So, there’s been some talk on twitter as of late about male authors in YA – or rather, the lack of male authors in the genre. I haven’t really been following the whole kurfuffel but I think the general conclusion (although correct me if I’m wrong) was that male authors can have a tougher time getting published because the YA market is swarmed with teenager girl readers. But is that true? OK, I’m sure this assumption comes out of actual data. There must be market research out there somewhere that says the following:
- Most YA readers are girls.
- Most YA readers (because they are girls) will read only women authors.
- The few male-YA readers that are out there only read the rough-tough, macho books that are especially released for them.
These are the generalisations that I have fallen into and, like most generalisations, I’m sure they are based on some sort of fact. But speaking from my own anecdotal experience, I think I’ve seen just as many men reading YA “in the wild” as I have women.
The other day, I was sitting in a London City Pret a Manger at 8 am tucking into a bowl of porridge. I was distracted by something, looked up, and saw the man sitting next to me was reading Maria V. Snyder’s Sea Glass. I was so surprised by this that I nearly went up to the guy and asked why he had picked it up! (You’ll be glad to hear that I managed to restrain myself.) But then I thought about all the times I have stood in the YA section at Foyles and spotted real life, adult men going through the shelves… it has happened more than once! And perhaps that’s the problem. These are male adult readers – men who aren’t bothered by the YA label when they pick up a book.
Did these men read YA when they were young adults? I don’t know. Hell, I never read YA as a young adult and I was the perfect target audience: teenage, female and a reader. So maybe the trouble isn’t with getting into the crossover adult market of male readers… and instead, the problem is getting teenage boys to pick up a book.
Hmm… good luck with that one.