Monday, 19 January 2015

The Power of (UK)YA - Lucy Coats

Young Adult and children's books are a force to be reckoned with in the UK economy.
"Children’s represented a record 24% of the print market in 2014, and for the first time the sector’s full-year value sales eclipsed those of BookScan’s Adult Fiction category" 
said The Bookseller's review of the 2014 market. This should be good news for all UK children's authors, but it's the UKYA authors in particular I want to focus on here.
"2015 will be OUR year!" 
If I heard that said once, I heard it twenty times last Monday night, at #DrinkYA - a party to celebrate the shortlist for the newly fledged YA Book Prize, sponsored and supported by The Bookseller and others including  (Movellas, The Reading Agency and World Book Day, and organised by Anna James (@acaseforbooks) along with the fab Bookseller team, the indefatigable Jim Dean (@yayeahyeah blog) and Louie Stowell (@louiestowell). It wasn't the authors there who were saying it, though. It was the bloggers, and in particular the bloggers passionate about UKYA, and determined that books coming out of Great Britain and Ireland should be as big as those in the currently US-dominated market.

Jim Dean and Abi
Elphinstone at
It is an indisputable truth that US authors currently lead the YA market. John Green, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins - all have had massive bestsellers, and not only due to the films that have been made out of their books. Why shouldn't UKYA authors have the same success? It's a tricky one. For a start, the UK and Ireland fit into the state of Texas not once, but twice. The US market is huge from a population point of view. They just sell a vaster quantity of books there. However, I firmly believe we can compete.

Last year we had YALC, organised by our brilliant Children's Laureate, Malorie Blackman. It was a stonking success. This year, hopefully, there will be another YALC. But first there will be the YA Book Prize. The shortlist is out, with eleven UKYA authors on it (one of the shortlisted titles, Lobsters was jointly written by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison). What struck me about the list was how diverse it was in subject matter and writing style. There is modern myth (A Song for Ella Gray), fantasy witches (Half Bad), family dysfunction (Salvage), ghostly horror (Say Her Name), contemporary teen issues (Trouble, Goose, Lobsters, Finding a Voice), dystopia (Only Ever Yours) and thriller (The Ghosts of Heaven).
James Dawson and
Non Pratt at
Also, although there are a couple of more well-known names on the list, there are some debuts too, and some who deserve to be better-known than they currently are. This can only be a good thing. The YA Book Prize is a bold initiative, arising from a strong feeling that it was time to celebrate the wonderful homegrown authors we have, to promote them, and to let everyone know that we can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best of the rest of the world in terms of quality, and we should all be applauding that.
Book bags at

Those bloggers who were at #DrinksYA (and many more who weren't) do an amazing job in helping to get the word out to readers. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. We need to appreciate their dedication, their passion, and the time they give to writing about (or filming) pieces about what they love and sharing it. There is a HUGE book buying community out there - we know that more than ever now - and the bloggers and vloggers are doing more than their bit to fuel its appetite. I am constantly amazed and heartened by the amount of book chat there is both on Twitter and Tumblr (just look up 'booklr' on the latter, and join in the frequent #UKYAchat, #YAie and #UKMGchat events on the former). There are forums too, and the latest - Bookish Peeps - is a wonderful community (just created by blogger Jesse Owen of Books 4 Teens), all enthusing about books and reading.

Anna James of
The Bookseller at

In the end, if 2015 IS going to be our year as readers and writers of UKYA, we have to engage, be passionate, talk about the books we love (and yes, put up positive reviews on the dreaded Amazon and Goodreads), and generally support events like YALC and the YA Book Prize.  'Proselytize' and 'Evangelize' are not two of my favourite words. However, I am prepared to be both a proselytizer and an evangelist on behalf of getting UKYA the worldwide attention it deserves. How about you?

Out now from Piccadilly Press UK & Grosset and Dunlap USA: Beast Keeper and Hound of Hades (Beasts of Olympus)
"rippingly funny…offers food for thought on everything from absentee parenting to the mistreatment of animals (even immortal ones)." Publishers Weekly US starred review
Coming in May 2015 from Orchard, Cleo (UKYA paranormal/historical novel about the teenage Cleopatra VII)
Follow Lucy on Twitter

Lucy is represented by Sophie Hicks at The Sophie Hicks Agency


Stroppy Author said...


catdownunder said...

It sounds EXCITING!

Eve Ainsworth said...

2015 is going to be an amazing year. I'm already excited and it's only January!

Joan Lennon said...

YES! Bring it on!

Nicola Morgan said...

Yay for (UK)YA :)

Nick Green said...

Perhaps I would manage to feel more positive about the whole thing if my own YA trilogy had managed to find a publisher... yes I know, me and a million others. Then again, if the publishing industry had been kinder to me, I wouldn't have written it at all. Good to see the genre getting some recognition anyway. Just lagging about a decade behind the trend, as usual.

Emma | My Book Corner said...

I'm ready!! Bring it on!