Thursday, July 5, 2012

3 Publishing Tips and YA Market Trends from Victoria Handley

post by Martina Boone

I'm ba-a-a-ack! I had a lovely vacation in London and Italy, and along with some recharge time, came back with tons of story ideas. That's just perfect, because today's guest has just released a book on writing for young adults that I am looking forward to reading as I dive back into my WIP.

Victoria Handley spent years preparing for a writing career by holding as many contrasting jobs as possible, from baking bread to teaching anatomy and hosting radio shows. She has lived in California, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Oregon, and Colorado, and traveled throughout North America via plane, train, bus, car, and bicycle. She is the author of seven books published in 12 languages.

Her novels have won many honors and awards at home and abroad, and inspired two nonfiction writing books: SEIZE THE STORY: A HANDBOOK FOR TEENS WHO LIKE TO WRITE, and WILD INK: SUCCESS SECRETS TO WRITING AND PUBLISHING IN THE YOUNG ADULT MARKET. She teaches writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and at Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins. Catch her on her website at

Would you love to write the next young adult (YA) novel?

An Interview with Victoria Handley

WILD INK is packed with examples on how to turn your own ideas into riveting stories. Dozens of interviews with writers, editors, and agents provide an inspirational view of what’s happening in the industry and advice on how to finish a book and get published. WILD INK even includes a chapter on writing nonfiction YA.

Here's just a partial of the star-studded list of expert contributors:

Sound interesting? You can download a free sample of Chapter Two of WILD INK at And in the meantime, here's an interview with Victoria about craft and her perspectives on trends and the future of YA publishing.

Q. What prompted you to write this book?

I’d been leading workshops at writing conferences about writing in the Young Adult (YA) genre, and workshop participants wanted more. So after thinking about it for at least a year, I got a proposal together (which sounds much easier than it is). I feel lucky to have found a great publisher.

Q. If you could share one tip with writers, what would it be?

Find your voice and then trust it. This is probably true for all genres, but especially for YA, which relies more on voice than any other genre. So open up to what’s most original about you and then follow that voice no matter where it takes you.

Q. What writing advice made the most difference to you in making the jump to published author?

“Send it out again.” Although this isn’t strictly writing advice, it’s advice relevant to writers. Just about every author gets rejected multiple times. So once your book is as shiny as you can make it, you’ve got to believe in it enough to risk rejection.

Q. What do you see as the outlook for young adult publishing in the next few years and how do you suggest YA writers prepare themselves for the changes?

One of the changes already taking place has to do with reader age. Many people aren’t aware that there are now 3 separate categories of reader age defined within the YA genre: 10+, 12+, and 14+. Books for age 10+ readers would most likely have a G rating if they were made into movies; age 12+ would tend to equate to a PG-13 rating; and the newest category of 14+ (aka grade 9 – 12) is closer to an R rating.

I expect that the 10+ category of YA will soon merge with what is now known as middle grade (MG), while the 14+ category will dramatically expand as more and more adults (who now make up at least 50% of YA readership) discover the genre.

YA bestsellers are found in just about every subgenre, from realistic contemporary to fantasy, sci-fi, romance, action/adventure. And we’ve seen mega-bestsellers in YA paranormal romance (Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight series) and dystopian thrillers (Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games series). No one knows which book will next capture millions of readers. Will it be a historical fiction novel? Sci-fi? Young detective? Anything’s possible.

My best advice is to repeat what I said above: Find your voice. The authors who are now trendsetters ignored trends to write novels in their own authentic voice. That’s where the magic happens.


  1. Yes. Voice. I agree.

    This element is the uber-key in breaking out & standing out. I keep hearing it from every side. Be bold. Don't be a chicken-shit about infusing your writing with your own dinstict personality.

    1. Yes! Voice is one of the hardest things to master, not only because it requires courage and craft to put it on the page and develop it, but also because there is often a fine line between a writer's voice and the voice of a character or characters. Great advice!

  2. Wow -Wild Ink's contributors are jaw-dropping impressive. It's nice to meet you, Victoria. The books sounds super.


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