11 January 2012

2012: Where is YA going? (and how will it get there?)

Hi all! I hope you had a great holiday season, and are looking toward 2012 with great hope. I know I am. I was drowning in a sea of deadlines, wrapping paper, and lesson plans last month, but with a nice holiday break, I feel better.

So, I guess in January we're talking about publishing. Which is always kind of interesting, at least to me. In fact I just had a conversation with my agent about what publishers seem to be looking for and what they're tired of, at least in YA. Based on that, and the state of the industry talk I heard back in June at the NJSCBWI conference, which corroborates what my agent told me, here's what's Hot and what's Not in YA for 2012:

Vampires and Werewolves. As if there was any doubt in our minds. Apparently agents and editors alike are sick to death (pardon the pun) of bloodsuckers and werewolves, and of course the flood of Twilight clones that have been coming across their desks.

Paranormal in general is also said to be on the way out, but who knows?

Dystopian: This is not to say there's still not a market for a really good, original dystopian, but again, the flood of books and manuscripts trying to ride the coattails of The Hunger Games has editors pining for something maybe a little less apocalyptic. Lighten up, people.

Historical Fiction:  it's not really anything currently flooding the market, but straight-up historical fiction (NOT historical romance or fantasy) is almost always a tough sell. The market share is small, and it must be meticulously researched and impeccably written.

Fallen Angels: After Hush, Hush, and a bunch of other stories about angels, I've heard editors say they're tired of seeing those stories. But that's not to say that the right story wouldn't find a home.

Super-dark stories: I'm hearing that editors are looking for a little bit of hope, a little bit of light, and less...death, despondence, and despair.

And it goes without saying that stories about The Chosen One, wizard boarding schools, and any other number of Harry Potter repeats is probably on this list. At least for now.


Steampunk: hot and getting hotter. The neo-Victorian historical fantasy genre has taken off, bolstered by novels like Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series, Scott Westerfield's Leviathan series, and the upcoming The Unnaturalists, by Tiffany Trent. With no clear mega-hit to spawn a bunch of clones, and as long as there are a good long list of different and original stories, Steampunk doesn't seem to be going anywhere any time soon.

Re-told Fairy Tales: Just after I started writing Smoke and Mirrors,  the fairy tale retelling/steampunk novel that snagged me my agent, I discovered a whole host of re-issued, re-vamped, re-imagined fairy tales lining the shelves. Apparently this trend hasn't quite run its course yet, fortunately for me.

YA Romance: Romance is always hot, and there seems to be a surge in romance for Young Adults.

Upbeat contemporary: There seems to be a need for really fun, upbeat, coming-of-age but having a good time doing it stories. Go figure.

Mermaids: I have no idea where this trend is now. It seemed to be picking up steam last year, but I think it's sputtered out. I read a couple of mermaid books, and very few of them caught my fancy.

And the one thing that is always hot:

A good story.

Don't take this list as gospel. Don't write to fit a market trend, because by the time you are done, the trend will be over. MAKE the next trend. Write the story you want to write, the best you know how to write it. That's how YA is going to move forward.

Happy Reading!
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