Today, March 15th, kicks off the NYC Teen Author Festival. It looks to be a fun and informative week of events, with panels, readings and book signings.
I suspect it will be well attended, as it should be, by fans, authors, and writers interested in writing for the teen age audience. We all hear stories about the dire state of publishing, but the kids' market is a growth industry, with the success of blockbusters like Twilight, Percy and the Olympians, Pendragon, Gossip Girl, and superstar authors of individual titles (like Sarah Dessen), breathing life into the bottom line, and helping to support the quieter books by lesser-known writers. Publishing houses that have closed or consolidated imprints are often adding or expanding their reach to the young adult readers.
There are a number of reasons for this; partly it's just plain demographics -- there are a LOT of teens out there. But it's also because of a phenomenon remarked on in a recent article in the LA Times -- more adults are reading YA material.
Authors writing for teens or kids were sometimes viewed as "lesser than" and if you wanted to "cross over" into publishing fiction for adults your manuscripts were viewed with some suspicion. Not so anymore. Funny how those golden eggs change the perception of the goose...
I've always read books for kids and teens, long after the shelf-date on my adolescence expired. And it's what I write too. Not because it continues to be a growth-area in publishing but because the heightened life/death stakes of teenage lives appeals to me, because exploring the world through a teenager's eyes is exciting to me, and also because probably there wasn't any expiration date on my adolescence. I'm pleased to have been included in the festival -- I'll be reading from my YA novel Thicker than Water (which was included on the NYPL "Books for the Teen Age" list in 2006 and thankfully is still out in paperback!) at the Jefferson Market Library at 10 am, March 18th. And I'll be attending some of the panels too -- it's always inspiring and often reassuring to hear other writers talking about their process, since writing is a profession that can be very isolated. I suggest all of you with an interest in this area try to attend too!