String length addendum

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the length of children’s fiction, and about the mixed messages that I’ve received, with some agents giving quite gnomic advice, and other places providing hard and fast word counts.

In the past week I received a rejection from an agent, and one of the reasons she cited (along with “I’m not interested in representing fantasy books”) was the length – she said that 71,000 was too long for middle-grade books. This was my first categorical statement from an agent that The Chimney Rabbit was just too long.

I’ve no way of knowing how many of my other rejections were caused by the length – maybe none, possibly some, potentially all – so I’m grateful to that agent for letting me know.

So it’s settled – all books I write for 8-11 audiences (9-12, middle-grade, however you categorise it) will be in the 30,000 to 40,000 word range.

It’s too late for The Chimney Rabbit, and of course it’s too late for the 77,000 words of The Chimney Rabbit and the Underground Mice, but Tales of the Ancient Rabbits is currently cruising towards its 15,000 word mid-way point, and I’ll make sure when I plot out my next (unnamed, only a collection of brief notes at the moment) that it’ll be under 40,000 words too.


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