Story Catcher Publishing Expansion: Word Count Matters!

***My apologies for not releasing this post yesterday as planned. My computer is acting up a little and deleted part of the original post so I had to rewrite it this morning.***

For the past 50+ years I’ve spent my spare time writing words. Tons of words. Millions of words. And like the picture above says, words have power.

When Story Catcher Publishing opens up for submission in the Fall, we will be looking closely at all the words coming in those query letters. Studying them closely to see if some of those words capture our attention enough to make us ask for more. Then the truly hard work begins when the actual manuscripts start rolling in.

Newbie writers may not fully understand how important it is to carefully weigh each word they use in their stories. Generally speaking, the shorter the story, the more powerful each and every word becomes. Below is a general countdown to the word count for each genre Story Catcher Publishing will be looking at…


Word count can be 50 to 1000 but industry sweet spot is between 300-500 words typically. Don’t use words that can be inferred through illustrations. Don’t use words far beyond the reading level of your target audience. Make sure those words weave a story with a strong beginning hook, engaging middle and a satisfying ending.


Word count can run anywhere from 6,000 to 10,000 words. Most of the books Story Catcher Publishing has been releasing has been around 10,000 words. Early Reader Chapter Books challenge those new readers to expand their reading ability. This when writers can add an additional theme or even sub-characters storylines into their manuscripts. Early Reader Chapter Books typically still have some illustrations inside but not at the level you see in picture books.


Word count typically runs between 25,000 and 40,000 words. Industry sweet spot is around 35,000 words. Story Catcher Publishing hasn’t released any middle grade books at this time, so any writers who decide to work with us will have to have a very strong story to begin with. This genre of books have both stand alone and serial titles where readers will find deeper subject matter and sometimes even controversial topics not usually seen in picture books and early reader chapter books.


Word count will run anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 words with the sweet spot being around 75,000 words. Sub-genres can cover everything from steampunk to fantasy, science fiction to historical, and everything in between. Longer chapters with multiple storylines for the main and sub-characters. The worlds found in this genre range everywhere from real to others created within the writer’s own imagination. Young adult books might include magic, time travel, portals, mythical creatures, war torn landscapes, new worlds and everything in between. The sky is the limit with this genre and any creations/situations within the storyline must still fall within the range of “believable” to the target audiences.


Word count for this category would vary widely depending on the type of manuscript. Story Catcher Publishing will be considering specialty books which could include low-content (coloring books or activity books), memoirs, journals, short stories, anthologies, etc. The subject matter will really have to capture our attention, but we are open to the possibility.

Do you write outside of these listed genres, but are still interested in talking to us about your story?

You are welcome to drop us a query letter when we open for submissions in the fall, but please realize Story Catcher Publishing probably won’t be the best partner for your project. We want to focus on the genres we are best qualified to help our authors achieve their goals of building a writing career. And the only way to do that is to focus on all those fabulous words coming our way later this year, because EACH WORD COUNTS!


Hybrid published author, Donna L Martin, has been writing since she was eight years old. She is a 4th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo by day and a ‘ninja’ writer of flash fiction, children’s picture books, chapter books, young adult novels and inspirational essays by night. Donna offers occasional BOOK NOOK REVIEWS of great children’s books and offers WRITERLY WISDOM to new and established writers. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators, Alliance of Independent Authors, and Children’s Book Insider. Donna loves dark chocolate, going to the beach and adding to her growing book collection.

Want to connect?




LinkedIn: Donna L Martin/Story Catcher Publishing

Goodreads: Donna L Martin

Mail: Donna L Martin

c/o Story Catcher Publishing

P O Box 27788

Knoxville, Tn 37927

Writerly Wisdom: Lori Degman



Here is another post in my WRITERLY WISDOM series I first ran back in 2013. Five years later, I’ve updated the material and made sure it still applies to today’s writers. Today’s author is someone I met back in 2013 and have cheered on her successes ever since. You can find Lori Crusin Degman at her website ( or on Twitter at @loridegman.

A Genre By Any Other Name
By Lori Crusin Degman


In doing research for this post, I discovered the categories I had always thought of as “Genres”, were really “Formats”. I figured, there must be a lot of other writers who thought the same thing. So, I would like to share with you the different formats and genres and help you determine which are best suited for your style of writing.

First, you need to determine in which format you prefer to write and then, within that format, which genre appeals to you (many genres cross formats). Here is a list of the different formats in children’s literature:


Format: Picture Book
32 pages;
less than 700 words
4 – 8 years old
Text and illustrations used equally; main character is a child who solves his/her own problem; concepts or events common to children


Format: Early Reader
48 – 64 pages;
2 – 3 page chapters;
up to 1,500 words
6 – 9 years old
Illustrations on every page but more “grownup” looking; events to which children can relate


Format: Chapter Book
2 – 4 sentence paragraphs;
3 – 4 page chapters;
up to 10,000 words
7 – 10 years old
lots of action and humor; events to which children can relate


Format: Middle Grade
80 – 190 pages;
longer chapters;
20,000 – 40,000 words
9 – 12 years old
conflict driven; main character pursues goals and faces obstacles


Format: Young Adult
40,000 – 60,000 words
12 + years old
teenaged main characters; coming of age; multi-themed; authentic voice


Format: Graphic Novel
48 – 64 pages
all ages
comic book format with more pictures than words


Format: Novel in Verse
10,000 – 20,000 words
12+ years old
similar to young adult novels but written in free-style verse; each poem should stand alone and capture a moment or scene


Once you’ve decided which format you prefer, you need to determine which genre in children’s literature best fits what you enjoy writing. To help you do that, I’ve developed this short test.

Which phrase would you most likely choose to complete this sentence:

Yesterday, my friend and I . . .

A. climbed on our zongos and rode to the edge of floxium.
B. ate a steak and kidney pie.
C. helped Paul Bunyon find his ox.
D. spoke on the telephone for the first time,” Thomas Edison announced.
E. landed on the planet Neptune.
F. began this personal journal.
G. signed up to fight against the Yankees.
H. pulled out our iphones to take pics of the cutest boy in school.
I. looked for clues at the murder scene.
J. climbed off our horses and mosied over to the saloon.
K. realized we have been madly in love for years!

Match your choice above to the genres below:

A. Fantasy
B. Poetry
C. Folklore
D. Nonfiction
E. Science Fiction
F. Biography
G. Historical Fiction
H. Contemporary Fiction
I. Mystery
J. Western
K. Romance

No matter in which format or genre you write, there are basic rules that apply to writing for children – though rules are made to be broken so don’t feel compelled to follow them to the letter:

Your story needs an arc – a clear beginning that sets up a problem for the main character, a middle in which the main character makes attempts to solve the problem (usually three attempts), and a satisfying ending in which the main character finally solves the problem.

Create genuine characters to whom your readers can relate and feel some kind of emotional connection – love, hate, fear, admiration . . .

Read as many books as you can in your genre – not to imitate, but to learn what types of things work well and what things you should avoid doing – based on your reactions to the books you’ve read.

Be ready to rewrite, reword, revise!




Lori Degman is a teacher of Deaf/Hard of Hearing students by day and a writer of picture books by night, weekend and school holidays. She lives in a northern suburb of Chicago with her husband and two dogs. Her picture book, 1 Zany Zoo was the winner of the Cheerios New Author Contest and a mini version was distributed inside 2.2 million boxes of Cheerios. The hardcover was published by Simon & Schuster in 2010. Lori’s latest book, Norbert’s Big Dream, was published in 2016.