The assumption floats around that in order to have a young adult book you need a young adult cast of characters. Whilst this certainly helps in creating a connection between reader and characters through similarities it is not the be all and end all for young adult books. A diverse cast of characters will help greatly with crossover potential. Take a look at the most popular YA books and you’ll find casts of all ages with protagonists ranging from early teens to mid-twenties.
There is also the incorrect assumption among many that in order to have a potential YA novel you should have a clean and sex free story. Sex, sexuality, and exploration are often key themes in young adult novels when puberty is throwing emotions into chaos. Whilst YA novels should not venture into the sexually explicit or erotic, many YA novels will have some aspect of sex involved.
Violence, Gore, and Horror
Under the same vein as dealing with the topic of sex, violence and horror should not be filtered out for a young adult audience. Remember that one of the most popular YA novels to date involved an arena of twenty-four children fighting to the death.
Language and Sentence Structure
Some authors believe that their books are too complicated for a younger audience. These are young people who are often reading and comprehending Shakespeare and Bronté. Whilst it is beneficial to have a straight forward, natural prose, never underestimate your audience's intelligence due to their age.
Most readers want a book that jumps straight in and keeps them hooked until the end. For Young Adults this is even more important. Your book should have a rollercoaster pace to keep them glued to the pages. That means give them great heart pounding scenes but also temper these with quiet scenes that allow them to acclimatise to the plot, characters, and bring their heart rate back to normal.
The Young Adult market is huge and still growing. There are millions of teenagers online creating a fantastic and enthusiastic audience eager for new stories. However, whilst aiming to one audience or another, authors should always be aware of the crossover potential of their novels. How easily can your story germinate from the YA market into the A market or back the other way, and how do you go about crossing those boundaries?
With a focus to identify target audiences and select out Amazon categories for novels, it can often be difficult for authors to spot that they have a story which suits a wide age range. Why not take another look at your novel and see whether you think the young adult market could benefit from your story. You never know, you could be looking at your next generation of diehard fans.