Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Genre Sales 2: Children's/YA (Part 2 of 8)

Technical problems delayed today's post—sorry, everyone! — E

As we forage into the domain of children's and young adult literature, mes auteurs, keep in mind that this isn't exactly my forte. Therefore! In addition to my usual caveats (this is not legal advice, if you lose money because you did something you thought I told you to do it's not my fault, &c), also: my background in and biases toward adult trade will likely show through here, so please don't hesitate to call me out in the comments if you find me a bit afield.

Now then!

Based on my experience, some numbers, some intuition, and some anecdotal evidence, it looks like children's/YA is flat or slightly up compared to last year. As I've mentioned before, this/these genre(s) weren't as badly hit by the last couple of years' recession because 1.) children's books tend to be less expensive on a per-unit basis than adult books, and 2.) people may cut back on spending for themselves when times are lean, but they're much less likely to cut back on stuff for their kids. Especially if stuff = books.

It also appears that children's/YA literature is remarkably resistant to the electronic format, especially as regards titles for younger children (age six and under). This shouldn't really come as a surprise; picture books, pop-up books, &c are still very much reliant on the vehicle of the physical book. I'm not sure kids this age actually prefer physical books to e-books, but parents are less likely to trust the little ones with iPhones than, say, durable board books, and it seems that parents also prefer to read to children from physical media. For now.

For older kids (middle grade and young adult), sales of physical books still seem to dominate those of e-books, though not to the same extent. I imagine that as e-reader prices come down and teenagers (who are already super comfortable with electronic media) start to get these as gifts from tech-savvy family members, we'll start to see that change.

In terms of sub-genre breakouts, the numbers get a little dodgy. Sales do seem to be pretty solid in the YA fantasy area, so while vampires are a bit tired, you're probably in good company if you've got demons, daemons, witches, &c floating around.

Thus, in high-quality, twenty-four karat Bullet-O-Vision™:

• If you're writing children's/YA, you're in luck! Sales are pretty solid and you actually have a shot at making money. Not J.K. Rowling money, but you're better off than most writers of adult fiction. (More to come on this front as this week unfolds! Also next week.)

• The encroachment of e-book sales isn't occurring as extensively or as rapidly in children's/YA as in adult trade, so you don't have to worry about making your ms look good on the iPad. (Yet.) You'll still probably want to talk to your agent about how e-rights will be handled. Yes, even for the un-e-bookable.

• Within the larger realm of children's/YA, fantasy (of all stripes) continues to sell well. What can I say? Kids love magic.

And that's all I've got for you today, meine Autoren. You know where to go for comments, and next up: fantasy! For grown-ups!


  1. I write YA demons. Right time, right place. My publisher was very surprised that sales in the first few weeks were about 20-25% e-book format. (Higher than the standard 10%.) I don't have numbers beyond that, but I think it's great that e-books are selling well.

  2. I wonder if Adult demon is pretty much selling the same as YA demon....

  3. My daemons are embryonic - I think this is not good.
    My MG is Sci-fi and nearly ready to Query. Do you agree this is better?

  4. As a Head Start teacher, I can not embrace any type of ebook for young children. Sure, they're nice for the families that can look at them once in awhile. But they're meant to be looked at alone, especially on a 7" or smaller screen.

    When I read picture books to my class, we talk about the pictures just as much as the words. I argue that this can not be accomplished on any screen as well as it is through my actual PB library.

    Especially for low income families - really great books should be put at their fingertips. Hardcovers from the library are treasures every parent-child pair needs to have the opportunity to experience together.

  5. Very interesting. It's good to know what I'm getting myself into, though my main question is if you're writing a book for people 16-adult, it's YA? Correct, or is that a different genre altogether?

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