Up until last night I had never heard of ‘MG fiction’ (or ‘Middle Grade fiction’) and no, apparently ‘middle grade’ fiction isn’t a way of describing so-so quality writing, instead it’s a way of describing your reader base. MG is another way of saying that a child will be in middle school when they read your book. We don’t really do ‘middle school’ in Scotland though so I had to look this up.
A whole new demographic is being recognised by publishers, as they decide to aim certain books at the years preceeding ‘young adult’ (basically eight years and up). Last night I (virtually) met a whole bunch of MG writers almost by accident over on twitter.
Every Wednesday at 8pm (GMT) there’s a twitter get together under the hashtag #ukmgchat and I just happened to log in just in time to catch the last ten minutes, but they were an eye opener. So many authors had the same feeling as me about this category of fiction; despite a peculiar perception by some non-authors that this is a ‘saturated market’ our experience says otherwise, and our wish to write for that age group has not been squashed.
In my experience as a book buyer at Fun Junction I find it extremely hard to find new books to fill our ‘early chapter books’ shelves. there are staples like ‘Beast Quest’ and the ‘Rainbow Magic’ series, and there are some high profile authors in there but kids that age can get completely hooked on reading and so they come back to the shop, having read our usual fayre, asking for more and all too often there isn’t any.
The MG fiction market isn’t saturated, instead it is filled with a selection of (albeit very good) tried and tested books that most avid MG readers have read by the time they’re nine (at least that’s what I’ve found). So to say the market is ‘saturated’ is a little misleading, and even if it were ‘saturated’, kids reading now may not identify with fictional children written ten, twenty, or more years ago. At the very least the endless changes in society and technology mean that fiction has to keep up if it wants to look authentic to young readers.
Jack’s adventures are definitely aimed at the younger end of (and a little below) the MG reading level but I could still picture it on the bookshelf. That said there are a few things that differentiate Jack’s adventures from the general notion of what MG fiction includes.
For starters early romance seems to be an emotional issue and plot issue in a lot of MG fiction. There isn’t even a hint of romantic feeling in any of the younger characters in Jack’s adventures (at least at present). Romance isn’t really part of my overall plan for the series, at the moment the characters are just having adventures and learning about themselves, but I’ll have to see what happens as Jack grows up.
Next week’s #ukmgchat is apparently going to be focussed on early romance, if nothing else it could be interesting to see how other authors deal with the relationships of characters who fit in that age category, though I’m sad to say I won’t have much input of my own (at least in relation to the Jack Reusen books). Nonetheless who’s to say that I won’t keep Jack’s world going for years, I intend for him to grow up in that time (I won’t keep my characters ageless) so perhaps I could take notes for events far in the future.
Do you feel like the MG area of fiction is a ‘saturated market’? or, like me, do you think it has more to do with the presence of solid powerhouse books and authors that dominate the reading level? As always thanks for reading, Cheers, John
DON’T FORGET: ‘Jack Reusen and the Fey Flame’ is available in both paperback and in digital format. You’ll make me as happy as a kid in a boxful of bunnies if you click on this link to pop over to the ‘books’ page where you can find out more about the book and get details on how to get hold of your copy. I hope you like it as much as I enjoyed writing it 🙂