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View Full Version : Writing for a fantasy-loving audience, but~



Jasmine Shea
08-13-2014, 07:33 PM
But

I'm fairly certain the age range for my novel is college-aged readers, which is a problem. I just inherently write for people between the ages of 18 and, I don't know, 26? Unfortunately, in my experience, college students don't read very often.... and understandably so. They have plenty of things to read for classes, and when that happens, it's hard to remember that reading can be a fun thing, too.

That being said, can "fantasy readers" be an audience? Does there have to be an age-specific audience, like YA? (I'm a little worried about my novel being classified as YA - in the first place, I don't read it.)

Or, does none of this matter?

Probably I'm worrying over nothing.

NRoach
08-13-2014, 07:38 PM
If you write it, they will read.

There's an audience everywhere.

rwm4768
08-13-2014, 09:04 PM
First of all, 18-26 is not YA. It is New Adult (though it's debatable whether NA will stick around or expand into all genres). I'd just call it fantasy. Fantasy readers will read about characters of many ages. You don't have to limit yourself to a specific age category.

SamCoulson
08-13-2014, 09:04 PM
Also, you may well find that your 'intended' audience isn't the demographic who likes your work the most. My mother wrote a historical novel about a woman's life on the Wyoming frontier in the late 19th century. Heavy on themes of faith, and god, etc..

She had assumed that her target audience was 40+ school-marms' like herself, but she's found that 8/10 of the people who approach her about how much they loved the book were retired men.

The moral? Write your story and worry about making it good more than anything else.

Chasing the Horizon
08-13-2014, 09:09 PM
How is your writing specifically targeting people in that age group? I'd say the majority of fantasy characters are in their 20s, but that doesn't mean the books appeal more to people in their 20s than other age groups. It's just a common age for exciting things to happen to people and so a common age for protagonists.

YA deals with specific "coming of age" issues that are more unique to young people, but I'm having trouble thinking of what is a unique issue for 18-26yos, especially in a fantasy setting. Even a book set in college could easily appeal to older people, who presumably remember what it was like to be in college.

E.F.B.
08-13-2014, 09:12 PM
But

I'm fairly certain the age range for my novel is college-aged readers, which is a problem. I just inherently write for people between the ages of 18 and, I don't know, 26? Unfortunately, in my experience, college students don't read very often.... and understandably so. They have plenty of things to read for classes, and when that happens, it's hard to remember that reading can be a fun thing, too.

That depends on the individual. I'm sure there are plenty of college students who don't read very often because they don't have time or they forget that it can be fun. However, there are just as many, like myself, who love to read and purposefully set aside time to read for fun.

Heck, I'd go insane if I never got to read for fun. It's like my personal, little brain-vacation from all the facts and figures that I have to learn in college.:)



That being said, can "fantasy readers" be an audience? Does there have to be an age-specific audience, like YA? (I'm a little worried about my novel being classified as YA - in the first place, I don't read it.)

Or, does none of this matter?

Probably I'm worrying over nothing.

I'm hardly an expert on this, so you may want to wait for replies from more knowledgeable people, but my understanding is that age classifications are more of a marketing issue than anything else. Unless you self-publish, your main concern should simply be to write the story you want to write. Let the publisher/marketer/whomever it is that determines age classifications worry about the other stuff.

Jasmine Shea
08-13-2014, 10:22 PM
Thanks for all your responses~ I greatly appreciate it.

Although, for the record, I knew that the age range I listed was NA, and not YA. I don't know much about YA, but I thought maybe some things about my story, like my narrator being 16, would cause my novel to be labeled at YA. (All the other main characters are between 20 and 26.)

Roxxsmom
08-13-2014, 11:36 PM
But

I'm fairly certain the age range for my novel is college-aged readers, which is a problem. I just inherently write for people between the ages of 18 and, I don't know, 26? Unfortunately, in my experience, college students don't read very often.... and understandably so. They have plenty of things to read for classes, and when that happens, it's hard to remember that reading can be a fun thing, too.

That being said, can "fantasy readers" be an audience? Does there have to be an age-specific audience, like YA? (I'm a little worried about my novel being classified as YA - in the first place, I don't read it.)

Or, does none of this matter?

There are books with children and teens as protagonists that are aimed at (primarily) an adult audience. ASoIaF comes to mind.

