Founded in 2003, Tor Teen publishes young adult books across a spectrum of genres, including science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary fiction. This fall, the publisher is celebrating the imprint’s 15th anniversary with a marketing campaign whose handle, #NoBounds, reflects the wide reach of its list. In the past decade and a half, Tor Teen has released novels by many luminaries of the YA universe, among them Brandon Sanderson, Cory Doctorow, Kendare Blake, and Kristen Simmons.
The launch of Tor Teen was fueled by the burgeoning teenage readership of novels on Tor’s adult list in the early 2000s. “We saw a great opportunity with the tremendous YA crossover authors we were publishing on the adult list—Orson Scott Card, Jane Yolen, and Robert Jordan,” recalled Kathleen Doherty, v-p and publisher of Tor Teen and Starscape. “We knew that if we packaged these books for the teen reader and got YA placement in bookstores, we could build a multigenerational readership for these authors. We realized there was a thirsty YA market ready for a line of science fiction and fantasy dedicated specifically to them, and that’s when we began building an original Tor Teen list.”
Over the years, the publisher has broadened the scope of the imprint’s offerings, without losing sight of its original mission. “It is important to us to stay true to our core strength, which is science fiction and fantasy,” Doherty explained. “However, subgenres of science fiction and fantasy allow for a much more broadly defined publishing platform. We look at SF/F as a ‘what if’ genre allowing for horror, supernatural contemporary, historical thrillers, and mysteries to be a natural fit. We also publish contemporary fiction when we feel passionate about the author and the story, like Mark Oshiro’s Anger Is a Gift, Ginny Rorby’s Hurt Go Happy, and Jessica Pennington’s romance novel, Love Songs & Other Lies.”
A glance at highlights of the fall list underscores Tor Teen’s broadened focus and commitment to what the publisher labels “boundary-breaking fiction.” September releases included Echo Room by Parker Peevyhouse, a psychological thriller starring two teens stuck in a time loop; and Dare You to Lie by Amber Lynn Natusch, in which a teen previously involved in a scandal is determined to clear the name of her FBI agent father, who’s framed for murder. This month, Tor Teen issues Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Darkest Star, the debut novel of a series set in the world of the author’s bestselling Lux series; and the paperback edition of bestseller Windwitch, continuing the tale of Merik, the privateer and prince whom Susan Dennard introduced in Truthwitch.
Tor Teen’s anniversary celebration includes ongoing digital promotion across the imprint’s social media platforms; panel programming, giveaways, and signings at industry conferences and book festivals; outreach to key bloggers; librarian and educator promotion; and consumer promotional materials featuring #NoBounds. “This is a way to brand ourselves as an imprint that embraces myriad interests within the YA readership,” said Doherty of the campaign’s hashtag. “We know that we can publish a good story successfully, and there are a lot of good stories told outside of genre fiction. It also represents our understanding of the young adult readership, which is smart and sophisticated, and desires entertaining and thoughtful reads.”
Looking ahead, the editor anticipates holding a steady course for Tor Teen, which now releases between 12 and 15 titles each season. “We want to maintain a manageable list that ensures all of our authors are receiving the proper attention they deserve,” Doherty noted. “Of course, we’ve seen very nice growth over the years—and we’ve come a long way from pulling two or three titles from our backlist to relaunch each season. We are now and have been for some time 100% original acquisition, and we love building and growing authors.
Editorially, she added, Tor Teen readers can expect a similarly eclectic and selective YA list in the future. “We will continue to look for the best stories that not only entertain but truly challenge the reader. And when we find them, we will, as always, publish them and do the best possible job reaching the broadest audience for our authors.”