How do you know if your manuscript fits into the middle-grade category? Although no rule is carved in stone, these general guidelines should help:
1) The main character is 8-13 years old. Most children like to read about characters their own age or older, so it’s best to shoot for the upper range here.
2) The manuscript is approximately 20,000-60,000 words. Again, there are loads of examples with higher word counts and lesser word counts. But this a good general rule of thumb. Or Foot. As long as it doesn’t stink. 😉 [For some bonus thoughts on this topic, check out the following post by MUF’s Hillary Homzie “How Long Is Middle Grade Fiction?” or this post by agent Jennifer Laughran “Wordcount Dracula.”]
3) The story doesn’t contain issues of an overtly sexual or violent nature. So save that kissing for your young adult manuscript. And keep the zombie killing to a minimum. For the zombies’ sake.