Thursday, March 10, 2016

Novice Series: NA vs. YA

The journey I've gone through with THE TIME SLAVE has been a rocky one.

In the past 4 months of completing the first draft I have: 
  • Received 6 rejections from agents.
  • Failed getting into 2 Twitter contests.
  • Changed the title.
  • Did a re-write.
  • Changed the title again.
  • Received 9 more rejections from agents.
  • Did another re-write.
  • More rejections.
  • Another title change.
  • Converted from New Adult to Young Adult.
  • Got into 2 Twitter contests.
  • Got 7 requests from small presses.
  • Received 4 requests for fulls from agents.

Excuse me? 

Let's rewind. If you notice in my timeline, the differentiating factor from rejection to request was changing my audience. But, if nothing else about my query letter or manuscript changed, why was I getting so many rejections? 

I fell into the publishing black-hole of the dreaded NA category. The original version of THE TIME SLAVE was written as NA for one specific reason: I wanted a compelling story that had all the adventure of a YA novel with a protagonist in my age range. I grew up reading YA and when I hit my twenties, I still wanted books like that, but with a protagonist I could relate to. 

While I absolutely love reading YA books, sometimes it's hard to fall in love with the story if it's not believable. For example, how can a 14-year-old, who can't legally drive or vote, have the power to change the world and lead a revolution?

I'm sorry for those of you who love that kind of thing, but I'm not buying it. If my protagonist is going to save the world, they're going to also be able to get into their local bar and have a celebratory drink. 

The decision to change from NA to YA came from my Honest Writer Friend. The conversation went as follows:

Honest Writer Friend: I love your story and the premise is awesome...
Me: Why am I sensing a "but"...
Honest Writer Friend: ...but...
Me: *dread*
Honest Writer Friend: The fact of the matter is the New Adult market is a tough sell. If your book isn't a heavy hitting romance, it most likely won't get picked up.
Me: *protectively holding baby manuscript* Maybe I'll be the one who breaks the mold and start a new division of NA!
Honest Writer Friend: *virtual-reality slap* Unless you're a successfully published author with a huge platform, the only thing you'll be changing are the boxes of tissues for your tears.
Me: *silence*

Honest Writer Friend wasn't telling me anything I didn't already know. I had about 15 rejections telling me the same exact thing. Still, it was my baby manuscript and I loved it the way it was, but I had reached the inevitable crossroads. 

I had to choose: shelf my beloved baby manuscript or change it.

Did I fall into a publishing trap? Maybe. 

Did I not do enough research on the market before writing my novel? Most definitely. 

As a new writer, I'm going to make tons of mistakes and I'm going to learn from them. In this particular instance, I learned there are circumstances we cannot directly change as emerging writers and that's a hard truth to swallow. But that doesn't mean that change will not eventually come. It also doesn't mean that my experience with NA rings true for other authors.

There will come a time where my vision of NA books will grow popular and when it does, I will read them voraciously. I just won't be the one writing them. (Yet.)

Until then, I'll continue to trudge my own way, with my baby manuscript in hand. 

DZ. 

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