

"...editors want to keep the series at the same level.  Aim for 40-60,000 words.  Harry Potter was an exception."

In other words, shut up and get writing.  (Ok, Caitlin would never say that...)

I get the feeling that agents (and probably editors) don't like to hear "but Harry Potter did this", or "Twilight did that".  Don't try to jump on the bandwagon of the exceptions.  They're called 'exceptions' for a reason.

Not to say that you couldn't be an exception... ;)


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