I'm a YA writer (currently unpublished) but I was recently told, by someone who knows these things, that I'd be better pitching at a slightly younger market - is it true that it is easier (and more profitable) to break in to the 12- to 15-year-old market?
The second part of that question, of course, is: other than lowering the age of my protagonists and reducing word count, what else makes the market really THAT different from the more 'PG' YA that's out there at the moment?
I'm confused: if you're not writing for 12- to 15-year-olds, what sort of young adult fiction are you writing? Because that is the bulk of the YA market, which kind of wraps up at 17 if you're lucky. Usually, though, the 17-year-olds are probably reading Candace Bushnell when they're not panting over Edward Cullen. I was reading Judith Krantz in my early teens - I couldn't wait to get my hands on all that glamorous jetsetting storytelling. Luckily I had parents who didn't believe in censoring my reading material ...
So it sounds as though you may have written a novel with an unclear readership, and that's probably what your friend is gently trying to tell you.
I don't really understand the second question (could be that a caffeine deficit is to blame - oooooh, someone has just presented me with a Diet Coke - mind reader!), so you're the second person in a row that I'm going to invite to email me with more information ... namely, exactly what market you think you're writing for. Then I'll try to answer this question more fully.