Last night we had someone new at critique group. I don’t just mean new to our critique group. I mean new to any professional critique group. I realized this when I noticed that she called anything and everything that has chapters a chapter book. This really drove home why it is so important to know the terminology before you start to submit your work. Use a term wrong and editors will realize you don’t know the industry. Here are a few of the book related terms you need to know.
Board Book: This is a book for toddlers. It is made out of cardboard and is meant to hold up to small people who don’t have the finesse not to damage a picture book.
Picture Books: These fully illustrated books are written for children preschool-aged through grade school although most of the audience is preschool through about 8. The text and illustrations work together to tell the story, each telling slightly different parts of the story. Because of how they are printed, they are most often 32 pages. The text may feel advanced since it is read to the child.
Early/Beginning Readers: These books have a smaller trim size than a picture book. This gives them the appearance of a “big kid’s” novel. Many are fully illustrated but instead of expanding on the story the illustrations are there to help the reader decipher the text. The text is easier than that of a picture book.
Chapter books: These are for readers who are reading independently. They aren’t ready for the longer books that middle graders read but they want the chapters. The still enjoy illustrations but most if not all illustrations are black and white. Think Magic Tree House. No subplots.
Middle grade novels. These are for older grade school students. Yes. Older grade school. Remember kids tend to read up. Subplots are to be expected but these books aren’t nearly as edgy as young adult books. There is a lot of diversity in terms of reading level and maturity of content.
Young Adult Novels. These are novels for middle schoolers and high schoolers. In spite of what some people think, all young adult novels are not super sexy but these kids are heading toward adulthood.
Using chapter book to describe true chapter books, middle grade books and young adult books is going to mark you as a newbie. Don’t do this to yourself. Read. Learn the terminology. Talk to other writers. Then submit your work. Otherwise the first impression you make on the editor will be one of confusion vs giving your work the opportunity it needs to shine.