Hello gentle reader,
Recently I have been researching agents as I am getting ready to query my YA High Fantasy novel The Last Queen. And when I check out literary agents’ websites to find out what genre they represent, I often find a note along those lines: “represents YA Fantasy, all subgenres, but no high fantasy please”. And I want to bang my head on my keyboard.
When asked why they don’t represent YA High Fantasy, literary agents will often give you one of these two answers:
- The market for YA High Fantasy is very narrow: only a handful of readers buy those books.
- The agent herself doesn’t read this genre.
The second answer is fair enough, and I wouldn’t want to be represented by an agent who doesn’t “get” my book anyway. But the first one? I beg to differ.
I went to check the Amazon’s Best-Seller List this morning. Not 6 months ago. THIS MORNING. And in the Top 100 Books for Teens, you find authors like: J.R.R. Tolkien, Orson Scott Card, Cinda Williams Chima, Rick Riordan, Christopher Paolini and Laini Taylor. Most of them appear twice in the list. All of them but one appear among the first 40 best-selling books.
Then I checked the new releases to see how the YA High fantasy books released in 2012 are ranked by Amazon (according to their sales). Here is what I found:
The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima (released October 2012): #318 in Books
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson (released September 2012): #4,778 in Books
Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (released August 2012): #6,184 in Books
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (released July 2012): #1,592 in Books
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (released June 2012): #4,436 in Books
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (released May 2012): #3,505 in Books
The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (released April 2012): #10,834 in Books
NB: The books in bold are debut novels. All rankings are in Books (E-books sales are not taken into account).
You’ll notice that when the release date is further away, sales start to decrease. But even if we take this into consideration, I’d say these sales figures are quite impressive for a subgenre that’s supposedly dying. I’m especially interested in the ranking of debut novels such as Seraphina and Throne of Glass: these books sell really well considering their authors are unknown.
So is YA High Fantasy a subgenre that only a handful of readers buy? I don’t think so. Is shopping around a YA High Fantasy debut novel crazy? A little bit. But not crazier than shopping around a “regular” YA fantasy novel.
What do you think? Have you written a High Fantasy novel for Young Adults? Have you encountered agents who tell you you’ll never sell your book? Is YA High Fantasy dying, or is it the next big thing?
Feel free to leave me a comment, I’d love to hear what you have to say!