September 1, 2011

Query FAIL

Okay, this is really embarrassing, but I think I have to share so others won't make the same mistake. I finished my novel Roses and Mirrors a while ago. It started out as a short YA, but I rewrote it to be a short middle grade.

The thing was, it was still REALLY short. 28,000 words. I wanted the book to be closer to 35k or even 45k, but I had heard that the range for middle grade started around 25k.

I think I heard wrong. I read the words of a few agents that said they *might* consider something in the mid-30,000s, but they'd prefer it to be longer.

What? You must mean mid-20,000s....


Unfortunately by this time, I had sent out all my queries. I knew I was supposed to stagger them and I did. I sent out 3-5 at a time for a while. In the first two weeks I got a partial and a full request, so I figured I'd done a good job on something. So I patted myself on the back and sent out a few more queries. And a few more.

And then the form rejections started rolling in. At first, I thought this was no big deal. I expected form rejections. Then I read about the more appropriate word count range and I started to worry. What if I was getting these form rejections because of my word count? I mean, it makes sense. I got better feedback on Shadow Bound and, according to my critique group (and family), Roses and Mirrors is way better.

I'm still deciding what to do about this. Do I requery in a few months? Do I shelve it? 

Whatever I choose, I'm going back and making this book right. Some great subplots have come to mind and I've toyed with my main plot to see if I can make it twistier and more gut wrenching ('cause I'm evil like that). But I've already done some serious damage. Please. Don't make the same mistakes I did. Query slow. And double triple-check your facts. I wasn't familiar enough with middle grade before I started querying. Genre-hopping isn't as easy as they make it look. :)


Brittany said...

28k is short, but I've heard a lot worse word counts. I write MG and my novels are between 40-50k, though I could write longer and shorter. I've always liked longer stories, though I've heard you shouldn't go above 45k for MG. There aren't any specific rules that everyone agrees on, so I would just try to stay above 30k and below 60k for MG.

Unknown said...

Thanks. You're probably right. I'll layer my story with more wonderful conflict, and if I get anywhere near 35k, I'll take it. The last thing I want to do it pad my story.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Thanks for the avocado advice! I must try this.

I don't think word count would make an agent turn away. If someone sees promise in or connects with your work, something "small" like word count can be worked around.

Don't worry!

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