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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » A Dying Genre?

   
Author Topic: A Dying Genre?
Jess
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I write YA Fantasy. It's what I read. It's what I enjoy. It's what I create.
But it seems a ton of agents and editors are not very thrilled to get YA Fantasy manuscripts. Even if your idea is original, it seems that if you write YA Fantasy you start off your querying process already with a mark against you.
I mean I totally get that there are some points of the genre that have been over done. I dislike the bajillion unoriginal YA fantasy stories out there as much as the agents and editors. But as a reader, I'm always on the lookout for the next, sweep-you-into-a-new-world, awesomesauce plot and characters YA Fantasy. From the way it seems by reading editor and agents blogs, I'm the only person left in the world still interested in reading YA fantasy.
What do I do with my writing?
Do I change genres and write something that I don't enjoy? Do I wait ten, twenty, thirty years for the market to change?
Is the YA fantasy genre really dying?

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Meredith
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It's not dying. You just have to keep looking for the right agent.

I mean, just to mention a few debut novels that were published within the last year or so:

Second world fantasies:

SERAPHINA (I loved this one.)
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS (eh. It was okay until the end, where it lost me completely.)

Paranormal romance:

ENDLESSLY (It's not a debut, but it is the last of the trilogy that started with a debut. IMO the first was the best.)

Urban Fantasy:
EVERNEATH (I hated this one because the female protagonist never did take the lead.)

Those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head.

I write YA fantasy, too.

If you didn't attend WriteOnCon the last couple of days, you can still see everything that was presented on the website. I can't say I heard any of the agents say they were specifically looking for YA fantasy, but take a look at what's in the forums. At least in a couple of the forum events you can see what agents were requesting, too. And a lot of it was fantasy of one stripe or another.

Oh, and do check out the "Lucky 13's" post. Writing tips from debut authors whose books are coming out next year. [Smile]

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MattLeo
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Well, I think the lack of enthusiasm probably mirrors the over-enthusiasm of many people who want to be writers and think they can "cash in" on the phenomena started by Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Twilight.

Many people assume it's easier to write for a young adult audience but it's not. It's harder. It's harder to engage and maintain young readers' interest. Take a novel with adult themes; pitching that same story to a YA audience means telling the it in fewer words with quicker, more consistent pacing.

Another factor is supply vs. demand. Editors and agents aren't the only ones who've noticed YA books have become blockbusters, prospective authors have too. It's the *ratio* of buyers (readers) to sellers (authors) that drives agent enthusiasm. A serviceable manuscript in a demonstrably under-served market would be an occasion for joy; the same in an over-served market would be met with indifference.

Imagine submitting a YA vampire urban fantasy two weeks after *Twilight* hit the charts. Now imagine the same manuscript submitted two years after that. It's not that they genre is dying, it's that the market is glutted.

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extrinsic
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I think the fresh has worn off the young adult category for the industry sense. Early adult, the market segment that follows the Potter generation is pending but a new segment is causing resistance.

The greatest resistance is coming from booksellers reluctance to allot yet another retail space to yet another division. That and a widely-accepted term contention. New adult and early adult are the forerunners. No change, plain adult might prevail.

Defining the segment's demographics is also causing resistance. The current perception is it's a genre for college ages and the complications thereof. I ask what about tradeschoolers and otherwise vocational initiations?

Anyway, back to young adult urban fantasy, the audience niche isn't as enthralled as it was a few years ago. Marketplace fickleness is driven by word of mouth, partly caused by prestige, what's cool. iPads and other wee-bop devices and social networking are currently cool ascendent. e-readers haven't markedly increased reader metrics yet, if they ever will, what with other entertainment media channels consuming cash and time budgets.

Targetting young adult urban fantasy marketplace and audiences is the same matter facing all writers; that is, cost/benefit/value perceptions. As always, it's the story that matters. Accessible and appealing narratives, fresh voices, and vigorous craft are and will always be in healthy demand and limited in supply.

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Robert Nowall
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Well, a lot of publishers and editors and agents see something successful, and say to themselves, "Me, too!" So they leap into a fad, and when some of 'em don't pan out, then they say, "Not me!"

But I'd say, "Write what you want, and do the best you can, and worry about marketing and selling later."

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Meredith
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In addition to what I said above, however. It's also clear that YA science fiction is growing. And several of the agents/editors showed interest in stories about aliens.

Just something to think about.

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