“Publishing Middle Grade as opposed to YA means your book will emerge into a different marketplace, cater to a different readership, and follow an entirely different set of rules to make it successful within that market…”

A conversation with Kekla Magoon on the shift between writing (and publishing) for a middle grade and young adult audience.  

Kekla Magoon is author of four fabulous novels for young readers: The Rock and the River, Camo Girl, 37 Things I Love, and Fire in the Streets. Kekla has received numerous awards and honors for her fiction, including ALA’s Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award, two NAACP Image Award nominations, ALA Notable Books for Children, YALSA Best Books for Young Adults, Bank Street Best Books, and Junior Library Guild selection.

What follows is a two part dialogue where, as always, Magoon’s approach is honest, engaging, and often surprising…

 

I always considered myself a YA writer. So you can imagine my surprise when I learned that my first novel, THE ROCK AND THE RIVER, was going to be published as Middle Grade.

At first, I thought: No big deal. I mean, my book was still being published (hooray!) and, really, how big a difference could there be between being a Young Adult Author and a Middle Grade Author?

It turns out that there is quite a big difference. Publishing Middle Grade (MG) as opposed to YA means your book will emerge into a different marketplace, cater to a different readership, and follow an entirely different set of rules to make it successful within that market, and to make it accessible to that younger readership.

When I published THE ROCK AND THE RIVER back in 2009, it was my first time dealing with any readership and market. I learned everything I know about publishing from the Middle Grade perspective, and the process was both wonderful and challenging in its ways.

But this spring, I made the transition back to YA, when my YA novel 37 THINGS I LOVE was published. I quickly learned that the MG world is completely different, and that my foray into YA writing had only just begun.

                      

                        next…. Readership, Rules and Romance  zu

 

More about Kekla… In addition to her many published novels, Kekla’s non-fiction titles include Today the World is Watching You: The Little Rock Nine and the Fight for School Integration 1957-58 and the forthcoming PANTHERS! The History and Legacy of the Black Panther Party in America. Kekla also conducts school and library visits nationwide, speaks at writing conferences, and serves on the board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Kekla holds a B.A. in History from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Visit her online at www.keklamagoon.com.

Comments

  1. I am so looking forward to this series, Kekla and Zu! I started out writing YA, and my first novel for young readers (or at least the first in 22 years), Gringolandia, was really for the upper YA/Adult crossover market. I thought my next project would be a younger YA, and I looked forward to the larger market for this kind of book, but ROGUE, which is coming out next year, will be published as older middle grade. One of the things I found out in revising the book is that the difference is more than profanity and sex, and when I took the words and sexual references out (there was no actual sex), it was only the beginning.

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