1. Thanks for this interesting article. I’ve also been wondering about gender. Do teenage girls read books with a male protagonist, for example? At what age do female YA readers prefer female protagonists?
    Jane Ann

  2. I’ve seen so much debate about this, with very little answers. But overall, I think that the industry has decided that girls *will* read books with male protags (whereas boys are much less likely to read books with female protags). There have definitely been plenty of successful YA novels with male main characters–off the top of my head, John Green’s LOOKING FOR ALASKA, James Dashner’s MAZE RUNNER series, Patrick Ness’s CHAOS WALKING trilogy. Enough that if you’d like to write in a male protag’s POV, then I definitely think you should!

  3. Chris

    Thanks a lot for the helpful article- just what I was after!

    I do have one question that I’m slightly afraid of asking. The protagonist in my YA novel is a ten-year-old boy, surrounded by a group of (largely villanious) people in their late teens.
    Have I committed a serious blunder if I want to market this to 14+ readers?

  4. Hmmm…with a 10-year-old protagonist, it sounds more like a middle-grade book (targeting younger audiences). If the content makes it more appropriate for teen (14 +) readers, I’d consider making your protagonist a little older–13 or 14. Is that possible with your story?

  5. Chris

    Thanks a lot for the fast response! 🙂

    Changing his age would be very difficult, since his youth and fragility form a major part of the storyline. One of the major themes is him trying to maintain his innocence despite a load of bad influences around him.

    Child protagonists can work (e.g. My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece by Annabel Pitcher), but I get the feeling that as an unpublished author, a young protagonist may be one risk too far for potential publishers. Do you think I might be right?

    Thanks again,

  6. Well, my initial thought is that it’s risky, particularly if you’re marketing it as a YA novel. That said, however…who knows, maybe it’s “differentness” is exactly what will make it stand out and catch an agent/editor’s eye. It could certainly work as literary fiction (vs. commercial YA), where basically anything goes!

  7. Chris

    Thanks again. 🙂 To be honest, I’m only just beginning to learn what ‘commercial’ and ‘literary’ fiction even mean, but I think I’ve got a handle on it now. I’m beginning to think that pitching it as “commercial YA” may be a step in the right direction, but please correct me if I’m making a mistake!

    Thanks again,

  8. via

    The book series I’m planning starts off with the main characters at age 12-13 but ends with them being possibly 18-20. The first few books will be very light and overall middle grade but I’m planning some extremely dark events (one of the main characters is killed). I’m not sure whether to simply start off with the characters being older and commit to the darker themes or to keep things as they are. Or should I divide up my series into two parts with part one being the more innocent storyline and part two being more mature?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.