View Full Version : When agents list "children's" or "middle grade"

05-28-2013, 06:56 PM
Hey all, I will be querying a book soon targeted to readers age 5-8. Depending on what you call this it could be categorized as a chapter book or early middle grade. When querying agents with this age group do you just target the agents who list "Children's" or do you also include agents who list "Middle grade?" I've noticed that while some agents will list both children's and middle grade, others will only list one or another. What would you do?

Drachen Jager
05-28-2013, 08:31 PM
If it's truly borderline, you could target either, though it would probably be best to go with agents that list both.

In general, middle grade means chapter books and books for children are picture books in industry-speak, so if it's a chapter book you should probably be looking at MG agents. I haven't read it though, so I can't definitively say.

You also need to think about your writing career. Where do you want to go with it? Are you going to be doing projects that skew older than this one, or younger?

Siri Kirpal
05-28-2013, 09:33 PM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

In general, try to get an agent who deals with any and all genres you hope to write in. So, I'd go for the agents who rep both.


Siri Kirpal

Debbie V
05-28-2013, 11:03 PM
Middle grade is ages 8-12 give or take. Chapter books are for children who are able to read on their own, but can't handle middle grade themes or lengths yet. These readers have graduated from needing pictures and controlled vocabulary to support comprehension. Chapter books run from around 4,000 to 10,000 words. Publishers all have their own guidelines, but ages 5-8 is close enough.

Chapter books almost always come in series. If you do not feel your book has series potential, you have a very hard sell ahead. Series include Katie Kazoo, Junie B. Jones, The Magic Tree House, Horrible Harry, Horrid Henry and many more. There are chapter book versions of what used to be picture book characters from Arthur the Aardvark to Fancy Nancy and the Magic School Bus books.

Many agents who look at picture books and middle grades don't look at chapter books. I haven't yet seen an agent list chapter books separately in their guidelines. I send mine to those who mention children's in general or all ages. I also read interviews and look at works represented to see if I find a chapter book mentioned.

I only know of one publishing imprint at a major house that accepts unsolicited (last I checked) chapter books that are not part of a series, FSG.

Query as widely as you can.

05-28-2013, 11:11 PM
You can sometimes find information on what exactly an agent who reps "children's" is interested in, and "children's" can include MG. Eg. Look at the agents at Andrea Brown (http://www.andreabrownlit.com/agents.php) or The Bent Agency (http://www.thebentagency.com/about.html). Some do specifically list "chapter books." The age range you list sounds like it fits right into chapter books, which I think are usually grades 2-3, not so much like MG to me, but take that with a grain of salt as I do not write children's lit. I'd probably avoid agents who rep only MG initially.

05-29-2013, 01:48 AM
Yeah, maybe I'll just cast the net widely and include middle grade too to make sure I'm getting everyone. I'll be querying the first book in a series and may have the second one done when I get to querying this one. I know it's a hard sell and I did think about aging the character up but that's just not the voice coming that wants to come through.

I guess part of my confusion is I see chapter books also listed as early middle grade. I have seen some agents list them separately but not often.

I think I will expand the query spreadsheet. :-) LJD, Andrea Brown and The Bent agency are definitely on the list!

05-29-2013, 10:10 PM
For the publishers I've worked with, what matters is the age of the protagonist, and the way the story is told. A middle grade novel sells a heck of a lot easier if the protagonist is twelve or thirteen. Those who read middle grade generally do not want to read about protagonist who are younger than they are. The idea is for the protagonist to do things the read could do now, or will be able to do in a year or two.

Mud Mamba
05-30-2013, 01:13 AM
5-8 isn't really "middle grade," which is generally 8-12. How many words is your manuscript?

05-30-2013, 10:51 PM
Just under 10k. I think it fits firmly in chapter books although I've also seen some of these called early middle grade.

Mud Mamba
05-31-2013, 12:02 AM
Yep, I would call that a chapter book. Best of luck on your queries.

05-31-2013, 12:07 AM
I'm glad to know that children's books generally mean picture books. I wasn't quite clear on that aspect.

Mud Mamba
05-31-2013, 12:54 AM
I'm glad to know that children's books generally mean picture books. I wasn't quite clear on that aspect.

I'm not sure if you're being facetious or not, but that's definitely not the case.

Debbie V
06-03-2013, 08:00 PM
Children's books means anything before YA in age range. However, some agents do list Children's, MG and YA. In that case, it means picture books. It's a very general term.

I had forgotten about the Andrea Brown listings. Don't think I've read the individual agents at the Bent Agency yet.

06-03-2013, 09:16 PM
Children's books means anything before YA in age range.

Not for any agent or publisher I've worked with. They're not only very specific about the difference between children's and middle grade, but between the various kinds of children's books, several of which are not picture books. But there's a distinct difference between children's books and MG books. Many agents handle one, but not the other, and just calling it all "children's" means nothing.

They're also pretty specific about "tweener" fiction.