The Guardian is running a contest for juvenile manuscripts. Their crop of shortlisted entries has been anything but depressing or dark. Instead, they said they are looking for entries “that make the make-believe seem real.”
Lately there’s been talk of a turn toward more realistic fiction in YA and younger titles. This is mostly due to the success of The Fault In Our Stars. But the dystopian and darker elements, along with speculative works, aren’t done yet. If you doubt that, consider how long the vampire craze lasted…over a decade.
So if you’re working on something dark, dystopian, or just plain speculative, know that the market will still welcome your submissions.