What’s Working in the Young Adult Market?

Miriam Kriss is an agent with the Irene Goodman Literary Agency representing commercial fiction and she represents everything from hardcover historical mysteries to all subgenres of romance, from young adult fiction to kick ass urban fantasies, and everything in between.

Miriam’s co-agent, Irene Goodman, offers manuscript critiques on eBay every month, starting on the first day of each month, with all proceeds going to charity. Click on the link for more details on these critiques and charity auctions.

(Hate writing synopses? Here are nuts & bolts pointers for you.)



Ask anyone writing in YA and they’ll tell you it’s getting crowded. We’ve had a period of unprecedented growth in the genre, which lead to unprecedented buying of all things Angelic, Fanged, Furry, Spooky and Dystopic. Now editors are looking at their lists and wondering if they’ve gone overboard. Will readers still be clamoring for this material when these books come out? Without resorting to the magic 8 ball app on my phone, my inclination is to say yes. On the adult side the paranormal craze has been going strong for at least a decade, with editors every so often declaring that the vamps are dead and then calling the next week to ask if I have more vamp books. Whether this will end up true on the YA side as well is yet to be proven though so what’s an author to do while the editors are waiting to see what the next big thing will be? The steps are the same ones I would suggest to any aspiring author, regardless of genre:

1. Write What You Love: You should always write your first draft for yourself, telling the story you want to read and only you can write. I sat down for lunch at a conference with one of my authors, Jackie Morse Kessler, and she told me about a book she wanted to write someday, when she was a big enough name, about an anorexic girl who became the embodiment of Famine, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. I asked her how soon she could get me the book! We ended up selling HUNGER to Harcourt and it was the first of her successful Riders of the Apocalypse series. If you have a story to tell, don’t wait for someday, get it down on paper.

(How to help an author promote their new book: 11 tips.)

2. Write for Your Audience: You should always write your second draft for your audience, which is impossible to do if you don’t know who they are. Looking at what’s already on the bookshelves of your local bookstore is a bit like looking at starlight, these are books were bought one or two years previous. But they’re still worth looking at because you get a sense of the audiences being targeted. What are the people who would enjoy your book reading today? Then click over to publishersmarketplace.com (a website that lists current book deals, although it does require a subscription). What are the editors who bought those books currently buying? This may mean you’re better off tweaking your story, making your post-apocalyptic story more SF, as my client Jenna Black did with her new Tor YA series or writing something that’s steampunk with a dose of the paranormal like my client Kady Cross or shifting your paranormal story more firmly into the horror camp, as a client did who is currently receiving strong film interest. It’s critical that you don’t change the heart of your story but at the same time are flexible enough to tailor your story to your audience.

Finally remember that the next big thing will likely end up being something no one even knows they’re looking for, much like HUNGER GAMES or TWILIGHT. It will be something with compelling writing and a story we can’t put down. Hone your writing because if the voice is there you can always find the right story to tell.



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