Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Over-Saturation in the YA Market...

I ran across this blog post in Kindleboard's Writer's Cafe today:

At first I was just irritated, because ARGH, don't tell me that YA fiction isn't a genre but rather a gimmick.  No way, no how!   It doesn't help that about 75-80% of what I'm reading right now is YA.  I shot off my replying comment and felt better about the whole thing, but then I got to thinking.

Maybe the author didn't intend to label YA a gimmick as much as comment on the clutter and over-saturation of the young adult market since the advent of Twilight.  I know there are a lot of us who are sick to DEATH about hearing about the Twilight phenomenon (no matter what we think about the series itself).  I hear people describing books all the time as "the next Twilight".  Really?  That's how you want to promote that series??

Even though I believe strongly in the YA fiction market and obsess over the next great YA fantasy series... there is no lie that there are a lot more authors trying to break into the YA fiction market than there used to be.  When I read book bloggers now, or pour over booklists or haunt my library for reading fodder, I do notice the selection has changed.  It used to be that there were only a few names I didn't recognize.  Now there are more like hundreds!

So I guess, if you didn't read YA as much as I do, it could seem like YA fiction had merely become a big gateway for all the Twilight hopefuls out there.  Instead, I like to think of it as a renewal of interest in the genre.

Until Twilight came along, there were millions of teen girls out there who didn't read.  Believe me, I've asked them.  Our YA section in the library was pathetic.  There was no interest... not enough to warrant spending resources on it.  Instead, all the money went to the Juvenile section, where Harry Potter and the Rowling wannabes reigned.

Oh, yeah, that's right.  Harry Potter did for Juvenile fiction what Twilight did for YA fiction.  Let's take a looksy at the other example in Scott Roche's blog post.  Because of JK Rowling, hundreds of children and pre-teens (especially boys!) took an interest in books and started devouring anything in the market that they could get their hands on.  Publishers started taking chances on Juvenile fiction writers and we saw a flush and over-saturation in the market.  Some truly wonderful series came out of it: Children of the Lamp, Septimus Heap, Charlie Bone, Artemis Fowl, The Edge Chronicles, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Fablehaven, and the list goes on and on.

Am I saying these wonderful series never would have been published without Harry Potter... no.  But there certainly would not have been as many of them.  Maybe a third is my guess, judging by what I saw before Potter.  And believe me, there was a Juvenile fiction section before Potter.

So, what is my point?  It may seem to outsiders as though Twilight made YA fiction into a gimmick, but really, what it did is pave the way for some fantastic new series to come to readers.  Twilight is fading in power.  Pretty soon, all we'll hear about are The Hunger Games and City of Bones (especially since they will both have movies out).  There will be an influx of new readers again, publishers will buy more YA books and the rest of us, who love them, will benefit immensely.
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