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The Young Adult Fiction Writing Games

What’s your young adult fiction writing poison?

As a young adult fiction writer, you might want to wait to answer that before asking two other questions first:

  • Do you want to be traditionally published?

  • If yes, what’s the young adult fiction writing industry’s poison right now?

Incidentally, that word “poison” isn’t a sly or subtle reference to yesterday’s controversial post. We’re bringing up a completely different topic today, and it concerns your marketability… specifically concerning literary agents and publishing companies.

I know we’ve discussed this kind of thing before while discussing different genres or publishing in general. So perhaps this is for the newbies out there who have just recently joined the Innovative Editing fan club.

In which case, hi! Great to have you here.

If that doesn’t describe you though, this could be a refresher course in how to do proper homage to the traditional publishing world powers that be.

Know your sub-market trends!

Because the young adult fiction genre is so saturated right now, getting a traditional publisher’s attention (or a literary agent’s) is tricky at best.

If you don’t care about being traditionally published, then who cares. But if that’s not the case, you really need to research YA trends. Is it fantasy-oriented such as in the Harry Potter days? Post-apocalyptic like with The Hunger Games? Or has the publishing world moved on to something bigger and perhaps better?

This is an imperative publishing issue we first brought up on Tuesday while discussing the many subsets of young adult fiction writing. There’s YA romance, YA literary fiction, YA historical fiction, YA fantasy, YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic.

And the list goes on.

But some of those books sell better than others right now. Just like some of those books, had they been published five or 10 or 15 years ago, wouldn’t have done so well.

In an attempt to keep this post as timeless and therefore relevant as possible, we’re not going to go into what exactly is extremely popular as of June 2018, particularly when it can change by August.

All it takes is one breakout book, after all.

Just don’t expect to be that breakout book yourself. Not if you’re planning on submitting to literary agents and publishing companies. That’s for people who already have big-name literary connections such as well-established authors or writers who pal around with well-established authors.

They’ve already got the marketing power behind them that’s necessary to shove their otherwise-ignored-sub-market plot choice in young adult readers’ faces.

Hate to break it to you, my special little snowflake, but you don’t.

So annoying though this might be, before you start your young adult story – or as early on as you possibly can – go browsing through a bookstore’s samples of young adult fiction writing. As you do, pay particular attention to what themes you’re seeing most of throughout the sea of book covers.

Is the Twilight craze still taking a bite out the YA market?

Has John Green's YA literary fiction spawned a rash of straight-up knockoffs and more creative copycats?

Whatever it is, you might want to seriously consider coming up with a story that fits that basic sub-market. Then, once you do, sit your young adult fiction writing self down in a chair and get to it.

After all, you only have so much time before that sub-market’s 15 minutes of fame is up.

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