Monday, July 13, 2009

Tough Love from a Librarian

Here’s an article I came across that I think all writers of children’s books and even Young Adult will find interesting. It’s from the School Library Journal and called “Tough Love: An Open Letter to Kids’ Publishers.”

Diantha McBride, the author and a librarian for 30 years, addresses the article to “Dear Publishers.” She then lists things she wishes publishers would do differently - things to make their books better.
1. Bulk up those bindings.
2. Better editing.
3. Give that cover a makeover.
4. Where’s the art information?
5. More boy books.
6. Thanks, but no tanks.
7. Indexes are essential.
8. Cite, cite, cite.
9. Stop changing the title in different countries.
10. Out of order.
Now that you’ve read her list, link over and read what she says about each item.
TweetIt from HubSpot


  1. I saw that last week. I know there's a big need for more boy books.

    L. Diane Wolfe

  2. I'm so glad someone is addressing these things. You wouldn't believe the books we check out of the library for the kids....they're falling apart and are brand-new! And from good publishers, too.

    My son is 12 and has enjoyed the fantasy-writing boom (post Harry Potter). But there were few picture books directed toward boys when he was a little guy.

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  3. I discovered a lack of boy books while tutoring two boys last spring. They were patient when I mistakenly grabbed a book that had a girl-theme.

  4. I've noticed a change in the binding quality in the adult books in recent years as well. They're just not holding together! And as a writer, I'm surprised at some of the technical errors my eye catches in contemporary fiction. Do you think any of it is budget-related? I read often that with layoffs, the remaining editors are seriously overworked at the publishing houses.

  5. I think it could be budget-related, Joanne. Publishers are laying off staff and the bulk of editing is falling on the writers. Get your manuscript in the absolute best condition it can be. A book with mistakes doesn't reflect on the publisher (to the reading public), but on the writer.

    Straight From Hel

  6. I agree with Joanne, the binding is an issue. My kids have destroyed plenty of bindings, and I have to tape them before dropping them off in the night deposit box. I'm concerned I'll have to replace the book if I physically hand it back to the librarians when we check out new books.

    Steve Tremp

  7. In her post, Diantha. mentions book length. This, for sure, is a kid turn-off…probably and adult turn-off as well. My nephew is a pretty good reader, but, will skip right past a book of heft for one that just looks more manageable. It’s human nature. Brevity, as some old tymie guy wrote, is the soul of wit.

    Best regards, Galen

    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  8. And, yet, Galen the trend seems to be toward longer for YA books. But it is intimidating, even to adults, to pick up a book that would best be carried by a wheelbarrow.

  9. I'm not really up to speed on the kids' books issues, but from reading the list apparently there are plenty of them that need addressing.

    The Old Silly

  10. Thank you for the article, Helen. I'm putting the finishing touches to my children's mystery and wonder if I should change my protag from a 13-year-old girl to a boy. :)


  11. Or perhaps write the next one from a boy's perspective, Jean.

  12. Valid points. My son is a good reader and enjoys good adventure, fantasy, and light scifi stories. There have been a few contemporary stories I've been surprised to see him reading.

    At 14, boys do need stories that address their issues and insecurities as well as how to overcome them from a male hero in the story. And most of the stories he's brought home have a male M/C. and there aren't enough of those.

    Length? You bet. Jake has not read the whole Harry Potter series. they're too long and according to him, have too many 'boring' sections in it. I think that's why he prefers the movies because they have a faster pace to the adventures.

    Even the series he's reading now, can't recall the name of it, but I have read one of them--older YA. But young male MC has realistic internal conflicts to overcome, plus he has to save a kingdom and he's young, inexperienced, has a gimpy leg, but is still brave and daring. What drew him to that particular story? the Cover Art and THEN the story line.

    Thanks for sharing this Helen.

  13. Hi Sia. Has your son tried out the series by Rick Riordan? It's similar to the Potter series in that it's adventure, except they're not as long as Potter, they involve mythology, the main character is dyslexic and the first movie based on it is in production. The main character is Percy Jackson.

  14. I hope the publishers pay attention - I hate it when a book falls apart whether it's for kids or adults!

  15. That's true, Jane. Some adult books don't hold up well, but better than some kids' books, which take a lot more wear and tear.

  16. I just gave you the Humane Award!!

    L. Diane Wolfe

  17. Hmm, Diane. That could be nice or very odd. I'd better go over and check out your blog.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...