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On the state of the market...

I got back from NYC on Sunday! Man, it was an intense, whirlwind trip, but so much fun. It's amazing how easily you can fill an hour, talking about books and nothing else. Or Veronica Mars. That too. ;-)

Anyway, I wanted to do a quick-- and hopefully encouraging-- post about what editors are excited about, looking for, etc.

First the elephant in the room: Yep, there are more vampires and werewolves coming. Actually, the majority of the editors I visited had at least one "big" Vamp or Werewolf book they were hyping. Every one of them stressed the "fresh" aspect-- the new plot twist/angle or the sarcastic voice or the crazy character.

Which brings me back to that thing I always say-- As long as the writing kicks serious ass, it will rise above-- whether its overly trendy or the exact opposite of trendy.

So now that that's out of the way, what else did I hear?

Middle Grade.

Middle Grade.

Middle Grade.

I kid you not, nearly Every. Single. Editor. wants middle grade. Humor is a huge bonus-- humor does REALLY well in this age group. But of course, humor is tricky, and doesn't always come across well. If its middle grade for boys, please, they all want more than fart jokes.

But aside from that-- they want a HUGE range of middle grade, whether girl or boy or funny or sweet or serious. Hooks are very, very important in middle grade. It can be hard to figure out how to market to this age group (parents/librarians are so often the gatekeepers) so the better the package (hook + cover) the better it does.

Graphic hybrids are increasing too, a la diary of a wimpy kid. Several editors showed me upcoming books with drawings incorporated throughout the text. These seem to be a hit with reluctant readers.

On YA: Editors see a metric ton of YA come across their desks. There is more than ever before (hence the new emphasis on MG-- they jsut dont see as much of it).... and yet there is always room for new and exciting projects. And if there's not, they make room. :-)

Many editors still love and want paranormal romance-- in fact for newer imprints, their bread and butter is the paranormal that is selling so well. And in fact, I met with an editor at a brand new imprint (hasn't even been announced yet!) which will be focusing 100% on Paranormal Romance for the forseeable future. But of course, they all say it has to be fresh, and the execution/writing has to be better than ever to rise above. So if paranormal is where your heart is, its not impossible-- but make sure you're putting your absolute best work forward. Push yourself to be better and stronger than ever.

On other YA: Boy YA , in general, is struggling. Teen boys just dont read in the same volume as girls do. Editors are conscious of that and often package it to be more gender-neutral. Your book can be from a boy's POV, of course, but if you can make it appeal to boys and girls, you'll be that much better off. Not just for selling your work to agents/editors, but for selling it to readers.

Another thing I heard over and over-- editors love books that manage to be both literary and commercial-- the writing is literary, the issues are real, but it has a commercial package/hook. Think: THIRTEEN REASONS WHY.

A few times I heard people are loving YA sci fi, or epic fantasy, or whatnot. In general-- there's just a huge range of tastes and interests-- and plenty of room for every kind of book.

In all, the trip was very encouraging-- such wonderful people, all very excited to find that book that strikes a chord with them.

If anyone has any Qs on specific subsets of the YA/MG genre, ask away. :-)

I'll post more this week about some of the fun touristy things and such, but I know y'all want to know about the trends/market first.  (And of course-- REMEMBER WHAT I SAY ABOUT TRENDS!)


( 44 comments — Leave a comment )
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Jul. 20th, 2010 05:02 pm (UTC)
Interesting. Thanks for giving us a sneak peak inside the walls.
Note to self: Learn to write middle grade
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:07 pm (UTC)
Contemporary YA
Are they all glutted with contemp YA? Anybody looking for it, talking about it at all?
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
Re: Contemporary YA
Glutted? Not at all. 'Cus everyone ran off and wrote paranormal. ;-)

Many love contemp-- fresh new voices, bring it on!
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:14 pm (UTC)
Does MG always have to have simplified language/ shorter sentences? Or can it be 14-year-old protag, no swearing/sexuality, action-driven plot?
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:16 pm (UTC)
Simplified language/shorter sentences? Not at all! I dont know what MG you're reading! No need to dumb down the language.

It *DOES* need to ring true through the eyes of your MC. So if you have a smart 14 year old, big words/sentence structure is fine. Just make sure it feels authentic.
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:35 pm (UTC)
And yet... I still sit here with a completed MG novel. LOL
Jul. 20th, 2010 05:42 pm (UTC)
*lightbulb moment*
"Another thing I heard over and over-- editors love books that manage to be both literary and commercial-- the writing is literary, the issues are real, but it has a commercial package/hook. Think: THIRTEEN REASONS WHY."

