55% of YA readers are adults

 

This grabbed my attention a few days ago.

Why? Because I had a feeling that a larger percentage of YA readers were adult – I think it was based on the fact that most of the blogs I read where there are reviews for YA books tend to be run by adults. This is not a bad thing, by the way. It probably means more word of mouth about your book – and really, once a group of bloggers falls in love with a book, they do a remarkable job of promoting it like crazy.

If the Bowker research is true, though, does this present a challenge to YA authors? That’s a tough one because it could be argued that an author is now writing for two different age groups and the question comes to mind as to how one can make both camps happy? It can be argued that a lot of adult YA readers are engaged in YA books because of something that’s missing from the current crop of adult titles, but I’m not ready to agree with that. My sense is that regardless of your age, if there’s a book that a reader connects with, they’re going to read it.

For me, when I’m writing YA – I’m not thinking about whether the story will be appealing for adults. I’m focused on writing for teens because that’s the world I’m trying to represent to the best of my ability. This means, though, that I need to connect with today’s youth – not so much on issues, which are massively important, but rather, I need to connect in a way that makes the story sound genuine. Perhaps this focus will allow my protagonist’s voice to sound like a typical teen from 2012.

If 55% of YA readers are adults, it could present with some more interesting books in the future. I think a lot of readers from both age groups are tired to death of the typical “nice girl meets bad boy” thing we see in a lot of books. My sense is that what matters most to everyone regardless of their age is the actual plot. Is it believable? Is it predictable? Are there twists that nobody saw coming? Does the main character resonate with readers?

Story matters – end of story. It doesn’t matter if the reader is 14 or 44. And what a crop of new stories are waiting to be written. Who knows what books are being written right now – the question to me is whether or not publishers and authors might be concerned about how to please both age groups. If I can offer this small bit of advice – don’t think about the two markets. Think about the book. Think about how to create a story with characters that are larger than life. Think about authenticity – how to represent your character’s lives in a way that will allow readers to connect with them.

With POLTERGEEKS about to be released next week, I think the one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t please everyone with your book. You just have to write something that is the very best that you can possibly offer and then you have to throw it out to the universe. Will my book sell? I hope so. Will readers feel connected to my characters? I want that more than anything because to me, that’s what’s going to get them to buy the next book in the series.

Writing books is a gamblers game. You simply don’t know if you’re going to hit paydirt or if your book is going to crash and burn. Me? I hope I hit paydirt. I hope that readers will fall in love with the characters and will want to pass my book along to their friends and family – it really doesn’t matter to me how old the reader is. The only thing that matters is whether the reader enjoyed the book that I wrote for them.

We authors write books for you – the best we can hope for is that you will want to keep on reading.

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