Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Are The Big YA Debut Break Outs in 2012?

STATUS: I need 5 more hours in any day.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? COLORADO CHRISTMAS by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Yesterday Sara Megibow and I went to lunch - just the two of us - so we could sit down and process the year. Celebrate what was great. Commiserate on what wasn't. LOL

Of course the conversations came around to what we think is hot or trending. And honestly, I'm not sure I see any clear direction there but I can say in the adult realm it's definitely genre cross-over novels, literary thrillers, and big upmarket literary commercial novels that appeal to women readers and book clubs.

In YA, it's a  bit more murky. In fact, neither Sara or I could think of a single debut author that broke out in a really big way in 2012. (Marie Lu's LEGEND debuted fantastically but that published in November 2011 so I'm not counting it per se…). Maybe CINDER? That title looked to have done well (and pubbed in January '12). 

Certainly many already established YA authors did quite well in 2012 (Green, Condie, Roth, Dessen, Hopkins, Bray, Asher etc.) but I'm not sure I could name a 2012 debut. So I figured I would ask you folks! Sara and I might simply be having brain fatigue.

At this time of year, I always like to look back at the books on the 2012 BEA YA Buzz Panel. The titles were the following:

CREWEL by Gennifer Albin (Dystopian/speculative)
WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang (Dystopian/speculative)
SKYLARK by Megan Spooner  (Dystopian/fantasy)
SKINNY by Donna Cooner (Contemporary YA)
COLIN FISHER by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz (YA contemporary mystery)

Looking at the numbers on Bookscan wouldn't suggest that any of them are a breakout - although I'm wondering if it just is a slower build now as dystopian/speculative have been a hot trend for a while.

Now there are two contemporary YAs on that list. I was kind of hoping the trend would swing back in the contemporary direction. Too soon to tell I think. Sara has an author doing well in that realm (Kenneally) as do I (Elkeles) but we need the next John Green or Zarr.

Most likely there is a quiet title out there gathering steam. Any ideas? Put some titles in the comments section.

Monday, November 12, 2012

What Are You Looking For?

STATUS: Doing meetings in New York all week.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? I'M A BELIEVER by The Monkees

Good question. What am I looking for?

Because I'm rewriting content for our new website (and the submission guidelines are an integral part of that), this question is definitely on my mind as of late. Not to mention, when I attend a conference, invariably I get asked this question. By now, you'd think I'd have a good answer ready. To be honest, I don't.

We also have to answer this question on our new website for our submission guidelines. Since Sara's answer is different than mine, we are tailoring our "what are you looking for" list for our specific agent pages.

By the way, the launch of our new website is a bit delayed. Our web developer lives in New Jersey. Yep, Hurricane Sandy.  He actually emailed me to apologize for the delay as he didn't have electricity. Holy cow! No need for an apology there. We can wait a few more weeks.

But back to our website submission wish list. When I sat down to evaluate what I'm looking for, I find that I'm not interested in creating a nice, neat little list.

Right now our site says I'm looking for literary fiction with a commercial bent, commercial mainstream, women's fiction, romance, science fiction, fantasy, young adult and middle grade.

Sure, that's accurate and true but you know what? That doesn't quite capture what I'm looking for. I want an intense, well-told story and the "genre" is incidental.

This summer I sold a literary cross-over novel that had a lot of horror elements - BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman.

Look at the list above? Do you see the word "horror" anywhere?

Not exactly. Yet, that story was perfect for me.

My book club is going to read Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL.

That's totally up my alley. Do you see "thriller" on that above list? Nope. So what I'm looking for is not clearly defined by a neat little list that I can post on our website.

And today I had lunch with an editor from St. Martin's and a bubble tea with an editor from Random House. (I think the tapioca is still stuck in my teeth…) Both had great previous experience in working at genre imprints earlier in their careers and now, neither is a genre editor per se but both love a big story that has a genre element to it. That's what they are looking for.

And that's what I'm looking for.

I have to find a way to say that on my page that outlines my submission guidelines. Not an easy trick. I do know that I don't plan to post a handy little list because that doesn't really capture what I'm looking for.

I want a good story well told. How you tell that story doesn't need to fit in a neat little category.