Pub Rants

Child At Heart

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STATUS: Another late post so I’m a little tired. This one will probably be a little short but sweet.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? Baseball highlights on the Telly.

Wrapping up my whirlwind New York Tour today. Since Friday is Good Friday, I’m playing hooky and doing some un-publishing related stuff. The weather has been so gorgeous this week.

Today and (most of yesterday) I hung with the children’s editors. Discovering the world of teen fiction is something I’ve been actively exploring since my adult trade authors startedd making forays into the realm of YA—Jennifer O’Connell, Ally Carter, and Kelly Parra.

And boy I am so glad. First of all, teen fiction is just downright fun. There is so much great stuff being published and unlike anything I remember from my tween years. Dark fantasy, edgy, bordering on horror stuff. Terrific, witty chick lit voices. Emotional packed dramas (keep an eye out next year for MTV/Pocket’s ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS. Gee, even the title sounds just a tad creepy.)

Hell, I would have read teen fiction for much longer if the cool stuff being published today was available way back when.

The Children’s editors are just great as well. It takes a special sort of someone to solely handle children’s literature. One editor had an enormous life-size Glinda the Good Witch cardboard stand up in her office (and no, I wasn’t able to concoct a plan to steal such a gem without her noticing.)

But of all the things I’ve heard this week, what is most clear is that this genre is hot (even if film stuff is a little lukewarm at the moment).

And for the record so I don’t get a strange flood of queries, Nelson Agency does not rep children’s picture books or even middle grade books with illustrations. We do YA and what I call older middle-grade (cross-over stuff).

Editors, and at a variety of houses, are open and game to seeing all kinds of terrific new ideas, concepts etc. for this genre.

And yes, I’m beating that dead horse, but it’s all about the unique and stunning voice that will open the door to this world. If you are an already published author and have toyed with the idea of doing YA, get on the phone with your agent. Find out whether she is open to you exploring some ideas. Editors love established adult writers dipping their toes into this field.

If you just write YA, the time has never been better to try and break in as a debut.

Since you can’t read as much as we agents and editors do, I strongly suggest taking an afternoon at your local bookstore and really dig in to read the back covers of what is out and what’s selling. You’ll get a good feel for it. Another thought is to cruise the YA catalogs online at the various publishers. Check out Teens Read Too review site (or your favorite teen site) and read.

If you want to write the book of your heart, fine. I support that. Just remember that it might not be marketable enough to sell.

11 Responses

  1. David the Multi-tasked said:

    Not sure of the other parent out there are like me and my wife, but we often find ourselves asking our 13 yr old son for his books when he finishes them. There really is some good stuff out there.

    Harry Potter is not the only game in town, check out Cirque Du Freak series by Darren Shan (vampire fiction).

  2. Vernieda said:

    I’m so excited that YA is doing so well. My current WIP is a YA, so hopefully it’ll be a bit more marketable than my first manuscript. 🙂

  3. Anonymous said:

    I’m constantly shocked by the YA/urban fantasy out there, like Holly Black’s latest title, which was far, far edgier than anything I read between 10 and 14 — that is, that was labeled as for 10-14 age group. (I was also reading Shogun & LotR in 4th/5th grade, so I’m not a good example, I suppose.)

    What leaves me stymied sometimes is whether I’m querying an adult urban fantasy and it should be YA, or at least older YA. The fact that one protagonist is a 15-yr-old runaway seems to slot me into YA, but the other protag is 23 & a DEA agent, which I’d argue puts it more in adult fantasy area.

    Who makes these decisions? Does it take an agent versed in both older-YA and adult urban fantasy to know where the book should be marketed?

  4. Anonymous said:

    YA isn’t for 10 to 18 year olds anymore. Witness the number of adults reading it for the ‘edge’. My kids steer away from those shelves when we go to Borders. They hunt for adult novelists able to tell a story without the sex and violence.

    My teenage daughter tossed another YA title aside the other day, 50 pages in. “More crap. If I want the WB, I’ll watch television.”

    Love your blog, Agent Kristin. I sometimes wonder if editors ask the right people when they’re trying to figure out what the market is looking for. I love that my preteen and my teenagers read, but I want them to be well read. Even if teens are doing the reading, it’s usually the parents pulling out the credit card. There are lots of us who actually pay attention to what we are paying for.

  5. DanStrohschein said:

    I think it’s time for me to finish putting those finishing touches on my YA novel and start sending it out! Thank you for this valuable insight – it really helps a lot. Who knows, maybe it is time for me to break out into the market.

  6. Jade said:

    “If you just write YA, the time has never been better to try and break in as a debut.”

    OH, WOW! I am SO GLAD that I read that! I really needed some encouragement on my current work in progress.



  7. Amie Stuart said:

    Anonymous by 12 I was reading VC Andrews (and by 14 King and Koontz)–mind you that was when Flowers in the Attic was new–incest anyone? Yeah, Holly Black is edgy (I loved her books btw), but kids tend to read up……FWIW =)