Tween Books – Are They A Thing? (Spotlight: ON THE BRIGHT SIDE by S.R. Johannes)

Posted January 26, 2012

“TWEEN” Books – Are They A Thing?

There is no Amazon category for them.

Barnes & Noble doesn’t have a shelf for them.

Is there really such a thing as a “tween” book?

If you’re eleven, and a reader, you have two choices of reading material. You could mosey on over to the Middle Grade section, which contains books for ages 8 through 12. But the Middle Grade section is, without question, a part of the “Children’s” section of the bookstore. And you’re not a little kid anymore. The books here are ok, but you can finish them now in like a day or less and some of them are starting to sound kind of baby-ish to you. More like the stuff your nine-year-old little sister would like.

Your next choice? The Young Adult section. Usually on the outskirts of the Children’s section, this is decidedly the more “adult” option – but is it too adult? At eleven, you like romantic tales but the racey, physical romances in many young adult books aren’t really your thing, just yet. Besides, your mom would kill you if she found something like that in your room.

So what’s a tween to do?

The problem lies in the broad age ranges encompassed by both the Middle Grade and the Young Adult categories. Middle Grade imagines that an eight year old and a twelve year old could share a reading list, while Young Adult believes that a sixth grader and a college freshman enjoy the same books. Obviously this is fiction (pardon the pun). There is a hidden category here – the kids who have just outgrown Middle Grade but who aren’t quite ready for full-on “young adult” fare.

These are the “tweens.” They fall somewhere in the range of 8 to 14 years of age, depending on who you ask. And despite much talk of the lucrative “tween market” and their reported $43 billion in annual spending power, traditional publishing has yet to define a category just for them. (see HERE  for a discussion of tween buying power,  but also see HERE, noting that tweens lack the independent purchasing power of teens).

This oversight by the major publishing houses may have created a golden opportunity for the indies.

My friend (and fellow Indelible), S.R. Johannes, is embarking on a tween marketing experiment. Her question: is there an ebook market for tweens? (Specifically, she wants to know: are tweens online and do they have ereaders? See her BLOG POST for more).

To find the answer, Johannes is releasing On The Bright Side, a tween angel book about fourteen-year-old Gabby, a reluctant guardian angel who is assigned to protect her former frenemy and arch nemesis back on earth. Here is the adorable cover and official “blurb”:


As if the devil’s food cake at her wake and the white fat pants she’s stuck wearing for eternity weren’t bad enough, fourteen year-old Gabby is quick to discover that Cirrus, the main rung of Heaven, is a far cry from the Pearly Gates. Here, Skyphones and InnerNets are all the rage. At her first Bright ceremony, G.O.D., the automated assignment system, spits out Angela Black, Gabby’s arch nemesis and longtime fencing rival. As a Bright, Gabby has to protect Angela, her assigned mortal, in order to move up through the training levels of heaven. 

Back on earth, Angela starts hitting on Michael, Gabby’s crush and should-have-been boyfriend. Gabby’s pranks to quell the love are harmless at first until the school dance sabotage gets completely out of control. Then, Celestial Sky Agent, Clarence, who happens to have anger management issues of his own, steps into reveal that Angela has big problems, and what she really needs is Gabby’s help. Determined to right her wrong and ease her mother’s grief, Gabby steals an ancient artifact that allows her to return to earth for just one day. But if Gabby’s not careful, her well-meaning mission just might shift the very foundation of Heaven, Earth, and every place in between, causing the danger of the dark side to roam free.

On The Bright Side is set for release on January 31, 2012.

I had the privilege of reading an ARC of this book and let me tell you, it rocks!! It’s cute and funny, but also touching. It I were a tween, this one would definitely be on my list!

I can’t wait to see what happens with this book. The idea that there may be a yet-undiscovered tween ebook market out there is enticing – three cheers to S.R. Johannes for blazing the trail!

Click here for a sneak peek at the first two chapters.

Click here for On The Bright Side’s Goodreads Page

To follow S.R. Johannes’s tween marketing journey:

Check out her BLOG!

Follow her on TWITTER!

Check her out on FACEBOOK!

Posted in News and Events


  1. Laura Pauling

    January 26, 2012 at 1:09 pm


    Tween is such a hard one to categorize. Most tweens I know read YA. But, I think a lot of elementary girls starting even in 3rd grade read tween books and would love more sophisticated older looking colors! I love upper middle grade or tween books. Can’t wait to read this one!

  2. Max Elliot Anderson

    January 27, 2012 at 8:38 am


    Interesting thoughts. I write action-adventures & mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys. Mine are 25,000 to 41,000 words in order to encourage kids to read who wouldn’t approach a larger book.

  3. Maureen Crisp

    January 27, 2012 at 5:59 pm


    I am looking at my Tween now….This week she has worked her way through Gordon Korman’s On the run series… is reading Charlie Bone at night with her father and is currently reading Ella Enchanted….School starts this week and she will be in the first year of Intermediate….(age 11) This is the age where they get to read the restricted books in the school library…which are early Young Adult. In a package yesterday she received a magazine for girls called Total Girl…the pictures and articles featured kids her age doing stuff she scorns…nail polish decorations, cute crafts and obsessions with teen rock and film stars….The sender completely got her wrong…she rolled her eyes and tossed it to her 5 year old sister to cut up. It is a fascinating age to watch and a tricky one to write for…they want the magic of an imagined world and they also want the story that could be real.
    That’s what I love about writing for the age group…those kids aged 10-13 who are past rainbow fairies and not into boyfriend girlfriend stuff…
    More power to those of us who write for this special group!
    I have just decided to put a book of mine out as an ebook and so when I was planning the cover I solicited opinions from the Tweens. One picture was of a broken electric guitar on a black background., the other two girl silhouettes leaping on a purple background. Neither found favor… one looked too Young Adult, one looked too boring…put them together and yes the tween would pick up the book… safe and challenging at the same time.

    New Zealand

  4. srjohannes

    January 28, 2012 at 8:56 am


    Thank you Cory :0)

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