February #InkRipples - Genre To YA or not to YA

This month we are exploring the topic of genre. Last week I shared a varied list of favored go-to genres of many of my Facebook friends and fans (yeah, I hate that that term too!). Today I want to talk about Young Adult.

 It’s NOT a genre.

I know. I know. BUT…?! ß I’m with you on that.

See, young adult is a target audience. When you write young adult (as I do) you are writing for readers between the ages of 12 and 18 or those who like to read books written for that target audience. Middle grade is a target audience. Adult is a target audience.

Fiction is a genre. A genre I write, as a matter of fact.

Wait – did you just fall asleep on me? Yep, bet you did. Fiction is a stupidly big category that tells a potential reader nothing about your work. So instead I respond that I write fantasy and contemporary fiction. But you know what? I usually qualify it by saying YOUNG ADULT fantasy and contemporary fiction. As do many readers, as referenced in the extremely informal survey, which I published last week:

Young Adult Fantasy 2
Young Adult Romance1
YA Paranormal Romance1
Young Adult 4
Coming of Age 1

So in this example,
what exactly does Fiction mean
that Young Adults doesn't?
 I also find it interesting that even publishers ask for submissions in the young adult genre. Do they know it isn’t officially a genre? Absolutely. But as evidenced by the varied responses to my question, “What is your go-to genre?” readers consider young adult an entire category unto itself. They don’t necessarily care if it's an issues book or an urban fantasy as long as it is young adult. They want the young adult interpretation of drug abuse or fairies. They want the YA telling. Because YA has a different feel to it than its adult or middle grade counterparts. Read a paranormal book from those three different target audiences and you’ll find differences beyond the heat level of the relationships within. Middle grade will likely have a single story line. Maybe a sub plot or two, but nothing too complex. Young adult will likely have a faster pace than its adult counter part, which in my personal opinion is where YA shines. Relationships are equally complex, but the stakes are usually higher in YA (and mg, for that matter) The entire world or humanity is often threatened instead of just your family, position, personal world. So –to me, at least - identifying YA as a genre points more to the writing style of the book than the audience the book is targeting.

I’ve already admitted to being a genre dope, so please take my personal interpretations as just that – personal opinions, not official educational materials. Anyway, this is why I feel young adult is often considered a genre by readers and publishers. For those of you who are sticklers for the rules, please try to accept that in this the rules are blurred simply to define the writing style of the book in question.

What say you? Does it make you growl aloud whenever you see young adult listed as a genre or do you get it? Or perhaps you don’t even care? Let’s hear your personal opinions on the blurring of genre definitions.

If you missed them last week, please visit Katie Carroll's post on YA in genre and Kristine Hall's post on exploding genres. Both GREAT posts directly related to my meandering thoughts.

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.


  1. Oh, my poor brain is on overload. I really care little about what a book is called. In fact, I pay little attention to the genre. A few pages in and I'll most likely know, not that it matters to me. I see the need for genre though. When an author submits to a publisher/editor/agent, they need to know if the place they're sending even publishes their type of book. It is complicated, but I'm not going to worry about it. Great post. I understand better now. And I adore the cat in the picture. Have a great week.

    1. I agree that there is a need to define, but not a desire. It can hurt my head trying to figure out where some of my own books fit!

  2. I totally get why many people say YA when asked what is there favorite genre. Though, as you know from my post, I disagree that it's actually a genre. It's an age category, and a perfectly reasonable way to categorize a book, but not all book categories are genres. Though I'm not gonna call anyone out when they say YA is their favorite genre because I get what they mean. :)

    1. "Their" not "there" in that first sentence. *blushes shamefully*

    2. Authors are people too, but I hate when I make those little common mistakes. And I make them A LOT! Ugh.

  3. When I first looked into publishing I totally thought of YA as a genre and expected to see it listed. A big shock when it wasn't there. I had a nice moment of panic on what was I going to do. Eventually, I figured it out. LOL

    1. Oh my gosh, I can imagine your panic! Eek. "But...I wrote a book..." Lol.


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