What a difference speaking to someone with knowledge of the industry can make:-

One of the main problems I’ve had since writing the Chronomancer’s Daughter was that I never knew which age category it fitted into;  Middle Grade (9-12 or MG) or Young Adult (Teen or YA).   Now, after speaking to three literary agents I’m sure that it’s Middle Grade.

This presents a small problem as Young Adult books (especially fantasy) can run to over 100,000 words, but Middle Grade books are never over 70,000.   This is for a number of reasons, not least that because English is such a concise language and when a 70,000 word book is translated into other languages it can be 100,000 words.  Publishers just won’t accept longer books than 70k.  One small technical hitch:  my book is 118,000 words.  Ok for an adult novel, a little too long for YA, and about 48,000 words too long for my intended audience.

I had a nice chat with someone infinitely more knowledgeable about children’s publishing than me (not a tricky feat but they do know their stuff) and have had some lovely feedback on the book.  The characters are great, the story’s fine, the pacing’s good, the world’s interesting, but there’s just too much of it.  In fact I’ve been told that if it was the right length there’s high confidence it would sell.

I am of the school of thought that says when an expert gives you advice, you take it, so I have suspended Operation Sequel and commenced Operation Word Cull with immediate effect.  I think I can remove perhaps 20,000 words just by tightening the language (e.g. “she had seen” becomes “she saw”) but after that I’ll have to start cutting into the meat of the story.  The plus side is that it’s a series so some things can just be held for book two, but at some point I’ll no doubt have to “murder my darlings” and chop some bits I like for good.  It all comes down to whether I want to keep the book as it is and never be published or perform some loving surgery and see it on a bookshelf one day.  A total no brainer.

I started last night and just word tightening alone has seen 2500 words on the cutting room floor in 60 pages with no discernable difference to the book.  Looking at it objectively I should probably have done it before.  Anyway, the new slimmer book is slowly revealing itself, I just need to take my time to make sure I get this right.  Now pass the scissors….