Who is "YA" really for?

Is it really for modern teenagers, or is it for Millenials/ Older Gen Z who think they are [or think like they are] teenagers/ are looking to have their nostalgia fuelled? Or both? I find it interesting when authors on Twitter say things like this:

Ryan La Sala says that “he writes for teens”, so assume that’s his main demographic/main target audience (okay, which is fair and reasonable), but he also goes on to say that he writes for the “generations of queer people who never had characters like his as teens”, which confuses me.

Is he also writing nostalgia bait and representation for people beyond the YA market as we know it, whilst trying to write for the modern teenager at the same time? :thinking: If so, how is it possible, when there are several generations of people to write for (e.g. Gen X, Millenial, Gen Z, etc)?

Teens back then weren’t and aren’t the same as the ones now, and vice versa.

As a late millennial, my teenage years (and young adult years) weren’t the same as the Gen Z people who are going through theirs now, ten or more years later, and Gen Alpha will be different from them and so on.

Maybe he also means that he wants to write for a “universal teenage experience” and create timeless classics that span outside of generations. That is also possible.

Maybe I am overthinking statements that authors make, but I just found it interesting how he worded this Tweet. And other authors too, and even people who make TV shows and Movies (like John Hughes era, and sigh Euphoria).

Those are outside of the realm of just writing “for teenagers” but have teenage settings (especially Euphoria). A lot of people find those movies and shows nostalgic as well, and their kids watch things like The Breakfast Club and relate to them or Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (great movie, btw), etc.

In the immortal words of @Qualeshia12 … thoughts and feelings? :flushed: :wink:

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Young Adult =/= Teenager

Young Adult is just broad enough to include people in college and quarter-life crisis havers. And since 30 is the new 20, and 50 is the new 30, 25 year olds are teenagers.

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Another thing is that queer is what is hip with the kids. Nobody is making queer books about senior citizens-and if they are, they aren’t being promoted on social media.

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So according to this, I’m barely legal at 28? :flushed:

Fetus Chuwwo :baby:

Although I’m not sure if it’s queer-themed or not, this is the only recent book I have seen related to “senior citizens” that has had mass promotion to the masses on social media:

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Saw it on sale somewhere as well. I shoulda bought it, to be honest, lol. I am probably the age group for that :wink: (Old, moldy Churro turned w[h]ine uncle)

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Anyone of any age who wants to read YA, middle grade or Dr. Seuss can feel free to, but I can’t relate to that. I totally hated my teenage years and I’m so glad to be out of them! There’s no nostalgia in it for me I’m afraid. I’ve always thought that human brains were hungry for knowledge and that we should all be reading a little above our age group, so kids should be reading middle grade, middle graders should be reading YA, and teens should be reading adult books, but I’m alone in thinking this. I started reading adult books when I was 12 and never went back, so I honestly can’t understand this thing for grown adults to read teen books. It totally boggles me. ʕʘ_ʘʔ

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Yeah, this is why I never liked the whole “age limits” thing with genres. YA is open to anyone who wants to read it. Same with other stuff. Like, I know boomers who love YA and a hell of a lot of Gen Z who are into it too. I get why age limits exist for certain things (duh) but come on

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By definition, YA is meant for teens 13-18, though the trad-industry may push the boundaries of the higher ages to include NA (new adult) - which is readers 18-25 - (making YA meant for 13-25) since they don’t consider NA as an actual category. NA, though, will depend on the content because books from Colleen Hoover, which I’ve heard has been said to be NA, wouldn’t pass as YA because of how mature the content is and the fact that the readership may appeal to more of the adult crowd than the teen/older teen crowd, whereas Sarah J. Maas has multiple YA series (Court of Thorns and Roses, for example) which she considers to be NA but the content fits more with the older YA crowd because of its fantastical themes and it doesn’t get too spicy until later on in the series. Plus, the character is 19, and they may believe that the older crowd wouldn’t want to read about someone who is in her final teen years. So, it’s in YA and they try to appeal to the older teen crowd.

But just because you write a YA story doesn’t mean it can’t appeal to other people who don’t belong in that crowd. Lots of LGBT+ romances are read, and loved, by straight cis people. And some do write about it, too. Lots of adult novels and children’s novels are read by people who are not in their age group—many teens, and some kids, reads adult novels; many adults and teens reads kids books—so it having a particular age group in mind doesn’t mean only that age group can read it.

On the other hand, many writers do try to write to a broader audience even if they are technically supposed to be writing for a specific audience. Books or other forms of media can touch the hearts of people who may least expect it, especially if there’s themes and elements to it that may hit home.

I mean, think of Bluey. It’s a kid show directed to toddlers. However, most of its audience and fan base are adults and teens, many of whom are childless. Myself included, and I’m almost 27. But why? It’s because it heals your inner child. It’s comforting. And there are episodes and scenes that reach out to the older audiences. Like, there’s an episode about how Bluey started walking, and it touched on the topic of parents thinking they’re not good enough because other parents got their kids to walk or do something earlier than their own. So it reached out to the parents that feel that way, and helped them understand that you are doing good even if you think you aren’t. But just because they have episodes where adults and teens can resonate with it doesn’t mean it’s not going to be a kid show anymore. It’s primary audience will always be for little kids.

As a writer of YA myself, I do primarily write toward the modern teen, but I also ensure that people from other age groups can find something to like about my writing. A part of it may have to be where they can see a bit of themselves in the characters, whether based on age or other piece of representation.

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??? People can empathise and identity with characters regardless of age

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They can but everyone has different idea about what is appropriate for teenagers all over the world.

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As many of you pointed out YA is a YMMV kind of concept, because each person has their own opinion as to how to apply the title. But it can be said for many ratings out there, what I consider MA isn’t the same as others (probably well more conservative than most.)

Personally, looking at YA vs NA I think it would work the other way around where New Adult is someone just reaching adulthood (18 ish), and Young adult from about 20-25… just by the implications of new and young… but that obviously isn’t the case.

It’s almost as if they should break it up into:
Teen - 13-17
NA - 18-20
YA - 21-25

But I don’t make the rules…

What I don’t like about the OP is how it seems to be grabbing for audiences it may not necessarily represent. I don’t think I have enough context to make that an official observation, but I get leery of heavy-handed claims.

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I suppose that’s true. But it doesn’t matter in regards to the original question: who it is for.

YA fiction has always had intergenerational appeal — think Oliver Twist, Treasure Island, Tom Brown’s School Days, The Bell Jar, The Catcher in the Rye, The Outsiders, His Dark Materials… the list goes on.

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But do you think that teenagers aged 13-18 are interested in reading modern YA books as much as their parents?

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Yeah, why wouldn’t they?Just this week I’ve seen stan wars between the “OG” Hunger Games girlies and the “new” Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes girlies.

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Do stans really represent the majority of teenagers these days though?

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Well it’s a multi-billion-dollar franchise, and YA is a mutli-billion-dollar-market. Someone’s reading it.

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Yes but is that market made up of primarily teenagers?

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Teenagers do have expendable income you know. In the US alone teens have over $100 billion in spending power :man_shrugging:

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I know that but that alone is not proof enough that teens are actually buying these new releases

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Why are you under the impression that it’s adults who are frothing at the mouth over it? :thinking: Just because creators on TikTok & YouTube are gushing about YA doesn’t mean the YA section in shops are overrun with adults

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Maybe not overrun, but possibly increasingly poorly-named

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