Naturally, it didn't take me long to figure it all out. To place my cold finger on the very pulse of what's wrong with the book market out there. Let's share, shall we?
First of all, there is the fact that it's a book market in the first place, and not a story market. In the 3D world of print, it's name authors, slick covers, and trends. The content is somewhat immaterial. Now, I'm guessing, here. Reaching. But I daresay the bulk of those mass market hard and softcover copies of "Twilight" and the Harry Potter series were sold at Wal-Mart.
The Young Adult market. What that means is a sort of captive audience, provided you stay within certain guidelines. So this new category of literature is misnamed from the start. Why someone stuck the word "adult" in there, I couldn't tell you.
Ok, so it's not for young adults. Is it written by young adults, then?
Nope. Invariably, it's all written by a forty-eight year old divorced woman with children. Possibly the same woman.
So we have non-young adults dictating to young adults, who aren't in fact adults, what their tastes are. Well, so what, you say, their peers aren't really a generation of writers. Someone has to write for the children (and call it Young Adult fiction).
It's not bad in the least, on the outside. Young Adult imagines a Lewis Carol era where you began to read books around the same time that you got a learner's permit to drive a carriage.
Here's where it affects the writer. There is a growing rift between the YA market and contemporary fiction. You will increasingly find that some sites will not review anything that doesn't meet the standards of YA fiction. They can't risk offending their primary market, the non-adult young adults. More to the point, the parents of the hypothetical book reader in question.
"So?" you ask.
I'm just sayin' it's on, that's all. That hefty chunk of the print world can be achieved if you can write a truly compelling story and narrow your aims to meet the demands of the distributors. But if you want to turn the ebook market into an Oprah at the check-out line impulse purchase for children, stick to the print world.
The ebook scene is kind of nice in that the enthusiasts got here before the mass market did, which is why we have great sites such as Goodreads. But there is a battle brewing, to be sure. So it's worth keeping an eye on, and determining on which side your own writing leans.
My advice? Branch out, and release titles for both markets. Pure business cunning, sure, but it's also a good exercise for an author. Gonzo writer? Try and write a PG novel. YA author? Let's see you write like a big girl, now.
Besides, YA or not, we can all agree the real enemy is bad writing and editing. And that is something you definitely can't find at Wal-Mart.