Business Overview

A young adult book business produces and sells books specifically geared for kids in or around their adolescent years. Individuals looking to start a business may rely on outside authors and illustrators or complete the primary tasks themselves (e.g., writing, binding, etc.) as well as selling them.

Who is this business right for?

This business is good for someone who loves entertaining young people. They should have active imaginations and appreciate interesting or unusual characters. Even if you're not planning to do the actual writing yourself, they'll need to be able to spot those who can.

What happens during a typical day at a young adult book business?

The primary duties may include the following:

  • Courting authors/illustrators
  • Scheduling releases
  • Coordinating publicity/promotion for books
  • Book binding/printing

How does a young adult book business make money?

Profit margins can vary based on the materials of the book, the advance of the author, and the promotion strategy for the book. The average advance for a young adult book is about $11,000. Once the sales of the book pay back the advance, the author will receive royalties for additional sales based on their contract.

What is the growth potential for a young adult book business?

Traditional publishers have been steadily trying to find their place in the market since the debut of self-publishing and electronic books. The profits for an e-book are typically far higher than hardcover books, and the fact that young people are increasingly utilizing technology means that the number of opportunities for publishing electronic young adult books will be increase as well.

Getting Started

What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful young adult book business?

People who know the publishing industry and the developmental stages of a child will likely do well. The popularity of young adult books are notoriously difficult to predict, so having these skills will help to build a solid foundation.

What are the costs involved in opening a young adult book business?

Authors have to keep in mind the people for whom they are writing. Because your audience will be composed of young adults, it is important to make sure that your writing is done at the appropriate reading level. Stories should be captivating, but written simply enough that teenagers have no trouble getting through your books.

Although it is said that one should never judge a book by its cover, having attractive cover art for your book will help catch the eye of buyers. Therefore, it is suggested that you invest in a quality illustrator to carry out your cover art. This will allow you to catch and keep the interest of customers.

What are the steps to start a young adult book business?

Once you're ready to start your young adult book business, follow these steps to ensure that your business is legally compliant and avoid wasting time and money as your business grows:

  1. Plan your business. A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. A few important topics to consider are your initial costs, your target market, and how long it will take you to break even.
  2. Form a legal entity. Establishing a legal business entity prevents you from being personally liable if your young adult book business is sued.
  3. Register for taxes. You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
  4. Open a business bank account. A dedicated checking account for your young adult book business keeps your finances organized and makes your business appear more professional to your customers.
  5. Set up business accounting. Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
  6. Obtain necessary permits and licenses. Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
  7. Get business insurance. Insurance is highly recommended for all business owners. If you hire employees, workers compensation insurance may be a legal requirement in your state.
  8. Define your brand. Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
  9. Establish a web presence. A business website allows customers to learn more about your company and the products or services you offer. You can also use social media to attract new clients or customers.

Select your state below for an in-depth guide on completing each of these steps in your home state.

Where can I find a business mentor?

One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.

Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.

Recommended: offers video courses and a supportive online community of like-minded entrepreneurs. Try one month membership for for free.

Growing Your Business

How to promote & market a young adult book business

Social media and word-of-mouth are two free ways to get the word out about your book. But it's also pivotal to develop and build relationships with both customers and retailers. Having a book party for friends, bookstore owners, and librarians can be a good way to get people’s eyes on the book while connecting with them on another level. You can also consider visiting schools and reading your story aloud to the young adults in your community to encourage interest.

Recommended: Get started with local advertising for your business with a $300 credit from Yelp.

How to keep customers coming back

Bestsellers are able to keep up with new consumer demands while giving readers the same quality they’ve come to expect. Choose or create characters and storylines that touch the heart or tickle the funny bone. Young adult books don’t necessarily need to be a series, but there should be some continuity when it comes to style and tone.You’ll also want to keep up with promotion on a regular basis. An author can fade into obscurity relatively quickly, so it’s important to keep the name in the public eye for as long as possible.

How and when to build a team

Unless the author is planning to write and publish the book themselves, they’ll need to build a team sooner rather than later. Depending on the workload, there may be some overlap when it comes to the roles. For example, the author may also keep track of social media promotion, or the publisher may take care of visiting the local libraries.

Legal Considerations

State & Local Business Licensing Requirements

Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a young adult books business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.

Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, check out our informative guide, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.

For information about local licenses and permits:

Certificate of Occupancy

A young adult book business is generally run out of a publishing office. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO).  A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.

  • If you plan to lease a location:
    • It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
    • Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a young adult book business.
    • After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
  • If you plan to purchase or build a location:
    • You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
    • Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your young adult book business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.

Reduce Personal Liability

Structuring your business as a limited liability company (LLC) ensures your personal assets are protected in the event your business is sued.

What is an LLC?

Form an LLC in 5 easy steps

Earning Potential

How much can you charge customers?

Young adult books range in price according to the quality of the book and the author’s popularity. Look at similar books to the one you’re selling determine the market price. Keep in mind that customers will be hesitant to shell out a lot of money for a book that may not be well put together.

What are the ongoing expenses for a young adult book business?

Ongoing expenses for a business will depend on how many books the business sells a year. Additional expenses may include the following:

  • Advances for new authors
  • Book promotion
  • Employee salaries
  • Publishing materials/cost

How much profit can a young adult book business make?

The profits can be unlimited for a young adult book business if they score a must-have book (think Harry Potter). However most authors and publishers will see more modest returns on each printing. Let’s say you print 4,000 first edition books, and they’re priced at $15. If they cost $5 a piece to make then you’ll need to sell 800 to break even on the cost of the materials. If the author received a $12,000 advance, then they would need to sell an additional 800 copies to fully pay off the the advance. From there, the publisher and author/illustrator will typically split the any additional sales according to the contract.

How can you make your business more profitable?

Those in the young adult book business may want to branch out, making their characters into toys or games. They can also look into turning their ideas into a television show or feature film!

Next Steps

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