The State of YA Paranormal Affairs

March 26, 2009 at 6:00 am (General, Marcia Colette) ()

I’ve gone to a few other places to confirm this, but from my understanding YA paranormal has plateaued and its taking a nose-dive into oblivion.  So if you have something that’s YA and paranormal, chances are an editor won’t want it.  My question to those editors is have you asked your YA readers what they wanted yet?  Has anyone done a survey or are you basing this on sales?  A drop in sales could also be due to a drop in the economy and more parents going to the library instead of the bookstore.  But then again, everyone has had this “jump to conclusions” thing going when it comes to the economy lately.  Case in point: the stock market.  I can sneeze and you’ll see pharmaceutical stocks rise.
About two years ago, I attended this fabulous little conference called Celebrate Romance, which is geared toward readers.  I sat in a room with a bunch of lovely ladies when the question of what they wanted to see more of came up.  You wouldn’t believe the anger that came out of these devoted fans.  They hated the state of affairs when it came to their needs and wants from their favorite authors.  They were even more appalled to find out that publishers had a say in it because it was their money on the line.  What can I say?  Unfortunately, that’s the way this business works.
My thoughts about this whole YA paranormal being no more?  Whatever.  The way I look at it, where one teenage crowd leaves, another one enters.  They’re not like adults who are set in their ways and won’t read something just because it has a paranormal element to it.  Think about all of those kids who grew up with Harry Potter.  Now, think about all of those kids coming into their own without a “Harry Potter” for their generation.  Do you think that’s enough reason to say that YA paranormal is out the door?  Perhaps it’s because there’s a huge surge of submissions right now from the whole Twilight thing and that’s why publishers pulling the reigns on it.  After all, many of the contracted YA books today won’t start their shelf life until 2010 if not later.  Call me optimistic, but I doubt the downfall last.  Kids will always identify with kids trying to get their footing in this thing called life whether it’s paranormal or not.
So, if you’re working on a paranormal YA right now, take your time with polishing it.  To me thatmakes better sense than to just stop writing them all together.  If you’re reading a paranormal YA–I’m hooked on Darren Shan’s Cirque Du Freak series, although that may be more like middle grade–then maybe it’s a good time to contact the publisher of your beloved story and tell them not to cut you off.
How do you feel about the state of YA Paranormal Affairs?  Also, what would you really like to see more of in terms of paranormal?


Marcia Colette


  1. Juliana Stone said,

    Wow. I’ve not heard this at all. I do know my agent has said that YA is getting tight, so submissions certainly aren’t slam dunks. But, I read Pulishers marketplace and well, as far as I can see YA is still selling and YA paranromal is selling. I think it’s like anything…timing is important, the quality of the story is important and what different spin, or take on paranormal you can bring to the table is important. When my agent was subbing my book she told me again, a shifter story was by no means a slam dunk. There were tons of them out there, but an editor (a couple actually!) loved it and it sold.
    I’m just finishing up a YA for my agent to shop and while it’s paranormal, it’s got a different premise from a lot of the YA paranormals that I’ve seen sold. I say write your story and make sure it’s amazing, different and throw your hat in the ring.
    If I had listened to a lot of people before, I don’t think I would have sold my adult paranrormal!
    Just my 2 cents

  2. Sabrina said,

    I guess I don’t consider paranormal to be a trend. When I was a teen I read as much Lois Duncan, Christopher Pike, R. L. Stine (Fear Street, NOT Goosebumps… those came out later) and L. J. Smith as I could get my hands on. I have a healthy stack of single title “scary” books that I pick up at used book stores or garage sales for my own kids to read now. Those books might feature a human killer, but just as often they are about a vampire or a witch or other monster.

    Now granted, these books wouldn’t generally be considered romances, but my point is that for at least the last 20 years or so, the YA market has been interested in story lines that involve people who are something more than human. Harry Potter and Twilight didn’t invent the genre and to say it’s going to die with this latest generation is not looking at the bigger picture.

    Personally, I feel like the paranormal is a timeless theme. How long ago where books like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Jekyll and Hyde written? I think that books like those written by Pike or Smith are going to weather better than all these “rich and snobby kid” books that are coming out in droves. Gossip Girl is to this decade what Sweet Valley High was to the 80’s. The only people who still talk about SVH are girls who were in the age bracket to have read it back then.

