Writing Op: Books for Black Teens

Publisher’s Weekly has a great article from December 8th about the need for more books geared towards the black teen/YA market.

Publishers have noted that black teens will read if they have something that interests them, and that black teens have money and like to buy stuff.  (Kinda like how they discovered 20 or so years ago that black adults read and will buy books if there’s content they like.)  But there’s some good info in the article that’s worth a look. Some highlights:

Wilson notes that series revolving around high school drama do well, compared to stand-alone titles. She cites the success of Scholastic’s Bluford High and Dafina’s Drama High series as evidence. Dafina began its young adult publishing program with the Drama High series by L. Divine and has since signed the author to a 14-book deal, with plans to publish her until 2011. Dafina is also looking to start a multicultural YA imprint.

Pocket Books … decided to enter the teen inspiration market after noticing that the genre was underserved. The Simon & Schuster imprint reached out to its authors who write inspirational novels for adults—ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Jacquelin Thomas and Victoria Christopher Murray—to invite them to write for a younger audience.

Scholastic and Kimani Tru are also markets for YA books.  Series centered around high school seems to be the most popular, though they all say they’re looking for new diverse voices and a variety of settings, even historical.

If this year you’re a black author looking to diversify your writing portfolio, you may want to think about the black YA market.  And if you have a child in that age range, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to try being co-authors.  You can build your relationship with your children and make money at the same time.  Sounds like a win-win to me.