Hi! Great blog. (Thanks)
Here’s my question: I’ve spent the past year submitting my YA to LDS publishers. Every rejection I’ve received said the same thing – that YA is a hard sell in the LDS market right now. Why is this? YA seems to be hotter than ever in the national market.
Thanks in advance.
YA is a harder sell for a variety of reasons (these are generalities, not specific cases):
1. Adults buy books; teens do not. Teens buy music or clothes or food. Most teens who read get their books from the library. If a teen owns a book it is usually a gift from an adult or something they really, really love and want to re-read.
2. Teens who read are voracious. While a parent will spend money to support their own reading habit (feeling they will keep the book and read it multiple times), they don’t want to spend the same on kids who will read a book in a day and then be done with it. It would break the family budget to keep the kids in reading material.
3. Teens who don’t read rarely make it past chapter 1. Parent won’t invest in a book that may or may not be read. Since most parents are not a good judge of what their kids will want to read, it makes the investment even more risky.
4. Most LDS YA books are a one-time read–a pleasant story, but not something that is going to grab the teen reader and make them want to keep it and read it multiple times. We don’t have any classics yet, nothing on the level of Lord of the Rings or Dune or Enders Game. (Yes, I like fantasy, so those are the titles that immediately pop into my mind. I’m sure you can think of many others.) Think of it like DVDs. We buy the ones we love and know we’ll watch over and over again. We rent the ones that we think we’ll only want to watch once or twice.
5. It costs the same amount to publish a YA book as it does an adult book. Given #1 above, all things being equal, you will sell two or three times as many adult books as you will the YA book.
YA may be selling better than ever nationally, but adult fiction still outsells YA fiction on a national level–and for the same reasons as listed above. This will always be the case. Think of the last 10 books you purchased (not counting Christmas gifts). How many were for your teens and how many were for you?
The good news is that the LDS market runs parallel but a little behind the national market. Trends you see there will eventually show up here. The bad news is that in a small, niche market like ours, an uptrend in YA may be so small it won’t even be noticed.