A Romance Writer Gives Teen Chick Lit a Try

    My entry into the young adult market was like stumbling into a broom closet with the light off.  I had a story idea and had to get it out.  I figured I’d worry about market research as I went along.  Months have passed and I’m still worrying about it, but also trying to find an agent to help me sort it.  For those of you considering writing young adult fiction, I’d like to share some of the handy stuff I’ve come for those who might be considering it.


  1.  “The Colossal Directory of Children’s Publishers” can be found at http://www.childrens-publishers.com/.  If a publisher has a website, the link is included.  However, this list includes picture books and nonfiction.  I haven’t come across any inclusive list of teen lit publishers, but I’ve come close.  Diana Peterfreund (Secret Society Girl, Bantam Dell, 7/06) has collected this list by watching the market and deals in Publisher’s Lunch (http://www.caderbooks.com/).  She notes some of the titles, authors, or themes that might be helpful to teen chick lit writers: 


  • Harper Children's (Meg Cabot, Gayle Forman's Sisters in Sanity)
  • Delacorte (Tina Ferraro, Jennifer Lyn Barnes, Robyn Schneider, A Great and Terrible Beauty , Christopher Paolini... list goes on...)
  • S&S Children's
  • Simon Pulse (Lauren Barnholdt, Nic Burnham)
  • Little, Brown Children's
  • St. Martins (also called Griffin) (Alyssa Noel)
  • Hyperion (Ally Carter)
  • Harcourt (Lara Bowers, described as Steel Magnolias for the 14 year old set)
  • Bloomsbury Children's (Christine Fletcher's Tallulah Falls, "a road trip to find birth mother" story) MTV Books (Jenny O'Connell, Cara Lockwood, Barb Ferrer)
  • Berkley Jam (Mari Mancusi, Serena Robar)
  • NAL Jam (Liza Conrad)
  • Razorbill (slightly edgy YA, Bermuda Triangle, So Yesterday)
  • Houghton (sometimes Houghton/Graphia)
  • Dial Books for Young Readers (if it's anything like grown-up Dial, it means more literary stuff)
  • Llewellyn (name of YA imprint is?, Simone Elkeles)
  • Scholastic
  • Dutton
  • Knopf
  • Viking
  1. Few publishers of young adult fiction post specific guidelines for submissions.  The detail I’ve decided is particularly difficult to find is the amount of sensuality allowed.  I’ve collected this information from reading different authors’ works from the same publisher and had a few surprises. The amount of sexual content can vary widely in the teen age groupings of 12 to 18 or 12 and up.


  1. At the beginning of this quest I decided I’d need an agent to navigate the waters for me.  (Now if only one would cooperate and represent my Aussie trilogy!)  Snagging an agent is generally recommended when attempting to find a home for young adult manuscripts, as many of the publishers will not consider them direct from authors. 

When I emailed for permission to print her above list, Diana Peterfreund gave me some good advice on this topic: “I am a very firm believer in the idea that it is the author's job to write the book and the agent's job to sell it—to follow the market, and find the right house and the right editor.” 



  1. Internet resources can smooth the process of writing young adult fiction. 

·        http://www.underdown.org/ciglinks.htm  Howard Underdown presents a treasure trove of books, magazines, and organizations compiled for The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Publishing Children’s Books .  You will no doubt find resources you haven’t come across.

·        http://bookspot.com/  Click on the Young Adult Books category to find links to Amazon’s teen books page, which includes the top selling books and discussions.  Another recommended stop is teenreads.com where you’ll find polls on teens’ preferences, author interviews and the latest books.  A link to Reading Rants provides insight into “books with a twist.”

·        http://www.smartwriters.com/  “For everyone who writes, reads, or teaches literature for kids.”  This great site posts calls for submissions, contests, writing how to, book news and lots more. 


  1. Look for Internet groups on writing for teens.  One I’ve learned a lot from is Teen Chicklit at Yahoo groups.   Most of the topics I’ve seen involve published authors and industry news, which made me feel more in touch with the market and how to fit into it. 



Time to dust and polish that YA novel.  The deadline for the Delacorte Press YA contest is December 31st   If you don’t make that, consult the 2005 Children's Writers & Illustrator's Market to consider which agent to query.


Without much in the way of guidelines, it seems that the best tip anyone can give an author is to write a super book with engaging characters and a well-constructed plot.  Can’t argue with that.  It’s most likely to work for publishing in any genre!



Copyright 2005.  Originally appeared in Rumpled Sheets, December 2005, Publication of the Missouri Romance Writers of America.  Please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for right to reprint.