GUEST POST: The Growing Landscape of Young Adult Publishing

Books come in all shapes, sizes, colors and genre. There are also books for all different age groups, including young adults. Books for young adults are generally marketed towards a 12+ audience, although books with more sexually and violently graphic content are marketed to a 14+ audience.

The center for young adult publishing, like trade publishing in general, is in New York City. Each of the Big 5 New York City publishers (Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Hachette) have multiple young imprints in addition to young adult imprints at mid-sized publishers and young adult books published by small presses.

Young adult imprints at the Random House side of Penguin Random House include the more general literary and commercial imprints Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers and Delacorte Press in addition to smaller specialty imprints like fantasy imprint Bluefire and design-focused Schwartz and Wade.

Penguin features its mobile-optimized young adult hub, PenguinTeen.The Penguin Young Readers Group’s imprints include Dial Books for Young Readers, Dutton Children’s books, Razorbill and Kathy Dawson Books.

Macmillan’s young adult site FierceReads markets edgy, intense novels from the publishing house’s young imprints through a blog, newsletter and book tours. These imprints include Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Younger Readers, Henry Holt Books for Younger Readers and Feiwel and Friends (which publishes SwoonReads books as well, MacMillan’s romance marketing effort).

HarperCollins markets its young adult titles through its fun, energetic marketing site EpicReads. The publishing house publishes young adult novels through Katherine Tegen Books, HarperTeen, Balzer + Bray and Amistad (which publishes books by and about people with African heritage).

Like HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster also focuses on bold, intense young adult fiction through its Simon Pulse imprint. Other young adult imprints by this publishing house include Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Atheneum and Salaam Reads, a newly founded imprint that highlights the experience of Muslim families and teens.

Hachette publishes young adult novels through its imprint, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

Young adult books are more than just about publishing books that teens will find interesting (especially since the majority of readers of these books are adults). They also generate high amounts of revenue for the publishing industry and was the fastest growing division of publishing in 2014. This was primarily due to a series of blockbuster releases, resulting in decreased 2015 revenue.

Young adult books also matter because they can be incredibly impactful to its target audience of teens. According to one professor and writer of books for middle-grade and teens, young adult books have the power to influence young people’s minds and views about the world.

This power is the impetus behind grassroots effort We Need Diverse Books, which promotes diverse storytelling in young adult publishing, diverse authors, and diverse publishers.

Young adult books are here to stay, especially in New York City. Watch as this subdivision of trade publishing pushes the edge of narrative, storytelling and diversity.  

Women & Publishing: Why Are Salaries So Low?

While there is no contesting the existence of a disparity in pay among male and female professionals in any given industry, it unfortunately isn’t considered breaking news anymore. Known as the gender pay gap, it claims that women are often paid a fraction the salaries that men are for the exact same job. According to a recent article in the New York Times, the gender pay gap doesn’t quite stop there either: “when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines — for the very same jobs that more men were doing before.”

Interestingly, publishing has, for the past few years, been considered more ‘feminine.’ Women have dominated the publishing industry, leaving the act of writing for men. In 2010, Publisher’s Weekly declared that a majority of employees in the publishing industry are women: “85% of publishing employees with less than three years of experience are women.”

As an industry that is notorious for having low-paying entry level jobs, does the fact that publishing is a female-dominated (and potentially focused) field have anything to do with that fact? Suzanne Collier of BookCareers.com notes that “entry-level jobs are still paying the same amount they were five years ago.”

Additionally, Rachel Deahl, author of the Publisher’s Weekly article addresses the fact that statistically, women and girls are most likely to buy books. Upon hearing similar statistics, a former editor at St. Martin’s Press, Jason Pinter, asked if  this was due to the fact that women dominate the field and may unintentionally be producing and marketing the products to people similar to themselves (i.e. other women). If so, this connects to Suzanne Collier’s second claim that the lack of diversity in the industry is caused by the salary issue. If this is the case, the low wages of entry-level positions may be hurting the industry as a whole in addition to those working for those wages. If publishing professionals don’t come from a diverse enough background, can they rise to the task of selecting, publishing, and marketing books that will appeal to a diverse audience?