GROUPS FOR BOOKS
Harold Underdown - The
I said in my earlier post, teen and YA apply to the same age
group. Tween and MG apply more or less to the same age group.
as I said, they get used in different contexts. Publishers
use "teen" and "tween" to label the commercial
fiction (and some nonfiction) they are producing, mostly in
paperback, for bookstore sales TO teens and tweens.
and YA are labels used when marketing to schools and libraries,
and signify more of a "quality" approach.
of these terms have a simple definition, or a precise meaning.
That's partly because publishers use them in ways that help
them market their books, and so they aren't used consistently
from one to another.
you have a copy of Anita
Silvey's Essential Guide, you might see what she says.
Or read Harold Underdown's Review
FINDING THE CHILDREN'S BOOKS
YOU NEED TO READ
Does your library participate
in an inter-library loan program like WorldCat? This way you
can get books from all over the country. They might - and
you just don't know it - though I'm not sure what it costs
for a library system to be a member. A one library town might
not have the resources. In Denver we also have access to another
system, called Prospector, which allows us access to books
from 23 libraries across Colorado and Wyoming. Perhaps there's
a similar program in your neck of the woods.
A writer needs access to books and, unless you've got lots
of money to spend at Books-A-Million and Amazon, you'll need
to find a way to get your hands on them. Talk to the librarian
at your library to see how he/she can help you. Use this listserv
and other resources to keep track of books you should or want
to read. Make building your own personal library a long-term
goal - ask for Amazon gift cards for your birthday etc., find
books at discount prices at garage sales and thrift shops.
It's not something that has to happen overnight. It's a long
And another place to buy books
really cheap are yard/garage sales & used book stores.
PRINT & DESIGN RULES FOR SELF PUBLISHERS
There is a three part rule I
often quote to my print and design customers.
You can have it fast and cheap,
but not good.
You can have it good and cheap, but not fast.
Or you can have it fast and good, but not cheap.
I then ask them to choose. If you have no money and are in
a hurry, then ouch!
However, there is much you can do ahead of time to check for
problems. I suggest you go to http://www.zebraeditor.com
and click on the right, on Tools for Writers. There you can
have all kinds of free reports and hints and stuff sent to
you. I know Bobbie personally and took her suggestion to use
some of this before sending a full-length novel mss to her
for editing. Wow, did I ever find a pile of stuff to work
on! Since money is an issue with you, I suggest you do some
of the work yourself with this great resource.
Harold Underdown - The
I'm responding to the board
because you're asking questions with implications for other
people--how does one interpret guidelines that seem very specific?
I think the general answer is that you have to look for context.
For #1, I'd look to see what kind of publisher this is. Do
they have a specific market for which 60,000 words is a minimum,
for some reason? Are their published books of this type uniformly
over 60,000 words? In most cases, I'd assume that this is
being given as a general guideline and that if you are within
a few thousand you're OK. Certainly, if you think yours is
the kind of book they would want in other respects, there
is no harm in sending a query.
Re #2, again, look at the context. Do they ever publish space
fantasy? Science fiction and fantasy elements can co-exist
in a book, but is this publisher open to that? If you can't
tell, because they are too new or their program is too small,
In general, if you think your work is at least compatible
with the publisher's program, then there is no reason not
to query. If they publish picture books only, and you have
a novel, on the other hand, then even if it's thematically
right for them, I'd move on to another publisher.
This is a topic we have hashed
out many times on this list. Just go to our Yahoo files and
type in this thread.
My opinion is that any sort of censorship
is a slippery slope. Once bureaucrats or religious groups,
or any other group that wants to regulate our reading and
art, gets a foot inside the censorship door, writers and others
will lose the freedom to create independent of oversight.
Horror of horrors!
This is a country that has always valued "freedom
of choice." No one is forcing you to read what you don't
like, is offensive to you, or that you feel might be harmful
to your children if they read it. We are all free to CHOOSE
what we read, and to guide our children's reading choices.
What you call offensive I might call high
art. What I feel is rude, you might think is natural and honest.
Writing and art caters to all tastes, and is subjective in
the extreme. Reading what appeals to you, and avoiding what
does not, is good advice. Be vigilant about your children
- what they watch on TV, what they read, and what sites they
visit on the internet. Your children are your responsibility,
not that of the writer, or the TV station, the artist, or
even the school they attend. Giving your kids your set of
values as a guideline to follow, and checking often to make
sure they do not stray from that, is a parent's absolute
right. It is not any parent's
right to try and make every other parent in the country bow
to their particular set of values by invoking censorship.
We should concentrate on passing on our own
principals to our children, and with the exception of child
pornography, allow the arts to flourish when and where they
Yikes. . . Is this topic a huge cockroach
- or what? It never dies!!!
WRITING FOR BOYS
Since I write specifically for
reluctant readers, and since the majority of reluctant readers
are boys, I guess i can respond to this one, Julie, though
you've already heard most of what I have to say, at least
in brief, at Chautauqua.
What types of books appeal to boys? That's not always easy
to pinpoint, but it's often called high interest content.
If you search for topics with wow or ick appeal, that will
put you on the right track. Think topics boys almost always
care about -- extreme sports, ferocious animals, video games,
weird but true, bugs, reptiles, adventure, pirates, etc. They
appeal to boys because the fun overtakes the challenge of
reading. In other words, the content makes the book worth
the trouble it takes to read it.
I do write to that target audience specifically, yes. They
are my kids, and it's intensely rewarding.
I write nonfiction, but I know of other fiction writers (Bruce
Coville, Jon Scieszka, Chris Crutcher, Dav Pilkey and others)
who also target this audience. They use guy friendly plot
devices including humor and the "gross" appeal,
along with their obvious storytelling skills.
Your best bet is to read their work for a better understanding.
But it's a fantastic thing to write for these kids. I wouldn't
trade that opportunity for anything.