My mother taught small children for a living for many years. She and I have always talked children's literature as a matter of course. My father, on the other hand, reads almost exclusively adult science fiction (not fantasy) and suspense/crime drama. But he loved, loved, loved Harry Potter. Since then, I've been trying to get him to try some other fantasy and kidlit, to no avail. I personally think he's missing out.
Being involved with the Detcon1 YSF award
has led me to think about my audience a little differently, but I have the feeling that I'm appealing to a whole roomful of my-fathers. That is, men and women who are literary fans, but are very happy in their genre niche thank you very much, and asking them to read outside it is probably annoying them to no end.
I see some of this in the comments section of blog articles about recommended or notable speculative fiction titles, such as this one from the I09.com blog
. What, no YA?
the comment reads, to which there is a flurry of responses. I don't like YA,
some say. Stop trying to make me want to read it.
Or, books written for children are just not as well done/complex/intense as books written for adults.
Or, often, what is this 'middle grade' thing of which you speak?
And then the rest of the comments devolve into arguments, and the goal of matching reader to book is lost.
So here's my quick Three Ways to Get Your Genre Reader to Try YA/MG Spec Fic:
- Give them some award winners. Several fantasy books for young readers have won the Hugo. There's also the Golden Duck awards, which are specifically science fiction with three age groups.
- Find the thing they liked about the last book they read, and give them a YA/MG book that includes that thing. Zombie Baseball Beatdown can hook your sports fans and your zombie fans.
- Show them a blurb on the book from an author they admire. When Neil Gaiman likes a book, you can bet a whole bunch more people will read it.