I’ve been sending out queries for my second book, a middle-grade fantasy called Roger Mantis.
I’ve gotten a bunch of rejections so far. Usually these are very polite form rejections, or worse, no responses at all. But today a rejection came back that was different. The agent wrote a letter that actually explained why she didn’t think the book would work for her. I’ll quote from the letter:
The length of Roger Mantis was a major determining factor of this decision. These days middle grade novels must meet a minimum of 40,000 words for a publisher to consider accepting them. At 28,000 words, your submission is just not long enough for middle grade, which means it will be tough to find representation. Perhaps you mean it to be for younger children? Regardless, I strongly encourage you to work with an editor to find places where you can expand and flesh-out the story. It would be worth spending the time on revision to ensure that you’ve done everything you can to make your manuscript the best it can be before you submit it again.
As you look to revising and expanding your work, I suggest that you get your hands on a copy of Tracey E. Dils’ book You Can Write Children’s Books. In it, she explains the middle grade market and gives tips to writing for young readers that might help you add length and depth to your story.
Anybody who has been in this business knows that an agent who actually takes the time to personally respond to a cold query (and add valuable critical comments!) is a rare thing indeed, and in my case highly-appreciated.
I do wish I’d gotten this important feedback before I clocked in 48 other rejections, but now that I know about the length issue maybe I can expand the story and have a better shot next time around. Who knows…maybe some of those agents will be willing to take another look. Anyway, I’m putting this query round on hold for now.
To the agent who took the extra time to help me out? Thanks!