We've been talking (again) over in the kids' section about MG word count. A few of us have heard from agents that an MG novel should be at least 30K. But I can name several Newbery winners that are much, much shorter:
Tuck Everlasting: 27K
Midwife's Apprentice: 21K
The Whipping Boy: 12K
Sarah, Plain and Tall: 8K!
Granted, none of these are recent books. Which makes me wonder...is this a post-Harry Potter trend? Are publishers seeking longer books for a reason, or are they just finding that kids really want longer stories? I can certainly see The Whipping Boy being even more delightful if it had been three times longer, but it's hard to imagine Sarah, Plain and Tall being three times longer just to sell.
And as a teacher I see a huge market for shorter books. No way could an entire class read and talk about something as long as the Mysterious Benedict Society, no matter how much fun it is. But Sarah, Plain and Tall is perfect, even for reluctant/struggling readers.
Plus there's the economy...and ebooks...both of which I imagine will have an effect on just how thick a book publishers want to take a risk on.
What do you think? Is there still a possibility for a well-written but slender book to be published these days? Or is chunky the wave of the future?
I think that short is fine. Like... in the 20's? Is OK.
REALLY short, like 8k, would probably not fly nowadays.
Then again, you write something as brilliant as SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL... talk to me, we'll make it work.