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How much is too much? YA/NA/A

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message 1: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Wright (everealm) | 12 comments In your opinion, what is an acceptable level of sex or violence in a fantasy series for each: YA/NA/A?

I am about to release the second book of my fantasy-romance series. The first book has received pretty good reviews, but I have had trouble deciding who to market the book to. The first book has a moderate level of sex and violence. The sex scenes are not 50 shades, but they are more descriptive than Nora Roberts. And the violence is not Game of Thrones graphic, but it certainly is not Harry Potter. My sex is sex and my bad guys are bad guys (you are supposed to hate them... it's kind of the point). There are wizards, fairies, imps, kings, queens, castles. I've tried to include everything that I like to read about and I have so much I want to do with the series, but I worry that if I market it to the wrong crowd, I may end up with a lot of bad reviews when they probably shouldn't have read it in the first place. Does that make sense?

Some YA readers like it, but I worry that many may not realize what they are about to read because my synopsis is a little soft. Should I beef it up with more intense phrasing? I don't want to scare anyone.. :)

At the same time, NA is such a misunderstood genre, that I'm not really sure if most readers understand what to expect from books in that genre. Then again, I've found that there are a lot more people who consider themselves to be YA than NA or just A.

I am running a review query and book tour through YA Bound and have had great success, so far. But the fact that they are YA readers (hence the name YA Bound), I hope the readers read the "Adult content" warning before signing up. From my understanding, most YA readers are late teens/early twenties? Granted, I was reading Nora Roberts and Terry Goodkind in high school, but I realize that not everyone does.

I once heard about a website that rates books based on their level of graphicness (is that a word?), but I don't remember what site it was.

So I'm curious, what do you consider to be too dark or graphic for YA and is there really a market for NA?

P.S. I'm so sorry to have practically written a novel, above!

~J.D.


message 2: by Annie (new)

Annie Matthews (anniebmatthews) | 22 comments To be honest, I think that most teens are able to put down a book if they find it too much for them. After all, this is a skill we all learn online.
Personally, I think it's more about ensuring that in those sex/violence scenes, that the female characters are not being manipulated/coerced etc as is sometimes seen in romance. I don't think those are healthy messages and can be damaging.


message 3: by Annie (new)

Annie Matthews (anniebmatthews) | 22 comments I was following a YA twitter chat the other week and the overall feedback from readers was that they felt disconnected from YA when it feels like it's the author's fantasy version of their own teen years. Ie, we're not all super cool, confident and ripped with muscles in high school. Sex, or lack of it, didn't really come up.


message 4: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 6 comments Annie wrote: "I was following a YA twitter chat the other week and the overall feedback from readers was that they felt disconnected from YA when it feels like it's the author's fantasy version of their own teen years..."

True about that. When I shopped around a YA fantasy I finally had time to clean up and edit, I had complaints about the level of violence and sexual harassment in the story. I had to inform the readers it was based on my teen years which happened to be that violent and I wrote the story at the time as a way of coping with bullying. So not everyone's HS experience was sunshine and rainbows. -_-

It's a complicated issue and I too have a hard time gauging what's "appropriate" for YA or if I should bump it to NA. Most of my characters are between 16 and 25....


message 5: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Wright (everealm) | 12 comments Annie- I completely agree that women aren't always portrayed in a healthy way. And I have definitely read books where everyone was perfect (perfect bodies, perfect car, perfect life) and can see what you mean about stories of unrealistic high school fantasies!

K.P.- I actually had a reader tell me that my 'first kiss' scene in my prologue was too racy for my teenage characters. Umm.. what? I ignored them, but it did make me wonder why people think all teenagers have the same experiences. Some teens live through darker times than others and I'm sorry you had to experience that, yourself. But being brave enough to write about it is great!


message 6: by Annie (new)

Annie Matthews (anniebmatthews) | 22 comments Agree K,P and patronizing teenagers by assuming they lack life experience [positive or negative], or that they need to be censored, is what disconnects many young adults from the YA genre.
It's definitely worth reading the #yachat threads and #diversereads. Oh, and there was also a #yaneedsmore a while back. I've found I've changed my viewpoint a lot and I think my second novel is better for it. [well, I hope it is!!!]


message 7: by Alyson (new)

Alyson Stone (alysonserenastone) | 194 comments I do think that everything needs to be kept realistic. Times are a lot darker now.

I do agree with you on the age group. It does seem like most young adult readers are late teens, early twenties. I'm almost 23 and I mostly read young adult.


message 8: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Wright (everealm) | 12 comments Serena- You may be the perfect one to ask! Would you still be able to enjoy a book if it had more graphic scenes than you may have been expecting? I assume you'd have to like everything else about the book (characters, plot, writing, etc.) first...


message 9: by Donnielle (new)

Donnielle Tyner (donnielletyner) | 12 comments J.D.W. - I am a little worried about the second installment of my series as well, there is quite a bit of violence. I'm not sure many readers would be open to what I'm offering, but I believe in truth. There is nothing in my book that isn't happening to others in this world today. Teens and adults alike do not need to close their eyes to violence.

On that note, I will have to agree with Annie about manipulation. I believe that teens and women in their 20's need more representation of what a healthy, loving relationship is like. Sex is a natural progression of such. It all depends on the character. They might believe on waiting for marriage or waiting for someone who feels right. I believe a sex scene in a YA novel can be sexy without being graphic. I think the more graphic sex scenes should be labeled NA or at the very least have a warning statement in your synopsis.


message 10: by J.D. (new)

J.D. Wright (everealm) | 12 comments Andrea wrote: "J.D. wrote: "Annie- I completely agree that women aren't always portrayed in a healthy way. And I have definitely read books where everyone was perfect (perfect bodies, perfect car, perfect life) a..."

Thank you! I hope you like it and take it easy on a newbie. ;)
Congratulations on being this week's featured author in this group!!!


message 11: by K.P. (new)

K.P. Merriweather (kp_merriweather) | 6 comments I'm still working out the kinks. I'm publishing works i wrote as a teen and keep running into marketing problems. my only holdup is what is considered too dark and violent (already mentioned before) as well as slang (it's 20 years old!) so adults my age and older get it but hate on it. my intended audience (teens, young adults) don't really get it but think it's okay. am i really making a big deal over nothing? i would like to move more copies... :3


message 12: by M.A. (new)

M.A. Nichols (manichols) Your question is a bit of a puzzler. Mostly, because it's very subjective. Our perception of reality and what is acceptable behavior is shaped by our experiences and the world we've encountered. For a very conservative person, it's unrealistic and inappropriate to have kids having sex all over the place, because in their experience, kids wait until at least college or marriage to jump into bed. Whereas a liberal personality would look at chaste teens and think it's unrealistic to think kids aren't having sex and want the world described in it's gritty glory.

Generally, my view is that YA, NA, and Adult novels are broken down by the age of the main characters; YA novels are where the lead characters are in high school, NA is when they're in college, and Adult is everything older than that. Content wise, I feel like YA should be more on the PG-13 level, whereas NA and Adult can be up to R-rated. And remember, PG-13 and R-rated movies have the same type of content (sex, violence, language), it's simply the level of description that throws it into the R-rated category.

In the end, if you're looking to publish your novels traditionally and go through a publisher, I think you have to pay more attention to labels, because a publisher generally wants an easy-to-label novel. However, if you're self publishing, I say write the story you want to write and then put a warning in the synopsis if there's content that might be inappropriate for the YA crowd.


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