RTW: How far would you go?


Road Trip Wednesday is a “Blog Carnival,” where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.



This week’s topic:

How far would you go to get published?

Explanation: “We writers can form quite an attachment to our characters and stories. But we also know publishing is a business, and sometimes to make it in said business–to really build a career from it–we have to bend a bit. How far would you go to break into the publishing world?”


Honestly, I don’t know. It depends and will depend on the situation I face.

Here are the situations suggested by YA Highway:

1st – Jumping on the trend train

My answer: Depends on the trend. Vampires and werewolves? Forget it. Dystopians and Steampunk? I love to read them, but never tried writing them. Perhaps I even enjoyed it if I tried.

2nd – Switch to a well selling genre

My answer: I’m a genre hopper, so I wouldn’t mind switching to another genre. I write paranormal romance, UF, contemporary romance and even high fantasy. It depends on my mood. How

3rd – Minor revisions requested to sign with an agent

My answer: I would like to say that I would take a look at the revisions requested. if I agreed with them, if I thought they would strengthen my ms, then I would do it. But in truth, if I liked the agent asking for those revisions, I know I would do it to try and secure the agent (hey, I’m being honest here).

Homerun – Major revisions requested by an editor

My answer: Probably I would do it because the editor has experience and probably knows what she/he is asking, knows the market and what readers want. Though, I would try to chat about it, understand every tiny detail and explain my side of it too. Heavy revision may mean I’ll end up with a very different ms, and I wouldn’t like that. It all revolves if my story will be a better, stronger story because of those revisions or not.



Now, if you bear with me, let me talk about something bothering me these days that has to do with this how-far-would-you-go topic:

As some of you may know from a previous RTW post, I like to write New Adult, which is college-aged protagonists. I think of NA as it is, a continuation of the YA genre. I think both YA and NA are very close and have many things in common. (PS: sorry guy if I talk about NA a lot. It’s a sore spot for me).

However, I’m encountering many obstacles because of that.

Some examples:

1. I tried querying agents who represent both YA and adult and some sent a personalized rejection asking me to move down or up and stick with the known genres.

2. I sent one of my manuscripts for a contest in the YA category—my heroine is 19, which, technically is in the teens, you know, nineteen … Anyway, I made the five finalists. But then, the editor who judged the final round sent me a feedback. She said my voice is a little older than YA. I burst out laughing. I KNOW THAT! I write NA because I know I sound a little older than YA! The way my characters think are also a little more mature than YA.

3. What do I with all my five NA manuscripts? They are revised, critiqued, edited … and I can’t find a place for them.

So, what would I do to get published?

Do I switch over to YA and change my natural voice to sound younger? Do I re-write all my manuscripts to YA? How long would that take? Am I willing to take that risk?

Or do I stomp my foot and keep trying? Is it worth it to query every agent in the world if I know 95% of them aren’t that open to NA? How many years will I waste trying?

Or, as one of my beta-readers suggested, should I go for self-publishing? Honestly, I’m just putting it out here because it is an option, but is an option I’m not willing to take yet. Yet.

And another friend suggested I try YA for now, then, if and when I get published, I can talk to my agent about switching to NA. In my friend’s opinion, it would be easier to switch once you already have built strong foundations, a strong career. And, for logical reasons, I have to agree with her. But again, I would have to bend and go against what I want.

I would love to believe, as many friends already suggested, that I could be the one to break out the genre, to make it visible and recognizable (got love those friends who support you like that!), but I also have to be realistic about this. Like that saying, keep you head in the clouds with your feet on the ground. Chances are it won’t happen. Ever.

Anyway, I’m not answering the RTW question, because I really don’t have an answer. Would I bend and switch to YA? Will I? Not sure. I wouldn’t like to.

And I’m done ranting lol

Sorry I filled your ears with my problems, but thanks for listening ;)

PS2: I’ve been writing a super long post about New Adult … like I said before, it’s a sore spot to me. I won’t post yet this year anymore, I think, but I’ll let you all know when it’s up.


How about you guys? What far would you go to get published?


