Friday, September 14, 2007

Because Just Getting Published Isn't Hard Enough

A new yet well-known teen author said she believes teen books should be 200 pages. I have written a teen book of one hundred pages.
Let's start here. How are you counting pages? Page count varies greatly depending on the type used, the size of the type, the size of the pages, and the width of the margins, all of which are decided upon by the publisher. This is why most people speak in terms of word count.

It is meant for early teens -- ages 10-14 -- but has all the teen themes, such as first sex, gossip, alcohol consumption, parties.
You're writing about sex, booze, and parties but at a middle school reading level? That's... gutsy.
Currently, I have a ten year old and thirteen year old reading my book, which I believe to be the "true test."
No, it's not. Whether they like it or hate it, it's not. People who use their own kids as guinea pigs (or other kids they happen to know) are forgetting that the small pool of children available to them are not amalgamations of the tastes, attitudes, and interests of the teen-book-buying public. Individuals are individual. This is a meaningless test.
I understand series type books, such as the Unfabulous series, are considered "teen."
By whom? Certainly not the publisher, who lists them as ages 9-12. Don't be fooled by these books being labelled "TEENick"—Nickelodeon knows exactly what it's doing when it packages inoffensive pap for non-teenagers as "teen": they're playing to the wannabe crowd.

Also, unless your manuscript is a derivative of a popular TV show, do not use other TV-inspired books as comparison. Those books are short and meaningless because entertainment companies don't want children to be so busy or absorbed that they forget to watch the next lobotomizing episode.
My question is: Can an early teen book like mine be considered seriously by editors / publishers / agents if it is 100 pages?
Ok, for the purposes of this discussion, let's assume you've somehow intuited the page count your book would have if a publisher decided to publish it. The answer is yes. But it's uncommon, so there ought to be something about the manuscript that really makes it shine. Like the writing, for instance.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Jus to toss a writer's experience in here... When I sold my book, the editor made it clear that it was too short and needed to be expanded. So, the length really wasn't held against it.

p.s. I think the subject matter of that book would make a mighty wrong mid-grade novel.

Anonymous said...

The "early teen" market you are referring to is called "Tween." As in not grade school, but not teen.

And heck no, alcohol, sex, and drugs are not part of those books.

... A few swear words, maybe. A "French" kiss, maybe.

If you want to write the racier themes you metioned, then that would be a YA book -- meaning Young Adult, ages 12+, or 14+.

And yes, if you are writing a YA book it needs to be more than 100 pages. Though there are no "set" page numbers for any given genre, who is going to shell out 15.99 for something they can read in five minutes?

Go to a library or bookstore and get some middle grade and young adult books and a lot of your questions will be answered.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the contradiction between age level and content is the real problem. But isn't s/he asking whether 100 ms. pages is okay for these books, not actual book pages? For a 10-14 book, 25,000 words (100 pages)might be okay. For a 14+ book, it would be bucking the trend because these books are getting longer. I'm not sure the person's question has been answered.

lynne said...

For anonymous 10:43-- no, I think the question is about having the book itself turn out to be 100 printed pages. I've also heard a children's author mention limiting her books to 200 pages or less, and her YA books are that length.

And like the other posters, I would be really disturbed to see something meant for ages 10 and up to have the kind of content that was mentioned. I wouldn't have wanted my daughter at age 10 or 11 to read about drunken parties or someone's first sexual experience. That is definitely YA material. Hopefully the original poster of the question will read lots of mid-grade and YA books to get an idea of what is out there for the different age groups.

Anonymous said...

I want to meet the guy who lets his 10 & 13 year old read about sex and alcohol. That's absolutely inappropriate content for that age group.