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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Best Sellers in YA and best opportunities

   
Author Topic: Best Sellers in YA and best opportunities
Wordcaster
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Right now I am focusing on a middle grade novel, but was wondering if I should embark on YA for my next venture when I finished this one. I took a peak to see what the bestsellers were on Amazon and they are as follows (as of this morning):

1-3: Hunger Games Trilogy
4-6: Amanda Hocking's Trylle Trilogy
7-10: Amanda Hocking's My Blood Approves Series
11: The next Paolini book that doesn't even come out until November!
13,15: Other versions of the Hunger Games Trilogy

Anyway... I thought it was interesting at the lack of diversity in the Top 15 books -- it was basically 2 authors. I guess when you make it big, you really make it big.

I tried to sort for middle grade best sellers and ended up with a bunch of classics. Not sure if I should stick with middle grade in terms of "ease of breaking in" or try YA just to mix it up a bit. My passion would be equal for each.

Anyone have any thoughts where there are more publishing opportunities(YA vs MG)? This question is merely out of curiosity -- I'm not planning on quitting my day job anytime soon.

[edited to delete the url link to amazon that I couldn't get to work for the life of me]

[This message has been edited by Wordcaster (edited March 29, 2011).]


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Meredith
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The answer is: Write what you love.

Through traditional publishing, it's going to be three years at least before your book hits the shelves at Barnes and Noble. The trends may be completely different by then.

If you love what you write, it'll show through.


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micmcd
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I'm assuming YA is older than MG - I tend not to read in those classifications, so I'm unsure. My intuition would be that an approachable YA book would sort of overlap down, but that the reverse would be more difficult.

That said, I'm with Meredith - write what you love; it's the best way to make your writing work. Perhaps I've been too corrupted (or just haven't yet had kids), but I don't think I have it in me to write a book that doesn't involve at least a little bit of swearing, sex, and violence. Aren't those the best parts?


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redux
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Based on blogs from editors and publishers that I have read it seems that the MG/YA market is still "hot."

Also, it is important to note that there is more to MG and YA than the age of the protagonist. Middle Grade plots tend to be more about internal conflicts - such as friendships, family interactions, etc. Young Adult fiction, while still concerned with the internal conflicts of the protagonist, tends to widen its scope to include larger scaled external events. In other words, in MG fiction the protagonist is learning who they are while in YA the protagonist is learning how to affect the world around them.

On whether to write MG or YA, I agree with Meredith's advice: write what you love. Leave it up to agents/editors to decide how best to market your novel.


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Meredith
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quote:
I'm assuming YA is older than MG - I tend not to read in those classifications, so I'm unsure. My intuition would be that an approachable YA book would sort of overlap down, but that the reverse would be more difficult.

Yes, for those that don't pay attention to these genres:

MG (Middle Grade) is aimed at approximately the 8 to 12 year-olds. (Upper Middle Grade is sometimes 10 to 14 year-olds) Think the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Neil Gaiman's GRAVEYARD BOOK, or the first four Harry Potter books.

YA takes off from the upper end of Middle Grade on to about 18 or so.


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Wordcaster
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Yeah, I understand the differences between the two... I'm not going to write a paranormal YA romance just because it is hot.

I love writing all types of fiction. Mainly, I was hoping to get something published in time for my 6 mo old boys to enjoy it, but it's only one motivation. I'll keep writing as long as I am able, whether successful or not.

I do think it is a little more than "writing what you love." For instance, a romantic relationship is better suited for YA than MG, so I think a novel has to be approached with the target audience in mind. But yes, if a certain age group of fiction gives you passion, it makes sense to continue to write for it.


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KayTi
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Either genre is hot right now. The thing with YA is that there's a bit more likelihood of crossover to an adult audience that can blow the top off the book. That's definitely what's going on with Amanda Hockings' books (the only people I know who are reading them are adults) and certainly true with Hunger Games and the Twilight series in the past.

However, that phenomenon is not unheard of in MG either - as Percy Jackson (who starts the series at age 12 and gets older each book) and Harry Potter (starts at age 11) show us.

So...your mileage may vary, but either is a good bet at the moment. The one thing someone pointed out to me recently about both MG and YA is that every couple years there are *brand new readers* in those ages and you haven't had to do anything to broaden your reach -- each year kids get OLDER, and thus they age into the next ladder on the reading scale. This is one reason these parts of the market are hot and have been for years, there's an entirely new audience who hasn't read your books yet!

