How to Write for the Young Adult Market
by Barry Eva (aka Storyheart)
So you’ve written or are writing a book, one of the first things that a publisher, promoter or even a web page will ask is “what genera” is it.
The definition of genera is…
“Biological classification ranking between family and species, consisting of structurally or phylogenetically related species or an isolated species exhibiting unusual differentiation (monotypic genus).”
In other words what is your target age group?
With some ages this is easy, picture books, books for the very young, but once you get to over 10, what is the target audience then.
Kids, teens, youth, whatever you want to call them are different these days to when you were that age. You see children as young as eight and nine having “boy/girl friends”
It is hard for a person to judge the age of those who the book might be best targeted at. After all one person Enid Blyton could be anothers Lady Chatterley.
It also depends on the country you are from or where the book is being read. For instance in the UK the two most popular newspapers in the UK have always a topless model on page three, in fact the term “page three girl” has been in common English language since the days of Samantha Fox. Can you imagine what would happen if an American paper had a topless model on one of their pages?
Also the language you use.
Anybody who has anything to do with schools will tell you, that bad language is emanating from younger and younger children.
When it came to my book Across the Pond, I started writing it aiming at 11/12 year olds, however as the romance developed the characters became a little older finished up at fifteen.
So what should I pigeon hole it as?
Well take a look at Amazon and the most popular tags. “Young Adult Fiction” is the one that sticks out above teen or teen romance.
Though I state that the book is “Young Adult Fiction” the great reviews and comments I have received are from 10 to 80 years old. So I have stated it is for the “young and young at heart” to try and get the various ages covered. Perhaps that should be listed as a new genera?
Even different people have different ideas when they read the book
One reviewer wrote,
“This book was written in a clean fashion so that even Christian parents should be able to feel safe with allowing their girls to read the story. It is one that I can feel comfortable recommending to any of my friends or their teens of any age.”
While another who really liked the book said:
“My only complaint about Across the Pond is the use of inappropriate language. By no means is the book filled with four-letter words; however, the few that are sprinkled in are unnecessary and, in my opinion, inappropriate. For that reason alone, I think the book is more suited to older teens and up”
For the life of me and I re-read the book last week while at JFK airport, I can’t think of what the “inappropriate language” might be.
So what do you do with your book?
Firstly if you are unsure as to what age group the class your book as, share it with a few people.
If you know a school teacher try them.
If you have contact with a person who you think might be the age group your book is aimed at, let them read a draft copy and see what they say.
Be flexible and listen to what people say.
Above all, what does it really matter what age group, as long as people enjoy the book that is all that really matters.
Born in Barnet, Hertfordshire, Barry Eva, also known as “Storyheart”, left his beloved England in 2000, moving to the USA to be with the woman he'd met and fallen in love with on the Internet. Better known for his short romance stories on the net and in his book Stories from the Heart, Barry is popular for narrating his stories on local TV or as a guest on other media stations,where his wit, oratory, and old-fashioned English charm make him a popular interviewee. At present, Barry is living in Connecticut, with his wife and two children. You can visit Storyheart’s website at http://www.across-t-pond.com.