Hi everyone! I had totally planned on getting this discussion post to you guys sooner, but November has been a crazy busy month for me, I’ve had basically back to back assignments for the past few weeks, so I didn’t have time to sit down and write this until now. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then you will have seen back in February that I did a discussion post on teens in the YA community, talking about the issues relating to them after some Twitter drama earlier in the year. I decided that as a follow up to that, I would write a post about the experiences of twenty something bloggers in the YA community, see how our experiences differ to those of teens and the issues that we face.
Being a twenty something blogger in this community is a strange thing. Not in that there aren’t many of us, on the contrary 20 somethings probably make up the biggest proportion of YA bloggers out there, as a lot of us start blogging in our late teens and just keep going. At some point, every teen blogger will become a twenty something blogger, unless you hit 20 and suddenly decide you’re not going to blog anymore. It’s a strange time, especially when you’re in your early twenties, as we don’t really fit anywhere. We are young adults, but we’re not teens, so by being so prominent in YA it seems like we’re trying to take over their space. There are book bloggers who blog about adult fiction, but it’s a much smaller community than the YA one and we don’t exactly fit in there either, because 20 somethings have different concerns to say 30 or 40 something adults. NA isn’t really a thing, so the community that is the most natural fit for us, is one that doesn’t really exist. It’s a strange feeling and something that I don’t feel is talked about very much, so I decided to speak to some other 20+ bloggers about our place in the community. Here is what they had to say:
Q1: Do you feel like it’s hard for 20 somethings to find their place in the community, particularly those of us who are close in age to teens?
Yes! Especially when YA fiction featuring 18+ year olds are shelved with teenagers rather than a separate YA section. It’s not clear cut what qualifies as teenage fiction and YA fiction, and then there’s NA! I hardly see anything labelled as new adult and it’s not clear just what that is. Some people may feel that people 20 and above are not young adults and shouldn’t be reading YA books, especially people who don’t read YA and consider it teenage fiction.
-Joanne, 21 (no this isn’t me, we just have the same name and happen to be the same age!)
Personally I’ve not found it too hard to find my place in the YA community mostly because this past year or so I’ve been more vocal and involved social media wise because it was the first time I wasn’t feeling anxious or shy to do so. When I was a term and blogging everyone I followed and spoke too was older so I looked up to them and was worried I was just an annoying teen. I can look back on that now and realise that wasn’t the case at all but I was also just far too shy to be that active when I was a teen.
Q2: What have you found to be your biggest struggles as bloggers (related to your age or not)?
Trying not to feel like I’m copying everybody else in terms of reading the same books. But at the same time, feeling like my voice isn’t being heard enough BECAUSE I don’t always read the same books as everyone else.
I definitely feel this one sometimes! I do read a lot of the hyped releases, so sometimes you do just feel like you’re writing the same stuff as everyone else, but then when I write about books that aren’t as well known, I don’t tend to get much interaction on those kinds of posts because not many people have read them, it’s a hard balance to strike!
I haven’t really struggled that much with blogging about YA books, but I think there are certain attitudes about adults blogging that need to change to be honest. *shrug*
I would totally agree with Steph here, there are attitudes about adults blogging that need to change. Sometimes on Twitter, it seems like people are so passionate about making a space for teens (which we of course absolutely should be doing) that it sometimes comes across as if people don’t want us adults to be here at all, and that’s not right. We work just as hard at getting our voices heard as teens do and just because we’re a little bit older, doesn’t mean we don’t still have useful things to say. There’s also still an element of judgement around adults reading YA, even within the community, you hear people saying “This isn’t for you” or various iterations of that, and whilst I know they mean we are not the intended age range for YA, it still comes across as rather hurtful.
I feel like the book blogging community has so many young readers & they all want to relate to the people who are reading the same books as them. I don’t think it’s hard for us to find a place in the community, but I think it can be hard for us to have a large following since we aren’t the age of a lot of the people who like our content.
It can be hard as a new blogger to make your voice heard when you are new but equally a lot of us are starting to face criticism for reading YA when we are no longer teens but we can also not be considered sophisticated or ‘adult’ enough for a lot of adult books which obviously isn’t true. However, there are a lot of bloggers our age who are hugely successful in the community.
Lauren and Temecka had very similar points, we’re of an age, where we’re older than teens, so seen as “too old” or “taking up space” by reading YA books but at the same time, we’re barely adults so we’re not seen as an authoritative voice on those either! It’s very hard to win at this age!
