Today's Teen Fiction Is Not Just for Teens Anymore

April 17, 2013 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
(Las Cruces, NM)-Young adult (YA) and teen fiction has morphed into a major market in today's publishing world-one that has increasingly seen a crossover among adults.

Authors may gear their novels toward the junior- and senior-high crowd, but adults are snapping up those same books, "The Los Angeles Times" reports.

"It's not a surprise anymore, like it was five to seven years ago, to see grownups reading young-adult fiction," says L.A. Miller, author of the science-fiction and fantasy YA book series Quests of Shadowind, which includes "Sky Shifter," "The Grounding Stone," and "Veil." "Many adults can easily relate to YA novels because, unlike a lot of adult fiction, these books tend to focus on clear, engrossing stories written in clean, straightforward, unadorned prose."

Quests of Shadowind is the story of a group of teens who are abducted to an alien world called Shadowind, which is inhabited by ghostly creatures, cyborg animals, and virtual humans-a land where anything is possible, including being downloaded into a cryptic, evil role-playing game. In order to survive, the youths band together as they search for a way back home.

Children and YA literature represents a quarter of the publishing market and is ranked as the fastest-growing category in publishing in 2011, topping off at nearly $3 billion, according to BookStats and the 2011 annual survey conducted by The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) .

"The numbers clearly show the power of the YA market," says L.A. Miller. "YA novels cover all genres, including mystery, science fiction, fantasy, horror, romance, biography, action-adventure, and more. They're usually fast-paced and designed to quickly grab a reader's attention. And, more importantly, today's YA literature doesn't have the restrictions previous junior novels had. Today they deal with drugs and alcohol, sexuality, depression, death, politics, gender identity, race, bigotry, religion, and socioeconomic issues, and this adds to their crossover appeal."

Some publishers are working to make YA titles more accessible to adults, Library Journal reports. For instance in January 2011, Candlewick Press reissued M.T. Anderson's two-volume "The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation" (the first volume won a National Book Award and was a runner-up for the Printz Award) in an adult-friendly trade paperback edition.

"I don't really delineate between a teen reader and an adult reader-they both want the same things," says David Levithan, editorial director at Scholastic, which published Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy.

Experts believe a number of titles and authors helped to shape and revolutionize the children's literature side of the publishing industry over the last fifteen years:

* The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
* The Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer
* The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
* The Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan
* "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak

"The crossover of YA literature into the adult market is not a new phenomenon," says Mr. Miller. "It's been with us for generations, though it's been sporadic. The difference is the sheer volume of titles grownups are enjoying today."

L.A. Miller has been writing for more than forty years. His backgrounds in science fiction, astronomy, technology, and classic literature inform his work, which has included novels, short stories and music. He is the owner of Wood n Nails Music and lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico, with his wife and two dogs. He is the author of the Quests of Shadowind series, which includes "Sky Shifter," "The Grounding Stone," and "Veil."