    Phew, this got a little preachy. So to summarize: Go Team Paranormal!

  3. Melissa said,

    I find it hard to believe the YA paranormals have plateaued. My daughter who is 14 and her friends can’t get enough. I’m having to find new authors for her all the time, trying to hold her over until the next book her series comes out. She finished Hunted 2 weeks ago.

    Who are the agents taking too? The YA readers in this part of NC are eating it up like candy.


  4. Estella said,

    The only YA paranormal I have read is the Twilight series, but I enjoyed it immensely. It seems that quite a few adults read the YA paranormal books, too.
    I cannot beileve that the publishers want to cut it off.

  5. Lori Devoti said,

    Marcia, I don’t know who your source was, but this does not match with what my agent has told me at all. And the editor for the new Harlequin line was quoted to say it was much easier to buy paranormal YA now because of the demand.
    Care to reveal where you heard this?

  6. Juliana Stone said,

    I was wondering the same thing Lori. The only thing my agent told me, was that because of the success of Twilight and other paranormal series, there were a lot of submissions and that the bar had indeed been raised. So, selling a project might not be a slam dunk because there is much more competition.
    I can’t listen to stuff like this, as it will just drive ya crazy! So, on that note…I need to get back to the WIP!

  7. Marcia said,

    One of the places I read it was on Kristen Nelson’s blog. I can’t recall which entry, but it can’t be more than a week ago. The other place I had read it was an author blog I’ve only visited once while looking for information about her agent. It’s been a while, so I can’t recall who exactly, but I know she was either working on or had just turned her YA Paranormal to her editor.

    Like most of you, I think the whole idea of YA Paranormal going out of style is a bunch of crap. A good book trumps everything, which is why I ignore the whole “dead market” thing. In this economy, markets are tight all over the place regardless of genre. Sure editors and agents want the best you’ve got, but that’s a given regardless of what’s hot and what’s not. That’s why I always have a hard time buying into the hype and wanted to bring the topic here to make sure I’m not the only one who isn’t buying this.

    I am totally in agreement with Sabrina. All of the classics have stood the test of time and will continue to do so. If I had a nickel for every time someone said vampires were a dead market, astronauts would see a giant reflection from my backyard.

    And FYI… I’m still writing my YA Paranormal and have a damn good time with it too. My teenage nieces wanted me to write something they could read, so I refuse to let them down. 😉

  8. Juliana Stone said,

    I found the entry and I think this is what you’re referring to Marcia:

    And second, publishing is often about timing. For example, if you are currently a writer of young adult or middle grade fiction and you have a paranormal element (read: vampire, werewolf, witch or what have you), you might be stymied by the timing of putting said project on submission right now.

    The market is crowded. Editors are weary in some respects. (Agents too!) Just last week I had an editor turn down even looking at a manuscript because she felt her list was too crowded with the supernatural.

    That’s a sure sign that a trend is winding down. Now that doesn’t mean nothing in that realm will sell. It just means that any project that does will have to be X times better, X times more original, than similar projects sold 2 years ago.

    so, yeah, basically is what my agent has said. The market is tighter, just as it was once paranormal romance hit big time. You can still sell a vampire novel, but it needs to be unique and stand out. Just as YA paranormal needs to be the same…the bar has been raised( I’ll borrow that from my agent!) so it’s up to new writers to grab it!
    Have fun with your YA paranormal Marica and good luck! I’m loving mine too, and hope to get it to my agent by next week….let’s just hope the timing is right!

  9. Marcia said,

    For the life of me, Juliana, I wish I could remember the name of the author where I got this from too. The only thing I really remember after reading her blog was thinking to myself “That’s a bunch of a horse shit.” 😆 With my lousy luck, I’ll end up buying her book by accident. People who irk me, I tend to put them out of sight and out of mind.

