Middle Grade in Verse

I have been reading a lot of MG contemporary novels in free verse. Kwame Alexander comes to mind.  Tell  us your take on this genre, please and thanks.

–A question posted on our Call for Questions.

Since I don’t represent children’s books, I don’t have a personal MSWL on middle grade in verse or even YA in verse. Well, for that matter I don’t have a personal opinion on MG or YA at all. That being said, I do have a take on market trends and genres in general.

If you want to write in verse, write in verse. If you think you should write in verse because it feels like a hot trend, don’t do it.

Genres and trends within genres shift and change and can do so at a rapid pace. It’s why publishing professionals will always advise against writing to the market just because you think it’s an easy deal.

Books you see published today were sold to publishers one to two years ago which means publishers might already have a full list. If you love a genre, like verse, go for it, but only if that’s what you want to write.

If you are writing middle grade, in verse or otherwise, there are plenty of fabulous agents at BookEnds looking for just that. Good luck!

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5 comments

  1. Hi Jessica – I really enjoy your blog and your youtube channel. I have a question about the middle grade genre. I’ve had a hard time knowing what genre to declare as I query agents. I believe my book fits best being labeled middle grade because my protagonist is a 12-year-old boy and I wrote it intentionally for the same interest level as Percy Jackson or Fablehaven. However, when I look up how long a middle grade book should be, Google says it should range between 20,000 and 60,000 words. My book has 85,000 words, which is less than Percy Jackson. Is there an in-between category for books like mine? It’s not YA but it doesn’t seem to fit as MG either. No agents have told me they think my book is too long, but that’s my suspicion after querying unsuccessfully for a year. Thanks!

    1. There is more to MG than just the age. One of the things agents are looking at is the voice. Is your voice MG or YA? That will make a big difference. If it is truly MG you might want to look carefully at whether cuts can be made.

  2. I love reading MG and YA, I’ve never read it in verse, I can’t decide if that sounds appealing or not.

    I’m still writing MG but I have decided to keep writing on the back burner, as a part time hobby, for another few years. I’m applying to do a PHd in fan studies, focusing primarily on children’s literary fandoms.
    I hadn’t thought about the books from the author to reader point of view.
    Thank you Jessica you’ve given me a lot to think about.

  3. I think it can be tough if what you love to write isn’t on trend at the moment. But it really does swing around. Remember how not that many years ago vampires were all the rage? And now no-one wants vampires. Good luck with your free verse MG!

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