RWA Author Experiment Case Study: Adult & YA Versions - LG O'Connor

RWA Author Experiment Case Study: Adult & YA Versions

This article first appeared in the April 22, 2015 eRWA eNotes Weekly Magazine Volume 15 Issue 16. Reprinted with permission.

FINAL-COVER-Trinity-Stones-YAL. G. O’Connor created an “adapted for young adults” version of Trinity Stones, her adult urban fantasy/paranormal romance. She’s releasing it as an Amazon exclusive e-book and hopes to crowdsource at least 500 sales and 50 reviews before she considers adapting her next book as a YA.

O’Connor said, “This is to test my assumption that teens don’t just want to read about protagonists their age but are willing to take a peek into the lives of 20-somethings in books their mothers would approve of.” The industry defines “young adult” by the age of the protagonist rather than the reader, she explained, which is why she considers this an experiment. “My belief is that young readers don’t limit themselves to only reading books with characters their own age, rather they are limited by the industry definition necessary for booksellers. I’m in search of a new audience not accessible to me with the adult version of the book.”

Initially, the idea came from interest expressed by her teenage nieces and children of friends who wanted to read her books. O’Connor told them they couldn’t until they were 18 due to adult content. Then, she created a version for them “without anything . . . more objectionable than a YA book.” They liked what they read.

A second reason was a book club telling her they wouldn’t read her book due to the heat level (spicy), combined with comments she read in the blog and book communities about the level of vulgarity in books. O’Connor said she decided, “Let me make this YA friendly and see what happens.” She hopes to appeal to not only to young adults, but also to parents who approve their children’s reading materials and to adults who prefer tamer language and sweeter books.

What changes did she have to make? She said since the book is re-edited with changed, deleted, and added content targeted at a different audience, it falls within the “derivative works” category and needs a separate ISBN number. For her new cover, she attached a banner along the top of the original cover (which she owns the rights to).

It only took a few weeks of nights and weekends to revise the content since she’d done the major areas a while ago. She re-edited some chapters and removed vulgarity and explicit love scenes in favor of an acceptable “YA-rated” version. In addition, she added bonus material from her next novella.

Crowdsourcing is targeted to readers who’ve finished the book. “The page after the book ends asks, ‘Want more?’ and explains how to get it and what goals I must accomplish in order for the reader to get the next installment,” she said. “In addition, for their efforts (an honest review which they forward me a link to in e-mail), they get the next book free as a thank you when it’s released.” In order to know where to e-mail her, they need to look at the last few pages of the e-book.

“I'm not sure who else has tried this or if it will even work, but nothing ventured, nothing gained,” O’Connor said.

Click HERE to purchase TRINITY STONES YA

Are you doing something different with your writing or books or implementing a new business decision? If you'd like your author experiment considered for the RWA eNotes column “Author Experiment Case Study,” contact

Ruth Kaufman is an author and voiceover and on-camera talent. At His Command and Follow Your Heart are the first two books in her Wars of the Roses Brides series. Learn more at and

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