Thinking about how to integrate myself into the young adult fiction community

Many of my notions about young adult writers are drawn from a Diablo Cody movie.
Many of my notions about young adult writers are drawn from a Diablo Cody movie.

I feel like I’m fairly well-integrated into the science-fiction community, but that’s something which happened very organically: I went to Clarion and met 22 other authors and editors; I sold a story and joined the Codex Writer’s Workshop, where I met a number of other up-and-coming writers; I did panels at a few conventions; I sold more stories and became acquainted with various editors; I linked-to and commented-upon and shared posts from a few blogs that I particularly liked; I became Facebook friends with a number of SF writers and started chatting with them online. Although it was something that I consciously worked on, it was also something that I didn’t have to put much effort into.

However, the sad news is that the young adult fiction community doesn’t overlap as much with the SF community as one would think. There are even plenty of young adult writers who write SF/F work who aren’t really part of the adult SF community. And the young adult community is also organized very differently. It doesn’t have the same common areas (short fiction magazines, SFWA, the Clarion Writer’s Workshop, writer-oriented conventions like Readercon and WisCon) that SF does. And it includes people (librarians, teachers, teenagers) that are not a huge part of the adult SF world. So it’s different.

I suppose I’ve already done the first step. Before going on my agency’s retreat last February, I didn’t really know anybody in the YA world. Now I’ve met a few dozen people and have gotten some solid advice on how to get myself out there. But it’ll still require a bit more purposeful effort than I’m used to.

I suppose that all of this sounds a bit crass, but, honestly, I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as an adult is that forming connections with other people is not something that necessarily happens by itself. When you’re a kid, it does, because you live in such a way that contact with other people is forced upon you. But as an adult, all the incentives are in the other direction: nothing in your life really forces you to be with or relate to other people. So if you want that to happen, then you need some kind of gameplan. And, furthermore, when you’re trying to develop that gameplan, it’s often best to concentrate not on specific people or contacts, but on entire scenes: once you’re within a scene, then you meet new people automatically–it’s much more efficient than trying to meet people one by one.

2 thoughts on “Thinking about how to integrate myself into the young adult fiction community

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      It is surprising, since so much YA contains SFnal themes, but I think the reasons are demographic. The YA readership is much younger and more female than the SF readership, and YA writers are also much more likely to be female. And now that YA has been a publishing category for 20 years, you’re seeing YA writers who didn’t necessarily ever read much SF/F: their YA fantasies or dystopias are based more on previous YA fantasies or dystopias (the ones they read as kids) than on their adult-market equivalents.

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