There's no end
to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go! {Dr. Seuss}

Friday, May 18, 2012

Audience vs. Genre in MG and YA

Don't classify me, read me. I'm a writer, not a genre.
{Carlos Fuentes} 
we heart it
During the A to Z Blogging Challenge, I made a survey for my Q post with questions about what you read and what you write. I think some people chose other for the question “What more specific genre do you write?” because middle grade and young adult were not listed. Ooops! I hadn’t thought of the potential confusion at the time because the question after that one, “What age and gender do you write for?” is where I included the selection for MG and YA ages.
I think of middle grade and young adult as audience, not genre. Though all audiences enjoy reading MG and YA, there is certainly a target audience the author is writing for. If you write middle grade I know your novels are intended for children between the ages of 8 and 12,* and if you write young adult I know your intended audience is teenagers.** Then I wonder what genre of MG or YA you write: contemporary, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, supernatural, thriller, etc. And if you've written something exceptional, and perhaps have a bit of good luck, your novels will transcend your intended audience and appeal to everyone!
So what about you? Do you think MG and YA is audience or genre?
I hope you have a fabulous weekend, Zigzaggers!!!
*Give or take a year or two.
**Just to be clear, I think all ages and genders can–and should!–enjoy every kind of book, no matter the intended audience.


shelly said...

I read YA and I'm an adult. Hmmm...could be classified as genre.

S.P. Bowers said...

I think it's both. It's the target audience and there are genres within YA and MG. But I think it's genre too as it is used as a classification of what's inside.

Em-Musing said...

I agree with you...I think it's audience. Good question. I write humorous women fiction, but my audience is women 40+.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

It's the audience, but everyone knows what we're referring to when we say YA, so that's good. I read and write YA. I'm not fussy on the genre, but I mostly writing YA suspense (or horror), or YA contemp with a lot of suspense woven in. The danger kind of suspense. :D

My audience is 14 + due to the nature of my premises.

Julie Dao said...

It's audience to me too! Doesn't mean that people outside of the target audience can't read and enjoy the books just as much... it just means that there is a target/majority audience that the subject's most appropriate for/relatable to.

Bluestocking said...

I think when people say they write or read YA, they are emphasizing the voice and sensibility that books for those age groups have -- that sense of immediacy, inner turmoil, and worldview that screams teenager and can transcend the type of story being told...

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The industry has placed the YA label on those books. It's funny, because while the industry insists the main character must be between 13 and 17, booksellers don't see it that way.

And now that there is the new adult category, my books would fall there rather than YA.

Carrie-Anne said...

I see it more as an audience thing, since you can have many different genres in YA and preteen books. Since I started writing way before the YA trend exploded, I've always seen my books more as being about characters who happen to be teens and preteens, not books I've specifically written as YA. I'm honestly not so sure anymore that some of my historicals could be viewed as true YA in today's climate, since a lot of modern teens might have trouble relating to teens coming of age in an era when it was considered normal to have a lot of adult responsibilities and even to be engaged or married.

Matthew MacNish said...

YA and MG are marketing categories, not genres, but they get mentioned so often as part of genre, I think people can be forgiven for the confusion.

LD Masterson said...

I think audience first and genre second. Obviously there are many genres within YA and MG but if there are readers who seek out either because they're looking for the 'type' of story, that would make it a genre, too.

Arlee Bird said...

MG and YA are definitely audiences although I think MG is perhaps more clearly defined. YA can cover a very wide range of an audience and even bleed over into the MG age group.
Genres have their own audiences but are classified more according to topicality than reading age suitability.

An A to Z Co-Host
Tossing It Out

Rachna Chhabria said...

I would consider MG and YA more as an audience than genre. I write MG fantasy and paranormal for ages 10 and above.

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

Yes, you've got it right. My genre is fantasy. There is action/adventure too, but fantasy would be primary. I plan to write some YA (age group) historical fiction (genre) down the road :D!

Lauren said...

I agree that YA is an audience, just like Adult is an audience and MG and J is an audience.

However, I agree with C.S. Lewis, who said "a children's book that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's book in the slightest."

I'd like to transcend audience and genre and just write a good book. But of course, for marketing purposes it has to be labeled. :)

Stephen Tremp said...

I never thought of it this way. But if you write a visual book, like the Harry Potter series where its easy to place yourself in the setting (Rowling was so brilliant) then yes, you have more than a genre. You now have an audience.

