And how was your 2012?
It’s safe to say that the face of mainstream publishing was irrevocably changed this year, thanks to the dramatic increase in e-book sales, indie and self-publishing coming into the mainstream, and fan-fiction the acceptable domain for a quick profit. Some things feel all too familiar, such as the overreliance on trends and “If you liked…” to shift books, but now such things aren’t solely in the hands of the big 6/5/4/1 (delete where applicable), with traditional publishing fast falling behind in the race for profit and relevance. It’s never easy to predict what will happen next in publishing, and it certainly won’t be any easier over the coming year, but that’s never stopped us before. So, for my entertainment and hopefully yours, here are my three big predictions for the young adult publishing industry in 2013.
1 1. Indie and Self-publishing will dominate the YA scene. This isn’t exactly a surprise, given the successes of several books this year that I’m sure we’d rather forget. However, the business model hasn’t really made an impact on YA yet, other than self-publishing pioneer Amanda Hocking (who's switching between indie and traditional). As the genre and age lines of literature blur (something I’ll move onto soon), authors are looking to reach the widest audience possible, and get on as many areas of the Kindle lists as they can. Smaller publishers will also be sticking to their model of printing quickly to keep up with trends and selling lots of books at a cheaper price than traditional publishers. How the traditional market reacts to this remains to be seen, but I believe it will be similar to that which we have been hearing about over the past few months – big advances for self-published works to go traditional. This could be more beneficial for YA than it has been for romance and erotica since young people are arguably more likely to buy paperbacks than Kindle copies (I’m speaking solely from ignorant personal experience here – I don’t know many teens who own a Kindle, it’s mostly people my age and older). This also leaves open the question of what will happen to big name authors still working with the traditional system. Will sales and hype stay high when we’ve already seen many highly promoted authors, both new and established, underselling? Will any big names go solo and self-publish or will they stick to the status quo? Will paranormal romance die only to be replaced with more sexist crap? Time will tell.
2. New Adult and contemporary romance will be the big trend. I’ve already talked about NA at length so please read that post for my thoughts on the topic (they’re not that positive, I’m afraid). As I said in the previous section, the lines of age and genre are becoming increasingly flexible, and the adult market is just as, if not more crucial to YA than the teen market. This is a genre that’s grown from the self-published market and, as is becoming increasingly apparent, the traditional market’s racing to keep up. The benefit from NA is that it can be marketed towards both the profitable markets of romance and YA. Surprisingly, or at least it is to me, contemporary romance is making a big splash in the aftermath of vampires and the end of the world. It’s hard to deny the 50 Shades connection here. (Side-note: Anyone else incredibly bored with the heteronormativity on display in these books right now? Any change someone will write a queer contemporary NA, preferably with massive socialist undertones? Come on, I’m not that hard to please!
3. Erotica’s here to stay, and yes, it will be part of YA. A few months ago, “Nightshade” series author Andrea Cremer inked a deal for an erotica trilogy with Penguin. No big deal, right? Plenty of authors write for both teens and adults. Well, how many of them set their erotica in the same world as their YA series? Make no mistake, that’s a cash-in right there. Cremer can talk about how she wanted to explore the characters and all that jazz until the cows come home but it’s pretty obvious that’s not the case. Personally, I think this is somewhat suspect, particularly for Cremer and her publishers to market this as part of the YA series universe and to do so under her published name. For some reason, I don’t feel like this will be a one-off incident. I highly doubt every YA author’s suddenly going to be doing this, and for the sake of my blood pressure, I hope they don’t. However, with self-published authors having more control over their own work, the lines between YA, NA and adult fiction becoming transparent, and trends the go-to way to make an impact and a profit, I predict that we’ll see a few more authors dipping their toes in the erotica pool whilst being intrinsically connected with the YA world.
All three predictions are undeniably connected and could easily be applied to the romance genre at large, which has embraced the technological and business change with gusto and shown the literary establishment how it’s done. 50 Shades and its ilk may be awful, but they’re still (unfortunately) a force to be reckoned with, and they will effect YA whether we like it or not.