Right now my agent and I are in the process of trying to sell the first book of a YA fantasy trilogy I finished writing last spring. Well, I use the word "finished" loosely, because you're never really finished editing a manuscript until the last galleys have been sent off to the publisher, and even when you hold the book in your hands months later you'll still find entire sentences and passages you wish you'd done differently.
This YA book seems to be on the cusp of selling, as it went to marketing meetings for one major publisher only to be rejected at the last moment (a painful eight weeks of perdition for me), and got several sets of eyes on it at another major publisher. Yet, it did not sell in the first round of submissions and thus I'm going to tweak it a little before we send it out for a second round. And the tweaking process, as far as I can tell, is a strange and delicate art, sort of like piloting a ship through a thick, dense fog amid many icebergs. Will you pilot it correctly and make it through, or will your book go all Titanic on you? And what are they thinking at these mysterious editorial/marketing meetings? Really, who the hell knows?
So I'm forced to go with my gut, the general thought being that this is a YA novel and could use more angst and a main character that is as YA appealing as possible. Of course, every moment I work on this project the specter of Twilight haunts me, both how terribly written it seemed to be and how successful the franchise has become. I don't want to go down that dark, derivative path, but I do want to draw many young readers into my story while still making it more than readable to adults. Which, of course, sounds like a recipe for failure.
Not to mention that twenty-something marketing drones, and not editors, have become the new business degree carrying gatekeepers of what gets published and what does not. Publishing is scared shitless these days and less willing to take chances than ever, even if what they perceive as "chances" are actually, in many cases, what makes a book interesting in the first place. Hmmm. Does that sound like a good way to produce fresh voices to you?