Raise your hand if you love data!!
Jump up and down if you love data about young adult fiction!!!
Now floss real quick if you love data about trans representation by trans authors in young adult fiction!!! (I’m talking about the dance, but if you cannot do the dance, you may floss your teeth instead. Although someone recently told me that the American Dental Association said that flossing doesn’t actually benefit your teeth that much, which is wild to me, but okay, I guess I don’t have to feel guilty about my poor flossing habits!)
But I digress.
For those who know nothing of me and have merely stumbled upon this post like Adora stumbling onto She-Ra’s sword in the Whispering Woods in episode one of the She-Ra reboot: I keep a running database, called the YA/ MG Trans & Nonbinary Voices Masterlist, of all the young adult and middle grade fiction with trans, nonbinary, and/or not-cis characters written by a trans, nonbinary, and/or not-cis person. I include self-publishing, independent houses and Big 5 in this data. This list used to use the term “ownvoices,” but no longer does; the link above will tell you more about why I made that choice.
I was updating the masterlist recently and thought it might be a good time to share some data I noticed while I was doing housekeeping. I’m sure/I hope that there are books I have missed, but this is the data I have based on extensive research through Goodreads and pre-existing databases.
This data is focused on young adult fiction put out through independent houses and the Big 5, because I am interested in what the industry institutions are doing and how they can do better. This data is also only about protagonists; while secondary characters are important, I want to know what the data is on books with trans characters front and center. Lastly, this data is YA only because, sadly, I have not gotten around to doing a thorough scan of middle grade works for books to add. Yet. I promise I will soon. If you are a trans person who has published a middle grade work with a trans character, please send me a message about your work.
Without further ado…
Trans Voices YA Fiction in Indie and Big 5 Publishing: The Data
Year the First YA Trans Voices Novel is Published by an Indie Press:
The Other Me by Suzanne Van Rooyen, Dreamspinner Press
Year the First YA Trans Voices Novel is Published by a Big 5 House:
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo, Macmillan
Number of Trans Voices YA Novels Published Per Year Since 2013
|2022||Idk but I hope we break 10!!|
How Do The Indies And The Big 5 Compare?
|Year||Independent House||Big 5|
How Do The Big 5 Houses Compare to Each Other?
|Year||Macmillan||Penguin Random House||HarperCollins||Hachette||Simon & Schuster|
|2020 (so far)||1||1||3||0||0|
|2021 (so far)||1||0||1||0||0|
|TOTAL (so far)||4||5||4||0||0|
So what can we take from this data? Several things:
1) The number of trans voices YA novels published by indies and the Big 5 is steadily going up! Yay!
2) Indies have always been ahead of the game on trans rep.
3) There is probably a correlation between the number of trans voices YA fiction published by indies and the number published by the Big 5. I don’t know, I’m not a data scientist, but I am very interested in 2020 (and maybe 2021 if the trend continues?) where, as the number of books published by the Big 5 goes up, the number published by indies goes down. As all my high school science teachers would like to remind you, correlation does not imply causation, and if there is causation here, I have no idea what it might be. I can speculate, though, that the uptick in awareness of trans issues in the last five years plus the increasing interest of indie houses has led the Big 5 to realize it has a new and potentially lucrative market to tap into. That’s a more cynical reading. The idealistic side of me thinks that the recent uptick in awareness of trans issues plus the increasing interest of indie houses has given the inclusivity-minded editors at Big 5 more ground to stand on when they push their houses to buy trans voices fiction. It’s likely a mix of both.
4) There has never been a year so far in which every Big 5 house has published at least one trans voices YA novel. There’s still some time for 2020, but we’ll see.
5) On that note, Simon & Schuster and Hachette have some work to do to catch up. They’ve published a few memoirs, but no YA novels. I mean, all the Big 5 houses have some work to do. These numbers are DISMAL! But PRH is ahead (barely). For anyone curious about the PRH imprints doing the acquiring: it’s Viking, Dial, and Random House Children’s Books.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this romp through the field of data contained in my masterlist! Coming soon: Posts breaking down the data on representation of genders in trans voices YA novels, as well as race, and a post combining gender and race.
If you have any corrections to make to the data in this post, feel free to drop me a line. I welcome constructive feedback.