Age Level and Genre: Know What You Are Writing

When you are submitting your work to a publisher or agent, you need to know WHAT it is. What is the genre? And, if you are writing for young readers, what type of book/age level are you writing for?

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Be patient. It will all make sense. I promise.

I thought of this when I read Rachel Gardner’s post about genre. Excellent post. But, as I said, if you write for young readers you need to go beyond genre. Here are some of your possibilities.

Board Book

These books are for readers three and under. They are printed on card board to make them more durable. For examples you can look at Sandra Boynton’s board books or Sue Lowell Gallion’s Our World.

Picture Book

Most are for readers from aged 3 to 8. Picture books combine words and text, each carrying an equal part of the story. The majority are 32 pages long. To compare with board books, see Sue Lowell Gallion’s Pug and Pig books.

Early or Beginning Readers

These are for readers aged 5 to 8. They are for newly independent readers who aren’t super confident and need the cues supplied by the illustrations. Many early readers are published in series. Think Rookie Readers and the Random House Step into Reading series.

Chapter Books

These books are for a slightly older audience, ages 7 to 9. They can now read longer works with very few illustrations. Manuscripts are 40 to 60 pages long. Examples include Zoey and Sassafras, The Princess in Black and Judy Moody.

Middle Grade

Developmentally, middle grade novels cover a wide range with readers from 8 to 12 years-old. Books include a subplot and complex situations. Characters are trying to discover who they are. Examples include the Diary of a Whimpy Kid series as well as popular graphic novels like Class Act.

Young Adult

These novels are for readers aged 12 and older. There are multiple subplots and characters find themselves in adult situations but have a teen sensibility. Coming of age is a popular YA theme. Tomi Adeyemi’s books are young adult.

Once you know what level/type of book you are writing, then you need to consider genre. Types of nonfiction include how-to (art, craft books, and self help), biography, science, history, and travel. Fiction genre include historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, contemporary fiction, and mysteries.

Figure out where you book fits before you approach an agent or publisher. You don’t want to tell an agent “I’ve written a children’s book.” You want to be able to say that your manuscript is a picture book biography, a middle grade mystery, or a fantasy chapter book.

Where does your manuscript fit in?