Noah Lukeman, President of Lukeman Literary Management and author of The First Five Pages, answers aspiring authors' questions about writing and getting published.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
YA or adult?
hi, my question is about genre. yikes!! but anyway, i'm having trouble with this. all of my stories naturally open up to me with the main characters as young adults. i say naturally meaning i don't purposely make the main characters young, the stories always unfold that way. so young adult fiction right? not so fast. my stories are not necessarily geared to the issues that 13 to 21 year olds face and thats the only reason why i cant simply call them young adult fiction. so i dont know where my stories fit (genre wise). young mc's but not young adult issues. its like they are written for adults but with young mc's. any thoughts? thanks.
Typically, if a protagonist is 13 to 21, then it will naturally draw (mostly) a YA audience. There of course are examples with crossover, such as the Hunger Games or Twilight, and of course it is great if your novel can crossover and reach all ages. But in my view you must appeal to your core audience first and foremost, especially if you want word of mouth to spread, and that tends to mean touching on issues that are important to them. So if you are drawn to write in that age range, then it would be ideal if you can touch on issues that are natural to them. If you cannot, then perhaps you should ask yourself why you are choosing that age range, and perhaps change the age. YA is a very strong market, so if you can appeal to that market, it is a plus.
Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule and a multitude of classical adult literary works that feature younger protagonists. So I cannot speak in absolutes. But as a rule of thumb, it is ideal to appeal to the core audience you are drawn to writing for.
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Noah Lukeman is President of Lukeman Literary Management Ltd, which he founded in 1996. His clients include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, finalists for the National Book Award, multiple New York Times bestsellers, major celebrities, and faculty of universities ranging from Harvard to Stanford.
Mr. Lukeman is also author of several books on the craft of writing, including The First Five Pages (Simon & Schuster), The Plot Thickens (St. Martins Press) and A Dash of Style: (W.W. Norton). He has also authored two e-books: How to Write a Great Query Letter and How to Land (and Keep) a Literary Agent, which he gives away for free as a way of giving back to the writing community. He has also made available over 100 pages of free advice for authors from all his books, which you can read on his site.
Mr. Lukeman has been a guest speaker on the subjects of writing and publishing at numerous forums, including Harvard, Columbia University, The Juilliard School, Stanford University, and the Writers Digest Panel at Book Expo America. He earned his B.A. with High Honors in English and Creative Writing from Brandeis University, cum laude.