What are some upcoming trends?
With the push toward diversity (which I love) and more teens looking to make a positive impact, in addition to the racially diverse titles the market needs now, I hope we’ll be seeing books from major publishers as well as indies that showcase the experiences and viewpoints of those from other marginalized categories in our society, such as those with mental and physical disabilities. Seeing The Crossover, All the Bright Places, Rain Reign, and books like those (diverse for a variety of reasons) do well and win awards has really been great to see, as has authors writing “diverse” characters whose humanity is the main focus—looking at the similarities that link us instead of the boxes that divide us.I think we might also see more mainstream fiction books that entertain while making a deeper statement.
On the other end of the spectrum, I can see fantasy moving away from the gritty dystopian aftermath and back into interesting worlds with strong characters and intriguing plot setups.
What book/genre/topic would you like to see cross your transom?
Going off the above, I’d also like to have more books for male readers, as well as books that show different viewpoints and explore different experiences that reflect the teen community at large. And, well, well-written proposals with some teen romance are usually a good bet when it comes to sales! I also have a soft spot for a book that has a serious edge but also knows how to integrate humor so that it adds to the book and its emotional depth.
What topic don’t you ever want to see again?
Anything with a hero or heroine who thinks they’re weak or lacking confidence, yet it’s very evident early on that they’re going to save the world/win the girl or guy/do the big thing that drives the plot. And for me personally, books in the line of 50 Shades of Teen Lit aren’t exactly my cup of tea or, when it comes to proposals, suitable for work…especially when your screen faces the hallway.
What is unique about your corner of the industry?
There are some YA imprints that focus on the grittier side, but at Blink, we try to offer an alternative that is authentic yet hopeful for those who may want something a little different. For instance, we recently released Both of Me from Jonathan Friesen, which isn’t a light read. But while the narrative explores the pain and hurt the characters are living with—some of which might never go away—it also highlights the positive things that can make life worth living.
Any interactions with indie authors lately?
I’ve been talking with some people who publish on Wattpad, and there is some really great stuff on that platform! I have to be really careful not to get too sucked in, as I could spend hours combing the site and reading various stories.
Jacque Alberta is the acquisitions editor for YA fiction and nonfiction at Zondervan as well as the editor of the teen imprint Blink. Her favorite part of the job by far is working with authors to help craft amazing stories. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with a hyperactive wire fox terrier and piles upon piles of good books.