Saturday, March 13, 2010

How Long Should Your Children's Book Be?

Are you thinking about writing for children, but you're not sure how long the book should be? Here are some general guidelines to steer you in the right direction.

Picture books for ages one to six are actually broken down even further into books for one to three year olds, three to five and five to seven. In general, however, these books are mostly pictures which carry at least half of the story and supply descriptions and character details. These books should be anywhere from 25 to 1,500 words.

Ages Seven to Ten - these books have more text and fewer pictures with lots of action. These can run from 1,000 to 10,000 words. These are often read to children by adults. Some children, however, will read these themselves so keep the words to the proper age level, but not oversimplified.

Easy to Read books are for ages six to nine and are read by children. The words should be easily recognized. Keep the length from 500 to 2,000 words. Most publishers prefer 1,000 to 1,500 words.

Middle grade readers are aged eight to twelve. At this stage, there are books aimed for girls and those aimed for boys, but mixed characters are always welcomed. Kids this age are interested in everything. Keep these to between 20,000 to 40,000 words.

Teen books are aimed at kids between the ages of twelve to sixteen, but can also be read by kids younger. These stories are longer and more complex and often deal with more serious issues. These stories are 60,000 words and above.

Keep in mind the word lengths listed above are general guidelines. Once you've crafted your story, be sure to check the listed guidelines of the publishers to whom you want to submit your story. They may have very different requirements - follow those guidelines and edit your story accordingly before submitting.

25 comments:

  1. Great break-down of the word counts. Thanks!

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  2. Thanks Rena. It seems like this info can't be shared often enough.

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  3. Thanks for posting the break down of word counts for children's books. Always a great reminder of the guidelines of what to work towards for each age bracket.

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  4. Penny,

    Often people think that writing and marketing a children's book will be easy. Rather, it may be one of the most complex of all the genres.

    To explain each of the categories and some their requirements helps take out some of the mystery of it.

    Janet Riehl

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  5. Hi Lauren, thanks for stopping by. Glad you found the information useful.

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  6. Janet, you are so right. Creating a children's book is actually more difficult than writing for adults. Although it seems easy when you read one, a lot of time and editing go into the book.

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  7. Thanks, Penny,

    This is such useful information. All children's writers want to know the word counts for the different genres.

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  8. Kare, thanks. Even when we know, it's good to be reminded.

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  9. Very helpful info. Thanks. My college age daughter is an art major and wants to be a childrens' book illustrator.

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  10. Beth, I'm sure your daughter will learn most picture books are 32 pages in length. As an illustrator this will be more important for her than word length. Depending on the age level, the pictures may be on all pages or only some of the pages. Thanks for stopping by.

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  11. Very good thoughts, even for designers!! Thank you!! Jess

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  12. Jess, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

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  13. I put 'how long should a kids book be' and it brought me here, thanks for sharing the information. I'll be sure to follow you on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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  14. Seanshine, glad you found me. I spotlight authors on a regular basis and offer these tidbits from time to time. Glad to have you as a follower!

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  15. I just finished a children's book and it is 32 pages with pictures and under 2000 words. Good to find this and see that I am on track!

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  16. Glad that you found the article and it was helpful for you. When you find a publisher, let me know and I'd be glad to do an author interview with you!

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  17. Thanks Penny,
    I'm writing a non-fiction story for girls at middle age. I was so nervous. How to start?, How to build climax, what could be the problem and how to resolve it? How should the characters be and how many words? I got a little advice from my sister, who writes books for fun, but her books end before they start. I was very confused. My brother answered all my questions. He has had some experience. But his book was given a no, because of his easy vocabulary. He wrote the book 4 years ago so he wasn't sure how many words. I was going to give up but my friend told me to search it up. I was not good in internet so I was not confident it was going to work out. yours was the first link I could find and I thought it was not going to be what I was searching for. But this was very very helpful. Thank you very much again.

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    1. I am glad you found useful information in this post. Good luck with your own children's writing. It's an exciting genre to be working with.

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  18. Thanks Penny - the book I am co-writing looks like it will be about 25,000 words and aimed at the 8-12 market so your advice has put me in a great mood!

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  19. Thank you this was really helpful. appreciate it.

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  20. Don't fantasy middle grade books usually get to be a little longer?

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    1. These are general guidelines. Always check with the publisher for word cou. If you have a really long fantasy in mind, you could consider breaking it down into a series.

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