26 Responses to RTW: How far would you go?

  • I’m kinda with you on that one. I’d only go so far. I don’t mind changing genres (as I do that already on my own) or making some changes here or there. I’m open to more if they changes make sense. Sounds like you need to focus on the agents who specifically go for NA. I’m sure there’s not that many but really need to keep trying. It’s a tough sell but persistence is the only way. As the genre grows so will the number of agents that want to represent it. Just give it time.
    Ryan King recently posted: ROW80 Check-inMy Profile

  • My protagonist was originally 19, but that was partly because it’s a historical book and I wanted it to be a little unusual that she wasn’t already married at her age. But during revisions, her age ended up dropping to 17 in a natural way with the story changes so the NA thing became moot. I have had a few agent comments saying that they thought it might be too mature for YA, but that was based on content (rape, violence, etc). I’m querying as YA but I think it would be easy to tweak if I ever wanted to go back to NA territory.
    Angelica R. Jackson recently posted: Wall Candy for GeeksMy Profile

  • I can’t say I am the be all end all of knowledge about fiction marketing categories, but if YA doesn’t feel right, you could try to market your work as literary fiction. Literary fiction is heavily populated with new adults (as well as old adults), books like Her Fearful Symmetry and Everything is Illuminated gather in the college or just after years.

    It’s really hard to break in as literary fiction, but it might open up avenues to some new agents who would be interested in seeing your work.
    Cara M recently posted: Road Trip Wednesday #108My Profile

  • I don’t wanna do any of that.

    Or, to be more specific, I’d only want to do something like jumping on the trend train if it was something I was truly passionate about. Life’s too short to write a book I hate, and it probably wouldn’t be any good anyway.

    Revisions and voice-changing might be a bit more negotiable. To be honest, I’m not really sure exactly where my line is, but you got me thinking about it. Thanks for the post.
    Daniel Swensen (@surlymuse) recently posted: How To Lose Readers and Alienate PeopleMy Profile

  • I’m with pretty much everyone else. I wouldn’t go further than I felt comfortable going. And I agree with you, too–if it’s an agent I really like and the revisions are something that I know I completely disagree with–I’d do it to secure that agent as well. We write so that someone can read our work. Yes, we do it for enjoyment, too–but mainly we WANT others to read it. You gotta do what you gotta do to make that happen, you know?

    And I think as far as the NA thing goes, you could possibly find an agent who reps that area. I think I saw two recently who mentioned that they wouldn’t mind repping NA. Don’t quote me on that, though :D Anyway, don’t give up. If it’s what you love to write- DO IT! But in the mean time, if you’re dead set on getting into the publishing industry, then maybe try your other friend’s suggestions- go with the YA for now and then once you have a platform surprise everyone with your awesome NA!

    Good luck and GREAT post!

  • Oh, that’s so hard. I think I mentioned this in the comments the other day, but I have a project that I should probably make MG OR make my protagonist slightly older. Changing that changes SO much-stuff I don’t know if I want to compromise. So, I put it on the shelf for a while. Maybe you could start a brand new project as totally YA and see if you like it? See if that works?

    And rants? Hee. Sometimes I feel my blog is my venting place. I try not to make it that way, but sometimes I feel that I do. *sigh*

  • I would certainly concur with those that suggest you try to find an agent that reps NA. These may be hard to find, but one that reps YA and Adult might be a good alternative. I imagine most agents that are exclusively YA (or MG and YA) will have issues with age/voice. Unless you suddenly get inspired to write YA, if NA is what you write and love, stick to it! The rest of the world will catch up to you someday–hopefully soon! :)

    I’m looking forward to learning more about NA from you, Juliana!
    Colin recently posted: Comment on RTW: How Far Would You Go…? by HollyMy Profile

  • This is a great response, and I’m glad I found your blog! I think there’s a place for NA, but that’s a tough call to switch your voice to fit into YA, especially if you’ve tried querying for YA. Some people don’t give teenagers enough credit for adult voice, depth of thought, etc. So I still thing NA can fit into YA.
    Liz Parker recently posted: YA Highway RTW: How Far Would You Go to Get Published?My Profile

  • I sat stick to your guns on this one. I love NA, and I agree with the comment about literary. One of my favorite books is The Secret History, and it is literary but also an unclaimed NA. Maybe just market yourself with agents as general fiction, or genre specific adult to get your foot in the door.

