Toe crossing, and the current YA market


(Sorry about the picture. It was the only one I could think of to go with this post.)

Jay, editor-in-chief of Bitingduck Press, asked me the other day, what makes your story unique? It was time to create another blurb about the book for a bookseller. It’s a profound question, really.

It’s a critical question because of all that’s being published at the moment. I was in Chapters two days ago, going through the “teen fiction” shelves, and overwhelmed by the number of titles available. The woman in charge of the section, when I asked her what trends she saw, summed up most of the section with these words: “paranormal  and dystopian themed stories are huge.” Romance is big, too. Love triangles. Not many love squares, but love triangles are huge. Love hexagon fiction is looking for writers.

“If we’re going to sell a book in this store, it’ll most likely be a young adult book.” And when I asked her what she felt she was lacking, she said that “a story with those themes aimed at males, would be good.” A conversation with a bookseller or a librarian can make the entire landscape clear.

I’m relieved. My story is aimed at fellas. It is young adult fiction. How’s it different than what’s out there? Well, Harry Potter is born to win. It seems to me this is a very “blue-blood” idea, and quite British, fittingly. My protagonist, in this sense, is more American. His heroism happens because he chooses, and works for it. I’m not quite in the paranormal genre, in the strict sense. Paranormal, these days, usually means wizardry and magic, demons, vampires, and that sort of thing. I’ve worked with the idea of alchemy which isn’t really magical, and used it in a way that the alchemical tradition would appreciate.

In some ways the question is a surprise. Because, like many writers, I write what’s on my heart and mind. I’m riding with my head down, and when I lift my head up, I’m pleasantly surprised to see that there is a niche and a trend into which my story can fit. That’s serendipity, don’t you think?

The next stage is sending out the advance copies for review. I think reviewers are people who have their heads in the market and tell you how well you fit the niche and trend you think you’ve aimed at. But I’m nervous. I’m crossing my fingers…. My toes don’t cross, but I think I can force them.

About Bill Bunn

Bill’s excited because his second YA novel, Kill Shot, is now available everywhere! Bill Bunn is the author of several books, essays, and articles. He is currently writing two pages a day to generate the rough draft of his next novel. Bill Bunn lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Bill teaches English at Mount Royal University.
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