View Full Version : Chances of a new author breaking into the YA Fantasy market?

03-06-2019, 06:52 AM
I've noticed a few publishers stating they do not consider manuscripts in the science fiction / fantasy genre. I'd love to hear from an agent as to whether this is a reflection on the state of the market (i.e. not enough demand for books in these genres), and whether it would be harder for a new author in these genres to get signed.

I know a well written book is a well written book, but I also know that if an agent is struggling to find publishers for a particular genre they're unlikely to consider taking on a newcomer in that genre. I'm outlining a new YA novel which could easily work as either Urban Fantasy or Soft Fantasy and I want to stack the odds in my favour.

I understand that trends change and the market is dynamic, but it would be helpful to hear if agents are noticing a decline or slowing in a particular genre. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

03-06-2019, 01:03 PM
Publishers are usually broken down into smaller imprints who specialise in certain genres. So Del Rey is an imprint of Penguin, for example, and Saga is an imprint of Simon and Schuster.

If they say they don't take submissions from that genre, then that's simply because they don't specialise in them. Imprints don't tend to change focus because that sort of defeats the point of an imprint iyswm.

If you are searching for publishers, you likely won't encounter most imprints because they are simply not geared towards being accessible to authors. (For example, searching for publishers won't turn up results for 47North.) Agents do know imprints and editors, though and how to submit stuff and where.

Re your broader question, there is no point chasing trends because things change all the time. This time last year I had people telling me to rewrite my adult weird fantasy into YA fantasy. Now suddenly the YA fantasy market has gotten a lot tougher and adult weird is sort of back in. It's a truism, but you are better off making it as best you can and seeing what happens.

03-10-2019, 04:47 AM
(i.e. not enough demand for books in these genres)

Look on bookshelves. If there are three titles in a genre, there's not a lot of demand. If there are 300, there's more demand. Every genre can be successful for new authors.


03-11-2019, 04:22 AM
You might find your agent will position your work where it needs to be positioned - call it Contemporary with Magical Realist elements or Fairy Tale retellings, which are fairly perennial.

03-11-2019, 07:27 PM
I pitched my YA Fantasy novel to an agent last September at a conference. She told me that YA Fantasy is a tough market right now, because it's over-saturated. After the vampire craze, there was a dystopian craze and there's been a fantasy craze since then.

IMO, there will ALWAYS be a market for fantasy books, but I'm guessing that agents and publishers are a little more hesitant to sign fantasy books unless they are truly groundbreaking.

It will be hard to find an agent willing to take a chance on a new author with a fantasy book, but not impossible.

03-11-2019, 08:19 PM
Selling a book has nothing to do with "chance" or improving the "odds". Write a fresh, compelling story that an agent or editor can fall in love with and champion.

Ignore trends. By the time you finish a trend book, a new trend will have taken its place. All the "new" books in a store were bought 18-24 months ago. I was told my "trend" was over, but I had a fresh take on it and snagged a multi-book contract back in the day -- off the slush pile, no agent.

Write a story about characters you are passionate about. Readers can tell when you're phoning it in. Focus on good writing first and selling it after the book is done.

David Odle
03-14-2019, 01:38 PM
What you're seeing is what that agent specializes in. Typically, they'll specialize in the type of books they like to read (though not always... that said, my experience with an agent that didn't specialize in what I wrote didn't go so well).
As an example, I cannot read romance novels. Can't stand 'em. If I were an agent, I would state "no romance novels". It has everything to do with what they're passionate about and can recognize as good or bad, plus the editors and connections they have.

Good luck!