Young adult (YA) literature occupies a special place in the world of fiction. Many of the most widely beloved novels of the last century are, or at least started life as, fiction aimed at young adults. It’s a genre that includes classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, Catcher in the Rye, and The Outsiders, as well as newer breakout hits like The Hunger Games and The Hate U Give.

self-publishing young adults books

The Appeal of Teen Books

The 12-to 18-year-olds these books are written for are in the midst of life’s most challenging and formative years. This fiction tends to reflect that, and lends these books a timeless feel for many readers. Young readers are looking for answers to big questions about life, and often, the books that wrestle with these questions have universal appeal.

New Demographics

Some market estimates show almost 70% of YA titles are purchased by adults older than 18.

Market Potential

Half of YA readers are older adults, according to other estimates.

Universal Experiences

These readers seek out the universal appeal of coming-of-age stories, which feature experiences we all share, according to The Atlantic.

Print is Still King

While it’s true that eBooks have been central to self-publishing, today’s self-publishing authors have plenty of resources for offering a print version of their book. And when self-publishing YA, offering this print version is essential.

  • As it turns out, teenagers prefer print books.

  • Surveys suggest that less than 1/4 of teens own an e-reader device, more than 60% prefer physical books anyway.

  • Teens also rely on word-of-mouth and what they find on library shelves to find new books to read.

  • Most YA sales in traditional publishing are print copies. In other words, just offering a digital book on Amazon isn’t likely to get you far in the YA world.

Advantages of Print-on-Demand

Luckily, print-on-demand services now offer an option besides an expensive and risky print run. It will allow you to:

  • offer one individually printed copy for each order (these services are included on IngramSpark and Amazon, among others);

  • avoid shouldering the cost of printing thousands of copies, as you can now publish a print book risk-free;

  • make sure it’s designed meeting professional standards, which is just as important for young readers.

No reader wants to struggle through bad interior design to read a book. Teen readers report that cover design is especially important to them when choosing a book, so as always, this area deserves special attention. The cover should be eye-catching, and featuring images of younger characters is a great way to make it clear what audience your book is written for.

Releasing a Debut Novel

Just ask Susan L. Read, a first-time author whose stunning debut novel, Mermaid Tears, reached international markets with the help of Izzard Ink. You can check out her story, see what our collaboration looked like, and what it meant for a new writer to have experienced publishers by their side at every step of the way.

Breakthrough Branding: Understanding Libraries

Teen readers are more likely to find books through schools and libraries, which is not the best news for self-publishing authors. Typically, getting into libraries can be a real challenge for self-publishers, but it’s no longer an insurmountable one.

As self-publishing and print-on-demand become more widespread, libraries have become more open to carrying self-published work.

  • Get help when it comes to distribution, from retailers like Kobo.

  • Make your eBook widely available to students in schools and libraries, using digital services like Overdrive.

  • Reach the same networks used by traditional publishers, by working with professional talent.

  • Bring a print copy to your local library and offer to do a reading.

  • Get reviewed by trusted sources like Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and School Library Journal.

  • Check reviewers’ websites to find out their processes for submitting your book for review.

Crossover Marketing

for Teens & Young Adults


Don’t forget who’s really buying your book when self-publishing YA. Not only are there plenty of adult YA readers, but it’s often parents that are choosing what books to buy for their teens.


As we mentioned before, appealing to librarians and teachers is often the first step in reaching a teen audience. Make sure your marketing plan takes these adults into account while still reaching out to teens.

General Public

This universal appeal is what makes the YA genre so special, so you’ll want to keep this in mind throughout the writing and publishing process—you’re not just writing for teens, you’re writing for anyone that can relate to the ups and downs of coming-of-age and finding your place in the world.

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