Monday, May 17, 2010

YA vs Adult fantasy vs crossover

I've had a little problem figuring out what market I'm writing for. Here's what I THOUGHT was the problem. My MC is immortal, her body is perfect and youthful (making her look about 17), she's terribly innocent. She finds out that her chronological age, from before she became immortal, is 28. And her love interest is 27. I've had some questions about a girl who is presented as a 17 year old falling for an FBI agent, who is obviously older than 17, and told to be careful because that could be really icky. But she's mentally mature, I swear, and it's not icky. Really. Lolita is not my scene.

So, right after the agent asked me for pages (Still can't believe it!!!), I started to walk out, then remembered my question. Is this YA or adult:?

I'd been thinking I would query agents who rep either adult fantasy or YA fantasy. And I have found an agent who specifically wants crossovers between YA and adult, so I was excited about querying her.

But Mr. Agent said, "No, you're adult. The language is adult."

Oh. You mean the complexity of the writing is the major factor?

I had thought since there's no profanity and no sex that I could make a case for YA, so I could query YA agents, too. But I was thinking about it wrong. And this is not exactly a coming-of-age story. There is some self discovery, but that's not the main conflict. So maybe someone else will benefit from this tidbit, too.

Am I the only one that didn't get this?

Happy Writing! 


  1. Several agents mentioned the "age" of the voice when sending me feedback - er, rejections - on my most recently queried book, as I was in one of those YA/adult no-man's-lands with a nineteen-year-old MC. However, some of them thought it sounded too young (for the age of the protagonist), more like a fifteen- or sixteen-year-old, and several others thought it sounded too old, more like an adult voice.


  2. Yeah. So you understand my problem. When I reworked my MS this last time, I made a deliberate effort to give Lara responsibilities and mature thought processes. I'll let you know if it works.

  3. I totally sympathize as I thought my book was YA, but have been told it reads more MG.

  4. I've been trying to work this one out too. What I keep hearing is that the distinction between YA and Adult is arbitrary, but the most important factor is usually the age of the protag. Even that's not always watertight.

    I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. Market it as what you think it is, and let the agent/publisher work it out.

  5. Congratulations on capturing an agent's interest!!! As for the difference between YA and adult, perhaps the protagonist's sophistication may have something to do with it too.

  6. StephD- I like your use of the word capture. It makes me think of a really big butterfly net.

    And Peter- genres are just lines in the sand, aren't they? It took me a long time to figure out that I am a mythic urban fantasy dystopian romance writer. LOL

  7. Okay, your genre description in the above comment made me laugh. Thanks for an interesting post! I'm calling mine a YA fantasy, but an agent could erase those lines in the sand and call it something else if that made it easier for them to sell.

  8. Me too. I'm writing YA fantasy, I think. At my writing group I was told I had to pick and that crossover was bad. But my group is mostly for people writing for the CBA (Christian Bookseller Association) I am a Christian but am not writing for the CBA for the same reasons I chose not to go to religious schools--too many rules that have nothing to do with my faith.

    Anyway, nice to meet you Kelly. This will be my first pitch at Myrtle Beach. Looking forward to it.