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Purplehershey
07-11-2014, 05:26 AM
I've been working on a query for my manuscript and I'm having trouble deciding on the genre.

It's definitely a contemporary young adult novel, I know that for sure. The issue is that most of the story revolves around the main character's two moms. There is definitely young adult-esque, innocent romance involved, but the point of the story is not the fact that these two women are lesbians. In fact, the only time their sexual orientation comes up is during light and funny scenes.

So my question is, on my query should I classify the book as gay & lesbian? Would I add it so that it would read contemporary gay & lesbian young adult? That seems pretty lengthy.

What do you think?

Verlin
07-11-2014, 05:55 AM
If it were me, I wouldn't include it in the genre description, but I'd definitely mention it elsewhere. Clearly, it isn't a lesbian-themed story, per se. Even if it would be to your advantage, marketwise, to purport that it is, that would just come back to haunt you.

Osulagh
07-11-2014, 06:03 AM
Yeah, I second not throwing it out there like, "This is a YA Contemporary Gay book." If it matters to the story, it'll be in the synopsis within the query letter and I think the agent would be smart enough to put two and two together. Now, you fall into the problem of who to query to--as some agents don't work with gay/lesbian fiction, and some seek it.

But this conflicts with me...


It's definitely a contemporary young adult novel, I know that for sure. The issue is that most of the story revolves around the main character's two moms.

If the story revolves around the MC's two mothers, wouldn't the mothers be the MCs? And then, I would think if they're already mothers and their children are old enough to have their own narrative you'd identify as YA, then the mothers would be far past their adolescence.
Sorry, I can't see calling it a YA novel when it revolves around adult characters. If you're saying part of the story is made up of that, I'd question if you should have it in the story or not.

Purplehershey
07-11-2014, 07:31 AM
Sorry, I misspoke. I didn't mean to say the son was the MC, I meant to say he was the narrator. I would qualify all three of them as main characters. As far as the story goes: I understand your concerns Osulagh. I'm feeling quite torn about it myself. I'll try to explain it further in an effort to sort it out.

The point of view switches from the narrator, Charlie and a third person point of view. Charlie is 19. He's telling his mother's love story in an unidentified setting. All of the stories and memories he is sharing with the audience are ones that he is involved in. Somehow, it all comes back to him. At the end of the novel, the reader is given the information to realize that Charlie is telling this story at both of his mothers' funeral.

So while the subplots of each of the memories seem to focus on the mothers, beneath it all it is all about how Charlie has grown and developed through this all. YA does seem a little young for what I'm looking for, yet claiming it not to be doesn't seem right either.

ElaineA
07-11-2014, 08:02 AM
19 is really post-YA. And it seems YA books must revolve around the teen, not be a story about adults told by a teen. Is Charlie absolutely the focus of the book? If so, and if, during the narrative, he's under 18, then it's probably YA. If he's just telling the story of his life with his mother and the focus is their love affair, it might be Women's Fiction. Perhaps your betas can help you here.

I feel that YA must deal with things that teens deal with, have a certain voice and sensibility about it. If this is your story, you could easily just call it Contemporary YA and be done with it. As Verlin and Osulagh say, you can include the part about the mothers' love in the body of the query letter.

When you get 50 posts (and if you're feeling bold) you can post your letter in QLH and see how it reads to others here. In the mean time, you can scan through the posts in QLH (password: vista) and see if any of them clarify things for you. :)

Purplehershey
07-11-2014, 03:39 PM
Thanks for the help guys. I'll look around the other queries and see if I can find anyone else in a similar situation :)

Fizgig
07-11-2014, 07:05 PM
Purplehershey, sounds like a really interesting book! I can see why you're struggling to id genre. I agree with everyone that you should just id the genre and then explain the plot in your query letter.

J.Reid
07-13-2014, 08:42 AM
Which novels are you using as comp titles, and where are those books shelved? That's your category.

Wilde_at_heart
07-13-2014, 05:54 PM
Sorry, I misspoke. I didn't mean to say the son was the MC, I meant to say he was the narrator. I would qualify all three of them as main characters. As far as the story goes: I understand your concerns Osulagh. I'm feeling quite torn about it myself. I'll try to explain it further in an effort to sort it out.

The point of view switches from the narrator, Charlie and a third person point of view. Charlie is 19. He's telling his mother's love story in an unidentified setting. All of the stories and memories he is sharing with the audience are ones that he is involved in. Somehow, it all comes back to him. At the end of the novel, the reader is given the information to realize that Charlie is telling this story at both of his mothers' funeral.

So while the subplots of each of the memories seem to focus on the mothers, beneath it all it is all about how Charlie has grown and developed through this all. YA does seem a little young for what I'm looking for, yet claiming it not to be doesn't seem right either.

This sounds to me like Contemporary GBLT.

If there were supernatural/fantasy elements, then there might be room for confusion but this one seems fairly straight-forward to me.

Keep in mind that with YA it isn't just the age of the MC or about growing up, but also the narrative voice the story is told in, immediacy, etc. A snippet in SYW might help pinpoint it more if you do have doubts - you could even simply ask Does this read as YA to you? in that section and specify if you aren't interested in further crits, etc.

WeaselFire
07-13-2014, 07:57 PM
I've been working on a query for my manuscript and I'm having trouble deciding on the genre.
Then don't. You could mention that readers of such and such books would enjoy it, but there's no requirement you come up with a firm genre definition. If it's YA though, don't send a query to an agent who only reps memoirs or SciFi or anything it obviously doesn't fit.

Jeff

Purplehershey
07-14-2014, 03:19 AM
Alright, so I've gone back into my manuscript in an effort to determine who this book I am writing is actually for. What i've decided, with the help from you guys, as well as many hours of page flipping is that when I started it, I imagined it as YA.

But the manuscript I have in front of me somehow, at some point, veered off from that. Charlie (narrator) is is older than the typical YA narrator and therefore his point of view does not accurately reflect that of a YA. I realized that by placing the manuscript in a genre it didn't belong in I was sacrificing Charlie's voice from coming through authentically.

I've decided to go back and re-write certain parts so that it will reflect more of a contemporary GLBT, women's fiction, romance feel. Thanks a million for the help!

ElaineA
07-14-2014, 07:36 AM
Then don't. You could mention that readers of such and such books would enjoy it, but there's no requirement you come up with a firm genre definition. If it's YA though, don't send a query to an agent who only reps memoirs or SciFi or anything it obviously doesn't fit.

Jeff

This isn't accurate. I follow a bunch of agents. There is universal appeal to state a genre and get it right. Not to include the kitchen sink. To know what it is you've written. Here are back-to-back tweets from Maria Vicente from July 11:

"Too many queries list multiple (conflicting) genres instead of committing to one. OR they claim it doesn’t have a genre.

Publishing is a business & there are guidelines to follow. You need to know what you’re writing & who you’re writing for."

p.s. Sounds like a great plan, Purplehershey. Good luck and happy Editing! :D

alexaherself
07-14-2014, 10:05 PM
there's no requirement you come up with a firm genre definition.

Not having a defined genre is perhaps going to make it unappealing to agents because they know that that's going to make it unappealing to publishers. Publishers generally need a defined genre, because that's part of how they sell books.