The Path of Least Resistance

Now come on, did you guys really expect me not to get anything for Mrs. V for our anniversary? I ended up getting her a nice (i.e., expensive) ensemble of clothes from the mall. She especially liked the v-cut sweater from Ann Taylor.

On to other news, I find that I’m really, really confused about the state of Young Adult Literature. Most of us that are trying to write in this field know that it’s been in a state of flux for a long time. The old “12-18 year old” range doesn’t quite work anymore, and I don’t know if anyone has figured out what to do about it. On one end, we have books that are being challenged and even banned (see Cynthia Leitich Smith’s post on Brent Hartinger). On the other end, we have more and more authors willingly opting to publish their YA novels as adult fiction.

I’m not sure how I feel about all of this. Maybe by publishing an upper YA as an adult novel, you can circumvent the whole censorship thing. And we all know that teens are reading adult novels, whether we want them to or not (one young girl at one of my school visits asked me about Zane, an erotic fiction author that she just luuuuves). So if teens still have access to our novels, and if we can sidestep the censorship problem, and if in the process we sell a whole lot more books, does adult publishing become the clear choice?

I’m sure some of you have seen this before, but Publishers Weekly has an article concerning the different publishing options some “YA” authors have taken. The biggest thing that jumped out at me: the 200,000 copies that Prep has sold as an adult novel vs the 30,000 that Looking for Alaska has sold as a YA.

Publishing options aside, for those of you in Austin that are interested in writing books featuring teenagers, Cyn and her husband, Greg Leitich Smith, will be speaking at Barnes and Noble, Westlake, this Saturday at 10:30 AM. Their topic: Writing the Young Adult Novel. Be sure to bring paper, pencil and a creative mind.

2 Responses to “The Path of Least Resistance”

  1. Cynthia Leitich Smith

    Thanks for the announcement. I’ll hope to see Mr. V readers at this weekend’s YA writing event.

    A few thoughts to consider–adult novels get banned, too; not all novels with teen protagonists are really YAs (i.e., more reminicient, than immediate); and on comparing bestseller figures, you could put 99% of adult sales up next to Eragon and leave them all thinking they should write for teens. Oh wait, that’s already happening! LOL!

    In any case, I’d look instead at average sales for YA versus average sales for adult. There, you’ll find a more equitable playing field, where YA (which isn’t yanked off the shelves in a few weeks and has that tremendous YA librarian/bookseller support system) may be the right choice for a good many authors.

    All that said, congratulations on Red Polka Dot in a World Full of Plaid! I had the opportunity to read it on the plane to Oklahoma City, and I was wowed by Maxine’s intensity. Can’t wait to see what you do next!

  2. Brent Hartinger

    God, Cynthia is so smart. All I would add is that I think books for teens have some clear advantages. We have several completely different markets–the library market, the classroom market, the trade (bookstore) market. Which means that we basically have several more spins at the roulette wheel. If we bomb in bookstores, we can still do quite nicely in schools. Whereas adult books only have the bookstore market (in most cases). Books for teens may get fewer print reviews, but I think word-of-mouth is easier to get, because of the whole library/classroom infrastructure. There are a LOT of people out there actively reading and recommending teen books–a million lists and awards and honors. Not so true with adult books. Anyway, this is all something to think about.

    Brent Hartinger