Posted by: J. Thomas Ross | July 13, 2011

Romancing the YA Editor by Marie Lamba

Guest Post by Marie Lamba

What do young adult editors want? What the heck is going on in the publishing industry? And what’s love got to do with it?

At the end of June, I attended the YARWA (that’s Young Adult Romance Writers of America) meeting held during the massive RWA conference in NYC. YARWA is a newly formed chapter in RWA, and the event held a relatively small group of writers (140) and a panel of six editors who discussed everything from sex in YA to ebook trends.

The panel featured Leah Hultenschmidt from Sourcebooks, Tara Weikum from HarperCollins, Wendy Loggia from Delacorte, Noa Wheeler from Henry Holt, Julie Tibbott from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Natashya Wilson from Harlequin. Author Marissa Doyle served as moderator. The questions were fast, some of the answers even faster, and the panel quickly dissolved into a schmooze session with the authors descending not on the editors, but on the agents that peppered the audience. As for me? I snagged free chocolates and then talked to the editors, instead. (You can see I’ve got my priorities sorted out.) Here are some takeaways from that evening.

How are you helping authors and promoting their work?:

The majority said that they are going to where the teens are, which is online. They also said that they are giving their authors tips on how to promote themselves, with places such as Delacorte providing an author kit. HarperCollins is also starting to group more established authors with newer ones in promos to generate better publicity for new folk. Amen to that!

What about sex in YA books? Is there too much? Do you censor your authors sometimes?:

Across the board, the editors said that if it was handled well and fit with the material, that they would not ask their writers to remove the steam from the prose. Several editors did say that they would caution their writers, however, to consider their word choice carefully. Including a curse word or a sex scene of a certain type might close off sales to certain school markets. If it isn’t essential to the plot, authors should tread carefully.

What sort of books are you looking for now?:

Leah: female-driven fantasy, gothic overtones, thriller

Noa: upper middle grade and YA, fantasy, steampunk, “horror lite”, romance.

Tara: likes lots of things…starting to feel some paranormal and dystopian fatigue. Realistic, fresh with a twist.

Julie: Definite paranormal and trilogy fatigue. Good historical romance, gothic thriller, something with a cult!

Wendy: good, strong voice. No nonfiction or hard-core sci fi. If historical, needs a supernatural element to rise above. A little paranormal fatigue, but they are still strong sellers.

Natashya: Open to anything not too similar to what putting out now. Likes paranormal, contemporary with something to think about afterwards.

Ebooks and teens?:

Wendy said that ebooks are starting to perk up sales of backlist titles that have great covers and titles. That’s a nice surprise. Julie mentioned that they are starting to buzz new books with a pre-release of an ebook tie-in, like of a related short story. Leah felt that we are at the start of an explosion with teens and ebooks, but said that research shows teens do not hold the book account, so it’s still up to parents to chose and purchase titles. Read: your ebook will need to pass the mom test before a teen will get it!

So that’s it! One evening, a handful of chocolates, and a ton of solid market information. Definitely time well spent.





Marie Lamba is author of the YA novel What I Meant…(Random House), which Publishers Weekly dubbed, “an impressive debut.” Her newly released summery novel Over My Head has been described as, “a funny, touching, and at times heart-breaking young adult novel about the search for love,” by New York Times bestseller Jonathan Maberry. For more info about Marie and her books, visit


  1. Hi Marie–great tips from editors. BTW, I love this latest version of your book cover! Catherine


  2. Great info here on YA trends..thanks Marie!


    • Thanks, Catherine!

      So glad you like the cover. It’s getting a good response from people, and I’m really happy with it too 🙂

      Be well,


    • Happy to help and to be here, Donna!



  3. It sounds like it was a great panel with lots of info and networking opportunities. I love your new cover.


    • Hi Laurie!

      Sorry I didn’t see you at RWA. For folks who don’t know, Laurie is a MULTIPLE Golden Heart finalist 🙂

      Happy you like the cover. Thanks!



  4. […] guest blogger Marie Lamba officially launches her book Over My Head August 5th at Doylestown Bookshop!!! First […]


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