I write both, it really just depends on the kind of story I want to tell. I try to aim for MG because I think there's not enough good stuff written there (I think there's plenty of good YA) particularly good sci-fi that isn't all space aliens and wildly implausible things (I write near-term pretty realistic sci-fi. Kids in space with semi-normal problems exacerbated by their unusual environments.) But that's really just my taste/preference. I have one YA book that is the start of a series, in the series I plan to delve into subjects such as drug experimentation and things that I just wouldn't touch in a Middle-Grade book.


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LDWriter2
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Not sure where to put this but You YA lovers.

Have you seen "Cinder" ?

A different futuristic take on Cinderella.


Almost makes me want to try something different with Fairy Tales as a basic idea.

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Crystal Stevens
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
Almost makes me want to try something different with Fairy Tales as a basic idea.

Like the new series "Once Upon a Time"?
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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
I do think it is a little more than "writing what you love." For instance, a romantic relationship is better suited for YA than MG, so I think a novel has to be approached with the target audience in mind. But yes, if a certain age group of fiction gives you passion, it makes sense to continue to write for it.
I think (and please oh Beloved Cat Girl, correct me if I'm wrong) what Meredith may be saying is a bit broader. You don't even have to have a "target audience" and especially not an age group. Figure out what you want to write then worry about all the genre and demographic nonsense later. If the story you want to write has a lot of romance then market it as "YA" when the time comes (though I must confess I personally find the very concepts of "YA" "MG" and almost anything having to do with demographics asinine to the point of being almost insulting...I don't think age, race, gender or any of the rest of that has nearly as much to do with anything as advertising people want to think.)

And also as Meredith said...trends change. Often quite quickly. So I say listen to you muse(s)...rarely will you be unhappy, I believe, if you do so.

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Merlion-Emrys
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Wait just a second here, fairy tale adaptations are my thing, thank you very much :-)
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LDWriter2
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Crystal is that TV or written?

But the other day I saw an interesting novel with the basic idea that the magic mirror was broken and released a demon. It was a number two in a series I believe. I thought about buying it for my Nook.


I wonder if we have Shrek to thank for these new remakes of fairy tales- I know of at least two series and a couple of individual stories- Or if Shrek is part of the fad and someone else started it.

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LDWriter2
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Merlion, I could be wrong but isn't there a lot more girls buying Twilight than guys?

And at least in discussions I've had, space opera is mostly a guy thing. Notice I said mostly not one hundred percent and many guys aren't into it but it still seems to be mostly a guy thing.

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Merlion-Emrys
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Ehhh...Shrek isn't really a remake of a fairytale, it's more like a sendup of all fairy tales and fairy tale conventions.

Also interesting to note though...in 2011 we had two fairy tale based movies I know of...Beastly and Red Riding Hood and the start of two fairy tale related tv series...Once Upon a Time and Grimm (though Grimm's fairy tale connections are pretty shaky in my sort of humble opinion.)

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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
And at least in discussions I've had, space opera is mostly a guy thing. Notice I said mostly not one hundred percent and many guys aren't into it but it still seems to be mostly a guy thing.
Even if this be the case...on a planet with 7 billion people, even if "most" people of a certain group conform to demographic whatevers, it still leaves an awful lot who don't.

Also...while I don't really want to spark a huge debate on all this...I think a lot of such things, especially gender wise, are that way because society tells people they should be that way. Yeah I'm sure more girls read Twilight books than guys...however, I'm sure there are plenty of guys who would like to, but are afraid of the reaction it'd cause.

And I find the whole age demographics annoying because when I was those ages, a large part of what I read was "grownup" stuff...I don't think young people need separate categories to pander to them. However, I want to be very clear that my distaste is for the concept of the categories, not for the works, their authors or those who enjoy them.

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KayTi
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The YA/MG division matters for kids (and those who oversee what media they consume.)

