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  #1  
Old 10 February 2018, 03:57 PM
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Squirrel Back in the saddle again

I've been irritating the people on Facebook with daily wordage updates on how my new YA novel is progressing.

Now it's your turn.

Fifty thousand words out of a projected sixty now, and I'm doing about 2500 every morning. It's all first draft, of course. The fun begins when that's in the can.

I learn something new every time I write. This time it's that editors for American publishing houses nurse a bitter aversion to YA books (readers 13-up) that feature a fourteen-year-old protagonist. Make her 13 or make her 15, but 14 is poison.

Go figure.

Last edited by Brad from Georgia; 10 February 2018 at 04:02 PM. Reason: I wanted a squirrel.
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  #2  
Old 10 February 2018, 06:21 PM
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That's interesting about the age; I wonder why that is. Also your reason for editing made me smile. Good luck; keep us posted!
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  #3  
Old 11 February 2018, 01:22 AM
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Brad, my mom taught 14 year olds for a long time. I think pretty much everyone who comes near them learns to hate them.
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  #4  
Old 11 February 2018, 05:34 AM
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Whalephant

Just call her 13 and two halfs?
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  #5  
Old 11 February 2018, 01:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitap View Post
Just call her 13 and two halfs?
13 and 13 months.

I was expecting Nutella.
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  #6  
Old 11 February 2018, 02:07 PM
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But nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!

Brad "our chief weapon is surprise! And Nutella!" from Georgia
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Old 11 February 2018, 02:15 PM
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I suppose I should explain for the benefit of any aspiring YA writers.

The editors say (and I'm not sure this is so; there are editorial superstitions, like "a book with an orange cover will not sell") that at the low end of the readership range, ages 11-13, the kids never think further ahead than the coming weekend.

They don't believe they well ever turn fourteen. High school is a thousand years off, and college is a geologic epoch away. So they're not interested in fourteen-year-olds.

Until they do turn fourteen. That morning, they immediately become interested in what the future holds. They might read about thirteen-year-olds out of nostalgia, but they won't read about kids their own age, because they've nailed that and know all there is to know. On the other hand, now being forward-looking, they'll eagerly read books about fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen-year olds.

Anyhow, that's received wisdom, and if you are writing a book you'd like the editors to consider, it's best not to rock their boats.
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Old 11 February 2018, 09:30 PM
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That’s fascinating!

I understand na resistance to change details for marketing purposes, but out of interest ow important to the story and character that the protagonist be 14 years of age?

and what about books where the crossing of that future focused threashold is the whole point? would the appeal be to narrow?
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Old 11 February 2018, 09:45 PM
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All books about characters who are 13 when the story starts must end before the character's 14th birthday!!

-- I suppose this might for Brad come into the category of 'fights not worth having'; at least, unless there's some particular reason why the character needs to be 14. In which case you might point out that Harry Potter's got to be 14 at some point in those books, isn't he?
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Old 11 February 2018, 11:28 PM
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I guess in a weird way it makes sense, for the same reason that there's a magazine called "Seventeen" even though a lot of the articles are aimed at girls younger than that.

(or at least they were back when I subscribed- I imagine that much has stayed the same)
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Old 12 February 2018, 02:07 AM
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  1. Harry Potter is always an anomaly. "Cut this manuscript by 10,000 words. Kids won't read any book over 50,000 words." Gee, Ms Editor, all the Harry Potter books were over 60,000 words. "Harry Potter is an anomaly!"
  2. The girl may be a more interesting character if she's 15. As I had planned the book, she would have her 15th birthday 2/3 of the way through, so I can just back her birthday up to May, and she's 15 in Chapter 1.
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  #12  
Old 12 February 2018, 03:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
[LIST=1][*]Harry Potter is always an anomaly. "Cut this manuscript by 10,000 words. Kids won't read any book over 50,000 words." Gee, Ms Editor, all the Harry Potter books were over 60,000 words. "Harry Potter is an anomaly!"
I think even Harry Potter was a bit of a horror head* at 14. I didn't have enough contact with the students in my last job at a school to say if 14 was worse the other ages but I remember 14, yeah it was the worst year of my teens.

In Queensland at least in my day, fourteen was grade 9 and the second year of high school** so the looking forward to high school theory doesn't quite work, here at least.

But I would go with 14 years old are horrid and even 14 year olds don't like 14 year olds.

*as a fellow worker at a school would say.
** I believe it varies state to state and has even changed here now.

Last edited by Dasla; 12 February 2018 at 03:57 AM. Reason: no properly about, 14 was my worst year.
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Old 12 February 2018, 04:50 AM
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I've known some people who were excellent to be around when they were 14.

(I'm not so sure that I was one of them. But I don't think it had all that much to do with being 14.)
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Old 12 February 2018, 04:10 PM
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Fwiw, My niece who is 9 prefers to read and want watch shows about teenagers....

Kids are soooooooooo passé.

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Old 12 February 2018, 04:13 PM
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Reading

This thread has 14 posts, it is not worth reading.
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  #16  
Old 12 February 2018, 10:28 PM
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Fifteen. Now it's golden.
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Old 12 February 2018, 11:51 PM
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I think they are right, Brad. This thread is a lot more interesting now than it was when I first read it.
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  #18  
Old 13 February 2018, 04:40 AM
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I had wondered if it had something to do with the high school transition--though that might make good fodder for a story. Now I'm thinking back to the YA novels I've read and trying to remember how old the characters were. I seem to recall (and Wikipedia backs me up) that Holes had a 14-year-old protagonist, but I'm guessing Louis Sachar is one of those authors who can do as he pleases.
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Old 13 February 2018, 02:36 PM
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Depends entirely on the editor. Each one has a variety of crotchets. One writer i know gripes because her editor always inserts a reference to violets in her books because "good writers have trademark references." The writer swears she is setting her next book in the Sahara.
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Old 13 February 2018, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
Depends entirely on the editor. Each one has a variety of crotchets. One writer i know gripes because her editor always inserts a reference to violets in her books because "good writers have trademark references." The writer swears she is setting her next book in the Sahara.
I watched a comedic anime/read a manga called "Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun" (translated roughly to Nozaki's Monthly Girl's Manga) that's about a teen-aged manga artist who recruits his friends into helping him with his manga. His previous editor (and now the editor of the manga artist who lives upstairs to him) always pushed for tanuki drawn into the story. As a result, Nozaki-kun HATES tanuki. It's a running joke in the series and it's hilarious.
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