Thursday, May 23, 2024

Dear O'Abby: Has the YA market disappeared?

 Dear O'Abby,

I don't know if I'm right about this, but it seems like it's become more difficult to get interest for YA books from both agents and publishers.  I've been writing YA for a long time, and about 15 years ago I found that I had a much better request rate from queries than I'm getting for my latest book. Has the YA market slowed down?  Or are agents and publishers just looking for different things now?

If you know anything I should be taking into account, I'd love to hear it.  I won't bore you with the whole story, but basically I'm hunting for an agent for the first time in a few years,, and it seems like I'm querying in a whole new landscape.


Stranger in a strange land

Dear Stranger,

You're right.  The YA landscape has changed in the last 15-20 years, so if you're just jumping back in, you are seeing a difference.

You see, 15 years ago, YA was kind of a new thing.  Not entirely, of course, but as a category, it was still pretty fresh.  When I was growing up, there was  YA section at the library, but it was tiny - a few books by S E Hinton, Robert Cormier, Paul Zindel and Gordon Korman.  I basically moved from the kids' section of the library to Stephen King and Virginia Andrews because YA as we know it today didn't really exist. 

Today the YA section is my local library is a full section with multiple shelves plus a couple of big displays for the librarians' choices and a theme that changes monthly.

And that's why you're seeing a change to acquisitions.  There is a whole lot of amazing YA literature that already exists, a whole back catalogue of those books that were acquired and published over the last 20 years.  15 years ago when you were querying, agents and publishers were hungry for YA because it was proving popular with readers and there wasn't enough out there to satisfy demand.  Writers obviously take longer to write books than it takes for readers to devour them, so there was kind of a frenzy of acquisition at this time.

Now that there is so much YA available, agents and publishers are more focused on filling gaps in the market, especially around broadening representation.  So the kinds of YA book that were getting snapped up in 2010 are not receiving the same level of interest now. 

Hopefully that answers your question.  It's tough out there, I know, but don't give up.  

X O'Abby

1 comment:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great answer. I've noticed that what publishers are looking for in terms of genres goes in cycles too.