8 Stories YA Agents and Publishers Want Right Now

8 StoriesNo clue what to write next? It might feel frustrating, but you’re actually in a great position. How so, you may ask?

Well, you have the opportunity to consider what agents and publishers want before you become attached to a new story idea. Think of it as fishing with bait as opposed to tossing out a net and hoping for the best.

Knowing what the people who are buying the stories want will definitely be to your advantage! Here are 8 stories you can use to hook an agent or publisher right now.

#1: Diverse Protagonists

There’s a huge need for diverse books, and publishers and agent are eager to get their hands on some. YA is flooded with way too many protagonists who are white American females–we need to see some representation of other cultures!

#2: Strong Male Protagonists

I honestly can’t even remember the last time I read a book with a male lead. I can’t even name five…the only ones I can think of off my head are Harry Potter and Percy Jackson.

There’s no denying it–YA is inundated with female protagonists. This is probably because the majority of YA authors are women. It may be challenging to write from a male’s perspective, but this is definitely something publishers are looking for.

#3: Stand-alone Novels

Believe it or not, we writers don’t have to make every story a trilogy. Publishers are actually getting worn out on trilogies and are looking for stand-alones, especially dystopians. The thinking behind this is it’s less investment on the reader’s part and frees up more time for them to read other books rather than commit to a whole trilogy or series.

#4: Fairy tale Retellings

Fairy tale retellings are really popular right now, and not just in books. There’s the t.v. series Once Upon a Time, and Disney is taking advantage of the trend with it’s recent film remakes: Snow White and the Huntsman, Malificent, the upcoming Cinderella, and the recently announced Beauty and the Beast.

If you can come up with a fresh twist on a classic tale you will definitely catch an agent’s attention.

#5: Steampunk

There’s not a whole lot of steampunk in YA, and I think that’s part of the reason why agents are looking for it. They’re getting tired of all the paranormal and even (dare I say it) dystopian stuff. It’s time to explore new territory.

#6: New Adult

This is a newly emerging genre, featuring characters aged 18-25 either entering or already in college. There’s not much NA out there right now because it’s so new, so agents and publishers are eager to find some captivating stories in this fledgling genre.

#7: Crime and Con Artists

There seems to be a spark in interest relating to crime, spies, con artists, and heists. Think Heist Society or the Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter.

#8: Historical Fiction

With the avalanche of fantasy and dystopians out there right now, there’s not a whole lot of historical fiction. It’s definitely something agents are looking for, however. Especially historical events that haven’t been done a lot or bring a fresh, interesting take.

But What If…

So, what if none of these ideas are what you want to write? Don’t stress. Always write what you are passionate about, no matter what the trends of the market are or what agents and publishers are looking for. You have to love what you write above all else. And someone’s gotta start the next trend, right? 😉

What kinds of books would you like to see on the market?

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16 thoughts on “8 Stories YA Agents and Publishers Want Right Now

  1. I think it’s safe to say I got #2 in the bag for my own story. There’s dashes of #7 as well (elements of murder mystery) and also #1 (my protagonist isn’t really diverse, but many of the supporting characters are.)

  2. That’s awesome! We really need more male heroes, it’s awful how few there are. I’ve talked to teen boys about reading and they said one reason they don’t like to read is because there aren’t many books with male protagonists. This needs to change!!! I’ll be talking about this more on my upcoming post on Wednesday 😉

  3. There are some really good ones out there like the ones you mention, but there’s still an obvious imbalance. I think too that there’s more options in the Middle Grades category, and then once you get into YA there’s an overwhelming amount of romance and more female-driven stories.

    1. I think that is because a large part of the YA market are older teenage women. Hopefully if New Adult continues to grow into a larger genre that will relieve the demand for romance and female-driven YA for an audience that’s actually not YA.

      1. That’s very true and a good point! I think a lot of women in their 20s turn to YA because they’re at that weird stage where there’s not really anything specifically for them. I hope NA continues to grow!

  4. This is actually very motivating. I’ve had an idea percolating in the back of my mind for awhile now, but couldn’t figure out where to put it (I originally thought an animated movie would be fun), but making it a YA book is a great idea. It fits most of these stories, if I decide to go in that direction.

    1. That’s awesome, Beks! Isn’t it a great feeling when everything starts to come together? 🙂

  5. I have #1 and #7 with a bit of #8, because my character is an African American teenager adopted from the past who is an expert hacker. It makes for a fun story, trust me!

  6. I have heard of New Adult before, but wasn’t quite sure what it was until now. And, whaddaya know, my book just so happens to fall into this genre!
    Thanks or sharing, this is a great list! Love your site, too.

  7. #4 Just make sure you aren’t making another Alice in Wonderland retelling. I’m SICK of those. They are everywhere. Books, series, movies, videogames, anime, manga. Ugh.
    Don’t get me wrong, I love Alice in Wonderland (only Lewis Carroll’s book and Disney’s animated movie, though) but it becomes annoying when everyone everywhere in any possible media start making their on version of it. They once made me hate Mad Hatter… I felt terrible. I can’t hate Mad Hatter, I love Mad Hatter.

    Thank you for posting this fantastic entry, Kaitlin! It’s absolutely helpful. I can relate to the publishers and YA agents on this. I, soon-to-be 18-years-old girl, hate YA stories because of a lot of things you pointed out, like the lack of male protagonists and the dystopian universe.

    P.S.: I apologise if I have just murdered English. Not my first language and I’m still learning. Have a great day!

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