Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Do Adult Gatekeepers Affect Teen Book Sales?

Publishing books for children and teens is a bizarre, fickle thing. I’ve come to the opinion that you have to be very brave or a little crazy (or both) to take it on.

You see, there is nothing straightforward when publishing for the under-18 set.

With adults, it’s all pretty common sense. If you publish romances or gothic mysteries or airplane centric real crime novels, then you know your audience is going to be romance fans or mystery enthusiasts or airplane crime novel devotees. Nothing too extraordinary there.

But the minute you publish for the children’s market (and that includes teens), you find yourself having to please two audiences. Oh, yes, there are those actual children and teens the phrase “children’s publishing” implies. But, and this is a big but, there is a second audience, a more powerful audience, the audience with the actual money paying for the books: adults.

And the biggest problem for the publisher is that these two audiences often don’t have the same tastes. What a thirteen-year-old finds fascinating is not necessarily the same thing I find fascinating in my thirties. (This is probably a good thing. Having the exact sensibilities as a thirteen-year-old is probably not in my best interest.) To take on both a child and adult audience simultaneously can only best be described as courageous.

I salute Leap Books on their foray into the nutty dual audience world of children’s publishing. Whether you are a child/teen or an adult (or adult with the heart of a child/teen), their books will find an audience in you.


Madeline Smoot is the publisher of Children's Brains Are Yummy Books, a micro publisher of fantasy and science fiction for children and teens.

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