  • I feel ya on the NA thing. My protagonists tend to hover in the college-age range. I just feel very in touch with the voice of that particular age group.

    It took a long time before publishers finally began segmenting children’s books into the many subcategories you can find today (picture, chapter, middle grade, YA, etc.) I like to think we’ll see increasing trends in this as more groups, such as New Adults, want their readership to be identified in the publishing world. (The current topic of LGTBQ YA is an example of this.)
    Athena Franco recently posted: YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday #108: How Far Would You Go?My Profile

  • Wow, what a tough call concerning NA. I’ve read a YA book with a 19 year old character, but the author kept it YA by setting the opening of the book earlier in the character’s life. Could that be an option?

    Best of luck to you :)
    Miss Cole recently posted: Midweek MotivatorMy Profile

  • I haven’t delved too deeply into the NA problem yet, but I understand where you’re coming from. I feel like it’s kind of a moot point–so many people of all ages read YA that I don’t feel like having a character that sounds older than a sixteen-year-old is going to be a problem. And it’s not like 19-year-olds sound THAT much older. I think agents and editors are making a big deal out of something that shouldn’t be a problem.

    But I agree with one of the above comments. I think you could try to pitch it as literary fiction and see how that does.
    Francesca Zappia recently posted: Road Trip Wednesday: I’m not that desperate.My Profile

  • Thanks for sharing your personal experience with this issue… I imagine you’re in a very frustrating place. I, for one, love New Adult and would buy (and have bought!) novels with protagonists in the 19-24 age range. Good luck placing your work, and thanks again for the thoughtful post!
    Katy Upperman recently posted: RTW: How Far Would You Go?My Profile

  • NA is a terribly difficult market because IMHO, the time of life that a person is the LEAST likely to read anything labeled “New Adult” is when they are a new adult. At this age many young people take a break from reading for fun because they are so busy with college. Or they take a break from reading all together because no one is making them do it anymore. Or because they’ve become hipsters and the only kool thing to read is Kierkegaard and Kafka.

    YA is read by every one from 9-18 and everyone from 25+. THAT’s why it’s big. Why do 25+ read YA? Because teens are sexy and exciting and once you’re over 25 you’re not allowed to look at them anymore in real life.

  • I don’t write NA, but I do believe there is a definate need for it. So I say keep at it and hope/prey your able to find your place in a bookstore soon. Honestly, I believe there is a definate need for NA. How many YA books are set at boarding schools? A heck of a lot more than there are teenagers that actually attend boarding schools. 18 and 19 year olds go away to college, and the emotial baggage that goes along with starting college is HUGE. But writing about college students isn’t allowed. So people write about high school students at boarding school instead, and college students read YA books. Maybe if you were writing YA, you would get published faster, but I hope that you don’t give this up just to get published because I really do believe that the NA market needs to have a place in bookstores and that will only happen if people like you keep writing good NA books.
    kate scott recently posted: RTW – What would I give?My Profile

  • I’ve heard so little about NA, but it fascinates me. When I first began writing my Victorian YA fantasy I considered making my protagonist older – early twenties, but then I realized I wanted the voice younger. I ended up with a YA, and I like it, but sometimes I feel that gap, as a reader and as a writer – the one NA should be filling. I hope more agents start repping this, because I’d like to try my hand.

    I wish you tons of luck! I’d agree with the others here and say pitch it to agents who rep somewhere in the middle, or who seek literary fiction, and hope someone jumps at it.
    Donelle Lacy recently posted: Roadtrip: Only if my book had leopard spotsMy Profile

  • Totally agree with your mini-rant!! I haven’t tried to query an NA project yet, but I have a few that I reeeeally want to make NA, but there are so many problems trying to sell those damn thinks. GAH.
    Ellen recently posted: RTW: How far would you go to get published?My Profile

  • Wow guys! I love to see all the New Adult support!
    Thanks for all your words and cheers ;)

  • The thing about editor revisions is they are asking for changes that they believe will make the book work better. They’re not looking to turn your book into something it’s not. They don’t want to destroy or change your voice because that’s what attracted them to the work in the first place. While some discussion is okay, if you balk at changes, they might see you as someone hard to work with. Harsh, but that’s the way the biz works.