What you told me the other day now makes a lot more sense.
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:05 pm (UTC)
You're a smart cookie! Thanks for sharing all this with us. :D
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:09 pm (UTC)
MG and Marketing
I am really, really happy to hear that they are seeking out more MG. Do you think they are going to put more emphasis on marketing MG in the future--similar to what is happening in YA now? As a librarian I spend a lot of time looking at review journals, and other places for titles, but I am currently being swamped with YA titles. I have to hunt for ones that might be MG. I feel like sometimes those younger kids that aren't quite ready for YA but too old for Juv are being left in the dust.

I also appreciate that they want boy titles--those are the other ones I struggle with finding. I like the ones that I can sell to either boys or girls--and I loved Thirteen Reasons Why--more like that would be extremely welcome.
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:12 pm (UTC)
Re: MG and Marketing
The reason for the marketing in YA is becuase they're throwing a lot of money at those books. Most YA books (cough--mine-cough-cough) do not get that kind of marketing. But with huge NYT bestsellers and tons of new readers, pubs are doing a lot of six-figure+ deals. Thus, the marketing push is neccessary to recoup those advances.

If MG grows like YA did, then yes, you'd start seeing that same marketing push. Sadly, most books have to find their audience on their own.

I actually would like to see more review blogs and such focusing on MG-- most focus only on YA.
Re: MG and Marketing - wheems01 - Jul. 20th, 2010 07:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: MG and Marketing - kimberleylittle - Jul. 20th, 2010 07:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: MG and Marketing - mandyhubbard - Jul. 20th, 2010 07:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:15 pm (UTC)
This might be a dumb question...but is the difference between MG and YA primarily the age of the characters? Like above, you say there is no need to dumb down the language etc....I'm just trying to wrap my head around it! For example, I LOVED Lindsey Leavitt's 'Princess for Hire' and I'm pretty sure that's marketed as MG since the main character is 13 or 14...but I could also see that marketed as a YA book. What is your favourite MG out there right now?

Jul. 20th, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
Re: MG
It's the age, yes, but it is also content. MG characters tend to be experiencing things that skew younger-- instead of falling in love, its their first crush. Instead of sex, its OMG their first kiss ever, or the guy TOTALLY touching their knee for a second there.

They dont generally cuss, either. Basically the content is just handled in a much 'sweeter' way, although not always. (Aren't there always exceptions?

Princess 4 Hire is definitely a MG book... the market is just more recceptive to her style/voice/hook in MG than YA.

MG tends to be 13 and under, while YA is 15+.... 14 is just a tricky age.
Re: MG - tingilya - Jul. 20th, 2010 06:36 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: MG - brian_ohio - Jul. 21st, 2010 12:03 am (UTC) - Expand
Re: MG - tingilya - Jul. 21st, 2010 12:06 am (UTC) - Expand
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
Great info! Thanks for sharing, Mandy! Did you by chance get to meet my editor while you were there--Wendy Loggia??

-Rose Cooper
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:20 pm (UTC)
I did not! Although I did have breakfast with two of her cohorts. :-)
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:19 pm (UTC)
I love love love this post! Glad to hear that paranormal romance is still ALIVE! I love to read and write paranormal so that gives me a much needed feeling that it will all be alright since everyone keeps telling me that paranormal romance will die soon.

Thanks for the post. Very interesting and informative
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:52 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Mandy!
Jul. 20th, 2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
Thanks for posting this, Mandy. This was the most hopeful regarding selling paranormal I've seen in a long time. I was wondering, do editors see any difference between urban fantasy and paranormal? I always picture urban fantasy as slightly grittier a la Kitty Norville. But, I didn't know if that was just a tiny nuanced difference I had in my head. Thanks!
Jul. 20th, 2010 07:27 pm (UTC)
There is certainly a distinction between the two, but at the end of the day they occupy the same place in the market/on bookshelves. So its not like you can have paranormal romance bomb and UF be in its own bubble. UF is, essentially, paranormal market with an urban setting.

I do have a UF/Paranormal author on my list, and she is, indeed, a much darker/grittier take on the usual paranormal.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 20th, 2010 07:28 pm (UTC)
Re: MG
Sure! Adventure, with a great hook, in particular is doing well. And the newest horse series (Canterwood Crest by jessica burkhart) is said to be selling really well.

You'll want a good angle for the horse one, though. not just another horse story. Canterwood Crest in particular, was pitched as Clique meets The Saddle Club-- becuase there was plenty of horse stuff, but nothing older/edgier for tweeners. It all skewed so young. So she filled a great gap in the market!
Jul. 20th, 2010 08:23 pm (UTC)
Sounds amazing! Very insightful stuff

Read any good books while you were there?
Jul. 20th, 2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
Glad you had a great trip, Mandy :) I'm really happy about the literary/commercial package popularity. I love books like that and hope to see more of them!
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