Thursday, May 12, 2005

The Quest for Hot Young Adult Material

There’s been much discussion on this blog as to what we’re looking for—what’s hot and what’s not and so forth. One area where I can’t seem to find enough awesome material is in the YA category. YA chick lit, YA paranormals (including vampires if they’re well done and have a different spin), YA thrillers or suspense. My recent Diana Peterfreund deal would be a great example, though in the end it turned out to be more true young adult—as in it really is adult, but for that very youngish tier of the adult market.

So bring on the YA! Not the traditional boy-meets-girl or bland YA. We’re looking for something very high-concept. Think SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS. Think GOSSIP GIRL. Big, big commercial series or book, and we’d like to see it.

Here’s Diana Peterfreund’s recent deal posting for those who didn’t see it:

Fiction: Debut Yale grad Diana Peterfreund's CONFESSIONS OF A (SECRET) SOCIETY GIRL, following the irreverent and intrigue-filled adventures of an average college student who just happens to be a member of one of the most notorious secret societies in the world, to Kerri Buckley at Bantam Dell, in a significant deal, at auction, by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency (NA)


Okay, Saint Deidre, Agent Extraordinaire, has fallen on her query behind. I am current through six days ago. Which, truth be told, is pretty darn good for this industry. Still after wowing everyone with my one-day turnaround, I thought it only fair to own up.

I have 13 partials in my own box. Four completes. I passed another complete to Pamela two days ago, and Nephele has her own tally going.

Still…bring on the YA!
Hot, hot, hot right now.


Blogger Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Now that's really interesting. YAs tend to be shorter, though, right?

Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 3:52:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought I'd weigh in on this. YA is extremely hot right now, far more so than I recall when I actually was a young adult myself. I wonder how much of it is a spill-over from visual media: viewers of television shows geared toward the 18-31 age group - the key demographic these days - looking for similar material in their reading. I suspected shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel helped spawn the latest craze for paranormal everything. Or it could just be a case of syncronicity.

I think the key to great YA is not talking down to your audience. Most good YA is simply catagorized as such because the characters are in that age bracket. The same rules apply: write from the heart, give it your best effort, and try to find a new angle or fresh idea.

On the submissions front, I've got about 5 or 6 partials in my box right now, and 18 full manuscripts. So that gives you an idea where I stand in the reading department.

Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 8:45:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Jaci Burton said...

Since I write erotic romance that she can't read, my teen stepdaughter is dying for me to write a YA so she can read it. Good to know they're so hot right now. Might finally have some incentive to write one ;)

Thanks for the great industry info!


Friday, May 13, 2005 at 10:58:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diana Peterfreund said...

Anyone else think it odd that we use the term "YA" for books that are for the teen market, and books that are actually about people who are young adults (like Deidre said, "true YA") are not considered YA?

Sorry, Friday musing... Jargon is fun! :-)

Friday, May 13, 2005 at 1:31:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Shannon McKelden said...

After reading this yesterday, I took my 16-yo daughter to the bookstore. She's been reading adult romances for 2-3 years...because she is such a voracious reader that it was a very short amount of time, 3-4 years ago, before she ran out of YA books to read. Then, she started on inspirationals and HQ Romances, before I finally gave up censoring what she read and let her have at it.

While looking at the YA's yesterday, she was AMAZED at the explosion there has been since she was reading them from the age of 10 or 12, until she moved up to adult fiction. She wanted to buy everything on the shelves, basically, I think because she felt cheated she'd "missed out on" so much back then. :-)

I can only imagine that that means there is an upcoming generation of kids who have a better chance at being readers because the selection is improving so much. Not every kid my daughter's age reads adult books. She knows several who still read YA, but have actually been complaining to her that they've "read everything there is." She, of course suggests they move to adult books...but not every parent is like me and wants to foster reading so much they will stop censoring as early as I did. :-)

Anyway, enough rambling. Just wanted to point out the opinion of a teen, who wishes she'd had more to read back then, and point out that the growth of YA should be well-received by the young readers, and it's about time the publishers realized it!!

Friday, May 13, 2005 at 2:04:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Shannon's hitting it, really. A few years ago Industry Knowledgeables started talking about the aging demographic of romance readers and how to hook the younger generations. One solution was chick lit. Another was erotica (though of course that spans ALL ages and is definitely adult oriented).

But I said then, and firmly believe, that we were losing readers because the publishers started ignoring the teens, right about the time I graduated to adult books, myself. Finally, someone got smart and realized what an untapped market it was. I'm thrilled to see it, not because I can write it (I can't) but because I have young daughters who will soon be reading it! So I'm excited on their behalf. :)

Friday, May 13, 2005 at 4:09:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Linda Winfree said...

When we're talking YA being hot, are we talking *only* YA romance? As a teacher, I read a lot in what we call YA lit because I want to be able to suggest books to my students and also to know what I'm talking about if/when a book is challenged in the library (twice this year so far). When I consider writing YA (and I have a couple ideas brewing in a notebook), I'm looking more at mainstream YA -- like Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak or Joyce Carol Oates's Big Mouth and Ugly Girl or What Happened to Lani Garver (can't remember the author, but fantastic book -- one I fought for along with the Oates.) Is that market considered hot as well?

Friday, May 13, 2005 at 4:48:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hesitate to tell you what the heading "The Quest for Hot Young Adult Material" brings to mind....

I hope you get the kind of submissions you're looking for, Deidre! :)

Nephele - 18 full manuscripts? Yikes! Your poor eyes.

As for the YA market, I don't ever remember it being this hot. It's just exploded. I admit, having a son about to turn 17 has made me hesitant to try YA myself. All I can hear in my head is him telling me I've got it wrong (he's a writer, too - short fictionalized versions of historical events, mainly). However, typing this just gave me a very foggy germ of an idea. Hmmm...


Friday, May 13, 2005 at 6:30:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Deidre Knight said...

Ah, Cindy, you naughty girl. :)

Natalie, we are in the market for any/all YA material right now. Thanks, Deidre

Friday, May 13, 2005 at 7:57:00 PM EDT  

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