What Austin Teens Want Publishers to Know, 2022 Edition

Meghan Dietsche Goel -- March 14th, 2022

One of the great things that came back this past fall, after a long time off, was our monthly meetings with BookPeople’s Teen Press Corps. Moving from our third-floor event space to the outdoor picnic tables, it’s been so great to get together, share ARCs, talk about what we’re loving (or hating), and catch up.

Browsing new ARCs!

So, after a year off, I’m back with another round-up of rants, raves, and requests from BookPeople’s Teen Press Corps. From eighth graders through freshmen in college, our current group reads everything from period fiction to gruesome thrillers to intricate space operas. Voracious and opinionated, they jumped at the chance to share their current thoughts!

What are the trends or tropes are you SO tired of?

  • Zoe D.: “I’m so done with arranged marriage stories.”
  • Jillian: “I hate miscommunication tropes. Third act miscommunication is the worst. Want to chuck it across the room. Makes me think the book wasn’t actually plotted out and feels rude to the reader. (much agreement)
  • Ivy: “There aren’t any true villains in YA anymore that don’t turn out to be the love interest.”
  • Ava: “Yes, it’s ok for villains to be villains. Or they can become friends. They don’t have to become a lover.”
  • Syñae: “I love strong female protagonists, but I’m sick of the trope where she’s supposed to be a badass but she’s really just being mean.”
  • Ivy: “I’m sick of the listing of tropes on book covers and marketing materials without saying anything about the plot.”
  • Ava: “It’s OK to have tropes but needs something unique about it.”
  • Syñae: “It’s like they’re saying, “Kids love enemies to lovers now!” So they’re all doing it, and the stories and characters are just underdeveloped.” (much agreement)
  • Ivy: “It’s hard to find a good romantic contemporary novel with more complexity.”

CONSENSUS: Tropes, shmopes. Give us complexity!

What do you want to see more of in 2022?

  • Rebecca: “I love it in TV shows where you don’t know who you’re rooting for. I need more of that in my life. I like it when there are two sides and you don’t know who’s doing the right thing.”
  • Ava: “I love morally gray main characters / shoutout to House of Hollow!”
  • Rebecca: “I want murder mystery without the mystery. Want to see people trying to cover it up.”
  • Jillian: “I LOVE THAT. A murder mystery from the murderer’s perspective.”
  • Rebecca: “I want to see more college students. I find those stories really interesting.”
  • Ivy: “If you’re going to do love triangles, bring back the Team Jacob vs, Team Edward complex – where you could root for either one. Now, in most YA, one is so obviously just the secondary choice, barely developed, and only there to complete the triangle.”
  • Zoë G.: “Twists on love triangles are good. Two love interests decide to be with each other instead of the main character. Or enemies to lovers where they stay enemies.”
  • Syñae: “I really miss platonic relationships. And more female friendships.” (shoutout to Loveless and Seafire!)
  • Ivy: “Yes, I would love a nice friendship book.”
  • Rebecca: “I definitely want more male / female friendships that aren’t romantic.”

CONSENSUS: More friendship, less boilerplate romance please!

What about covers? What are you most drawn to right now? 

Showing off two great covers.
  • Jillian: “I prefer covers with art rather than photography. BUT I loved House of Hollow. The flowers and bugs make it really cool.”
  • Ava: “Also Wilder Girls! A drawn face styled with florals!”
  • Rebecca: “I love painted covers, darker colors. Also covers that set the right atmosphere for the book.”
  • Ava: “I love when covers have Easter eggs you can’t see until you read the book. (Shoutout to Scythe!)”
  • Ivy: “The King of Scars duology is so pretty, especially under the cover. I wish more books did that.”
  • Zoë G.: “I take off the cover before buying it, and the case can change my decision. I love a hidden reveal under the jacket.”
  • Ivy: “Middle grade covers are the best. They always match, and when you line them up in a series they sometimes all line up to make an image on the spines.” (much agreement)
  • Ivy: The clear cover on Permanent Record is one of the coolest things.

CONSENSUS: Cool cases really make a difference!

What are your cover pet peeves?

  • Rebecca: “Match the mood! Don’t put light colors with a dark book.”
  • Syñae: “YA covers that look the same as a lot of other books. I don’t buy them.”
  • Ivy: “The biggest disaster was The Diviners series, which kept changing the cover style.”
  • Zoë G.: “When one paperback is slightly taller than the others, it drives me crazy.”
  • Zoe D.: “I want the whole thing in hardcover, but then when there’s a mid-series change, you can’t go back and get the original. For Carry On, they reprinted the hardcover with the new look. That was really appreciated.”
  • Zoë G.: “I hate when books in the series have different textures.”
  • Jillian: “I hate books that collect fingerprints all over it.”
  • Rebecca: “I put books with colors I don’t enjoy on our family bookshelf instead of in my room.”

BAD COVER HACK: Syñae—“I have a cupboard next to my bookshelf where I shove the books with ugly covers. But that won’t stop me from reading them!”

BookTok – Good, bad, or indifferent?

  • All: It’s hard to enjoy books after they’ve been overhyped. But we still enjoy BookTok.
  • Jillian (creates content on TikTok): – A lot of what you see is the same thing over and over, and you need people to fill in the gaps, but you don’t get views if you don’t mention the books that are featured everywhere.”
  • Ivy: “I prefer BookTube. It’s generally more open and not trying to follow trends as much. (Shoutout to ReadwithCindy!)”
  • Syñae:  “There are so many popular books on there that I’ve hated. Most are suspicious.”
  • Jillian: “On TikTok, books that aren’t really for teens get marketed to teens, like books with toxic relationships (specifically Sarah J. Maas).”
  • Zoë: “I don’t like spice, but a lot of books on there are super high spice.”
  • Ava: “BookTok books that go super viral are really good for people who don’t read a lot.”
  • Zoë: “Popular books get popular for a reason, but they tend to be trope heavy, and the more they get hyped, the more people write those tropes, which is why we don’t like tropes anymore.”

CONSENSUS: Yes, no, maybe? But also stop with the tropes, people!

Interested in more from the Teen Press Corps? See some highlights from their recent coverage below:

Browse their archives here!

Note: There are a large number of Teen Press Corps members, but these opinions reflect those of the kids who attended the last meeting.

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