I’m completely shocked that I haven’t yet written a full post on navigating the differences between YA and MG. It is, after all, a source of a lot of debate.
Discussions in publishing circles seem to push the MG genre towards the young end of its spectrum – the chapter book end of things. And yet there are a lot of books at the upper end of the spectrum that do spectacularly well (see Harry Potter and Percy Jackson).
The hallmarks of a MG novel, word count (approx. 45K), protagonist age (no older than 12), subject matter (compelling but not dark), and language (no swearing, age-appropriate terminology) are things I believe I deliver in my WIP.
MiG Writers has a terrific post that covers a lot of these bases, and reveals some of the contradictions on the subject.
The Passionate Librarian suggests YA covers developmental issues – the search for identity and a system of belief – but I think this happens in good upper middle grade stuff as well.
It’s confusing, to be sure.
Combine this debate with the fact that librarians and booksellers seem to use a wide array of segmentation strategies when it comes to shelving MG and YA books and you get a tricky situation.
I think the voyage from picture books to YA should be viewed as a spectrum, and not as a series of discrete chunks. But until it is, whether I’m right that my WIP is a MG novel or not is just another thing I’m going to have to have faith about.