by Natalie Baines
Teenage books or Young Adult (YA)? The terms are often used interchangeably but refer to a slightly different age bracket. YA books are aimed at 13-18 year olds while teen books are written for the 12-14 age group.
Personally, I love reading books for these age groups even though I'm slightly older. Why? They're often full of angst, deeply emotional and deliciously dramatic. Perhaps that is why I aspire to be an author of them. I enjoy how reading YA books can transport you back to your own teenage years-which I like to think I'm still not too far away from but let's not have a count up!
Which brings me to the point who actually reads YA? It was revealed at the Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) that 55% of YA books are bought by adults, like me. Something to bear in mind if you're writing for this age group.
Teen books often deal with very real subjects such as death, racism, suicide, dementia, love and all its complexities and many more. Teen years can be difficult and confusing and I think being able to open a book which may provide some insight to help a reader in their world, or just to provide pure escapism, is pretty priceless.
One of my favourite authors is Paige Toon. For me, she writes the perfect summer read. I fell in love with her adult books and when she started writing teenage books, I had to get my nose into those pages. I don't think I'm exactly her key audience for those teen novels but she certainly has a talent for making the reader really feel the feelings her characters are feeling.
I especially love how her characters are connected. So you may find out about characters from previous books because they are somehow loosely linked with those in the one you're currently reading. I'm always sad when I finish one of her books. It's like I have to say goodbye to a really good friend.
Of course I loved the whole Twlight saga too. I know Victoria has already written about the teenage books here but I, too, was glued to the series from start to finish. I loved escaping into the world that Meyer created.
It felt familiar enough to be believable yet it was different enough to be intriguing. The books were full of suspense and I found myself fascinated by Meyer’s vampires. And of course the relationship between Edward and Bella…and Jacob. Who doesn’t enjoy a love triangle?
It is only in the last ten years or so that teen books has been a separate market. If you want to write for teens do research the market to check out what is currently out there and selling well.
The sales of YA books have taken a dip in recent years while Middle Grade books have become more popular but this is likely a trend and at some point the pendulum will swing back so have your manuscript ready.
It's thought that boys tend to like sports, adventure, science fiction and fantasy stories. Girls like these themes too, however they also like to read romance.
The length of teenage books are much longer than middle grade, typically 50,000-70,000 words however there are always exceptions to this.
You're allowed profanity, graphic violence and sexuality in books for this age group. As there is often a lot of self-reflection in YA books - think Bella in Twilight - a first person narrative is often a popular choice.
So, what are you waiting for? Go and write that piece of YA gold now!
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