It’s been a long time since I’ve been a young adult, new adult, or even any kind of actual adult. I’m outside that particular pen at the zoo. I recall there were books for kids and books for adults and hardly anything in between. Now we have YA and NA and I feel like everything’s gone all fucky.
It seems to me that there are far more YA titles produced than there are genuine young adults to read them. Yes, I know it’s not just young adults that read them, but more importantly there’s no way I’m convinced young adults read that much. Where in the everloving hell did all these book lovers come from? Was there some revolution in American public education for which I missed the announcement?
I don’t believe it.
So who’s buying and reading all these young adult books if it’s not actual young adults? Well, it can only be people who are either older than young adults, or younger than young adults. I’m not any more sold on the idea of younger-than-young-adults suddenly reading so much, either.
That leaves adults. If adults are the ones who are reading a significant portion of the YA books sold, then how, exactly, is the YA market a Thing? And why would adults be so compelled to buy YA books? What’s the appeal? Are the stories just so fantastic they jump the market fence with ease? Are adults so stupid and prudish they got tired of adult books and found the YA books more understandable? God, that is such a condescending question, but when comes to anti-intellectual stupidity in America I learned long ago not to be surprised.
Now let’s flip this situation around to the writer’s perspective.
Nowhere have I ever read writing advice that says: You should totally write for the market. Figure out what’s hot, what’s selling, and write that shit. Forget what you thought you wanted to write, it wouldn’t have sold, anyway.
A Thousand times, NO.
The advice is always: write the book you’d want to read, if you saw it on the shelf at a bookstore you’d snatch it up. You’d feel an instant kinship with the cover and the title, read the blurb and get excited, and read the first page and get hooked. Everything else in the world would disappear. That kind of book.
The advice is to forget markets, forget genre, even. That’s for publishers to figure out and deal with.
Now everyone, it seems, is all “Look at me!” Sticks finger up nose and crosses eyes “I’m writing a YA novel, hurr de-durr-durr!”
Am I some kind of idiot who doesn’t know what’s going on? Hey, it’s entirely possible.
Help me out, here, you guys. Am I just not supposed to question this? Will the YA police come take me away and force me to play a game or run a maze?
I know no one is saying I can’t write whatever I want. But why are people jumping on this bandwagon against all good writing advice and why is it selling so well when there aren’t even enough young adults who read to buy the stuff?