Monday, February 17, 2014

Is YA a Genre?

Funny picture, eh? My daughter is an awesome example of the YA audience.

So you're writing fiction ... young-adult-paranormal-romance fiction (for a specific example) ... and ... then there's a question:

Do you think young adult is a genre?

It's not.

It is an audience.

Genre is a category like: romance, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and so on.

So if you are pitching your paranormal romance to an agent or editor, and they ask, "In which genre do you write?"  If you answer, "I write in the young adult genre." ... eyebrows could be raised, and they could doubt your knowledge of the craft.

Likewise, if you're writing a query letter, make sure you get the terminology correct. You're writing a paranormal romance targeted at the young adult audience. ... NOT: You're writing in the young adult genre with paranormal romance.

Young adult fiction has gained so much popularity, it's easy to think of it as its own category; its own genre; but yet, it is still an audience not a category.

So ... you're writing fiction. 
In what genre are you writing?


  1. I see so many people describing YA as a genre, as if the focus is more about teenage characters than the actual type of story. I also hear a lot of people say they're writing a YA, instead of specifying just what type of genre it is. I've given up on considering my books historical YA, since what passes for historical in YA these days is so much different from the types of historicals about young people I grew up on. There's a lot of confusion about what is and isn't YA if the characters are young but the voice, mood, theme, subject matter, etc., doesn't match with current YA standards.

  2. It's easier if you look at it the way a library or bookstore would. At the library it's arranged by audience to help patrons find things easier. All the adult fiction is together, all the young adult, middle grade, etc. Picture books are together, early readers, board books. It's by age. So that's the audience.

    Bookstores divide their fiction into the genres such as fantasy, romance, mystery, but they still have sections for audience. That should help those who aren't sure. Where would your book be on the shelf of a bookstore? How about the library? Which authors would you be next to? It's really fun to think about! (I'd be on the fantasy shelf.)

    Thanks for this post!

  3. Oooohh, good point! Would hate to see anyone tripped up on that. I don't have a story to pitch so I toss around the term "YA fiction" without a second thought. It's a good thing bookstores separate by audience because then you might have two sections of each genre.