If you know anything about me based on my ten million tweets I’m always making, you’ll know that I’ve wanted to write YA since…forever. I love YA. I believe in YA. I work in YA. The impact YA has had upon my life cannot be understated. I grew up with the mega-blockbusters that are Twilight, The Hunger Games, Divergent. I devoured all those books and I loved them. I still stand by my age-old factoid that the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead is my favorite series of all time. I’ve wanted to write YA for just as long. I’ve wanted to be a breakout success. I’ve wanted to bring disability to the forefront of YA and I’ve wanted to help other people along the way.
Let me tell you a secret, friends: YA does not want me.
This is a revelation I’ve had to come to terms with these past few months. My books are ambitious and they are weird and they don’t fit squarely into one category. It’s fine, I thought to myself. I’ll be the exception to the rule. But I haven’t been. We all think we’re exceptions to the rule, don’t we? We’ll get that agent in a week and a book deal in 2 and we’ll make seven figures off royalties alone because we’re just that amazing. Imagine my surprise when none of that happened.
I’m 27 now. I’ve been querying since I was 19 and I’ve never been the exception to the rule–which has led me to do some serious thinking about my own career: Do I continue to beat my head against the proverbial wall that is the YA market in the hopes I WILL be the exception to the rule? Or do I pivot to adult, where wacky books like mine seem to be more acceptabke?
Well, friends. I’ve made the pivot to adult.
I know, I’m a hypocrite. I’ve said on Twitter many times that all I want to do is write YA because YA is so important to me and disabled teens deserve to see themselves in books, blah blah. I know. I said that. But at the same time, I’ve realized through yet another crushing query experience that…the YA market is not going to make room for me. I am not going to be the exception to the rule. My books are too big. Too weird. They’re not necessarily trendy. So, adult it is.
As I’ve waded into the waters of the adult world, I’ve noticed a few things:
- THE ACCEPTABLE WORD COUNT IS SO MUCH BIGGER
This is great news for an overwriter like me. I don’t have to worry about writing something under 100k!! Love that for me!
- LESS SOCIAL MEDIA PRESSURE
Yes, some adult books become huge crossover hits. I just so happen to write those kinds of crossover books so I wouldn’t mind being one of those hits. However, in the adult world, I’ve noticed there’s less pressure to be Extremely Online. You as Brand isn’t so important as it is with YA.
- YOU CAN DO MORE IN ADULT
“Do more.” What does that mean? It means adult is generally okay with going big or going home, which is my motto when it comes to writing books. YA doesn’t want to give authors the space to “go big.” There’s a tightly defined set of tropes and plot beats that you need to hit to be a successful YA author and I’ve realized I don’t fit into that set. Which is fine. You don’t have to write “big” books or complicated books. You write what you want to write. And for me? I wanna write books that read how Final Fantasy feels. Can’t do that in YA because the market hates me specifically. Haha. Just kidding. Kind of.
Those are some of the biggest things I’ve noticed in my transition to the adult fiction world. That’s certainly not an exhaustive list, but it’s the stuff that’s most important to me.
It’s been hard, realizing that YA doesn’t want my stories. I’ve had a lot (a LOT) of people ask me: Why don’t you have an agent yet? I think I may have found my answer.
I love you, YA, but you don’t love me. And that’s okay.