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Genres and readers

Today I got a rejection with the bit of feedback: "Sexual relations in a YA [young adult] novel? Seems too mature for 13-year-old readers."

The characters are 18 or 19, and college freshmen. I once showed the story to a romance editor, and she liked the story but thought they were so awfully *young* that it would have to be marketed as YA. Now it's too mature for YA? What genre should I claim it is, anyway?

Or did I just happen to get a reviewer who has an unrealistic sense of what teenagers think about? :)

Probably wasn't a good match anyway--they claimed I'd made "grammatical errors" for instances such as:

"Was that your flight?" she sniffled.

...on the grounds that "You can't sniffle dialogue." Sheesh; no creative leeway allowed?

Complain, complain. Have a nice weekend, everyone!

(x-posted to novelwriters)

Edit: The "sniffle" bit is wobbly, I admit. But okay, here's another "error" they claim I made: they circled the word "grey" and wrote "avoid variant spelling." Yeah, I know we spell it "gray" in the U.S., but the narrator is British! He would write "grey"! I also wrote "colour," "centre," and "realise"; are you going to circle all those too? "Error," my great-aunt's tea cozy. I screwed with that spelling quite deliberately, thank you.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 29th, 2006 12:20 am (UTC)
on the grounds that "You can't sniffle dialogue." Sheesh; no creative leeway allowed?

I hate reviewers like that. On the whole, I love getting criticism, because it helps me learn and improve, but there also comes a point when you have to question how objective the reviewer is being.

My most recent stupid review:
I can't remember my exact phrasing, but I said something to the effect of "the willowy girl stalked into the room". The reader said that willowy girls can't stalk. WTF?
Oct. 29th, 2006 12:26 am (UTC)
*mutters incoherently into the foam of his beer*
The reviewer was likely looking for:

"Was that your flight?" she sniffed.

Picky, picky...the urge to edit supercedes all other urges. Note that when Adam passes on to Eve the command from God, he adds "nor shall you touch it", apparently the first instance of this phenomenon...also, note, it was before The Fall...we're a doomed race! Everyone run for the exits! :)

Have a great weekend!

Oct. 29th, 2006 05:20 am (UTC)
Re: *mutters incoherently into the foam of his beer*
Ah, well--it was impossible to tell from my out-of-context example, but "sniffed" would imply (to me anyway) haughtiness, which is quite the opposite of this character. She (character) was crying, so "sniffling" is what I meant. (It's a slangy kind of narrative in general.)

I'm a picky editor myself, which is partly why their suggested "improvements" annoyed me. They struck me as not errors but merely differences in preference, and I'm not sure it's fair to mark those up.

In which case, just as well that I didn't become one of their clients!
Oct. 29th, 2006 07:48 am (UTC)
Re: *mutters incoherently into the foam of his beer*
Wisdom, Young Lioness. May the right publisher find you. I trust Lemon Drop is well. Enjoy him while he is young, for tomorrow he will drive off in your car (nods head sagely) or off in his car, which has been moderately to severely modified, much to the neighbors displeasure :)

Oct. 30th, 2006 06:49 pm (UTC)
Re: *mutters incoherently into the foam of his beer*
Heheh--I do hope he learns muffler tact (and bass stereo tact) from us, but we'll see. Right now he is indeed a sweet little enjoyable bug.
Oct. 29th, 2006 05:16 am (UTC)
Didn't you know? Your options for verbs there are "glided," "fluttered," or merely "walked," but no stalking, I tell you. Hah. Clearly they've never seen supermodels on the catwalk.

As you say, *useful* criticism is a fine thing indeed. I've made huge improvements from people's suggestions. But theirs didn't quite fall into the "useful" category, since it seemed to be addressing their own style preferences rather than the manuscript itself.
Oct. 29th, 2006 03:38 am (UTC)
Maybe that person can't sniffle dialogue, but that's their shortcoming and not a problem that you should have to deal with. I've sniffled dialogue over the phone late at night many a time.
Oct. 29th, 2006 04:12 am (UTC)
Flame Thrower...
These should definitely be legalized and come as options on your car, with the appropriat targeting computers, etc. LA traffic so needs this...

Oct. 29th, 2006 12:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Flame Thrower...
LA--as in Louisiana--traffic needs them too. As does my job. Really, what environment couldn't be improved by the judicious use of flamethrowers?

