Heather and I both read and write young adult fiction, so we have a solid understanding of this market and what makes it tick. In the last decade, the popularity of YA has hit the stratosphere. Author megastars rise up from nowhere almost overnight. Big movie franchises and huge book deals are becoming normal events. It has encouraged countless writers to consider jumping into YA. Today I’m sharing my three top tips for aspiring YA writers and trust me, I’m pulling no punches.
3 Tips if You’re Considering Writing YA
Read YA and lots of it! Of course you could write YA without being a fan, but why would you? Read the big books, the ones that break all the sales records. Read the books critics rave about, but don’t get as much media attention. Subscribe to some blogs that review YA fiction. Make sure you find the ones that don’t give every single book an automatic glowing or five-star rating. Write your own reviews and compare them to those of other readers. Do you notice the same things? Or did you notice something others missed? It’s okay to read predominately in the genre you plan to write for, but also read across the spectrum so you get a feel for the market. If someone drops the names Rowell, Bardugo and Levithan, and you have no clue who these writers are, your homework phase is far from over. Go back to the book store and try again.
You want to write for kids because you think it’s easier than writing for adults? Here comes the biggest knock of all. No market in the world is more competitive, harder to stand out in, or filled with more high-quality talent than YA. In fact, all kidlit is impacted so you shouldn’t expect the situation to improve even if you want to write picture, chapter or middle grade books.
Perhaps you think you’re magically on target to write the next must-read book. If so, please snap out of it! Teens don’t even know what they want to read next. Luck and timing play a huge part in all writer success stories, but perhaps the tipping point is even greater in YA. Everything about teen life moves at a rocket’s pace. Trends come and go and everyone connected with this reader demographic either tries to grab the comet’s tail as it goes by or they fight the G-forces to get out into deep space and hope the comet comes their way. If YA success is your long-term goal, try to remove your attention from writing for the latest trend and focus on making your story the best. Nothing else will potentially save your book from plummeting into a teeming asteroid belt of forgotten YA titles.
2 Examples of great YA
Heather and I have written extensively about the YA books we like, love, or wish we’d written. You can look back at our reviews, or better yet, read the books we’ve reviewed and form your own opinions.
Nothing will help you understand the YA reader like reading the books they crave. Of course, any potential YA writer who has not been reading the hottest authors around should start there. If you’re over 25, YA is nothing like you remember from your teen days. Or read this post by Heather, 7 YA Books that Inspire me to Write Better, to get some ideas.
1 Link for more help
One of the best sources for high quality information on the YA reader, is the Young Adult Library Services Association. That’s why their site is always conveniently linked on our sidebar where I can get to it in a hurry. They have already collected the top 24 teen-nominated titles published in 2014. How many have you read?
12 thoughts on “Y is for Young Adult Fiction”
I love YA! Love reading it, love writing it. And oh, you are so right about it in no way being easier than any other genre, and also that it changes with the whims (of which there are MANY) of teenagers. I work with teenagers pretty regularly, and I’m always encouraged that they like good writing just as much as the next person, though. 🙂
I just found your blog the other day. A to Z was crazy busy! I’ll stop by and read a few more post later this week.
Being around kids is so helpful. I don’t think I would have ever attempted to write YA without the influence of my nieces and my kids. Thanks for dropping by. : )
I enjoy writing YA and have a few drafts sitting on my harddrive. I do admit, lately, I haven’t read as much YA as I used to. Love triangles being a big thing turned me off. I’m not a fan of those.
~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
Member of C. Lee’s Muffin Commando Squad
Patricia Lynne, Indie Author
Traditional love triangles are a hot button for me too, it’s been done to death. Keep hitting the books, some hot titles are dropping this year. You’re sure to find something to love.
Hi there – YA is a very popular category. Big opportunity for authors. 🙂
FictionZeal – Impartial, Straighforward Fiction Book Reviews
It sure is popular! And there are some great authors releasing more every day.
YA is my favorite genre. Thanks for all the info and great post.@jeancogdell at Jean’s Writing
Thanks! I was a bit worried it was too harsh, so I’m thrilled some people are enjoying it.
Excellent! I don’t read that much YA, despite being roughly the target age, but I recognize its value and often enjoy the YA that I do read.
There is no shortage of wonderful YA out there. I started reading it when the teens in my life started to read it. I wanted us to share and talk about the experience. But I was soon hooked and started writing stories in YA a few years later. At this point I doubt I’ll ever stop, regardless of my own age.
I love this post, you know the YA market very well, I enjoy reading and reviewing YA books on my blog in a mix with other genres. I have found some great YA authors on my book travels.
Rosie Amber – Book reviewer. Campaigning to link more readers to writers.
Thanks! I’m glad you liked the post. I love to review books too, but I don’t have as much time to do them as I’d like. Maybe after A to Z is over I can get back into it. : ) I like the phrase “book travels” it’s very appropriate. Every book is a journey to someplace new. Thanks for stopping by,