Discussion: Defining genre & comps for YA

OK, I'm going to bite the bullet and put my whole query here even though I've done a previous query thread. Apologies for not listing title—I’m really superstitious and will eventually tell people the title, lol. I'm nearly done with revisions and it's off to Beta and querying soon, so the time is approaching!

Genre: Fantasy

Most 19-year-old guys don’t want to find out they’re the reincarnation of a dead girl. Especially when she was betrothed to a male fairy—and the deal’s still binding.

But that’s what happens to Avery when Hal, a mysterious and mercurial young man, claims Avery’s the reincarnation of his dead girlfriend and absconds with him to another world. Then there’s the prophecy that says they’re supposed to have a child…

Hal’s enemies will stop at nothing to make sure that prophecy is never fulfilled, and keeping his identity a secret might be the only thing keeping Avery alive.

Now as they flee across a harsh alien wilderness, perused by assassins and hostile armies, Avery’s having flashbacks from before he was even born, and not just of one dead girl, but several! Lives lived in Saxon villages, Emir’s palaces and Victorian boarding schools. And always, he’s the girl.

Every second he’s with Hal, Avery’s growing more confused about who he really is and how he feels. If he’s not careful, he might lose himself completely. He’s trying to fight it but, when it’s your destiny, how can anyone resist _______?

________ is a dark, frank, at times satirical exploration of identity and desire that should appeal to fans of the obsessive, confessional literary snark of FIGHT CLUB and lovers of elevated erotic fiction like CAPTIVE PRINCE.

  • So I have a few issues. One is genre. I vacillate between calling this NA Fantasy Romance, YA urban fantasy, Adult fantasy, etc.I really don't know what this is anymore. It's written in a YA mode, has graphic sex but isn't erotica, it's very plot driven, but more about emotional growth, quite a heavy lit “masculine” first person prose style. The writing and thought process is very contemporary, but half the book takes place in a kind of high fantasy setting. Sooo, muh? My issues at this point with labeling it NA is that I think that reads as "light reading" for most people, and is typically not highish fantasy. I’ve cut it down tremendously but with world-building, it’s going to come in a little long for YA and probably would be categorized as Adult fic. I worry putting fantasy romance over emphasizes “Romance” but leaving it out under emphasizes it. It is a romance, but doesn’t have enough sex to please people looking for erotica.

  • The book clearly has LGBTQ themes but I think of it as a mainstream book, not niche, don't want to over-egg those elements. I struggle with comps for this reason-- there aren't a lot. Both books I’ve picked feature a central and fraught male friendship at their core. Captive Prince is almost the only semi-recognizable M/M literary romance comp and that’s now being marketed as high-fantasy. Fight Club and stuff by Brett Easton Ellis are probably closest in terms of writing style, so in a fantasy romance, you can see why that’s a bit, um—how do you comp that!? I feel these comps are close but don't know if people will translate that in their heads.

  • Third, the word "fairy" is really sticking in my craw. Not because it isn't true-- but in the context of the book it's used as a slur and somewhat for comedy purposes. It's not what “they” call themselves and explaining what they do is out of the purview of a query-- too elaborate. My issue with "fairies" is I think editors/agents see them as a bit "done" as far as market/querying goes and even if they bite, I might attract the wrong kind of interest (too young). If you care at all about Celtic fairy mythology you'll be sorely disappointed in this book! It has no fairy court/Midsummer's elements, etc.

  • I might just be over thinking it.

/r/YAwriters Thread