Monday, 21 April 2014

What does YA mean to you?

YA in book terms means young adult and suggests a genre/age bracket.

However recently I've seen various articles and posts about what YA actually means.  I think the genre of New Adult has further confused some people about the age certain books are aimed at.

Young adult in most stores relates to the 13-18 year old market but I read one article that said recent studies show that 55% of young adult fiction is purchased by readers over 18 years of age.

Another article said that the age bracket needs to be redefined.  Separated with possible age classifications printed on novels. Teen fiction could be 10-15 year olds and Young Adult fiction 16-25 year olds.

When I wrote my book The Awakening I was hoping both teens and adults would like it in the same way adults read and loved Twilight and Harry Potter.  Both of these books were primarily aimed at teens but had a crossover appeal. 

I wrote The Awakening with young adults in mind although my main character Lauren is 20. One reader did suggest she may be too old for teens.  However so far no one else has raised this issue.  I deliberately chose to make Lauren 20 as it always frustrated me in YA novels that 16 and 17 year olds skip school, drive, can afford cars and are out all night with no parents seeming to notice (bad parenting ha ha!!!).  I did deliberate making Lauren 17 but decided against it.

Whilst writing I did feel conflicted about the use of swear words especially as Lauren is 20.  I did include a few swear words as in certain arguments/situations in the book they seemed appropriate but I then removed them worried it maybe inappropriate for young teens.  I am in the middle of writing book number 2 and am still unsure about the use of swear words and whether it is suitable in YA books.  Most teens now a days swear but teens also age and develop differently and there's not a one size fist all option.

What are your thoughts?

Swearing in YA?

Are you an adult that reads and enjoys YA books?

I'm interested in your thoughts.


Emma x


  1. The points you raise in this post have been circling my mind for some time now. I hate having to give a story a categorisation at all. I wish we could just say 'here's my story' without having to slot it into a specific genre. But, the reality is we'd get very few readers if we did that. I am about to publish my first 'YA' book and it does have swearing. Like you I deliberated on whether to include it, and one of my beta readers advised me against including swearing, but I made the decision to keep it. As you pointed out, swearing is a reality for most teens these days and I want to be as truthful as possible in my story telling.

    Interesting post, Emma!

  2. Hey! I'm glad you mentioned this as it has been one of my concerns recently as well. I'm starting to think that the market, in general, is confused. I do not prefer the term "New Adult" as I've never thought it was necessary. For me, the book industry age categories should be labeled as follows:

    Children's (early readers)
    TEEN (12-16) (T for Teen) (No profanity, etc)
    Young Adult and/or Upper YA (17+) (profanity, sex, etc may be used here; older mature readers, college students, whoever wants to read or loves YA)

    I think this would get rid of the confusion :) But for me, as a writer and author, I write the story as authentically as possible. If I fully believe my character would be a certain way or act a certain way, then this becomes his or her personality. I've never been a fan of censorship. My stories involve characters in "messy" situations and touch on some deep topics (suicide for example). My goal as an author is to shed light on these issues and help as many others as possible either understand these sorts of situations or to heal through reading about them/not feel so alone. But if I eliminated the darker stuff, then all I would be left with is "fluff" which would be fake and wouldn't help anyone. Therefore I don't "sugar coat." However, if you believe the story doesn't necessarily have to have a certain word/scene or etc in order to work/be authentic and true to a character then you can eliminate it. I've never been a fan of putting something in a story "just because" either.

    Hope this helps! (And makes sense LOL)

  3. Thank you both for commenting. I'm glad its not just me that has thought about the subject. I also think we should concentrate less on classifications & more on stories. I think new age is unnecessary and complicates issues. Rae I think your age groups make perfect sense. Aderyn good luck with the book. I think book 2 for me will include occasional swearing as its darker than the first and seems suitable.