A call for more diverse submissions to the YA Book Prize

Now that we are in December the deadline for submissions for the YA Book Prize 2016 is fast approaching, and publishers have only a few more days in which to submit their best novels.

The need for the YA Book Prize became particularly apparent last week after two debates about YA raged on Twitter – one after Scott Bergstrom criticised YA for being too morally simple, and the other when Joanne Harris tweeted #TenThingsYANeedsMoreOf, calling for, amongst other things, more LGBT characters and stories that "flip the bird to the concept of 'perfection'".

On both occasions, YA authors responded angrily, pointing out that there is a wealth of different kinds of YA being published, not just the blockbusters like The Hunger Games or The Fault In Our Stars.

And they’re right. For YA with LGBT characters, why not pick up Liz Kessler’s Read Me Like a Book? Or James Dawson’s All of the Above? Or Julie Mayhew’s The Big Lie?

A book that turns the idea of perfection on its head is Holly Bourne’s Am I Normal Yet?, whose heroine learns the value of female friendship as she struggles with severe OCD, and as for morally complex YA, I would recommend Patrick Ness’ The Rest of Us Just Live Here, which he wrote because he wanted to write about the kids who aren’t the "chosen ones", brilliantly skewering several YA tropes in the process.

These are just some examples of the wealth and diversity of YA that is out there and yet if readers aren’t aware of them, the industry has a problem.

That’s where the YA Book Prize comes in. We can’t fix all the problems relating to diversity in publishing but hopefully we can do something towards raising awareness of all the different types of books that are out there. On the 2015 YA Book Prize shortlist we had comedy, horror, and literary fiction, and the winning novel, Louise O’Neill’s Only Ever Yours (Quercus) was a brilliant feminist and dystopian satire of society’s attitudes to women.

For the 2016 prize we would like to make our shortlist even more diverse. So far our submissions are mainly books by white authors, published by large publishing houses, but they are not the only types of books we are interested in.

So, please, if you are a publisher with a brilliant, undiscovered YA novel, send it in. You have until 4th December.

•The Bookseller launched the YA Book Prize last year to celebrate YA novels written by authors based in the UK and Ireland. Publishers can submit up to four titles per imprint. Full details are on the YA Book Prize website.

Charlotte Eyre is The Bookseller's children's editor.