Pub Rants

What Are The Big YA Debut Break Outs in 2012?

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STATUS: I need 5 more hours in any day.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? COLORADO CHRISTMAS by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Yesterday Sara Megibow and I went to lunch – just the two of us – so we could sit down and process the year. Celebrate what was great. Commiserate on what wasn’t. LOL

Of course the conversations came around to what we think is hot or trending. And honestly, I’m not sure I see any clear direction there but I can say in the adult realm it’s definitely genre cross-over novels, literary thrillers, and big upmarket literary commercial novels that appeal to women readers and book clubs.

In YA, it’s a  bit more murky. In fact, neither Sara or I could think of a single debut author that broke out in a really big way in 2012. (Marie Lu’s LEGEND debuted fantastically but that published in November 2011 so I’m not counting it per se…). Maybe CINDER? That title looked to have done well (and pubbed in January ’12). 

Certainly many already established YA authors did quite well in 2012 (Green, Condie, Roth, Dessen, Hopkins, Bray, Asher etc.) but I’m not sure I could name a 2012 debut. So I figured I would ask you folks! Sara and I might simply be having brain fatigue.

At this time of year, I always like to look back at the books on the 2012 BEA YA Buzz Panel. The titles were the following:

CREWEL by Gennifer Albin (Dystopian/speculative)
WHAT’S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang (Dystopian/speculative)
SKYLARK by Megan Spooner  (Dystopian/fantasy)
SKINNY by Donna Cooner (Contemporary YA)
COLIN FISHER by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz (YA contemporary mystery)

Looking at the numbers on Bookscan wouldn’t suggest that any of them are a breakout – although I’m wondering if it just is a slower build now as dystopian/speculative have been a hot trend for a while.

Now there are two contemporary YAs on that list. I was kind of hoping the trend would swing back in the contemporary direction. Too soon to tell I think. Sara has an author doing well in that realm (Kenneally) as do I (Elkeles) but we need the next John Green or Zarr.

Most likely there is a quiet title out there gathering steam. Any ideas? Put some titles in the comments section.

32 Responses

  1. Lindsay Smith said:

    Code Name Verity seems to have done very well, though I’m not 100% sure it pubbed in 2012 (and I think it pubbed earlier in the UK). I wouldn’t point to any one YA fantasy debut but the subgenre as a whole seems pretty strong this year (Shadow and Bone, Seraphina, Throne of Glass).

  2. Kristi said:

    Slammed by Colleen Hoover debuted this year – self pubb’ed and then got picked up. She was on the USA & NY Times for that book and it was my favorite of 2012 so far.

  3. Alessa Hinlo said:

    Code Name Verity doesn’t count as a debut though because it’s not Elizabeth Wein’s first YA novel.

    What about Easy by Tammara Webber? That one followed the same path as Slammed: self-pubbed, then picked up by traditional publisher. I realize both Easy and Slammed are being touted as being part of the emerging New Adult genre now but Webber marketed Easy as mature YA when it first came out.

  4. Ninja Girl said:

    I’ll second Throne of Glass. The book got a lot of buzz, great start to a new series. And I actually bought 3 copies myself–one for me and two as gifts.

    Cinder, my current read, also seemed very successful. Easy by Tamara Webber was my number one buzz book of the year. I think that book may set the standard for New Adult books to come.

    Ninja Girl

  5. Kendall A. said:

    For quiet debuts, I’m betting ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL by Jesse Andrews and THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST by Emily Danforth will get a lot of play come award time.

    And Leigh Bardugo’s SHADOW AND BONE seems to be getting a lot of attention.

  6. Elena Gleason said:

    I think Seraphina may be on the verge of a breakout. It’s one of those “quietly gathering steam” ones. There’s been a ton of buzz for it on Goodreads, and it made it into the Goodreads Choice semi-finals thanks to write-ins.

  7. Anonymous said:

    Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey? I just got this from the library so I’m not sure if it is YA or not as I haven’t finished reading it. It definitely has the buzz which is how I heard about it.

  8. Natalie Aguirre said:

    I’d say definitely Throne of Glass. Also Shadow and Bone, Seraphina, Shatter Me, and Under the Never Sky got a lot of buzz though some may have been published the end of 2011.

    The False Prince is not a debut book but got a lot of buzz. These are ones that come to mind off the top of my head.

  9. Elizabeth K. said:

    I recently enjoyed Henry Franks, a YA debut by Peter Adam Salomon. Nice, slow build of tension and suspense, and it kept me guessing.

  10. Alwyn said:

    As others have mentionned above “Shadow and Bone” by Leigh Bardugo seemed to Debut well this year.