For everyone else, it's not relevant, but it does matter for kids. Most MG fiction has a straightforward storytelling, a plot without a lot of twists or hard-to-anticipate turns. There can be a simplistic vocabulary use and sentence structure, though I personally avoid those types of books because they're annoying to read as an adult. A good MG book will have a straightforward plot but not be annoying to read as an adult, IMHO. Kids can handle the occasional vocabulary word they haven't seen before, context helps them learn what it means or they use a dictionary once in a while, all good. But you can't write dreamy abstract literary explorations with 50cent words and expect it to appeal to kids. Kids tend to demand things like setting, character, plot. Kinda makes them easy to write for, in my opinion! [Wink]

YA these days can be really edgy. I write at the very young edge of YA (I really write MG/YA crossover stuff, but of course that category doesn't exactly exist. I write YA-level work for MG-aged readers, kids who are advanced enough to read longer works, more complex stuff, but are still young and don't necessarily want lengthy romantic sub-plots and the like...I am vastly vastly oversimplifying the world of MG/YA fiction, just FYI.) But never let anyone tell you "You can't do that in YA" because there is literally no topic you can't tackle in YA (that hasn't already been done.) Boundaries used to exist but they're gone, long gone!

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Merlion-Emrys:
I think (and please oh Beloved Cat Girl, correct me if I'm wrong) what Meredith may be saying is a bit broader. You don't even have to have a "target audience" and especially not an age group. Figure out what you want to write then worry about all the genre and demographic nonsense later. If the story you want to write has a lot of romance then market it as "YA" when the time comes (though I must confess I personally find the very concepts of "YA" "MG" and almost anything having to do with demographics asinine to the point of being almost insulting...I don't think age, race, gender or any of the rest of that has nearly as much to do with anything as advertising people want to think.)


Well, yes and no. Absolutely write the story you love. But you can't just completely ignore the target audience either. Although, you don't necessarily have to think about that too much during the first draft, depending on how you work.

Don't, whatever you do, write down to kids. But that doesn't mean there aren't a few things you can and should do to appeal to them if you think your story is either MG or YA.

The age of your protagonist matters, for example. They don't tend to want to read about thirty-year-old MCs.

Some other things might not actually matter to the kids as much as they matter to the gatekeepers. But there are a lot of levels of gatekeepers in kid lit. Not just the usual agents and editors if you're trying to go the traditional route. But also librarians, teachers, and parents. You can't completely ignore that, much as you might sometimes wish you could.

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KayTi
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This is probably just a style difference in how we each write, but I *always* know who I'm writing for. There's a general teen girl in my mind that most of my books are written for (she looks an awful lot like *I* looked when I was a teen just discovering Heinlein and Asimov and wondering why there weren't many books written about teen girls who were good with computers and kinda geeky and liked to play video games...)

Then for specific titles, I generally have a more specific girl I'm writing for - often one I actually know, or a younger version of a friend of mine as is the case with my most recent work about a young Muslim girl in a post 9/11 US where there have been more attacks.

For me, it's very integral, who I am writing for matters a great deal and affects the kind of story I am telling. But then, I write the kind of story I want to write, too. It just happens to be the case that a large part of my inspiration draws from the *who* I'm writing for. My own kids are there, too. I write things I think they'd like to read (or I make sure not to write things I think would be inappropriate for them.) I have a feeling I'll write older and older as they get older, too. [Wink]

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Crystal Stevens
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
Crystal is that TV or written?

TV, and my favorite show I might add. Times may vary, but I watch it on Sunday nights at 8:00.

Forgive me for getting off topic, everyone. So please do go on with the original discussion [Big Grin] .

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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
The YA/MG division matters for kids (and those who oversee what media they consume.)
I must respectfully disagree with the first part, at least as a general statement. The last part, I think, is more where any relevance lies (or has been created) and even more so if you add in marketing types who are the ones, as near as I can tell, for whom all such demographic and genre distinctions actually make much difference.


When I was in what, as I understand it, is considered the "mid grade" age-range, I was reading H.P. Lovecraft, The Lord of the Rings, Ringworld, The Mote in God's Eye, various works of Ray Bradbury and the like. I started reading Stephen King at age 14...would have done so much earlier, but my mother wouldn't allow it for reasons have nothing to do with my powers of comprehension. Now yes, many of these works, when I've re-read or even just looked back on them later have additional levels and meaning than they did when I initially read them...but I was in no way out of my depth at the time.


Now, although when I was that age "young adult" and especially "mid grade" didn't really exist as such in the way they do now, but there were works often considered "children's" literature, and I read many of these as well, such as A Wrinkle in Time and its companions, The Dark Is Rising Sequence, So You Want To Be A Wizard etc. However, looking back on many of those stories I rather doubt, based on what I've heard of such things that many of them would currently meet the criteria or whatever you want to call it for "mid grade" fiction, even though I was that age when I read them and they have protagonists of that age range. Some, like The Dark Is Rising I'm not even sure would fit current conceptions of "young adult" and is certainly relatively complex and cerebral. Another good example is A Wizard of Earthsea which as I remember won one or more children's lit type awards but I don't really think Ursula K. LeGuin intended it as such...certainly the rest of the series is not.


