Monday 17 October 2011

What The Publishers Say - The Future Of YA

A couple of weeks ago, I put a request out on Twitter, for a publisher to answer some questions for me about YA. They were questions that had been bugging me for awhile and being  a writer, I was desperate to know the answers. I was worried about the future of YA, as it appears to be saturated at the moment, with so many adult authors now joining the trend to write YA.

Hannah Sheppard, the Senior Commissioning Editor for Young Adult and Crossover Fiction at Headline.
came to my rescue and has kindly answered my questions below. Knowing your love of YA, we are going to share them with you. 
So here are Hannah's views on Young Adult fiction.

As the market share begins to saturate and even adult authors begin to write for the YA market, do you think there is any room left for debut YA authors?

I think it’s tough at the moment for a debut author in any area of the market. Everyone (that’s publishers and retailers as well as readers) is after a safe bet for their money so tried and tested, well-loved authors will often get chosen over the risk of the unknown. Having said that, as an editor, the biggest buzz for me is finding and nurturing new talent and the industry knows that we need to build new favourites for the future so I don’t think it is all doom and gloom. No one is going to turn down something brilliant solely because it’s a debut – but maybe they won’t take so many punts on debuts that are only nearly brilliant.

Why is the YA market increasingly dominated by US authors? I know that the UK was a little late for the party, but is there still room for the UK debut authors to make their mark in YA? 

I am desperate for new UK authors. One of the things I love most about my job is working with an author on the text and it’s rare I get to do that when I buy a book in from the US. However, there is something about the submissions that come from the US which just works so well for the YA market. I think maybe it’s a type of fearlessness in the US psyche that allows US authors to take an idea and really run with it where a UK author might hold back – I can see the same basic idea from a US author and UK author and the US version will have pushed and pushed that idea to its absolute extreme in a way that the UK author will have shied away from. I’d love to see some home-grown authors overcome that sense of caution because we do have a wealth of very talented people here.

Will YA survive the next ten years? Is it about to reach saturation point?

I absolutely think it will survive because there will always be new young adults to read the books. The trends will change as they always do but that’s what’s so great about working in this area. In the same way that teenagers are pushing at the boundaries of their own world, YA books can respond and grow and push at the boundaries of what they are expected to be – it’s ever evolving and will continue to be so.

Thank you Hannah for answering my questions. As an unpublished author myself, I feel more hopeful for the future, allowing a few more UK debut authors to join the YA establishment. 


  1. Really interesting questions and answers, thanks for sharing them :-) And I hope it inspires you to keep on writing!

  2. Wow great questions and really informative answers even for someone that doesn't write :D

  3. Viv - I was just thinking about this the other day!!! Great, great post.

    It's good to know that there is hope for us yet!! :D

  4. Great interview with interesting and reassuring answers. Thank you!

  5. How fascinating, especially the US vs UK perspective. Thank you for a great post!

  6. Thank you so much for posting this interview. Its reassuring to know that there's still hope for us aspiring uk writers :)

  7. That was a really interesting post. Although I'm not a writer and never will be, it's still good to know that there will always be YA books around for us to read and new debut's, which I read more of than established authors. Very enjoyable post. Thanks.

  8. Danielle - I think it was the inspiration I needed

    Emma - it is nice to see how the publishers feel about things too.

    Emma _ thank you!

    Jules - I reckon we all have similar feelings and questions going around in our heads.

    Jenni - thank you

    Jongleuse - it is nice to see the UK/US perspective.

    Whispering words - it is isn't it. I was beginning to get worried, but Hannah made me feel so much better.

    The Slowest Bookworm - I think it is nice for every one to know more about the market, especially as it seems to have rollercoastered from no where.

  9. Some interesting questions and answers, much food for thought. Thanks to both you and Hannah.

  10. Great interview! It's not often you read about this side of things.

  11. I do think that YA always will have a future, and I hope your book Viv will be a part of that :)

  12. Fab questions Viv & very interesting answers from Hannah. I have no intention of trying to write a book but it's still nice to see how publishers feel about the future of YA books

  13. Petty Witter - thankyou.

    Suko - I love to hear what the publishers have to say.

    Blodeuedd - aw thank you! I hope so too. What a lovely thing to say.

    Sarah - I love grilling the publishers. It is nice to get the inside perspective.

  14. What a great interview, some real insight into the YA business. Excellent questions and great answers. Thank you x


Hiya, thanks for stopping by, it is always nice to hear what you have to say, so do leave a comment if you have time.