Coming off October’s 31 Days of the Next Big Thing in YA here at The Hub, I was excited to attend the pre-conference session at YALSA’s 2012 YA Literature Symposium called “What’s Next? Trends, Fads, and the Next Big Thing in Publishing.” As much fun as it is to get out our crystal balls and predict what will be the next big thing in YA, it’s also important to develop methods and resources to find out what teens really are reading. Even as library budgets struggle to recover, YA literature has seen another year of increased sales and interest. Presented by Emily Scherrer, Sarah Holtkamp, and Jennifer Lowe, this session presented a broad range of resources and tips to make sure we’re delivering the books our teens really want and not ones that will sit on the shelf gathering dust.
One interesting idea presented was to not just talk to your teens at books discussion or teen advisory groups but to find that “Teen Zero” whom other teens go to for recommendations. These are teens their peers look to for what’s cool or interesting, and identifying them gives librarians a direct line to the next big thing. Another key point is to monitor trends in media like television and movies. Popular shows like Games of Thrones and Downton Abbey will filter down to our teen audiences and interest will follow. Another area to monitor is the literature and YA blogs and not just library-specific websites. (*ahem* The presenters gave much love to The Hub for its diverse posts and different perspectives on YA lit. Thank you kindly.)
The presenters also opened the discussion to the audience, asking what we think the next big trend will be. Many people see extreme weather stories about things like hurricane and climate change becoming more prominent based on recent events. We also talked of the continued popularity of dystopian fiction and how, rather than going away, there will be a fractioning into sub-genres like thrillers, romance, and adventure titles. We also identified those areas of YA lit we think will are more a fad, quickly becoming popular and just as quickly fading away. Certain areas of paranormal romance (a constant YA staple) like mermaids and fallen angels may see their time setting, while unexplored paranormal creatures (leprechauns, anyone?) may see a surge.
One idea that the presenters kept coming back to was knowing our teens and our communities and being in touch with what they are into. Even if steampunk is all the rage a town over, if your teens aren’t into it, then all the buzz in the world won’t save those titles from the dreaded withdrawn pile. Overall it was an informative and interactive presentation that was the perfect way to kick off this year’s symposium.
One final tip: Don’t recommend the House of Night series to a nine-year old. That’s rude.
— Amanda Margis, currently reading The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan