Thursday, 29 September 2011

Why YA? (Isn't that a Rush song?)

At some point, I've really got to stop with the blog-titles-that-are-really-cheesy-jokes thing.


Anyway, I've realised I've hit a little bit of a problem with my self-promotion (okay, I've also hit the big problem of being naff at it, but that's a different blog post) for 'Heaven Can Wait'. I've billed the book as YA fantasy - which it is, at least in the sense that it's about being a young man in love, and it's got ghosts and magic and monsters in it - but while I have read a fair amount of YA fantasy, my bookshelves are mainly laden with high and epic fantasy, and some sci-fi, little if any of which could reasonably be described as YA.

This might not have been a problem in the pre-social-media age, but marketing these days, particularly for new writers, is focussed so much on engagement with potential readers that it presents a real issue. I just don't have enough knowledge of the genre (sub-genre?) to engage with these people.

Then there's the issue that for some people (I think), 'YA' is rather too strongly associated with Twilight, or they look at 'YA' and see 'children's book'. It may be that in branding the book as YA, I've shot myself in both feet - I can't engage with the YA market very well, and I'm turning off some people from the 'grown-up' market who probably would enjoy my book quite a lot.

The thing with all the YA I've read is that it's all been recommended to me by my mother (hence 'Heaven Can Wait' is dedicated to her). I won't do her the disservice of revealing her age to the whole internet, but let's just say she celebrated her ruby wedding anniversary in August. I know there's a big audience for YA among As who really can't claim to be very Y anymore (except at heart, right mum?), but I'm not sure that group do a lot of social networking.

As such, I'm contemplating rebranding the book as straight fantasy. I can talk fantasy until my ears bleed, it's more in line with the other stuff I write (by the by, check this out; the announcement of my next project), and this list of three would sound a lot better with a proper third item (sorry).

Obviously, it's not as simple as all that; for one thing, there isn't a lot of straight fantasy which is very like 'Heaven Can Wait'. Oddly, one of the closest touchstones I have for it is Scott Lynch's 'The Lies of Locke Lamora' (though the similarity is much stronger between 'Lies' and 'Some Kind of Angel', and my books are rather more child-friendly), a book I didn't actually enjoy that much.

Still, I think I can make it work, one way or the other. I'd appreciate your thoughts, though; how do you look at the 'YA' label, as against a straight-up 'fantasy' billing?

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