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Middle Grade? Chapter Book? Easy Reader? Help!!


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#1 Kidswriter

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 10:45 PM

Hi all! *waves* I posted this in the Guppie area because I failed to scroll all the way down to this category. Sorry about that.

I really need some guidance here. Now, my first children's novel is complete, and I've started the querying process. Problem is, I'm still not completely sure what category to put it in! Here's the scoop: I taught fourth grade at urban schools, and I had a lot of trouble finding books that focused on the problems my students faced (drug-addicted or alcoholic parents, living in foster care, hearing gunshots around the neighborhood, etc.). Now, there are books that deal with these issues, but few of them feature 4th-grade characters AND are written for students who are below grade level in reading. So basically, I needed high interest, low readability chapter books that feature more grown-up themes and characters. Are you beginning to see my problem here?

My completed novel is 8,400 words, give or take, has nine chapters, and deals with what happens to the MC when his loving father is sent to prison for selling drugs. I've been touting it as a middle grade novel, although I know the word count is way below the usual in that category. How should I handle this? Any thoughts from you kind folks would be appreciated!

BTW, there would not be an issue with making the MC a bit older, say, 5th grade.

#2 Cat Woods

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 11:05 PM

*waves back*

Two thoughts. Well, three. First off, congrats on finishing your novel and writing on tough subjects that kids need to hear. Now to the other two points.

You likely have what is considered a Hi/Lo--which you probably know. These are high concept books written with a struggling reader in mind. Henceforth, the low. These are in high demand and there is a very specific market for them. However, the guidelines can be quite demanding--ie fast-paced, action/sports oriented to keep reader attention.

Or, you may have written a chapter book depending on how you handled the topics. What is your sentence length, word usage and style like? These all play an important role in what age group you target. Incidentally, 7,500 to 10k words is the sweetspot for chapter books.

The thing you have to be careful with is not to preach to your audience. If kids smell a lessen in your words, they'll throw a novel out the window of a fast moving truck.

I'd love to see your concept succeed, as I think this is a necessary, yet untapped market.

I hope this helps. If not, ask more questions or PM me and I'll help you better try to pinpoint your audience age.

Hugs~

Cat Woods
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#3 Kidswriter

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 11:09 PM

Thanks Cat! You've given me so much to think about. I'm going to give my ms another look regarding sentence length, vocabulary, etc. before I do anything else, but after that, expect a PM from me!




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