Who Is My Target Audience?
I wrote a young adult novel entitled THE GODS OF ASPHALT. The storyline came to me while I was sick, listening to my sons and their father argue in the next room while I lay in bed, unable to referee their emotions. For over a month I listened to them fight, play, and solve problems without me. It was mind-blowing. I felt like Dian Fossey. But instead of gorillas, I discovered how men interact with each other when women aren’t around.
That experience made me think about writing a book that explores what happens when the only woman in a family decides to leave. How do the men respond? How do they display affection? Express disappointment? Until I was sick, I thought that all men did when women weren’t around was eat, sleep and deny their emotions. I was wrong. So wrong, in fact, that I thought there was enough meat in my revelation to write a novel about it.
The initial target audience for my novel was teenaged boys. I thought for sure they would appreciate a storyline written with them in mind. The boys who have read my book so far have given me very good feedback. The agents who rep Young Adult…not so much. They’ve told me that they like my story, they just don’t believe it is technically Young Adult. They don’t know what to do with it. That leaves me, and hopefully you, to figure it out.
I read somewhere that boys read middle grade fiction until they hit their teens and then for some reason jump straight to adult Science Fiction or Horror. They skip right over Young Adult. Anyone who visits a Barnes & Noble Young Adult section can tell you why that is- everything in that genre is written with teenaged girls in mind. So that leads me to ask the following questions:
- Do boys not read YA because there aren’t enough books to tell their stories, or do publishers turn down male protagonists because boys don’t read YA?
- John Green writes Young Adult novels with teenaged boy protagonists, but do teenaged boys read them? Or are girls reading his YA novels with male protagonists?
- What about mainstream fiction? Will adults read a story with a teenaged protagonist? If so, how on earth do I market that book to an agent?
- I am working on the sequel to GoA now, and it is exploring more adult themes than the first book. Do I even want the first book to be YA? Won’t that make it harder to market GoA2?
- Are the YA agents blowing smoke up my ass?
- Am I the only writer out there with this problem?