    Originality has always been the name of this game, which holds true for every genre. The market will always be tight and the bar will always be set high. The only way to know if what we have is new and different is if we take a chance and put it out there. For all we know, we could be sitting on the next Stephanie Meyer franchise. That’s also why I believe there is no such thing as a truly “dead market”. Chick-lit or otherwise. All it takes is one exciting, earth-shattering book to wake a “slow market” from its coma.

    And here’s to both of us on the YA paranormal front! Woohoooooo to lovin’ our WIPs. I believe wholeheartedly that the timing is always right when it comes to YA. Until the human race decides to pull a “Children of Men”, they’re one group who’ll always have an influx of new readers. 😉

  10. Juliana Stone said,

    LOL, you’re so right. I don’t think paranormal is a trend either, whether it’s in adult form or YA.
    great dialogue here though! glad I discovered this blog a few weeks back!

  11. Marcia said,

    I’m glad you discovered this blog, too, Juliana. I’m taking down names and emails addresses for possible guest spots. :mrgreen:

  12. Cathy said,

    YA paranormal out of style? not in my life time! I read Gene Roddenberry and Edger Allen Poe when I was in Junior High. In the 70’s I discovered Romance novels and the subtle SiFi influence in some, which is now called paranormal. I discovered YA again by joining a Paranormal book ring and have read 15 of them in the last 6 months. I think adults are reading them as much as our youth. My granddaughter has over 15 dragon YA books I want to read when I find the time and she has been reading them for 3 years, she only 11!

  13. Marcia said,

    Good point, Cathy. If anything, I’d say adults are reading MORE young adult books now than they ever have before. Sure, they’re doing it to monitor their children’s reading habits, but I’ll bet anything they’re getting their own rush out of them too. I know I am. So if you think about, YA authors are writing for more than just their YA audience. They have sucked us adults in too. 😉

    There’s no way YA paranormal will never go out of style. I don’t care what anyone says.

  14. Teresa D'Amario said,

    Marcia, you’re right. It’s not going out of style. Neither is paranormal romance for adults. Rumor control is always trying to kill the genre, yet it continues to grow. A major book store recently told my mother they sell more paranormal romance than any other type of book in their store. This is supported by how much support I received when I did my own book signing at the local store. The only thing missing was a weekend signing. LOL.

  15. Marcia said,

    Very true, Teresa. I believe the best way to fight a rumor is to throw it out there for discussion. YA paranormal is here to stay, baby! Whenever I go into my local book store, there’s all sorts of paranormal crowding the shelves and I’m happy to say it’s not all the same.

    I believe the market is tight. That’s a given. In fact, I was told this two years ago. Tighter doesn’t mean people aren’t buying. It means people are looking for new stories that advance the genre in a different direction. I’m definitely up for the challenge. 😉

  16. Lori Devoti said,

    Actually, I have a YA paranormal full with my agent about to go out to editors. Guess we’ll see!!

  17. Marcia said,

    Are you kidding me, Lori? I’d be shocked if your book wasn’t a done deal. You go, girl. 😉

  18. Alissa said,

    I seriously hope this in not correct. I think I might cry! I have been working so hard for almost a year on my first novel, which just happens to be a YA paranormal story. This is not good news. I know it’s super competitive since the whole Twilight thing, but I would also think that with the success of Twilight and Harry Potter that they’d be scooping this stuff up! I will not be a happy camper otherwise. I have about 5 or 6 more story ideas once I am done with this one…

  19. Juliana Stone said,

    I think you’re safe Alissa! Seriously….every genre is tight right now and just because some agent commented on some editor who had a lot of inventory, doesn’t mean it’s the same at every house. What it does mean, is that you need to polish, make sure your story has an amazing hook that will catch someones eye!
    Good Luck!

  20. Marcia said,

    Alissa, I’m with Juliana. As long as your work stands out and the writing is strong, then you won’t have any problem with your YA. Stay the course. Even after you’re done polishing your manuscript, take another week just to make sure. Other than that, I think you’re safe to keep working on it.

    If anything, the market is probably flooded with Twilight and Harry Potter look-a-likes. That I believe long before the whole market it going to pieces. Where one teenager leaves, another one is always there. Therefore, the YA market (paranormal or otherwise) will always be there.

    Best of luck with your YA paranormal and definitely keep us posted if something good comes of it. 😉

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