Much of the fan mail and comments I get from adults includes this phrase “I’m not your target audience” before continuing to say how much they enjoyed one or more of my books in (sometimes) slightly embarrassed tones. As if they’re a tad worried to find themselves reading and enjoying a book published for teenagers. How did that happen? they wonder. Does it make me less of an adult?
I understand the anxiety. Before I became a published YA author, I was unaware of how disdainful many adults are towards teenagers and anything that smacks of teenager-y-ness, such as books marketed at teenagers. Looking back, I now find it weird that I was unaware of this. Firstly, I once was a teenager. How did I manage to forget the way many adults treated me?1 Secondly, I stopped reading books for teenagers when I was twelve because I decided I was too
good grown up for them. So, yeah, I seemed to have imbibed adult disdain for the things of childhood and adolescence at a very early age. Yet I got over it enough to forget such disdain existed until I started writing YA.
At which point, wow, did I learn it all over again.
So, yes, I understand why some adult readers of YA feel a bit apologetic about it. But, truly, you don’t need to apologise to me. I am very happy to be writing the books I write and to be published as YA. Every day I wake up and cannot believe my luck to be in such a fabulous genre.
Also it so happens that I don’t write for a target audience. When I’m deep in the writing I’m not thinking about audience, but about writing the best book I can. Unless by “target audience” they mean “subject matter”. Absolutely, adolescence is the central matter of my work. But that’s a subject of interest for those who are about to be adolescents, for those who are adolescents, and for those, like me and the readers who say they are not my target audience, who were adolescents. From the fan mail I see that my books are read by all three of those groups, which makes me very happy.
Or in other words: I happen to think that everyone is my target audience.
You’ve been warned. I’m aiming at YOU.
Heh hem. As you were.
- How come so many adults forget this? [↩]