Write Down, Sell Out.

Almost everyone who writes YA/MG gets asked at some point when they’re going to go on and write “real” books. It’s almost like a rite of passage, that question, along with first bad review, etc.

But I’ve stopped being asked that. Or at least, the question has given way to a NEW question.

Me: I write YA.
Them: Oh, that was a smart choice, because that’s where all the money is.

Well, two things.

1. Obviously it isn’t a question, but it’s a STATEMENT OF WORTH, if you will, which puts it in with the first question.

2. It seems on the surface less offensive. But it bothers me me.

It makes the assumption that I write what I write because of the money. That my writing YA was a CALCULATED move to get rich (much like my teacher telling all the students that genre fiction was created using a mad-lib format, easy money, so we should all quit school and go fill in the blanks). It also shows an ignorance about the industry, the super-saturation that makes YA even more competitive right now, the real reasons to write YA, the merits of well-written YA…it blankets all of these with the insinuation that I WRITE YA BECAUSE IT’S WHERE THE MONEY IS.

And I think that bothers me worse. But of course it’s not an either/or, is it? I still get asked the first question regularly enough, so now I’m accused of BOTH writing down AND selling out.

Lovely.

You know what? I adore writing YA. I write it because it inspires me, because the readers inspire me, because the community inspires me. I could sit here and explain, parse out every motive I have for writing what I do the way I do. But I won’t. I don’t NEED to. Because the people who matter, the ones who read this blog, they already understand. They get it. You get it.

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20 thoughts on “Write Down, Sell Out.

  1. Anonymous says:

    Love this rant! I write YA because I love the genre and, honestly, all but one of my ideas that pop into my head are YA. I don’t sit down and try to think up YA ideas because that’s where the money is. In fact, there’s a part of me worried about how fickle trends can be, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to change what I write just to follow what’s out there.
    You rock!

  2. WORD.
    Those tweets about your professor gave me the ANGRIES.

  3. susanadrian says:

    I hate this too!!
    I am also developing a deep dislike for writers who naturally and by interest write for adults, in whatever genre, and then all of a sudden they’re like “oh, let’s write YA! Because that’s what’s selling!” Which makes it harder for those of us who want to write YA because WE LOVE IT AND ALWAYS HAVE.
    Grr.

  4. I get it. =)
    I write both YA and adult urban fantasy… I couldn’t control my ideas and how inspiration strikes if I tried. I write, because I don’t think I could live without putting that madhouse of crazy character ressiding in my head down on paper. Because life without writing would be sad.
    I don’t deny, that it would be the most amazing thing in the world if I were able to support myself with my writing and make writing a full time job, aka get money for it. But money is not the crux of the matter. I will still write, even if I’ll never get published in my life.
    I write, because I love it.

  5. jemacleod says:

    Just yesterday I had a convo about writing “for kids” grr. The mom even told me her son reads “adult books” as if YA wasn’t good enough for her 13 year old. Gah!

  6. lynseynewton says:

    Victoria, I wouldn’t let it bother you and here is why:
    YOU know why you write YA, *I* know why you write YA and your fans/readers know why you write YA. Everyone else doesn’t actually know why you write YA UNLESS THEY ASK so they have no business commenting.
    Hope that makes sense 🙂

  7. jongibbs says:

    {sigh} some people 😦

  8. catie_james says:

    I remember the day I “quit” my YA “pulp” fiction. I was almost sixteen, sitting in my high-brow (now I think of it as artsy-fartsy) cross between English Lit-Philosophy-World Religions class, reading a Christopher Pike or RL Stine novel when our exchange student from Hungary approached and asked about my book. I will *NEVER* forget the sneer of pure disdain on her face when she caught sight of my thin paperback with the title in mock blood-dripping letters and cheesy cover illustration.
    Then and there I vowed to never ever read a book that would earn such scorn. I went home and placed every YA paperback into a sack for Good Will. It was (roughly) twelve years before I dared venturing back into the YA section of any bookstore and once I did I was so angry with myself.
    Look at what I’d been denying myself all these years! Spectacular, engrossing, entertaining novels by unparalleled authors, and for what? Because some hoity-toity, prodigious snob thought she was too good for kids books?
    *That* was the day I decided to never again let anyone but me determine what was or wasn’t worth my time and attention. I’m so much happier because of it. 🙂

  9. writerjenn says:

    The annoying corollary is that everyone seems to think we are all rolling in diamond tennis bracelets, and our books are all TWILIGHT.

  10. veschwab says:

    Exactly. Write what you’re passionate about, what comes to you.

  11. veschwab says:

    Heh, most of what the prof says gives me the Angries and Muttered Curses.

  12. veschwab says:

    That is definitely something I’m skeptical about, adult authors transitioning to YA. Because it does crowd an already saturated industry even more, and makes it hard for new authors!!

  13. veschwab says:

    Of course, everyone wants to be able to do what they love AND make a living at it, but it’s not the driving force for most, and it shouldn’t be. Passion first, pay second 🙂

  14. veschwab says:

    UGH.
    That’s really all I have to say about that. I know SO many adults and parents who are now reading YA because they enjoy it, I try t remember that whenever I come against people like that. I explain to everyone that I write for everyone. It’s meant to appeal to YA as well as ANYONE who loves stories. YA is a category for the story, not the reader.

  15. veschwab says:

    It doesn’t bother me in that way. I feel for the most part beyond the need to defend and explain myself. The important people do know why I write, and appreciate it. But I MARVEL sometimes at the reactions lol.

  16. veschwab says:

    Yeah. Thank goodness there are so many wonderful people to counteract the effects of those “some people”.

  17. veschwab says:

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to say “No, not like Twilight.”

  18. veschwab says:

    Wow.
    You know, the fact is, there are lesser books in EVERY genre, in every age bracket. And there are WONDERFUL, LIFE-CHANGING books in every genre and age bracket. When we deny ourselves an entire genre based on the fact there are a few lesser books in it is so sad, because we miss out on so much!!
    I’m very, very glad you found your way back 🙂

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