Friday, June 8, 2007

The Humiliation of Petty Distinctions

What's your take on middle grade fiction these days? Some editors are saying it's underpublished right now. Does that mean it might be easier to sell a MG in the current market? And is MG still 8-12 year olds, or are things shifting up? My agent seems to feel that editors are more hungry for older MGs. But those good readers in 2nd-5th grade need novels to read too, don't they?
I'm a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to these designations. I just don't care what "chapter book," "middle grade," or "YA" are currently supposed to mean. Why don't we simply speak in terms of ages, or grades?

I'm also a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to "what's hot right now." (Ok, maybe I'm just generally a bit of a curmudgeon.) Your agent is right, more publishing is happening in the 10-and-up age groups, and chapter books for kids younger than 10 are a bit of an ugly stepchild to the rest of the list. But you're also right--there's no reason for this. It's dumb. All kids need books, and the more variety (of all sorts) we have, the better.

Moreover, I think most editors know this. We're looking for books of all lengths and all age groups because the most important thing is giving kids great literature that will get them excited about reading. Sometimes my boss will talk about balancing the spread of a list, and the reaction that I hide from her is: "Screw that!"

I do not care how many fricking chapter books vs picture books vs middle grades vs YAs are on our goddamned list as long as every single one of them is something awesome.

Alas, I'm not in charge...

... yet.


Anonymous said...

Time for a coup. I'll get the battering rams and catapaults, you get the great books.

The cuckoo flies at midnight. I repeat: The cuckoo flies at midnight.

Anonymous said...

Oh Janniel, you are too funny. Thanks for the laugh.

Anonymous said...

Psst. Take these sticky sweets. Throw them at the publishing'll keep them off your backs.

Good luck! God bless!