Or YA. Young Adult. It’s not a genre, but rather a market.
Many authors have said to me that we should write the stories which need to be told and not write to a market or for money. Well, that’s good and all, but really, we’re in this to be professional writers and professionals know their markets and either create ‘products’ for existing markets (the smart way to spend resources) or try to find markets for products they created (a long, tedious process). Personally, over the years I have seen much more success when a business person has seen a need and created a product or service to meet that need. For example, Marriott Hotels & Resorts was started as a food service business when Mr. Marriott saw a need for inflight food in the rapidly growing airline industry. He made bag lunches and sold them on the tarmac as people approached and boarded the planes, up the steps. He saw a need, he addressed the need, he grew his business from there.
For writers, what that means to me is that we can’t simply write any damned story we please and hope that someone somewhere will want to pay for it. A good writer should be able to take the kernel of a good idea and try it out with different markets in mind. I have an idea for a novel involving six female protagonists in a fantasy setting. Before I put pen to paper or finger to keyboard writing the story, I had to understand who I was writing this for. Of course I’m writing it for myself, because if I don’t love a story I can’t do it justice, but who ELSE was I writing it for? In general. Adults? Children? Tweens? Young adults/teens? Because of the nature of the characters who were sprouting in my head, children and tweens were out of the question, but Young Adults would be a good fit. Young Adults? Yes. The same readers who absorbed the Twilight books. And Harry Potter. Some children did read both and many adults as well, but in my mind, they are both YA series, so that’s the direction I decided to go.
I was asked recently who the market was for one of my projects and I couldn’t give a clear answer. Oops! Foggy, indistinct answers to either “Who is your audience?” or “What is the genre?” can spell disaster when an author is trying to find a home for a story. I now decide — before I dig too deeply into a project — the answer to both of those questions. Of course once I start writing the story it might take me in a different direction, but I still hold the reins and I’m still in the saddle, so I should be able to maintain at least a modicum of control over the ungainly beast.
So, now I’m writing a novel that I am giddily excited about. Me, a 52-year-old grandfather is writing a fantasy novel for teenaged girls, because I think they are the ones who will best appreciate the characters and their tale of life and excitement. Wish me luck. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Ciao for now.