Writing Advice


Dear [Agent Name],
PERSONALIZE:  State why are you querying this agent.  Give the title, word count, audience.

BOOK DESCRIPTION:   (About 3 - 7 sentences) Who is your character, then what happens, what does he want, what obstacle stands in his way, what are at stakes, and then hint at the ending.   You can add two to three comparative books.
BIO: Give your writing credits.  Add if you've published a book or received a college degree that pertains to writing.  
CLOSE:  Thank you for your time and consideration. 

You can add: As per your submission guidelines, I have attached the first five pages of my novel. Upon your request, I would be more than happy to send you the full manuscript. Please note that this is a simultaneous submission.


Between 80,000 and 89,999 words is a good range you should be aiming for. This is a 100% safe range for literary, mainstream, women’s, romance, mystery, suspense, thriller and horror. 

In short:
80,000 – 89,999:       Totally cool
90,000 – 99,999:       Generally safe
70,000 – 79,999:       Might be too short; probably all right
100,000 – 109,999:    Might be too long; probably all right
Below 70,000:           Too short
110,000 or above       Too long

Science fiction and fantasy are the big exceptions because these categories tend to run long. It has to do with all the descriptions and world-building in the writing.  With these genres, aim for 100,000 – 115,000 words.  

Middle grade is from 20,000 – 55,000, depending on the subject matter and age range, and the word count of these books has been trending up in recent years. When writing a longer book that is aimed at 12-year-olds (and could maybe be considered “tween”), using the term “upper middle grade” is advisable. With upper middle grade, you can aim for 40,000 – 55,000 words. These are books that resemble young adult in matter and storytelling, but still tend to stick to MG themes. 

Perhaps more than any other, YA is the one category where word count is very flexible.  For starters, 55,000 – 79,999 is a great range. 

The standard is text for 32 pages.  Publishers want manuscripts that run between 500-600 words.

These can be anywhere from 50K to 80K, with an average of 65,000 words.

Memoir is the same as a novel, about 80,000-89,999 words

Book Reviews Galore:


Tips from Barbara Ann Mojica and Christine Calabreese 

A Short Course in Finding the Right Publication
Written by DL Shirey

Let’s say you write a short children’s story that’s nearly 500 words long. You think it’s good enough to be published. Now what? If you use a submission manager like Duotrope or Submission Grinder, you could peruse their many listings, weeding through a jillion journals until you find a likely candidate.

Or you could hop over to The Short List [<link to] and link to submission info for “Fairy Tale Magazine” and “Kid’s Imagination Train.”

A submission manager and The Short List are both excellent writers’ tools. One provides invaluable, in-depth information for a publication’s genre, audience, response rates and payment. The second is a great short cut, especially if you write flash fiction or any prose with lesser word counts.

As a writer of short fiction, I started a personal spreadsheet. Whenever I happened on a journal that published shorter prose, I added it to my list. After a couple of hundred entries, I shared it with my writing group and The Short List was born. Now it is public, with some 800 journals (at this writing) that restrict word count to 4,500 words or less.

Whether I start my search first with The Short List, or Duotrope or Submission Grinder, the path always ends at a journal’s website. It’s pays to read a few of their stories to see if what you’re sending them fits the publication’s style, editorial philosophy and other preferences. Otherwise, you might be wasting everyone’s time. Especially yours.

So the next time you write KidFic and the word count falls, say, under 750 words, click on over to The Short List. You’ll find links to “Fun for Kidz” and “Guardian Angel Kids.” And one of those might be perfect for your story.

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