In other news, may I friend you? You seem to be awesome in several of my friends' journals.
Oct. 29th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Flame Thrower...
Please do, Young Lioness.

And may I friend your good self as well?

Oct. 29th, 2006 08:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Flame Thrower...
Absolutely! Be warned, though, I whine a lot.
Oct. 30th, 2006 02:22 am (UTC)
Re: Flame Thrower...
A feminine right and privilege, I'm told by my good Wife.

Oct. 29th, 2006 05:22 am (UTC)
That is a particularly lovely and poignant way to put it. Indeed, what person who survived high school and/or college hasn't? I don't mind deleting the two words, all the same, but it's nice to know it doesn't strike *everyone* as an "error."
Oct. 29th, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC)
Is it maybe just the way the sentence was ordered? Would they want somehting like: Sniffiling, she looked up at me, "Is that your flight," she asked.

Seems wordy, but maybe? I don't know. I had no problem with how it was written when I read it the first or second time. Or even now when you (they) bring it up. Blah.

I can't believe an editor could be so blind as to not realize (realise, teehee) that the narrator is Brittish and would write 'the Brittish way". Stupid people.

I would agree, however, with the editor in so far as that the particular _type_ of sexual content in that story _might_ be difficult for 13 year olds to digest, but I certainly wholeheartedly disagree with the first person who told you that they felt the characters where a bit young.

Have you ever looked into self-publishing? Like Lulu.com?
Oct. 30th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC)
Your rewrite for that sentence works too, but yeah, just seemed a bit uptight. Everyone's an editor deep down. :)

I agree it isn't a great story for 13-year-olds, who were never my target audience, but I could see how they might pick up a YA book thinking it was right for them. So maybe I call it "chick lit" or "lad lit" instead. Hmm.

I've looked into Lulu, and have been very tempted, but the more I read about self-publishing, the more hesitant I am. It's a good option, it seems, if all you want is a few copies of your book in print, and if you don't expect anyone other than your friends and family to buy it. To get a bigger readership, you have to do tons of marketing, which is not the kind of thing I like to do; and having a self-published book in your history won't impress any publishers later unless it was a big success--which most aren't. So...guess I keep sending out the queries!
Oct. 30th, 2006 11:31 pm (UTC)
You should lambaste them re. the correct Britishisms ala Tolkien with his nasturtian hang-up!

And while I, too, think that sex is a little mature for a YA audience, that is because I am a Prude and a Reactionary and I don't want anyone to have sex until they're forty, and then only for procreation and even then they shouldn't actually enjoy it. *smirk* However, Julia-Roberts-movie foreplay-dissolve sex is not, as far as I can tell, too mature for the current YA genre.
Nov. 3rd, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
I am indeed tempted to write them an email with the correction, especially since they spelled their own website wrong in their form rejection letter. But I don't know...bitterness apparently doesn't sell books. :)

I might try to start calling 'Relatively Honest' a chick-lit novel or something. I didn't originally think it was quite right for high schoolers either. Not that they wouldn't read it, but we can pretend.
Nov. 3rd, 2006 07:15 pm (UTC)
Chick-lit is the category I would put the book in if it were my call. I can see it rubbing elbows with The Devil Wears Prada and The Nanny Diaries easily. It seems to me like what I think they're calling a "beach book" now, though I may be misunderstanding the term.

I can see highschoolers reading and enjoying it, but I would have to say that I wouldn't let my own thirteen-year-old read it, I'd save it for when they were a little more mature.
Nov. 4th, 2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
Yeah, 13-year-olds are really not the intended audience. Daniel isn't quite, how should we put it, a worthy role model in some ways, bless 'im.
Nov. 5th, 2006 03:00 am (UTC)
Exactly. Daniel is better saved for a audience who can laugh at his escapades and enjoy his angst without having the urge to mimic them,
Nov. 7th, 2006 02:49 am (UTC)
By the way, having watched more Buffy now and finally gotten to "know" David Boreanaz, I see why you suggested him for Sinter. The shy-but-brooding demeanor and line delivery would be perfect. Of course, he's way too old now, but back in the day...ah well.
Nov. 7th, 2006 04:46 am (UTC)
Ah yes, Angel does "slightly baffled by life" so well. *squishes him*
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )