I would love to see somebody post about what "Literary Fiction" really means. It seems to me that when writers use it in queries to describe their work, they label themselves as amateurs. Is that true? Is it something that agents put on their lists because many writers think of themselves that way, though they may really be writing, say, commercial/upmarket or women's fiction?
Empty Refrigerator said...
Exact same question as Anonymous! How do you tell the difference between lit fiction and commerical/upmarket? And if this is subjective as it seems, what would you, as agents, suggest using as a default? Does "lit fiction" make an author seem like a snob?
I had trouble with this myself. The specific question which has kind of been answered is: Is twenty-something YA or adult? I have received mixed reviews but they all come with the same pained expression and a not so clear answer.
Nicole I thought 20 something facing first time independence events (like moving out, first job, etc) was New Adult. I am still not sure though whether a coming of age novel should be marketed as YA or literary fiction or commercial fiction. It has romantic elements but not the predictable happy ending. What do you call that? Protagonist is 17 and there are a lot of ideas as well as plot.
With the success of Harry Potter and Twilight, middle grade and young adult books have become the movie equivalent of a blockbuster series franchise, and we all aspire to find the next big thing. So it's no surprise that plenty of adult authors are writing into this category. For some interesting insight, check out this video interview with Rebecca Stead, author of this year's Newberry-winning When You Reach Me. I've recently sold several books for younger readers by clients who had only previously written for adults. In some cases, the differences in writing and plot are subtle, and the real differentiating factor is how the book is positioned and marketed. An ideal to strive for is a middle grade or YA book that has crossover appeal, or the ability to reach an older audience as well as a younger one. These books are hard to find, but when they work, they can work big. Books written for a younger audience often have protagonists whose voices speak directly to that reader, and the themes are often handled in a way that is more sensitive to a younger reader. I think it would be challenging to make a book with a 20-something protagonist work as a YA novel. I recently considered something that crossed this line and I wound up passing because it read like YA, but the themes were too adult, and the protagonist was in her 20s and I just felt like it fell into that dead zone between YA and adult, a very difficult audience to find. A coming-of-age with a 17 year-old protagonist would likely be a YA if the voice and themes support the market. For example, while The Lovely Bones is narrated by a teenager, it clearly is intended for an adult audience. Literary accessible rules apply to younger audiences as well.