Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Unconservative YA publishers

I have written a YA novel about teenage male body-image issues. I think this is a unique and relevant theme, and I also think that the construction of my protagonist differs from those most prevalent in YA novels. That is, he's not morally upright like the New Age Boy, but cynical, occasionally neurotic, and self-obsessed. He undergoes some change (and realisation of his flaws, like in most novels), but he doesn't achieve perfection, or, for that matter, an overt desire to do so. I think he is realistic and he deals with issues common to male teenagers today. My supervisor (it's a Master of Arts project) believes it could have a market. Before I submit, I'd like some advice on which Australian publishers (if any) are most likely to go for a YA novel that willingly faces current issues and isn't too conservative.

Unfortunately I can't point you to particular publishers (see 'About Me' at right) but it would probably be unhelpful to do so anyway, as the personnel of publishing houses can change, and what one house favours today may not be to its taste next year. The best thing to do is spend some time at your local library and bookshop, going through the YA section and finding titles that you think are loosely in your subgenre (current issues/not conservative), then see who has published them. Publishers with YA lists are generally cognisant of the fact that their readership is changing all the time and don't want to be patronised - in my experienced children's publishers in general are passionate about what they publish and very well read in their field, so they're abreast of trends and they know what's working and what's not. Even if they may seem conservative, if the story and writing are good enough, they're going to be interested, because decisions about which books to publish are made largely by committee these days, and there's probably the odd forward-thinking individual in the bunch. For fiction, regardless of the age of reader, it always comes down to how you've executed your story.

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