Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday Tally: YA vs Adult

Goals for this week:

  • query more agents
  • dig back into TC
  • write a couple chapters for Rt100D


In the last Secret Agent contest hosted by Authoress, the agent said my opening of EotF felt fairy tale-esque, and that she wasn’t convinced the mood works well for adult fantasy. (My entry here) Sometime this last month, I read that a fantasy author of YA books said she wrote for adults, but publishers chose to call it YA. (I can’t for the life of me find the link again, so don’t want to say the author, as I could be remembering wrong and don’t want to misrepresent. If you know who might have said this, or where, feel free to speak up.)

These two things got me thinking. Should I try calling it Young Adult? Traditional fantasy doesn’t seem as strict on protagonist age for the label. Robin McKinley’s books are YA, and she’s always been one of my inspirations. But only one of my other stories (current and planned) have a teen protagonist, so there is a fear of debuting with a YA and following up with one that is not.

Here’s the breakdown for my other books. Title : Main Character(s) : age

  • Race to 100 Deaths : Tilara : 30 (maturity=20 human yrs)
  • Trinity Coven : Kaelin and Anton : 25 and 26
  • Fly With Me : Vincent : 20
  • Sienna’s Story : Sienna : 37
  • The Blazing Princess : Aurora : birth to 16 (most likely to fit YA)

In Emergence of the Fey, Marian starts at 14, and ends at 20. Barely out of teen range. The secondary POV, Jex, is five or six years older. There are some training years that I could speed up if I wanted to shorten the timeline and end with Marian still a teen.

I never considered EotF a young adult novel. Then again, I rarely think in those terms when it comes to fantasy. As long as I’ve been reading fantasy, I’ve been reading from whatever shelf I wanted. Even now, the only reason I care if a book is Teen or Adult is where in the store do I go to buy it?

I know in the end it’s not up to me, it’s up to the marketing department. Which may be a non-issue if EotF is never picked up. So the question now is what label will best hook an agent?


  1. That is a tricky question. I think the main concern for an emerging writer is how to try and sell it to an agent. Your best bet is to target agents that work with both adult fantasy and YA, but you'll still need to have an idea of what genre it fits into. One thing to consider is that YA is a little easier to sell right now than high fantasy, so perhaps keep that in mind, too? Good luck! I look forward to seeing how it turns out for you!

  2. This is hard. I have a friend who's doing revisions to her story just to change the age of her character and make her story YA. I'm like you though. I will read fantasy no matter what section of the store it's in. Good luck deciding!

  3. What I do for a novel with that kind of quandary (one of mine also could be either) is call it whatever the agent says they want. If they only take YA fantasy, I call it that. If they don't take YA, I just call it fantasy. If they take both, I just call it fantasy. Most agents don't seem to care overmuch as long as you don't label it something ridiculously complicated like 'upper-YA comedic adventure fantasy' :)

  4. Thanks for the suggestions and support everyone. :-)

  5. I agree with Lynn. Tailor the query to what the agent is looking for because by what you have written about it, your MS could very well fit into either category. And, if you query it as both, your agent options double!

  6. I keep lowering the age of my protagonist. She started my first draft as a 28 year old and is now 20. I originally didn't want her to be "another" teenage fantasy character. My current thinking is that 20 years old will broaden her appeal. My non-fantasy reading "beta" readers think my novel is YA. My fantasy reading betas think it is adult. I don't care too much as long as people read and enjoy it.

  7. Thanks for sharing your experience, Matt. Interesting that your non-fantasy and fantasy readers look at it differently that way.