Teen Girl Protagonists Lead Book Sales

It’s a good time to write about teen girl protagonists–and not just in YA:

“To get to the million-dollar mark for debut fiction this year, it apparently helps to have a female teenage protagonist. In February, Riverhead bought 30-year-old Washington University writing professor Anton DiSclafani’s first novel called The Yonahlossee Riding Camp For Girls. The book is about a 16-year-old named Thea Atwell during the Great Depression who is sent to an equestrian boarding school in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. And just out in hardcover is The Age of Miracles by 32-year-old Karen Thompson Walker, who worked on the coming-of-age story for about an hour each morning before going to her editorial job at Simon and Schuster. That is, until she received a million-dollar advance from Random House.”

Coming-of-age stories have always been popular, but I wonder if this trend is part of YA becoming more accepted as a genre. The Katniss effect?

One thought on “Teen Girl Protagonists Lead Book Sales

  1. I originally started my book in 1998 with a 24 year old protagonist with no personality (to be fair, no one in that draft had much personality).

    When I decided to start all over again from scratch in 2009, I had the idea to start the entire thing with a coming-of-age ceremony (a la bat mitzvah), and I ended up making my protagonist 16 years old because that was the typical age of majority in the middle ages (and my people’s culture is still somewhat stuck in the middle ages), and because that used to be the age when girls were recognized as women. Being a debutante (sweet sixteen) was all about being introduced to adult society. It was time to go to parties and dinners, make social calls, and start courting.

    I have no idea why I wanted to do that–I didn’t read any YA literature until after I finished my first draft–but it’s worked quite well. I’ve only had adults read my drafts, and they’ve all approved. Not sure what there is about coming-of-age that seems to appeal to people. I guess it’s because it’s something all of us will either go through or have been through–a communal experience.

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