Sunday, July 13, 2014

Categorized Writing - YA, Adult or Crossover?!

 I'm a pet reader. I am the perfect marketing target when it comes to Fantasy. I read it all. Even if it doesn't catch me - once it's at home it gets read. Sometimes it's the character/story that lingers afterwards, sometimes it's the HUGE question-mark about what the heck that was all about.

So if you would ask me I would answer that I walk to the adult section (or browse there), but have an open mind for YA. I often love YA fantasy/paranormal because it's more fun and has the focus on speculative content, as opposed to contemporary which is often
more focused on teen issues - which I am happy to happy to announce I am about to be over with.

With finished manuscripts in the drawer and the focus on queries and proposals I face the dilemma of categorizing myself - my characters - their story. Would I use myself as example I would use to modern yet not so new category of crossover - MG to YA, YA to Adult, maybe throw in some fantasy-NA-nerds and whatever comes along.

Alas there's a problem with crossover novels: agent request submissions for YA or adult and then even state no MG. Then there's no crossover publisher: there are YA/children's publishers and adult publishers, who might publish both - but the sections are divided and you can't put a manuscript forward that has to be dealt with on second AND fourth floor. Nope. Human interaction would disturb regular procedures and strategies. And wouldn't you guess: no crossover section in bookstores either, it's either YA/children's aisle or adult side. 

Sure everyone became witness to Harry Potter or Eragon shaking hands of kids and adults alike and crossover was whispered all over again. Clearly successful books enjoyed by both children and adults skyrocket sales and thrill writers to reach an even greater audience.

Still all of the above make it nearly (clearly?) impossible to pitch if you can't clearly state your story as one or the other. Why? Wordcount for one - if you describe your book as YA but your WC is over 75.000 - decline (even worth if you've not been published before). Even worse if your Protagonist actually falls into MG by age (14 - because that's what 12 year olds like to read) - wordcounts is 40. to 55.000. Ha - let's split the trilogy in six books! Adult - well either would be too short and if it's longer than let's focus on pace: YA are quicker, straightforward. Adult goes deeper as the age-group tends to be able to focus a little longer ;) (depending on time of day and if chocolate is near)

In any way you want to avoid ending up with a novel that is too adult for children and too juvenile for adults, which happens a lot. On one agent's blog, I read that the difference between a Young Adult story and a Middle Grade one is that after the end of a middle grade novel the protagonist is still a child or teen, but in a young adult novel the protagonist starts as a teen and at the other end of their journey travels into adulthood.

For example: The first three Harry Potter books,  The Golden Compass or Matilda are actually MG.
Read those too. Never a thought I'm in the wrong category. Clearly crossover. Unless my inner child has taken over completely (wouldn't surprise me) or they weren't written in the language supposed to be MG (is there a word-list I have to follow to be categorized correctly?)

So do we know where we stand now? MY characters are totally confused and wonder if they should be made older (that would be ridiculous and they got a clear NO from the adult - me!). But the adult is still confused too. MG crossover YA?! From Thierry's rumbles and Moron-iness MG, from what'S going on in between the lines - adult. I'd read it. But I'm not normal. Found a good line for the pitch:
YA (let all the smart agents read and find out - they know more about it than I do) with a possibility of adult crossover. HA!
Hope I don't land in the slush-pile-trash-bin as smart-ass - there are already too many other reasons...