Leo's Angel Oak Tree

Monday, July 12, 2010

KidLit: Things to know!

Everyone knows I attended the Writer's League of Texas Agents Conference in June, and I wanted to write some blogs on what I learned during the panels.  Obviously, some interesting stuff!  So, here goes...

KidLit: One Hot Market:

If you are going to write kidlit (which is children's, middle grade, or young adult) you must have the following:

1) Age-appropriate Protaganists (Middle Grade: 9-12 yr  Young Adult: 12-18 yr)
2) Active Beginning: Kidlit readers want the action to start immediately!
3) No Preaching!:  Kidlit readers do not want to read a book where an adult author is trying to teach them something:  It doesn't mean you can put lessons within, but have the protaganists learn them throughout the story.  No Preaching allowed!
4) Humor: Kidlit readers get very bored, very quickly.  So, having humor (usually sarcasm) does the trick!
5) Language: Don't overuse kid language in your manuscript.  It shows you are trying too hard! Don't dabble  in text language either to the point where it gets annoying! Use sparingly!
6) Try to appeal to both genders in one manuscript: Although most YA readers are girls, the boys will read what their girlfriends read, so put some action in there as well!
7) Don't date your book with trend references:  Editors & Agents can tell that an author is adult because of the references:  Like boomboxes, television show references, actor references.  Keep it current but generic!  Also, Ipods are now a generic ageless term.  You can use as much as you like!
8) Paranormal/Urban Fantasy/Post-Apocolyptic genres are hot but over-saturated! If you write in any of these genres, find ways to make your manuscripts stand out from the pack.  Watch out for things that connect your MS to Twilight references.  Avoid those!
9) YA and MG are age groups, NOT genres: YA is young adult meaning ages 12-18, MG is middle grade meaning 9-12.
10) Find the YA voice:  If you are writing for young adults, your voice must shine through your characters so they are relateable to the readers! YA readers love and connect to CHARACTERS instead of plot! 

So, there you have it!  It was a great panel!  Thanks to Mary Colgan of Chronicle Books, Alice Tasman of Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, Inc., and Laura Mclean of Michael Larsen - Elizabeth Pomada Literary Agents. for being on this fantastic panel!!


  1. Great info, Melissa! Thanks for sharing. Just found out my (what I thought to be) YA, may be more of women's lit since my MC is 18 and on her own. There's this whole new genre called New Adult--which is right on--where my most recent ms is concerned. I was curious if they mentioned the New Adult genre at all in your conference.

  2. Yes, they did mention new adult and crossover genres. They said the age group of new adult is so new that many of them either still classify MS as YA or adult, but they said to mention in the query that it coldly be considered for a new adult list. The publishers are looking for manuscripts like this and will classify it when marketing it.