I was recently talking to a woman about my book at a wake (yeah, I promote wherever I can 🙂 ). When I said, “It’s a YA thriller,” her eyes glazed over. I quickly added, “But I originally wrote it as an adult novel,” and handed her my business card. She left it on an end table. I cringed thinking of someone at the wake finding my card that said Half in Love with Death. That would be so awkward.
Honestly, many things about being the author of a book that falls into the abyss between YA and adult have been awkward. And I am not alone. Here are some thoughts from other cross-over writers about what makes a book YA or not.
- In The Time My Grown-Up Novel Was Marketed As Young Adult author Kate Axelrod writes about the challenges she faced reaching adult readers when her (adult) novel The Law of Loving Others was sold as a young adult novel. My experience as debut author has been quite similar—and now I understand why.
- On the flip side, in There Is No Such Thing as the Young Adult Novel, author Zan Romanoff worries that, A Song to Take the World Apart, the novel she wrote as young adult, will have trouble reaching teen readers because reviewers are calling it YA for adults.
- In Does a High School Protagonist Mean Your Book is Young Adult? Connie Hertzberg Mayo wonders if by choosing teen protagonists for her historical novel, The Island of Worthy Boys, she had accidentally written a YA novel, and concludes, maybe not. She suggests a better indicator of whether a novel is YA or not is if it “is intentionally designed to resonate with teens about what they are facing right now.”
- Intended audience seems to be a common denominator here. But Who Is Young Adult Literature For? In a Nielsen conference that was held last year, a panel suggested that the label young adult is part of the problem and YA should be relabeled as “pop literature” or for those that are “young at heart” to appeal to a wider audience.