Again, I don't disparage the works or those that create or love them, in any way, but to me the concepts are largely marketing tools with little artistic relevance.

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Merlion-Emrys
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quote:
Don't, whatever you do, write down to kids. But that doesn't mean there aren't a few things you can and should do to appeal to them if you think your story is either MG or YA.
I think in the end it depends, as almost always, on intent. If you have your heart set specifically on a given work being marketed as MG or YA then obviously, you must follow the criteria or guidelines for that. However, if your heart is set on the, in my opinion far broader goal of appealing to young people, I don't believe how it's marketed will be, in the end, that huge a determiner of whether that goal is achieved or not. In this case if anything your focus would be more, I feel, on taking care not to include too much content parents and the like would deem unsuitable...not in terms of complexity but just for appropriateness (language, sexual themes, violence etc.)
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KayTi
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Sure, the divisions in MG/YA exist because they were created by adults.

However, they are also useful to kids. My kids can literally read any word that passes in front of their eyes, with college-age level comprehension of the *words.* (They are 8 and 10, it's crazy, but it's one of their gifts and I can't argue it.)

But they don't enjoy the *stories* that are told for older audiences.

They are concerned with different things, but they want stories that are smaller in scope and scale, they want stories that aren't very ambiguous at the end (within reason.) They want stories that don't preach, that don't talk down to them. But they want *things* to *happen.* They want characters they can relate to. The hardest and fastest rule about MG/YA, which is still broken from time to time, is that the age of the protag influences where it is housed - Under 14 = Middle Grade, 14 and up = YA.

They want action and adventure. They have no trouble reading for detail, reading words that are hard, following complexities and details (my then-5 year old knew the names of things like Madame Pettifoot's Tea Shop or whatever it's called that has a very minor role in Harry Potter 5 because we listened to the series on audiobook and she has a crazy memory.)

But they don't want books written for adults. By the time I got to be 12, 13, 14 I was actively seeking more because I was tired of the stuff my school library had in kid lit. So I expect some crossover at some point, but recognize that today's market is ENTIRELY different than even just 10 years ago. The amount of fiction written expressly for kids and young adults has exploded and this is the one area of the book market that is growing.

I guess my point is, if you want a piece of this market, you should be aware of its conventions and rules, just like if you want to write hard sci fi in today's environment you should be aware of what is commonly accepted and what doesn't fit the genre/subgenre.

Yes, the adult gatekeepers enforce the "rules" more than the kids do, but the kids do too. Because they don't want to read fiction written for grown-ups with convoluted plots and incredibly flawed main characters and redemption tales that take a long time to get there and complexity just for complexity's sake. They want a good STORY. Which is one of many reasons I pretty much only read MG/YA lit myself, I far prefer it for the shorter length and less convoluted and fraught with total pain. [Wink]

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Merlion-Emrys
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I understand...I just don't think the taste-based things you speak of correlate universally with age, as I enjoyed things as an adolescent that fall in the realm of things you say people of that age don't want...and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Mostly, I'm not really a big fan of categories and labels, except as used as a sort of descriptive shorthand, and also in my personal worldview the differences between adolescents and "adults" are few and many of those few produced by the culture rather than nature...so it's not surprising these concepts create in me a bit of a twinge of irritation.

Interestingly, I've had people...including editors...make comments that indicated they saw various of my work as "YA" which I find interesting in ways too complex to go into here, although I think the primary reason for that, at the end of the day, is that I do have a good few stories with adolescent protagonists.

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LDWriter2
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Merlion, I know Shrek is not a remake but at the same time it seems to have started this new (for lack of a better word) fad dealing with the retelling, with a twist, of Fairy Tales.

Some of the novels combine various Tales like Shrek does.

There's at least two out were various princesses join together to fight the bad guy.

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LDWriter2
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As to who buys Twilight: I'm sure some guys have read it or want to but not everyone and some rad it or watch because their girl wants to. I know of one husband who said that.

But I'm not one of them want to read. I like to proudly say that I rejected the original book before it became a hit. Or that I knew of anyway.

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