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I'm currently writing a realism fantasy novel targeted for a 9-12 age group. Since it became so long(the first draft turned out to be at least 90,000 words), I figured it would be best to split the book up into a series. Now after finishing the first book of the series, it somehow managed to be 70,000-80,000 words. Doing a quick Google search, according to this, it claims that the average word count for Children's novels would be 50,000-70,000 words as the average.

There is going to be like, 5 sequels to the first book, so the first book is just the beginning. This is the type of those books when there is a long journey. For most of the series, it's basically the character journeying around and running into many mini conflicts. So while yes, I could easily just cut off a part of the story and carry it to the second book and so on, this is going to be a bit difficult to do, because the ending of the first book is a cliffhanger, and I kind of like it that way.

Is my story too long for a Children's novel(targeted to that specific age range)? What can I do to make it shorter(perhaps I did too much fancy language or the show-not-tell?)?

Edit: I got my little sister to read the book. She's only seven, but she gobbled the whole book in one day. She said it was good, so I think that if she read it so quickly, then kids over than her would most likely too. However, she did skip over a few pages that were about my main character writing her diary entries.

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    Well, Harry Potter goes on ad nauseam, so pretty long.
    – Chenmunka
    Nov 29 '20 at 11:44
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    Note that as mentioned on the page you reference, while YA novels are usually shorter than average, fantasy novels are often (much) longer.
    – occipita
    Dec 4 '20 at 8:47
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It's not too long if it's good enough. I had a look on my shelf and I can see a couple of the Skullduggery Pleasant series that are long. The last of the Raven's Gate series is seriously long.

However, I think you might be able to cut some of the words. Start with description. If you have any paragraphs of just description, consider cutting them down to a single sentence. Kids tend to skip long passages of description. Actually, as an adult, I do too.

Can some of the direct speech be left out or become indirect speech?

Have you used 'ly' adverbs and too many adjectives?

Stephen King is big on cutting words out. Have you read his book 'On Writing'?

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Children's books can be a bit longer than that as long as they don't get too adult. Harry Potter started out for children and became young adults, but before it made the jump from "children" to "YA," some of the books were more lengthy. If you don't want/see that happening you need to keep the theme appropriate for children. You can always ask young kids in your life what their favorite books are and look up the word count for that; it's an easy way to get a scope on if your book might be too long.

As long as it isn't 90,00+ words and the theme is kid-appropriate, 80k words should be okay.

I hope this helped :)

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  • Thank you for leaving an answer here. I do not think that my book is YA, and I do not think that the series will jump to YA either. Nov 30 '20 at 20:24
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    Great! Now that you know that, you can make sure to keep your book on the "shorter" side. Dec 1 '20 at 16:17
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It's certainly possible to write children's books of any length. However, all other things being equal, publishers tend to prefer shorter books, because they are cheaper to print. Clearly, however, a book can't be too short, or the reader will feel cheated. For an adult audience, the minimum length of a novel starts around 55k words, so something in the 65-80k range is ideal.

For youth audiences, novels can be as short as 30k, particularly for MG readers, so 50-70k is a reasonable target. But 80k is still in the right ballpark. I wouldn't see that being particularly hard to sell, if it's well written.

I'm more concerned that you describe your own book as a "long and tiresome journey" with episodic mini-conflicts. That doesn't sound like a fun read at any length. Given that, I'd look into whether or not the book needs to be tightened up structurally, rather than focusing on whether or not you're being too wordy. Maybe the journey doesn't need to be quite so long and tiresome...

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  • Thank you for leaving an answer. I think that I have exaggerated a bit when I said a "long and tiresome" journey. And by mini conflicts, I mean something like friendship problems, and the character has to be creative with her resources. Although, the "mini" conflicts don't happen quite often. Maybe somewhere like once every few chapter. Nov 30 '20 at 20:11
  • Maybe the journey isn't tiresome, but it is in fact, quite long. The character has to travel a really long distance. The journey(which, I guess you can say that it is a really long resolution part of the story) makes up 90 percent of the entire series. Nov 30 '20 at 20:12
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    So, the Odyssey is a classic work with just this structure, and it has endured for thousands of years, so clearly there's something there. But most modern readers expect something with more of a story arc. Even if it's part of a longer series, it should still have its own beginning, middle and end. // Also, please note that the length of the journey for the character has no necessary relationship to the length of the journey for the reader (and the same is true for how tiresome it is). Nov 30 '20 at 20:14
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I think your word count should be fine. There are many long books out there that aren't strictly for adults and children can read them. If the story is good throughout the whole book and is exciting and attention-grabbing, word count shouldn't matter that much. Personally, I do not care about word count, but about story quality. There are plenty of huge books that have a great story throughout and makes you ignore that it is so long and you just read the story because it is so awesome!!!

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There is no right answer. You can do something as short as 100 pages if you want, or go beyond 300 pages. There's the Percy Jackson series(plus all the other series in the same universe) that are about 200-300 pages each. There's the Harry Potter series which get longer the farther along in the series you get. There's shorter stories that hover around 100 pages(although most of them are stand alone stories). There's so much variation that there can be no right answer.

What I think a good length would be is however long you can keep them interested. If you really need to test your length, then find a few 9-12 year olds and hand them the book. ask them to read it, and when the finish to tell you how long it took and what the thought. If they take a few weeks, your book is either too long and boring or they forgot it in the back of their closet. You should probably get the book back in 1-3 days if you did good.

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    I think the user is wondering about word count since page amount can vary from font size to formatting, maybe edit your answer to better help answer the question. Nov 29 '20 at 22:59
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What I have noticed in books by authors I have collected is that the earlier books where heavily edited and read like they were intended. In later books the editing was skipped a lot more and useless (and in some cases anoying) repeat of statements and explanations have not been edited out.

I would advice you to take that as a lesson and do a lot of cutting out unneeded parts and passages. As your little sister did not enjoy the diary writing bits, consider if they are needed or just a repeat of information already in the story.

If you get your book to a publisher and they have an editor work with you, they will give you that same job to do, likely way and way harsher than you now expect needed.

As others have already mentioned in their answers, the actual length of a book is much less important than you seem to think. I was one of the kids who would select the thickest books in the library, as it would give me something to read for more than just the one day. A good book is worth reading, independent of length.

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