    As for your New Adult books, the question would be what the market is for that type of story. Probably not young adults since they want to read books about characters that are their age (12-18). Maybe people in their 20s, but they might just read books marketed as adult books.

    Are agents complaining that the character is too old for YA and too young for adult? Or are they just put off by the NA label? If it’s the latter, just market it to them as adult fiction.
    Karen Sandler recently posted: RTW – How far would you go to get published?My Profile

  • I enjoyed your “rant,” because I honestly didn’t realize that NA was such a tough sell, so I learned something today. I think there’s a definite market out there, and you’re clearly a great advocate for the genre. It’s frustrating I’m sure, but I say, “Stick with it!” I thought “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” should have been categorized as NA. It’s too mature for the YA crowd, but it’s certainly not something my mother would be comfortable reading. As someone with a young teen reader at home, it would be great to have another category that tells me a novel is too edgy for the 13-year-old, and maybe too edgy for a lot of 50-year-olds, but just right for the 19-29 crowd. Good luck to you!
    Amy Renske recently posted: Road Trip Wednesday!My Profile

  • I would make some changes. But all in all I think my books are fine just the way they are. Some things I won;t do, like add F-bombs or additional sex scenes (I have one) just for the sake of sleazing up my MS.
    Stephen Tremp recently posted: Insecure Writers Support GroupMy Profile

  • Don’t give up on the new adult idea. I know I’ve read somewhere that an agent or a publishing house was looking for more of those stories. Maybe you could find some NA books that have already been published and find out who the authors’ agents are. Or maybe agents who accept adult fiction also like NA. Maybe it’s just that the NA area is too new to label.
    Tracey Neithercott recently posted: RTW: How Far Would You Go?My Profile

  • I have a crit partner who is struggling with the same NA/YA situation.

    I wouldn’t know what to do either. I will say that I think NA will find a place. I’d be excited to read and buy some NA, and I think others would too.

    My crit partner ended up working on a YA for her second novel because it just happened that way, but I wonder if part of her choice was the struggle getting agents to accept a NA novel.

    If I were you, I would write both. Maybe try a YA next and then head back into NA after that. Maybe you’ll find that you really want to write NA or vice versa. Regardless, writing in a different genre can only help to become a better writer. I’ve been considering writing a NA novel myself, just to explore a new area.

    If you’re ever looking for someone to offer some NA critiques, I’d love to read your stuff!

  • How far would I go? That’s a tough one. If I say, I want to stay true to my plot, characters, style etc. and only make minor rewrites, it would sound like I’m sure that my book is absolutely flawless, and I don’t need much input. That sounds kinda pompous, doesn’t it? The truth is, we need to rely on expertise of the agents and editors if we really want to publish—and publish a good book. I cringe when I think about a serious rewriting but if it needs to be done, I will bite a bullet. On the other hand, I won’t dive into rewriting with my eyes tightly shut only relying on the others’ opinions, and without fully understanding where they are trying to take me. Well, now I’m ranting :-)

    Great post. Very thought-provoking.

  • Very interesting post! Thanks for sharing and don´t worry about venting, we all do it from times to times :-) (I usually rant about rude people on trains but that may be because I have not yet jumped on the querying wagon)

    I would buy and did buy books featuring NA. Actually, I have the title of one of them on the tip of my tongue and it was actually from a well-established writer.

    Wishing you the best of luck!!!
    Commutinggirl recently posted: RTW: How far would you go?My Profile

  • I’ll be in the same boat soon. I’m wavering about making it true YA. As I mentioned in a previous comment here, my hero is older than my heroine. I’ve got to be careful. Do I keep him under eighteen, or do I bring her up to eighteen? I mean, in real life most of the local teen girls are dating older guys. It isn’t a stretch, but it doesn’t work for editors and agents and I understand why. Good luck, I love NA.
    Ciara Knight recently posted: Did I Notice Your Book?My Profile

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