Friday, July 23, 2010

Agents and Bandwagons

I read all the time about writers hopping onto the most recent trends. No one needs to be reminded of how many vampire books are being shopped around right now. To me the biggest trend is the avalanche of Young Adult (I'm including Middle Grade even though others keep them separate).

This YA storm is so powerful that it becomes disheartening for those of us writing distinctly for adult audiences. My book can be fun for YA readers (see my earlier post about my children reading my book), but it is certainly not aimed at them. To make things worse, my next book (the prequel to the first) is so bloody (think Quentin Tarantino meets La Femme Nikita (the movie, not the tv series)) that it is a good, hard R rating.
What I find most disheartening, however, is not the tidal wave of writers joining the YA trend, but rather that many agents seem to be hopping onto this bandwagon as well. I use Querytracker to keep track of the queries I send out. When I check out each potential agent, it amazes me just how many of them state they are looking for YA. Hey, what's wrong with selling some books for us adult readers? We have money! We want more great stories, too! Don't we?


  1. My book is certainly suitable for young adults.
    You're right though - it seems as if everyone is writing young adult.
    And I'd love to read your next bloody book! Bring on the carnage.

  2. I've noticed it too. I guess agents are looking for that gravy train too.

    While I like some YA, I am a little tired of the fanfare.

  3. One of the reasons I decided to self-publish was because someone posted a statistic that of those on QT who found agents, it took them an average of 66 queries to do it. That didn't bother me, but what bothered me was in the big list of the most recently agented writers, only ONE wrote in my genre and that person had to query 106 agents--well over the average. The successful writers were made up mostly of those who write YA. The other big genres were fantasy and women's fiction, if I remember correctly.

    I guess it could be that agents didn't like my book, but I can't help but think it's also that they are looking for only the YA books, and anything else has to be sent to them by Stephen King, James Patterson or Nora Roberts.

  4. Mary, I get that same feeling. I write fantasy and sci-fi, and so far it feels like they only want YA in those genres.

  5. I hear ya, Ted.

    I have no interest personally in writing YA- I just don't. Besides everybody else seems to be doing it...won't they hit a market glut eventually? Are teen kids the only ones really buying books (or in the case of books like Twilight, their mothers buying them too?) I have a teen daughter and neither of us read/bought any of those books. She prefers stuff like the Dave Barry Peter Pan series, The Mysterious Benedict Society and Doctor Who novels.

    The last YA books I bought were out of print copies of books from the Jedi Apprentice series from a used book shop online- hard to find and not cheap either. Those were actually very sweet (I bought the books that followed a particular plot arc). But the one new YA book I bought this year to read I haven't actually read yet. So many things to read, so little time.

    Thanks for this post- I can relate.

    When you factor in what they're looking for, versus what I write- it makes total sense to me not to spend another moment more myself worrying about, or trying to, query. I am not writing what they want to (or think they could) sell. It's not YA but it's not "Sex and the City" enough for the adult Women's Fiction market- I fall through the cracks (this is not anything I've heard from agents- it's just my own conclusion after almost a year of research).


  6. Bru, I think YA hit a 'sweet spot' with Harry Potter and some vampire books where a whole bunch of adults started buying the YA books also. Regular old adult books can't compete with books that are capturing both the kids AND adult sales! Adults need to stop buying the YA!!

  7. I think your last comment hits it on the head. The interesting question: why are so many adults preferring YA novels over adult ones?

  8. I could not agree more. It seems the number of YA agents outnumber the adult fiction market agents. Is that because kids buy more books than adults? I don't get it. I went to my local bookstore to look up a YA book someone recommended (figured I'd give it a try) and the YA section was miniscule. Huh?

  9. have you noticed the correlation of the ages of the writers and YA. a lot of them (us really) are in their twenties. still new to the experience of being an adult (seeing as many twenty-somethings still live at home with their parents!! eek!) but being a teen- we've lived that, and recently enough to remember exactly how it feels and be relevant to today's teenagers, if that makes sense. i just think that writing YA comes naturally to twenty-somethings.

    ink's comment about why are adults buying YA...
    it is my (probably wrong) opinion that most adult lit (barring the classics) is genre reading. if you aren't crazy about mysteries, cop books, or trashy romances there isn't much out there for you. also, the authors in adult fiction seem to be established. king, koontz, brown, etc. it seems like most adult lit belongs to these household names, whereas the author names in YA are much more diverse. writing adult lit seems like a very daunting task.

    also coming to the diversity point. YA seems way more open to subject matter and viewpoints. whereas, adult fiction seems more bogged down in tradition. ugh. i'm not saying it well... but (in general) adults tend to be way more closed-minded than teens. teens are more receptive to new viewpoints (embrace them even as they try to forge their own identities). so, maybe some authors feel like their ideas would be welcomed by the young audience better...

    too long of a comment i know! just a few thoughts from someone trying to write YA. :)

  10. I love the comments. There's lots to think about with this subject.