Harlequin Enterprises has launched Harlequin TEEN, a new fiction imprint for young adults. The timely launch comes during a period when young adult fiction is one of the rare sectors to buck the recent slump experienced by most publishers and book retailers. Romance fiction, a genre in which Harlequin is a notable market leader, is another sector that has thrived despite the recession. Many booksellers, such as Borders and Barnes & Noble, have created teen sections in their stores to capitalize on the trend.
Harlequin TEEN launches with titles by three New York Times bestselling authors in 2009. Rachel Vincent's My Soul to Take (August) stars a teenager who discovers that she is a banshee. Intertwined by Gena Showalter (September) features a teen who learns that he has four souls living inside him. The protagonist of P.C. Cast's Elphame's Choice (October) is a young half human, half centaur who sets out to make her own way in the world. Cast is the author of the popular young adult House of Night vampire series with her daughter Kristin. Rachel Vincent has also penned My Soul to Lose, an eBook prequel to her launch title. It is available for free download at www.SoulScreamers.com.
"These books feature teen protagonists, which is not something Harlequin has traditionally done," says Harlequin TEEN senior editor, Natashya Wilson. "Most readers have come to us as young girls and had to 'read up' to the editorial. However, Harlequin TEEN stories are specifically written for teenage readers. Harlequin publishes a wide range of books for women, and Harlequin TEEN ensures that teens and young women also get the opportunity to share in great entertainment and a rewarding reading experience."
Harlequin TEEN will have a full publishing program in place by 2010 and expects to publish 12 to 14 titles in that calendar year. Many of the novels will feature paranormal, fantasy and science fiction elements. The target demographic is girls ages 13 to 18. "Younger women are a natural extension of our core readership," says Margaret Marbury, Harlequin's director of single titles, "and we want to offer them tales -- not necessarily romances -- that appeal to them."
Harlequin has some experience in the young adult marketplace. The publisher successfully launched the Kimani TRU line in 2007, targeting African-American teens.
Harlequin TEEN's Web site, www.harlequinTEEN.com, allows readers to find out more about titles by reading excerpts, posting their own reviews, watching book trailers -- or in the case of Rachel Vincent, downloading the free eBook prequel, My Soul to Lose.