RSS Feed

The Best 100 YA Books of All Time

Ah yes, how the book debates rages on:

“WHY are so many adults refusing to grow up and reading YA?”

“WHY aren’t these young people reading the classics, like I had to do when I was in school?”

“WHY are children these days so messed up? Well, I can tell you why! It’s because they don’t have enough James Joyce in their lives!”

Time has released its “100 Best YA Books of All Time” list, and it’s sure to make some readers scratch their heads, others gnash their teeth in a rage to discover that their favorite book didn’t make the cut. I was more surprised by the lack of authors I thought should be on the list, rather than individual books.

As my college Children’s Lit professor stated, “I’m not sure how Time came up with this list of “best” YAL books, but it interested me nevertheless. I was pleased that I have read most of the Top 50, but from there on, I was unfamiliar with most of the rest. At the end of the list, you have a chance to indicate which is THE best book, but I wouldn’t even attempt that. There are too many fine ones on the list to make that possible. (I would rather see an alphabetical list of the hundred, rather than a ranking.) Am I correct, that Chris Crutcher appears only once on the list? Disappointing. I’m sure I can think of other omissions from the list if I think about it long enough.”

Take a look for yourself, and comment below if your favorite is missing!

What Do You Do When the Movie Doesn’t Live Up to the Book?

You’ve heard it a million times: “The book was better.” And for a variety of reasons, Hollywood plays God with books when making the film adaptations. Some movies, like I Know What You Did Last Summer, were so unbelievably and gallactically wrong that the author vows never to allow a film adaptation again; others, like Twilight, were literally rescued from the Hollywood movie machine. (Yes, Twilight was almost worse than it was…during a film festival where it was offered up to studios, the mini trailer included the FBI coming after the Cullens, complete with Caribbean high-speed jet ski chases. An attendee had actually read the book, thought to herself, “Hell no,” and the rest is angst-ridden, poorly acted history.)

I’ve personally sworn off going to the movies unless it’s something that really grabs my attention, and it actually has more to do with hating people talking around me than a differing creative concept of how the movie should happen. But the real reason I don’t go see film adaptations specifically is because I already know the story! I don’t need to see what shirtless heartthrob can add to it, and I certainly don’t need to pay more for the movie ticket to see it once than I paid for the actual book. I read the story…I got it the first time.

I have to give credit where credit is due: there is one book in the history of the world whose movie was so far superior as to almost make me feel bad for the author. Last of the Mohicans was a glorious, epic movie and one of the stupidest books I’ve ever read. I like to think that the team who produced the film was actually once a book club who said, “You know, THIS is how the story should have gone.” Different characters DIE in the movie than in the book, and I think they only improved it.


How Much Is a Book Worth?

Legacy publishers have decided that you’ll pay whatever they tell you to for a book, simply because they decided it was worthy enough to sell. Still trying to process that fact, but whatever.

Amazon and Hachette have been locked in a heated battle over who gets to decide how much readers will pay. Sadly, authors have now jumped in the fight and declared that their “fans” will back them, no matter how stupidly they behave.

But the real question for the rest of us is in terms of indie authors pricing their books.

To that end, Amazon launched a new tool called KDP Pricing Support. Basically, while you’re looking at your pricing and rights page for your book, there is now a button that lets you see what books like yours are selling for. There’s a graph that shows you the different price points, and how they correlate in terms of sales.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to this than what you can see on a graph. Are those other books any good? Are those authors really out there promoting, or did they just kind of slap their books up on Amazon and hope for the best? See, things like that.

But it’s free to use, and there’s nothing on Earth your book needs more than as much information as you can possibly have.

While you’re checking out the comparisons in your book prices, be sure to follow the Author Earnings reports, generated by Hugh Howey and his cohort Data Guy. These two take a significant scraping of the bestsellers lists to determine what authors are actually making. The reports can all be found at

How Long Did It Take You To Write Your Book?

I absolutely love NaNoWriMo, that annual November lite-competition in which authors around the world attempt to each write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. It’s fun, it’s a great discipline tool, and it can leave you with a great “start” to a manuscript (notice I didn’t say publishable book).

But NaNo is not the norm. Most of us do not write a full novel every month, though there are some authors out there who have the time management skills and the talent to do so. They also have a fan base who is breathing down their necks for more content, so they’re driven, as well.

Here’s my problem: if it took you a year or more to write your book, why do you think I can edit it in ten days?

Yes, I’m an editor, and every so often I get clients who waltz in with a manuscript, negotiate the process, then commence hounding me for their edits. (NOTE: I have knowingly taken on two “emergency” projects whose details I don’t have to go into here…if you two are reading this, you guys are NOT what I’m referring to!)

Ask yourself this question: if it took you months…whole SEASONS of the year…to write your book, do you REALLY want me to rush? I can hand it back to you in three days, if that’s what you really want. But IS that what you want?

Of course not.

The real problem is that a lot of authors have no idea what editors do. We’re not just looking for typos. We fact check. We compare to other books. We question your tone, your message, your intent. We even remember that on page thirty-one you said he had blue eyes, but on page nine hundred they’re now brown.

We do it all.

Unfortunately, a lot of the problem stems from authors who might be suffering from a little bit of a superiority complex. After all, they’re such amazing writers that these edits should take me about twenty minutes, right? They also work under the impression that I somehow pay my mortgage, my car payment, and my child’s orthodontist despite having only one client…them. That’s a really interesting mathematical anomaly when you think about it.

Please remember that your editor cares about you and your book, or he wouldn’t be doing this. We don’t edit because we love destroying dreams or watching you wait nervously for your manuscript to come back, we edit because we love books and want the world to have plenty of great things to read. But we can’t help you make your book great if you’re not willing to understand and acknowledge what it is we do.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,484 other followers

%d bloggers like this: