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  1. radkovelli
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    radkovelli Member

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    What exactly is a young adult book?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by radkovelli, Oct 12, 2015.

    I've been struggling a lot with trying to figure out if my book is Adult or Young Adult, because I can honestly see people as young as 16 reading it, but at the same time, I can see people as old as in their 50's and 60's reading it as well.

    The topics covered in it make this difficult for me. My main character is 17 at the start of the book and 18 by the end but the book revolves around him being forced into prostitution. Whenever I write about his job, it's only about the mental anguish it causes him, so it's clean in that regard. It contains profanity, however and I've seen people say that it's hard to get a YA novel published if it contains swearing inside.

    So, what exactly is Young Adult? Like is there a criteria for it? Does it have to focus on problems most teenagers face or can it be like my book?

    Thank you! :)
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say it is YA.

    And people who say you can't have swearing in YA novels aren't in touch with the genre. There are a lot of YA novels with swearing these days, and also with descriptions of sex, drug use, prostitution, rape, murder, abuse, suicide, and so on. You name, and YA novels have probably touched on it at some point.
     
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  3. radkovelli
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    radkovelli Member

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    This is very helpful, thank you!
     
  4. Aple
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    Aple Member

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    You could also class it as New Adult. Usually it goes by age but sometimes content bumps you up to a more adultish book market.
     
  5. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    I *think* the YA label comes from the lowest level of suitability of the material, if that makes any sense. If your descriptions of his sex work were explicitly laid out, it would probably be nudged out of the YA sphere. But, since you focus on the emotions, and (I'm guessing) not explicitly describing the sex, the YA label is acceptable.
    If you're really unsure, ask a friend who has kids to read it, and see if they would be comfortable letting their kids read it. Granted, some parents are far more prudish than others (and some, definitely not prudish enough), it can still give you something like f a reference point.
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    There's generally a tone or voice that defines YA at least as much as anything else. Does your style of writing feel as if it's something teens would read and identify with? I know that's pretty vague, but it's about as close as I can get. The writing doesn't have to be simple, necessarily (there are YA novels with a lot of imagery, some written completely in free verse, etc.), so that's not what I'm getting at. It's just... a YA voice. Hard to define, but often pretty easy to recognize.

    I guess it should feel as if it's something that could have been written by a teen, with a teen's world-view and a teen's understanding. A lot of YA teens are preternaturally introspective and wise, probably, but they still read like preternaturally introspective and wise teens, not adults.

    Clear as mud?
     
  7. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's vague but I personally think of YA as a rating system more than a genre - although there are some clear plot elements that distinguish, say, a YA sci-fi from an Adult sci-fi.

    The plot component is that you're almost always focussed on a teenage protagonist facing teenage problems for a teenage audience.

    The rating component is that there are certain words and themes you can't use for a teenage audience if they happen to teenagers. I think of it like the U.S. movie rating system. Middle Grade is PG. Young Adult is PG-13. Adult is R. Most teenager stories are going to be PG-13 but occasionally you get a storyline that while it has a teenage protagonist, is very much aimed at adults and not terribly suited for younger audiences (A film example of this would be "Hard Candy" with Ellen Page - which has a teenage main character but is very firmly an R-rated movie). But then again you have some pretty disturbing stuff that could be classified as YA - for instance I used to use the film "White Oleander" as my example of a teenage-protagonist-but-not-YA story, but then looking at it I realized both that it's rated PG-13 and that the plot would probably fit within the YA market if it were pitched for publication today. Still, that movie will mess you up and deals with some REALLY heavy themes. So, you can take some chances and still be YA.

    Also - whoever said that maybe you should pitch it as New Adult has a point. That gives you a little more leeway, plus it's an emerging genre that is very much in demand with agents and publishers right now. If you have a "YA" or "Adult" premise that can possibly be shoved into the "New Adult" mold, the smart business decision is to pitch it as such.
     
  8. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    New Adult is only really an option if the story fits the New Adult model, which isn't just "aged up" YA. The NA that people are currently looking for really needs to be a romance, and almost always one that follows a pretty specific format.

    NA is probably the most restrictive category I've encountered. Not what it could be, but what it currently is.
     
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  9. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I read somewhere that all YA fiction must have a sixteen-year-old female as its main character. To be honest, I can't think of any YA-classified novel I've read that doesn't match this criterion... not that I'm thinking all that hard about it ATM.

    And I have to wonder, if this truly is what makes a novel YA, what happens if the MC is male? Does that make the novel adult or is it some other classification related to, but not-quite YA? And if the MC is a 17-year-old female, does that make the novel adult?

    It sounded far too restrictive to me, but it was put forth as a serious definition.

    Oh. And the other criterion they threw in was that YA is actually aimed at 13-year-old readers. That just makes the whole thing confusing to me.
     
  10. croak3r
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    croak3r Member

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    I always thought YA is 17-21 ish, but lately it just seems like a way for authors to pass off books that are not written as well as they could be, or just so that they can make a book slightly less serious. I'm confused at why stuff like Joe Abercrombie's books are in that category, since it's hardly something an adult wouldnt read.
    I think we would be better served without the whole genre.
     
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  11. I.A. By the Barn
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    I.A. By the Barn A very lost time traveller Contributor

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    I'd give it a go if it just focuses on emotions rather than actual sex. I think (being 17) that the YA market is saturated with dystopian books at the moment. I personally would like to see change and what Sack-a-Doo! said about sixteen year old girls, I'd be glad if we had some more men MC on the scene as it might give a different perspective on life for once because everything seems to be strong girl breaking the mould of being submissive bla bla bla. Because men had always been shown as strong people seem to stop showing this to my age group for fear of offending us.
     
  12. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Isn't The Maze Runner YA? I couldn't get past the first chapter and I don't think the MC's age was revealed but I assume that was YA with a male lead.
     
  13. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Yep that's YA. I read the whole thing. Such bland writing and terrible editing... wasted potential in my opinion.
     
  14. PegasusBaby
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    PegasusBaby New Member

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    Thank you this was very helpful!
     

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