Tara Tyler said...

its the audience, but it accompanies the genre when you tell someone.

Tara Tyler said...

and have a super fun weekend!

Jennifer Shirk said...

Good question. I think of Mg as audience but YA as genre. Probably because more adults than YA read YA. :-)

Laura Pauling said...

I definitely see it as audience! That's who we are writing for. :)

Emy Shin said...

That's difficult. Like Matthew said, YA and MG are marketing categories more than anything else. Audience and genre: It's a little of both. I'm leaning more towards genre, though, because YAs and MGs are types of novels. The audience can vary.

Laura Marcella said...

Shelly- I read MG and I’m an adult. But I’m not the intended audience of MG. Sure, plenty of people, no matter their age, can enjoy MG, but children is the intended audience, while teens are the intended audience of YA.

S.P.- That’s true!

Em- And there are many women under 40 who enjoy humorous women’s fiction!

Stina- I agree!

Julie- You’re absolutely right. All ages enjoy these books. I enjoy reading picture books with my young nieces and nephews! But of course I’m not the intended audience of a picture book.

Bluestocking- That’s an interesting perspective on it. Though i still think MG and YA indicates the intended audience, I hadn’t thought of it that way. Thanks for sharing!

Diane- That’s true. The industry is always labeling our work whether we like it or not!

Carrie-Anne- I agree. I believe all ages can enjoy any book no matter the intended audience.

Matthew- Oh, absolutely. I think it’s opinion anyway. I just view the terms MG and YA to mean intended audience, though of course ALL ages enjoy the. I love reading middle grade books!!

LD- That’s true!

Lee- I think middle grade can carry over to the YA audience, too. I think of the Harry Potter books as middle grade, though books 4 or 5 through book 7 can certainly be considered as YA.

Rachna- I definitely agree!

Melissa- That sounds great!

Lauren- I absolutely agree. Lewis’ quote is one of my favorites. I enjoy reading middle grade, but I realize I’m not the intended audience. However, it’s important for adults to enjoy picture books and MG or YA, too, since they might be reading those books with their child or teen!

Stephen- That’s true!

Tara- That’s an interesting way of looking at it. That’s true because some people view it as more genre than audience. I hope you’re having a super fun weekend, too!!

Jennifer- I read middle grade and I’m an adult! But I’m not the intended audience. Do adults really read more YA than teenagers? Don’t YA authors consider the teen audience when they’re writing their novels, though? I don’t write YA, so I wouldn’t know. Perhaps they’re writing for the adults who are nostalgic for their teen years??

Laura- I agree!!

Emy- Well, when I talk about audience, I mean the intended audience (who the author had in mind when he/she was writing). All ages can enjoy any book, no matter who it’s written for! I love reading middle grade, and I definitely enjoy reading picture books with my young nieces and nephews! But adults aren’t the intended audience for those types of books.

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, that's a tough question. I used to think of it only as a genre because I never wrote it but it's an age group, isn't it? But is it? Because many older people read YA and MG. Great question!

Donna L Martin said...

Hi there! I vowed that I would visit all the bloggers who participated in the A to Z blog and here I am keeping my promise...;0)

Lovely blog...good luck with the rest of the year!

Donna L Martin

Gina Gao said...

YA is more of a marketing tool than an actual category.

Laura Marcella said...

Clarissa- Though all audiences, every age and gender, enjoy reading MG and YA, there is certainly a target audience the author is writing for. And if you're lucky, your novels will transcend your intended audience, like Harry Potter and the Twilight series did, among many others.

Donna- Hello and welcome to Wavy Lines! I appreciate you stopping by. Good luck visiting all of the A-Z blogs!!

Gina- That could be true. Though all audiences, every age and gender, enjoy reading MG and YA, there is certainly a target audience the author is writing for. And if you're lucky, your novels will transcend your intended audience, like Harry Potter and the Twilight series did, among many others.

Laurita said...

I would definitely consider middle grade and YA to be audiences. After all, we have shelves of both groups of books and they cover a range of genres: romance, suspense, adventure, fantasy. Middle grade could slip into genre territory easier than YA I think.

Laura Marcella said...

Laurita- Absolutely, I agree! I read a lot of middle grade and it does fall into many genres. I don't read much YA, but these days YA seems to mostly fall into the supernatural and romance genres because that's the current trend.