I'd actually like it if there were more novels out there with protagonists who aren't in their "primes," so to speak. Especially women who are 40 and up. But this doesn't mean I don't read novels with younger protagonists. Lots of fantasy novels have characters in their twenties, and I've been reading them since I was in my teens and twenties. I'll still read them now if the character and their issues resonate with me now as someone who is, shall we say, not in her twenties anymore,

As for most college students not reading for pleasure--this is doubtlessly true, but remember that die-hard fantasy fans are a minority group in every age bracket. The reason fantasy is a lucrative subgenre is because the relatively small number of people who read it tend to be very habitual and loyal fans. They read a lot and a lot of what they read is fantasy (of their preferred subgenre). A lot of the time when I see a students (I teach at a college) in one of my classes with his or her nose buried in a book that clearly isn't for school, it's a fantasy or SF novel.

I managed to get a lot of fantasy reading done on weekends and during school breaks during my college and grad school years and discovered many authors I love to this day.

I'd say that fantasy fans (and also, fans of a specific subgenre within fantasy, such as epic versus urban) is definitely a marketing demographic that transcends age to some extent.

veinglory
08-14-2014, 12:06 AM
What about your writing would sudden lose appeal for people past their mid-twenties? It is not like us middle-aged people refuse to reader about characters of younger ages.

Roxxsmom
08-14-2014, 01:02 AM
What about your writing would sudden lose appeal for people past their mid-twenties? It is not like us middle-aged people refuse to reader about characters of younger ages.

Reverse carousel, darn it. Everyone under 30 must report.

Oh, wait...

Lord of Chaos
08-14-2014, 01:29 AM
As has been said by others, having a character (or many) below 18 doesn't turn the book into YA, just as having characters aged 18-26 doesn't immediately make a book unreadable to those outside that age range.

I started reading Wheel of Time when I was 15 and continued buying the books all the way through college, same with every book David Gemmel put out and neither author had anyone under 18. If it's good, and your readers want to read it, being in school won't keep them from doing so.

Liosse de Velishaf
08-14-2014, 03:15 AM
Many college students read. Many. And a lot of those read fantasy. You'll be fine in terms of audience, probably. Just write the story.

Brightdreamer
08-14-2014, 03:48 AM
Keep in mind that not everyone in their early/mid-20s is in college.

I'm adding a vote to "write it"; as has been said, just because your characters are a certain age doesn't mean your audience will be. I say this as a reader in her late 30's who still reads some YA/kids books... and who couldn't afford college (and still can't, dang it.)

WornTraveler
08-14-2014, 04:53 AM
I think you have more leeway in fantasy for sure. Wizard's First Rule had a character arguably in the age range and it's been read by plenty of people (all the more impressive for the fact it's a real doorstop of a book).

Fantasy may have a smaller base than say, romance, but their appetite seems just as ravenous. They'll read about an eight year old, an octogenarian, or a toad assuming it's well written, engaging material.

On that point, a lot of sci-fi/fantasy readers probably continue right through college. In for a penny in for a pound.

I wouldn't classify as YA or NA. It's a little older than YA (I think, I write adult so not sure), and NA, meh, I'm just personally wishywashy on that. Seems to me there's little difference between a new adult and an adult. Assuming it got published it'd prob end up on the same giant Wall of Sci-Fi/Fantasy anyways.

Patrick.S
08-14-2014, 05:22 AM
Don't worry about trying to write for ALL the peoples. If it's true that you manage to target 18-25yo fantasy readers, that is still a huge niche. "Everyone" isn't really an audience you can target.

CrastersBabies
08-14-2014, 08:44 AM
I don't know what you mean that you "write only for 18-26 year olds." How do you know this?

Dryad
08-14-2014, 08:58 AM
I think you're worrying about nothing. First, write your story. Next, consider how to sell your story. Unless you self-pub, in the end the marketing people will do their marketing magic.

If it helps, when did you last see a reader age range written on a book cover? Once you're out of grade school age groups it's just not a thing. Don't worry about it.

WhitePawn
08-14-2014, 09:12 PM
I'm having a hard time understanding the OP. I started reading "fat" paperbacks in the fifth grade and I wasn't alone, though admittedly there were still folks reading Babysitter's Club. The Talisman, other King & Straub works, Dune series, Tolkien, and that god-awful Flowers in the Attic series all the girls were reading...done before the eight grade.

I've re-read some in my twenties. And again, in my thirties. I've read The Talisman at least 5 times through the years. I can't re-read the Shannara stuff, though I liked it in High School I think it's awful now. So sure, growth and knowledge do affect some works.

I think if the tale is well crafted, age isn't going to matter.

CrastersBabies
08-14-2014, 09:47 PM
I'm having a hard time understanding the OP. I started reading "fat" paperbacks in the fifth grade and I wasn't alone, though admittedly there were still folks reading Babysitter's Club. The Talisman, other King & Straub works, Dune series, Tolkien, and that god-awful Flowers in the Attic series all the girls were reading...done before the eight grade.

