Editors and the Business Side of YAL

This weekend’s New York Times featured an interesting article in the business section that details the work of Julie Strauss-Gabel, an editor at Dutton who has been part of the success of recent big titles and authors in YA literature (including John Green and Allie Condie). Green, quoted at length in the piece, actually gives her credit for helping him improve the ending of The Fault in Our Stars.

Most authors will tell you how important a good editor is, and this article describes in interesting detail the role that Strauss-Gabel has played in the process of writing and publishing. For those of you interested in these aspects of YAL, I’d suggest you give this article a read.

The article is also an important read because it discusses the shift in YA literature that has it gathering increasing attention on the part of adults. Crossover readers are an important phenomenon in YAL and one that we’ve discussed often in class and will discuss again on the last day of the semester. The statistics the article cites are interesting; this, in particular, stood out to me in light of our discussion on crossover readers:

Adults aged 18 to 44 made up 65 percent of young adult book buyers in 2014, according to a recent Nielsen Books & Consumer survey, and men accounted for 44 percent of young adult book buyers in 2014, up from 31 percent in 2012. And 65 percent of adults buying young adult books reported that they were purchasing the books for themselves rather than for children.

The percentage of adults buying books written for teens is up since 2012, when a report claimed that 55% of these books were purchased by adults. What’s interesting in these statistics is that male readership (we might assume, even if these are strictly purchasing figures) is up, especially given the note that nearly two-thirds of buyers are buying for themselves. That leads me to wonder what it is about YAL that is attractive to male readers? Perhaps this is reflective of the trends we see with teen boy readers and their attraction to certain features of YAL.

(The 2012 study I cited above is referenced in a Slate article criticizing adults who read YAL and it’s worth a read, too, for an alternative view to this phenomenon.)

Leave a Comment