In 2014, Young adults were up over 20% and adult sales were down 3%. Young adult books are hotter than ever. Many think YA books dumb down or are easy to write. But this in not the case. Teens today are smart and we authors write for them. YA books have challenges in reaching readers just like any other genres.
To date, I have sold about 80,000 ebooks of my YA novel. Many authors who are interested in writing YA books ask me: “how did I do it?” and “where did I start?”. If you have the right book, marketing strategy, cover design, and connection with young readers, self-publishing a YA book can be a successful and rewarding experience! But it is not easy.
Here are some things to think about if you want to self-publish YA successfully!
1. Get the right idea
Be sure to look at other successful YA books and note the genre. Not all YA books are successful as self-pubbed books. See what is hot and see if you have an idea that is on trend with teens.
For example, I think contemporary romance, fantasy, paranormal is all great genres to write for this audience. However, straight up thrillers, historical fiction, and sci-fi are harder sells. There are always the exceptions but this tends to be the general trend right now.
2. Perfect your teen voice
Did you know that about 60% of YA fiction is written in the first person and present tense? You need to make sure teens can identify with your character. Trust me, they can spot a phony a mile away.
When writing for teens, you need to immerse yourself in the pop culture and learn about the way teens think today. What issues do they face? How do they talk? What is important to them? Make sure you are speaking the teen language so they can connect. Not everyone can tap into his/her inner teen so make sure your voice fits this market.
3. Make sure you stay current
What do teens like? Make sure your book addresses today's issues, fashions, and trends. You do not want to date your book to a specific time (unless it is core to the story) but you also don't want to mention outdated things either. You want to make sure you connect to the teen culture so they can relate to the character and themes more.
4. Keep up the pace
Where adult books include tons of backstory and setting, teen books are shorter and run at a faster pace. In general, teens have a shorter attention span than adults so the pacing can be critical. Keep the story moving. Make sure it doesn't drag. Teens LOVE page-turners. That can be for romance as well as thrillers. Take a look at Goodreads, the most common comment I see is “I could not put this book down!”.
5. A little romance goes a long way
Obviously not all books need a romance. You don't have to include a romance to keep a teen interested in your book. BUT obviously teens are going through major hormonal changes and many have their first loves in high school.
In my experience, most of the girl readers tend to like a good romance involved in the story. It does not have to be a major theme nor does it have to be a bad boy or dysfunctional triangle. However, a cute boy or great girl can go a long way. If it works in your story, a little lovin' can never hurt.
6. Create a book design that appeals to teens
Make sure you choose a cover that appeals to the teen audience. Look at successful books in the teen market to see what the cover look like. For teens, right now, any girl or girl's face on the cover is always good. Sometimes a young boy image will work. Symbols and scenes do not seem as effective. Of course, the cover needs to match the book and its themes, but be sure it appeals to teens and shows the things teens care about.
7. Develop a marketing plan that includes a crossover audience
According the recent polls, 60% of YA readers are over the age of 18, most being between 30-45. Young Adult books are not just for teens anymore! When you’re deciding on ways to promote your books, you may want to look at adult audiences as well.
Librarians, teachers, and parents are all avid readers. If you’re reaching out to young adults and adults alike, your book has a better chance of being read even more! Not to mention your fan base will grow like crazy.
8. Hang out where teens hang out
Did you know that 70% of teens still use Facebook? Teens know how to use various social media sites extremely well, and if you’re out there on a regular basis pumping up your book release, they’re going to be excited about it! Here’s an article from The Huffington Post that’s a really great help with that idea:
Hope these help you figure out what you need to do to make sure you write a YA book that appeals to teens and some tools to help you make it successful.