I've re-read some in my twenties. And again, in my thirties. I've read The Talisman at least 5 times through the years. I can't re-read the Shannara stuff, though I liked it in High School I think it's awful now. So sure, growth and knowledge do affect some works.

I think if the tale is well crafted, age isn't going to matter.

Flowers in the Attic turned me into a voracious reader. :) I also remember sneaking into the library in 6th grade and reading Stephen King books. And Judy Blume's "Forever," and "Audrey Rose," and "The Exorcist."

The original question still confuses me. Dan Brown, for example, seems to write at a 4th grade level (if we're being generous), and yet he writes "adult books."

Dryad
08-15-2014, 03:10 AM
I think what the question comes down to is that a writer should know her audience and should aim the writing at a particular age group as part of identifying that audience. However, the intended audience is not necessarily the end audience. Identifying and writing for a specific audience is certainly a writing skill to keep in mind, but shouldn't be something that stops the writing process.

Roxxsmom
08-15-2014, 03:37 AM
Flowers in the Attic turned me into a voracious reader. :) I also remember sneaking into the library in 6th grade and reading Stephen King books. And Judy Blume's "Forever," and "Audrey Rose," and "The Exorcist."

The original question still confuses me. Dan Brown, for example, seems to write at a 4th grade level (if we're being generous), and yet he writes "adult books."

Reading level is a strange animal. First of all, there are different calculators. The same writer can get different levels for the same piece.

They seem to utilize things like sentence length, word length, paragraph length and so on as variables. Writing style will influence reading level. Writers who favor shorter words, sentences and paragraphs will get lower reading levels.

Plugging passages of one's own writing into these different calculators can yield WTF? results if you write for adults. They don't take the obscurity of the words used into account, for one thing. Nor the content. Just the numbers.


"Fuck" is a less "adult" word than "delicious."


I plugged my post (everything above this line) into a calculator site, and got these results:
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flesch-Kincaid#Flesch.E2.80.93Kincaid_Grade_Level) 5.3 Gunning-Fog Score (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunning-Fog_Index) 8 Coleman-Liau Index (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coleman-Liau_Index) 12.7 SMOG Index (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SMOG_Index) 6 Automated Readability Index (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automated_Readability_Index) 5.9 Average Grade Level 7.6













Interestingly enough, my fiction (definitely written for adults) usually falls between grades 4-6. I don't tend to go for complex sentences with lots of sub clauses in my fiction. And I tend towards short paragraphs, especially in dialog and action-heavy passages. The first chapter of my novel got an average grade level of around 5.6, but some of the calculators put it as low as 4th grade. So Dan Brown's stuff isn't really that strange.

For giggles and grins, everyone try plugging segments of your prose into this site (https://readability-score.com/).

The point is, reading level really doesn't predict audience. It's a useful tool, I suppose, if you're writing for a younger crowd. But if you're writing for adults, content, themes, plot complexity, and characters are more important at pegging it as "for adults" than a score on a reading level calculator. No one is going to reject a novel because it "read too easily."

NRoach
08-15-2014, 03:58 AM
My prose ranks around 3.4. Lower than I expected, but the excerpt I used is very much a work in progress, so I'm sure it'll change.

CrastersBabies
08-15-2014, 06:05 AM
I didn't put Dan Brown's stuff into any deal, I just think he writes for a 4th grade reading level. :)

Concepts might be considerably higher, but overall, I'm pretty sure I could give one of his books to my 2nd grader and have her muddle through the first page no problem.

But, does that mean it's written for 2nd graders? Nope. It's a commercial fiction novel with simplistic writing. It gets the job done. It's plot-driven.

So, maybe more clarification from the OP. I dunno.

Jacob_Wallace
08-15-2014, 06:23 AM
College students read books all the time. College students always find time to enjoy hobbies like drinking, gaming, and reading. Every age demographic has things to tie up their time, yet more time is always found. Students have studies. Adults have jobs and spouses and children. The only demographic that has tons of time on their hands is the retired.

Liosse de Velishaf
08-15-2014, 06:30 AM
I did the test, and I got 15th grade for my upper level college course papers, 4th to 5th for my middle-grade prose, 7th to 11th for my blog posts, and middleschool to highschool level for stuff intended to be young adult through adult works.


Guess I need to step up my game a bit...

E.F.B.
08-15-2014, 06:52 PM
I have one almost-a-whole-chapter written for my WIP so I put some sections from it into the test. One section with almost no dialog was given an average grade level of 8.8 while two different sections with significant amounts of dialog were both 5.6.

I'm not sure I understand what that means, but it's interesting.