Q3: Why do you think people in their twenties gravitate towards YA so much? Is it because of a lack of designated community/very few options for books featuring people in their twenties? Or is it something else?
I think it’s a combination of no designated community for us and the fact that I don’t feel like an adult. I still feel like a teen playing house or playing grown up. I don’t even know about taxes or where I’m going to grad school so I certainly don’t fit in with the adult groups.
This particular comment resonated particularly with me. I turned 21 back in September, but I honestly still feel like a fake grown up! I can relate so much more to YA characters who are still trying to figure their lives out, than to adult characters in books who have careers and families and seem to have everything totally together! Discovering who you are and not knowing what you want with your life doesn’t stop at 18 guys!
I would love to read more about university and those early adult years but don’t seem to find many books that cover your early 20s without being romance. YA is also so progressive when it comes to social issues that I think it is really leading the way in fiction. I also like books I find easy to read and don’t have to really concentrate to understand some hidden meaning, especially if I’m on the train!
This is something that I struggle with a lot as well, I would love to read about university and early 20’s life, but it’s just not out there! YA has so much more diversity than adult fiction.
As someone approaching their mid-twenties, I’ve gravitated towards YA because I can’t find myself in books. I struggle to get my head around a lot of adult fiction and I have to really be interested in it in order to actually pick it up and read it. There isn’t a lot of issues covered in adult books that I can relate to. I also think that YA shouldn’t necessarily include teenagers, because technically YA is people who are 20+ in my eyes as teens are exactly that until that approach the end of being 19.
Aimee is absolutely right, it’s so difficult to find yourself in fiction once you reach your 20s, heck even when you get past about 18 it’s very difficult to see yourself represented as a young adult.
Q4: Have you ever found that teens (for whatever reason) have been hostile to you as adult bloggers on Twitter?
I think a huge difficulty is money, it’s something I struggled with when I started blogging and why I’ve gone through so many blogs before settling. I haven’t found anyone specifically come out and be hostile, but it does hurt when people say that YA isn’t for me. It’s what got me back onto reading at 14, it’s my passion, has been ever since although it tends to be adults who say it
I have never had any backlash at all, from anyone or any age group. I’d argue the book blogging community is one of the most inclusive.
I don’t ever feel any hostility from teens however,I would like to say that just because YA “isn’t aimed at us” we’re allowed to have a say in the industry etc, even if we aren’t teens.
I was very happy to hear the responses for this one, pretty much everyone said that teens are always lovely to them on Twitter (which has thus far been my experience also) and I found Cora’s response about it being mostly adults saying we don’t belong in this community especially interesting. I think in a well intentioned attempt to help teens voices be heard, some adults have a tendency to try to silence each other and that’s something we need to resolve, we need to all work together to make sure everyone’s voices are heard rather than trying to silence them. I also totally agree with Rosie’s point, we are still a part of this community, even if YA isn’t aimed at us, as part of the community we should get a say on industry stuff, if we want to.
Q5: What can we do to ensure both adult and teen bloggers feel welcome in the community?
I think bloggers just need to listen to each other. Old or young, we’ve shown we have something to say. Supporting each other is also important, as showing people you appreciate them will keep them blogging.
You need to listen and be inclusive. A community is give and take, and the easiest way to help with problems is give more than you get. Comment back, engage in conversation, just be NICE. If someone says that something is harmful to them then listen. Blogging feels like shouting into the void, it’s nice to have someone notice.
Q6: Would you like to see more books about people in their twenties, like us?
DEFINITELY. There are so many YA books about 15 and 16 year olds when they are still teenagers! A young adult is 18+ and it’s a shame when books are commonly shelved under teenage fiction. There is definitely a lack of books featuring 20 year olds and above and the trials and tribulations they face, be it in the modern day or in a fantasy.
-Joanne, 21 (again not me)!
I think this is one of the big difficulties of the classification of YA the way it is, technically we should really call it teen fiction as YA does make it sound like we’re talking about people aged 18+, who are technically young adults. The big problem is that NA, which is the classification for people of our age, just isn’t a thing at all, books about 20+ are usually shelved either in adult or YA and publishers don’t seem to put out books about 20+ characters anyway, because even though there definitely seems to be demand for it, there’s no obvious category to market it in.
Definitely! My problems haven’t stopped because I got accepted into college. Now I have grad school to think about and a career. Not to mention first apartments and all sorts of things. I think that part of our lives gets glossed over a lot and it’s not fair. I want to feel less alone.
This one bugs me a lot too, because there are so many interesting and life changing things that happen in your 20s and it’s a shame that we never get to see that in books.
It depends how they’re written. I’d love to see characters who are my age that I can relate to, but it doesn’t happen very often! I’ve tried reading New Adult before but it doesn’t really appeal to me in the same way YA does. (Not going to lie, all of the NA I’ve tried has way too much sexy time and not enough relatable content)
I feel the same way as Katie, New Adult is just not for me because of the abundance of sexy times in there, I actually did a whole post about why we needed NA that isn’t totally romance (or sex) focused, if anyone wants to check it out!
Q7: What do you think 20 somethings have to offer the community which is unique to us?
We’re at that point where we’re having to stand on our two feet and discover the real world as it really is. We learn that everything we learnt in school/uni, etc. isn’t all that important and that there are other strengths and advice that we can offer which wouldn’t be patronising.
We have survived through teenage hood! We’ve got through school and maybe some murky relationships and fights amongst friends and family so we can understand characters and their motives more having been through something similar already. When you can connect with a book because of something similar the character has been through to you, the story feels more real and more likely to invoke emotions intended by the author.
Q8: Do you ever feel undervalued in the community, for your age or for any other reason?
I have never felt undervalued. I just found it hard to be involved in a lot of things because I don’t have a huge following and my emails to publisher seem to always go unanswered.
I can definitely relate to this, especially in my first year or so of blogging, I found it really hard to get involved and I didn’t even attempt to get anything from publishers until I got Netgalley last year! It can be hard sometimes when you have a blog with a smaller following to feel like you’re getting heard.
I definitely feel like unless you have that large following or are a publishers favorite you miss out on a lot of stuff. From opportunities, to audience, to connecting with other readers. I feel like it’s a popularity contest a lot
This was a common response to this question, that if you’re not a large blogger, you don’t get as many opportunities. I don’t really know what the solution is to that particular problem, I’m a relatively small blogger myself but I have had the chance to do some cool stuff, I get e-ARCs from Netgalley, I’ve been asked by a couple of companies to do posts for the blog & offered a few ARCs from publishers, but I still feel like I don’t get as many opportunities as some of the bigger bloggers do. Bayy’s absolutely right though, it does seem like a popularity contest sometimes and it doesn’t help that to publisher’s it’s all just a number’s game.
Q9: Is there anything you would like to see change in the community, both for 20 something bloggers and in general?
I’d definitely echo that book events are concentrated in the south east, and I also think publishers can be a little shortsighted and mean when it comes to things like ARCs, etc. By this, I mean not responding to emails (which can feel like shouting into a void), making fans do stupid tasks for books (this happens with a few publishers at YALC) or only sending out books to bloggers with huge followings.
This was part of a larger conversation with the bloggers I talked to, but essentially an issue that was brought up time and time again was that book events do tend to be concentrated around the London area. I didn’t actually realise this was an issue until I moved to Scotland, but it’s very true! From book tours, to book events like YALC, everything is based in the south, the furthest North authors seem to go for author events is Newcastle. I’ve managed to go to a paltry two book tours since I came to Uni. I think as a community, we definitely need to show enthusiasm for events in the North so publishers see that there is a demand and perhaps send more of their authors here!
The location of book events really bugs me. I can’t afford 100+ just for a book event, I also did a mini rant about availiability on my twitter this morning hahaha
I would like to see more of an offline community with events, meetups, and the like, especially outside of London.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this, it was so interesting to get to talk to other bloggers of around my age and see how they feel about the community! I know this post is an epic tome, so well done to anyone who actually manages to get to the end of it, I’m sorry for the length, I just wanted to make sure that as many people as possible who took time out to answer my questions were featured and I got way more offers than I was expecting to participate in this!
If you’re a twenty something blogger then please feel free to add your two cents in the comments! The discussion we had as a group was so interesting, I honestly wish I could have shared it all with you guys, but alas, this tome of a post would be twice the size if I had.
I definitely will not have any more discussion posts for you in November, as it’s the 30th today, but I will definitely be back at some point in December with a new discussion post (maybe even two as I have the whole of December off!). In the meantime, hopefully you’ll be hearing a lot more from me as tomorrow is officially my last day of Uni, I have a book review and several features for my writing corner already planned for December, so stay tuned for those! I will also be posting my wrap up of this year’s NaNoWriMo very soon, so you have that to look forward to as well!