Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

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Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Postby Laurie Lamb » 10 Dec 2009, 16:53

Is it true that it's harder to sell young adult fiction with a male protagonist rather than a female protagonist?
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Re: Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Postby Nathan Bransford » 10 Dec 2009, 16:59

Laurie Lamb wrote:Is it true that it's harder to sell young adult fiction with a male protagonist rather than a female protagonist?


Even if this were true, would you change the story you want to tell? If the answer is yes I say fie, fie!
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Re: Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Postby shadow » 10 Dec 2009, 17:39

I am a female and I like to read male protag books :) Unless I don't like the protagonist. My YA novel has a main protagonist, I don't think that that would give the novel less readers. Just wondering why would it??
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Re: Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Postby Laurie Lamb » 10 Dec 2009, 18:19

Nathan Bransford wrote:
Laurie Lamb wrote:Is it true that it's harder to sell young adult fiction with a male protagonist rather than a female protagonist?


Even if this were true, would you change the story you want to tell? If the answer is yes I say fie, fie!


No, I wouldn't change my story. Both my YA WIPs have male protagonists. I love male protagonists. That's why I was wondering why it would be harder to sell a story with a male protagonist (read this on another agent blog: http://agentinthemiddle.blogspot.com/). I was very surprised by it. I wanted to hear another opinion, please. Thanks.
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Re: Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Postby maybegenius » 10 Dec 2009, 18:33

I don't imagine it would have that great an impact, though I don't have statistics to back me up on that. I do know that YA is largely written and read by females, but I don't think that means a male protagonist will be less appealing to the genre readers as a whole. Anecdotally speaking, I know I and all of the women I know won't hesitate to pick a book up because the protagonist is male. Maybe I'm stretching, but I feel like that's a throwback to the idea that YA readers are all mushy vapid women that want to read an angsty romance with a young woman being swept away by a dreamy guy. I happen to think that idea is a load of bunk - YA readers are all across the board, and want to read stories that are good, not the misguided "YA is all light, silly stuff to fill teenage girls' heads" bologna.

I have to side with Nathan and say write the story you want to tell, and if people are going to snub your story because of the gender of your protag, well... that sucks, but so do they. I honestly don't think it will affect your marketability that much, but maybe there are people with an inside scoop on the marketing of YA that disagree.
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Re: Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Postby Mira » 10 Dec 2009, 21:55

Well, first, I agree with Nathan - I think there's a reason why our voice picks a certain gender, and it's really hard to fight that without also fighting our voice.

But, actually, I have heard the opposite - I've heard that it's easier to sell a male protagonist in YA.

From what I understand girls will read boy protagonists, but most boys will not read books with girl protagonists.

Alot of people have said that if Harry Potter hadn't featured a male protagonist, it would not have been as popular, because boys wouldn't have read it.....if it was Harriet Potter, for example. :)

So, I don't know if that's right, but that's what I've heard....

Definitely, good luck with your book, whichever way you go.
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Re: Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Postby linguista » 11 Dec 2009, 07:23

Writer Natalie Whipple had an interedting post about this (http://betweenfactandfiction.blogspot.com/2009/12/thing-about-boy-books.html) on her blog recently.

She said that publishers presume boys won't read and don't publish for them. Boys have nothing published for them and so don't read. And the cycle never ends...
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Re: Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Postby goldchevy » 11 Dec 2009, 11:58

Just want to chime in here with first-hand observation. I am sitting in a class of 35 high school seniors and we are all reading fairly quietly. The boys have their heads in books too. The titles of the books the boys are reading are New Moon, The Magicians Nephew, Twilight, Band of Brothers, Sackett, The Secret Life of Bees, and The Secret Life of Bees, and Twilight again. Oh--one girl is asleep so excuse me while I kick her desk and wake her up. Sorry--ran out of time to list the rest. I agree though as a teacher, there's not enough YA books for boys.
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Re: Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Postby Wryan » 11 Dec 2009, 12:34

linguista wrote:She said that publishers presume boys won't read and don't publish for them. Boys have nothing published for them and so don't read. And the cycle never ends...


When I was younger, that frustrated me to no end. If didn't have the time to go read lengthy "adult" books, or if I was just in the mood for something more fun than the sometimes cumbersome world of straight-up literary fiction, I'd hop on over to the Young Adult shelves at the bookstore. After all, these books were targeted at my age group. But I always had a hard time finding YA books about guys. I don't really care to read Chick Lit Jr., but that seems to be what most of the YA books published.

Come to think of it, I've had a similar problem when looking for agents to query for my YA novel. The protagonist is a dude, but so many of the listings on AgentQuery talk about agents who are looking for "a strong, female protagonist" or "something chick lit-y."
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Re: Male Protagonists in Young Adult Fiction

Postby shadow » 11 Dec 2009, 12:48

I agree guys. There are way too many chick-lit books which I don't read and not enough fantasy that would suite both genders. My novel I think is good for both genders obiously not the chick-lit audience though.
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