I’ll be honest, I never considered my novel to be Young Adult fiction. It’s just one of those things that never occurred to me while I was writing. The only category I cared to put it in was “literary fiction” and “coming-of-age.” But, thinking back, I should have realized that a novel written (mostly) from the perspective of a seventeen year old would likely be viewed as YA.
I say this is to let you in on a little secret: I spent upwards of three years trying to gain the attention of the wrong literary agents. It wasn’t until I stumbled upon AgentInbox that I began submitting my novel to agents specifically representing YA novels.
When Ken Wright, my agent, first told me he was submitting my manuscript to YA editors, I was a bit shocked. He told me, however, that it was “literary YA,” which made me feel better. In recent months, I’ve become accustomed to my new moniker of “Young Adult Author,” and it’s made me realize that, for the most part, I’ve always had a preoccupation with this area of literature.
In fact, the novels that I have enjoyed the most all seem to have one thing in common: they’re all Young Adult coming-of-age fiction. In fact, I can’t seem to remember the last book I read all the way through that didn’t fall into this category. And some of my favorite authors (J.D. Salinger, Harper Lee, William Golding, and Sherman Alexie, to name a few) have all written YA novels.
The underlying lesson for all of you searching for literary agents: it’s vital that you really know the audience for which your work has been written. If you have written a sprawling love story, then you’re probably going to want to submit to agents who represent Romance. If aliens have taken over the world in your novel, then you’re definitely going to be looking for an agent willing to take on Sci-Fi novels. And, if your narrator is a teenager who has to grow up in an impossible world, then you have written a YA novel, my friend.
Don’t let the fear of being fenced in keep you from sharing your talent with the world.
Also, if you’re reading any great YA right now, share the titles in the comments!