Teen boys are on my mind.
Hmmm, maybe I should clarify. Male teen readers, I mean.
Finding good books for guys – in teen form – has been an important issue for me for a long time. But a few points have brought this to the surface demanding my attention.
- Comment from an agent that YA books for boys are hard to sell
- Comment from an editor (via fellow author) that the average YA reader is assumed to be a 12-14 year old girl
- The incredible girlification of the YA section in two chain bookstores – it didn’t used to be this blatant!
- Discussion with brilliant writer friend who has noticed that in most YA novels with a female protagonist, the romantic guy character does not have his own arc or growth – he’s simply ideal as is.
- A conversation with a friend – who is an incredibly intelligent educated professional, and warm and lovely besides, AND married to a lovely man but who happens to have grown up with only sisters and now has only daughters – who let it slip just how frightening she finds boys in general and thinks my pleasant son must be an exception. She’s not a writer, but I’m thinking maybe she’s not alone in her thoughts, either.
There has been a long-standing rumor that guys don’t read. Of course some guys don’t – but some girls don’t either. The teen years are loaded with competition for reading time: required reading and school work, jobs, love, online and other electronic distractions, etc etc etc. But a lot of teens – both female and male – DO find time to read.
I distinctly remember when my oldest son told me that he had read every single book of interest to him that was available in our local library – and I realized it was true. We were able to branch out and find other books for him – but it wasn’t always easy. And for a while he gave up on fiction altogether. Which is fine, but it was something he missed. He simply couldn’t find fiction that appealed to him.
If the assumption is that teen guys don’t need YA books and so no one publishes and/or actually sells books for them – then where can the guys who want to read find those books? Uh, duh. It’s that self-fulfilling prophecy.
More to come…
Sarah Wones Tomp
WRITING ON THE SIDEWALK