Generally, YA books span ages 12 to 18+. But not all YA is appropriate for 12-year-olds. As YA reaches out for college students, the themes become darker and more complex. The language and content of YA books often keep them off the shelves of libraries.
So how do you know if a book is a YA? Gill listed four characteristics:
*a teen main character
*an inherently teenage story problem
*written for a teen audience
*told in the here-and-now, rather than from adult retrospection.
Middle grade and young adult books can share similar characteristics and have an overlapping audience. The main difference between the two is intensity. In a middle grade book, romance might involve hand holding or some kissing. Young adult takes it further. In middle grade books, a bully might hit or push. In a young adult story, a bully might kill or cause serious injuries. In a middle grade book, a teacher might be mean. In a young adult book, the teacher might be a predator.
Writers should have a good idea who their audience is when pitching manuscripts, but the final decision is often out of their hands. Editors, sales and marketing, and agents help decide a book’s category.