DISCUSSION: Don’t Forget The Young In Young Adult

Don't Forget The Young In Young Adult Discussion

Hello everyone! Lately, there’s been some discussion that pops up about the YA book community, specifically about the lack of teens/teen authority. Now what I mean by that is:

  1. there seems to be a lot less teens in the community (aka people 19 or younger)
  2. and, adults in the community seem to have more authority than teens

Want evidence? In a twitter poll I did today asking “are you a teen YA book blogger or an adult YA book blogger”,  37% said they’re a teen and 63% said they’re an adult, with a total of 161 people answering (so 60 teens, 101 adults). The poll is still going on, so, if you want to vote, you can do so here. Of course, a twitter poll is not the most concrete way of getting answers (lack of a large sample size, varying demographics that follow me, time of day asked, etc). However, it seems to be a reasonable indication of what it is like in the YA book community.

The statements above are both problematic for the community, in many ways. Regarding statement one, young adult books are meant for young adults which primarily focuses on teens (19 and younger) and can include 20 – 25 year olds, depending on who you ask. This, of course, doesn’t mean no one else is allowed to read YA books (they’re amazing; everyone should read them). Nevertheless, as a result of the target audience being young adults there should be more of us in the community and we should have more authority.

Though teens are the main demographic of YA books, we don’t have the authority. Instead, when it comes to issues, everyone looks to the adults first as they talk about them. When it comes to what books people recommend, adult bloggers are the first we look to, as well. Most adults have had their blogs around longer and thus have built up a reputation and authority on said books however they shouldn’t be the first person people look to. For example: I am a Middle Eastern woman living in the US, and let’s say one of my friends who happens to be a black woman also lives in the US. When it comes to issues in the Middle East, people will/should look to me as I know more about the Middle East and know what it’s like to be Middle Eastern in the US. However, when it comes to issues dealing with black people, people will/should look to my friend as she is black, knows more about such issues, and knows what it’s like to be a black woman in the US. There is a certain authority that comes with pieces of your identity and the same goes for being a teen vs being an adult in the YA book community.

I’ve been noticing the imbalance especially in regards to who does and doesn’t get ARCs (advanced reader’s copies): adults are the ones who get more ARCs and more praise from publishers. Teens, on the other hand, usually have to be either a huge blogger (which isn’t really the case since most of us start when we’re teens), or they’re somehow able to go to blogger-centric conferences (like BEA or Book Con) that seem way too expensive and are thus not catered to teens who may not have enough money to go.

Now I could keep going with the list of problems that all these situations create, however, I’m just going to list my solutions:

  1. let teens do the talking first – when it comes to issues regarding diversity, look to the teens who are a part of the community being discussed (like Muslim, LGBTQA+, Asian, black, disabled etc.).
  2. at the same time though, let them make mistakes when it comes to the issues. Allow people to have varying opinions and have polite discussions. Adults in their 50s still probably don’t know everything and are still figuring themselves out. Don’t expect teens to know everything/have the answers to everything either.
  3. get ARCs in the hands of teens and if one of the books features a Muslim main character, get it in the hands of a Muslim teen – since teens are the target demographic of YA, we should also have early access to YA books.
  4. reduce the cost of going to conferences and add more conferences (esp free ones)- this past year, a ticket to BEA (for bloggers) cost $300 (early bird) and $400 (after early bird, on site). In 2016, though, a ticket to BEA (for bloggers) cost $188 (early bird) or $288 (after early bird, on site). That’s a $112 increase in both categories. And this doesn’t include travel, hotel, food etc…..that’s insane! Now I know some conferences are free ticket wise (also doesn’t include travel, hotel, food etc) but there’s not a ton out there, especially not outside the US so the locations (and prices for non-free ticket conferences) dramatically reduce the amount of people who can go, and even more so limits teens. In adding more conferences, and reducing the prices, more teens can go and meet their friends, learn more about the book industry, make connections and pick up a few books along the way.
  5. support teen bloggers through monetary and non monetary ways – a lot of people nowadays have a Kofi or a PayPal (I personally have PayPal) where you can show some monetary appreciation for what teens do in the community. If you’re uncomfortable or unable to do so, a simple like, RT or comment can do as well. Read more teen’s blogs and boost their views and your TBR/knowledge.

Those are just a few of the simple ways we can bring the young back to young adult. Most are not hard to do but help teens a ton. If you have any other ideas for solutions/ways to help, drop a comment and I’ll add it to the list (with a shoutout to you for the idea of course)! Also, what do you guys think? Have you noticed less teens around? Let me know in the comments below (and be polite as you do so please)! Thanks, have a great day/night and tata for now!

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16 thoughts on “DISCUSSION: Don’t Forget The Young In Young Adult

  1. THANK YOU FOR THIS POST OH MY GOD. FINALLY. THIS IS CRAZY. Sixty-three percent whatttt?? That is so important what you said though about ARCs getting reviewed by teens more. I’ve told people before about how there are so many adults reading YA…I felt like YA is taking over. (which isn’t bad for me 😏😏)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post! I think the definition of young adult is a bit hazy. Teens are young adults because they haven’t yet reached adulthood, but at the same time 20-25 year olds can also be considered young adults because they’re the youngest in the adult age bracket, if that makes any sense? I never really thought about the lack of teens in the YA book community. I’m sure there are already databases of teen bloggers out there. But I think schools should encourage teens to blog since there are so many benefits like improving written communication and building relationships with publishers etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is interesting and a point I hadn’t previously considered. I do read and read YA books on my blog as well, but not as often as other genres so I don’t consider myself a YA book blogger in general.

    One way to combat this is if more Young Adults start blogs of their own – I’d be interested in hearing their thoughts on the YA as well

    Liked by 1 person

  4. HOLY WHAT BEA IS THAT EXPENSIVE? I HAD NO IDEA *clueless Dutchie over here haha* I’m flabbergasted really what even. How can any teen go there?? How does any young person have the money for that?? I’m so confused right now

    Liked by 1 person

    • RIGHT?!?!?! Like I was so going to go to BEA this past yr and then the prices bumped to 300 and I was like NOPE and instead went to Book Con which was awesome! But ya it is way expensive and I’m like “how can anyone go?!?!”

      Like

  5. There are many points but I’d like to point out one instead of mixing multiple points.

    An ‘adult’ was a Young Adult at some point in time, he/she knows what it feels like. As for the Middle eastern vs Black person, it’s not like you were black before, you’ve always been a middle eastern. So, there is a huge difference in that comparison. That analogy kind of makes your basis for this post pretty rocky.

    Like

    • I understand that, and from that regard yes my analogy doesn’t fully fit, however adults don’t really know what it feels like to be a teen now, they just remember what it was like to be a teen when *they* were a teen and that’s the big difference. Times have changed enough that even I (almost 20) can’t really speak for the teen experiences of now which is why we need more teens (esp younger ones) to be a part of the community and talk about their experiences in relation to the books we read.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree, bookstagram seems to be a ton on teens but the most popular accounts are mainly adults which feeds into the lack of authority that I talked about it my post. Plus, bookstagram doesn’t inherently equal book blogger and there are a lot less teen bloggers than there are bookstagrammers.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I certainly agree, you can’t make anyone do anything, but we can certainly make it a better environment for teens, and give teens more authority so they feel heard and are actually listened to (as discussed in the post).

        Liked by 1 person

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