    In the Dystopia category, not sure about Book sales, but S J Kincaid’s “Insignia” certainly seemed to storm in with big movie news right off the bat.

  11. Kirsty said:

    That BEA list is interesting because it highlights the theme of the year for me: too many similar dystopians all vying for the same audience, hence none of them really breaking out in a big way. And of course all were overshadowed by the original trend-setter THE HUNGER GAMES finding an even wider audience with the release of the movie.

    There seemed to be a rush of mermaid books mid-year too (I guess the sea setting is a summer thing?), but none of them made a splash.

    *Hangs head in shame over predictable pun*

    CODE NAME VERITY definitely felt like a breath of fresh air this year. Perhaps it was the focus on friendship over the standard love interest.

  12. Cathy said:

    I don’t have an answer, but would be interested in reading a post that defines how many copies need to be sold for a book to be considered a breakout title, and the number of copies sold that slot it into the average sales category for the YA market. Thanks!

  13. Anonymous said:

    Just a thought: Crewel seemed far too similar to Shadow and Bone for me, maybe that’s why no breakout? Shadow and Bone came out first.

  14. Marie Hall said:

    Onyx by Jennifer Armentrout hit the USA today or NY Time Bestseller list, can’t remember which, it also is one of the finalist on the goodreads choice awards. However, I think she was already establishing herself last year, so maybe that’s not what you’re seeking.

    But I pretty much heart anything she writes!

  15. Creative A said:

    I feel possibly there weren’t so many big debuts this year because there were a lot of truly hot sequels and new series in YA. I’m thinking of Days of Blood & Starlight, The Raven Boys, The Darkest Minds, etc.

    As for pure breakout debuts, I think my vote goes to Shadow And Bone, Cinder, and Under The Never Sky.


  16. Debbie Barr said:

    It certainly did seem like a big year for sequels. A couple of big trilogies finishing out, and several great sequels being published.

    Cinder and Shadow & Bone were great, but I loved /Grave Mercy this year, although I don’t believe that was a debut.

    I’ve noticed a big trend towards science fiction/cyborg novels. I feel like half the ARCs I got from our regional book conference this fall were titles that involved robots or androids of some kind. But I guess that’s a 2013 trend…

  17. Sarah Faye said:

    I’m so happy to see Seraphina mentioned in the comments, as it was not only the best debut YA novels I read this year, but also one of the best books (aside from Such Wicked Intent.) It was classic and tasteful and didn’t rely on any of the teen cliches that are so abundant these days. It kinda makes me cringe how bad teen books are getting and that’s the new standard so they can continue to have poorly contrived plots relying on weak unbelievable love stories. Seraphina put plot and voice ahead of faulty gimmicks and I really commend Rachel Hartman on such a fabulous success!

  18. Sarah Faulkner said:

    Cinder by Marissa Meyer did very well. Scarlet, by A. C. Gaughen was a Teens Top Teen Nomination this year. That was a debut as well.
    I also saw Incarnate by Jodi Meadows on quite a few sites.
    I have no idea what the sales numbers looked like for these books, but that’s the publicity interest I noticed.
    ~Sarah Faulkner

  19. Anonymous said:

    Cracked by K. M. Walton (contemporary) – I can’t explain how much I loved this debut. I have lent my copy to practically every reader I know, and the two main characters (one the bully and one the victim) have gotten into everyone’s hearts. I’m thinking it might be one of those quiet titles you mentioned…gathering steam. I haven’t seen it make any best of lists – but it should’ve.


  20. Sally said:

    Seraphina was a fantastic debut. Not only a debut, but maybe the best YA novel in 2012. I can’t wait for the sequel (squee!)

  21. Katy said:

    I’m loving ORIGIN by Jessica Khoury! It’s still a pretty recent release. Beautiful writing and vivid story, especially for a debut novel. I’ve also heard a lot of good things about UNDER THE NEVER SKY, although I haven’t read that one yet.

  22. Anonymous said:

    As I recall, the only 2012 traditionally pub’d debuts that made the NYT list were Cinder, The Selection, and Shadow and Bone. However, I think they each just stayed on for a single week, so I’m not sure if that counts as a breakout or not.

  23. Anonymous said:

    Seraphina also made the NYT list– but only the week of its debut, as I recall.

    How much of the success of a book comes from the publisher’s push? Under the Never Sky, for instance, was a major deal and got a huge push.

  24. Rachel Stark said:

    Marissa Meyer’s CINDER was definitely a big one. SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo also seems to have been a strong breakout. And THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas has developed a huge fan base pretty quickly.