Congrats to Ann Dee Ellis on her new deal with Dial Books!

From Publishers Weekly:

ann-dee-ellis_picNamrata Tripathi at Dial has bought world English rights to Ann Dee Ellis‘s second middle grade novel, The Wild Place. The story follows 12-year-old Cass, who after reconnecting with her maternal grandmother discovers she is a descendant of Etta Place, mistress of the Sundance Kid, and finds herself on a journey to unearth long-lost outlaw treasure. Publication is set for spring 2019; John M. Cusick of Folio Jr./Folio Literary Management brokered the deal.

Congrats to GENA/FINN, on the 2017 Rainbow List!

Congrats Hannah Moskowitz and Kat Helgeson! Their co-authored novel has made the Rainbow List, a bibliography of books with significant gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer/questioning content.

41O+px6P4HL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Gena and Finn would have never met but for their mutual love for the popular show Up Below. Regardless of their differences—Gena is a recent high school graduate whose social life largely takes place online, while Finn is in her early twenties, job hunting and contemplating marriage with her longtime boyfriend—the two girls realize that the bond between them transcends fanfiction. When disaster strikes and Gena’s world turns upside down, only Finn can save her, and that, too, comes with a price. Told through emails, text messages, journal entries, and blog posts, Gena/Finn is a story of friendship and love in the digital age.

Find out more about GENA/FINN here, and on Goodreads, Amazon, and B&N.

You can find Kat on her website and twitter, and Hannah on her website and twitter.

Congrats to Shutter, a 2017 YALSA Popular Paperback

9781250044679Congratulations to Courtney Alameda, whose fantastically scary SHUTTER is a 2017 YALSA Popular Paperback! Check out the full list here.

Visit Courtney’s website, follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook. You can also check out SHUTTER on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, and Indiebound.

Most-Anticipated #OwnVoices 2017

11 of Our Most Anticipated #OwnVoices Reads of 2017

So excited to see S.K. Ali, along with Folio Jr’s own Julie Murphy and Jenny Han on this list!

You can follow S.K. Ali at @sajidahwrites, and check out Sajidah’s piece on her quest to find an agent.

 Pre-order SAINTS AND MISFITS on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound, and check it out on Goodreads.

S.K. Ali Talks with NBC News about #OwnVoices

In this interview with NBC news, S.K. Ali talks about her #MuslimShelfSpace twitter campaign, and the importance of #ownvoices authors. Her debut young adult, SAINTS AND MISFITS is coming June 13th from Salaam Reads!

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You can follow Sajidah at @sajidahwrites, and check out Sajidah’s piece on her quest to find an agent.

 Pre-order SAINTS AND MISFITS on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound, and check it out on Goodreads.

Publishers Don’t Want Good Books

This conversation has happened at every agency in the world (particularly in the kids and teen department).

Agent 1: I’ve got a new project.

Agent 2: Yeah? How is?

Agent 1: It’s good.

Agent 2: Good?

Agent 1: Yeah, good.

Agent 2: Oh…Damn.

Agent 1: Yeah.

Agent 2: *Sips martini* That’s too bad.

imgres.jpgAgents, editors, and maybe you, the author, know the curse of the “good” book. The book that’s perfectly fine, that works, that tells an interesting story, and that is, sad to say, darn near unsellable. The rejections often contain phrases like “didn’t fall in love,” or “just didn’t feel strongly enough,” leavened with genuine compliments about the writing or characterization. After years of learning the craft of story and voice, you’ve finally created a nearly flawless novelone you know is as good (heck, better!) than a lot of stuff on the shelf. And it just…doesn’t…sell.

What’s going on here? Are publishers just crass, cowardly, visionless hacks who take pleasure in crushing the dreams of talented writers, refusing to give even promising careers a chance to get started?

The answer, of course, is no. Nobody is more motivated (apart from the author) to see a book succeed with flying colors than publishers. Believe me when I say us soulless agents and our human counterparts- editors- are wishing and dreaming as hard as you for that Newbery Medal, the debut on the New York Times Best Sellers list, the book signing line that wraps around the block.

It pains me to say it- and it pains all of us in publishing, I promise you- but there typically just isn’t room for “good” books. Publishing is an increasingly competitive space. More and more people want to be published, and the standard for what constitutes a “success” gets higher every day. Publishers have limited space on their lists, and so each novel has to be more than good. It has to be something special.

Of course there are many kinds of special. Natalie Babbitt’s Tuck Everlasting, Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also a Star, Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s LibraryVictoria Aveyard’s Red Queen– four completely different novels, with pretty different audiences, and they all have something in common. These are novels that demand you sit up and take notice. They are more than just functioning stories. They refuse to be ignored.

images.jpgWhen I say publishers don’t want good books, I don’t mean they’re after bad ones either. Nobody is more passionate about compelling fiction than your friendly neighborhood editor, whether the novel in question is a beautiful, heart-breaking, cry-on-the-subway coming of age, or a heart-pounding, unforgettable, so-damn-sexy-you-need-a-time-out fantasy, romance, or action/adventure. Though you may have found writing on the shelf at Barnes & Noble that makes your skin crawl (in the bad way), fiction is a subjective business, and I guarantee that even if it isn’t your brand of beer, every novel published made someone, somewhere, feel something profound- whether it was excitement, intrigue, or love.

Awesome, thanks for that John. Of course I want to be better than good. I want to be special, too. So what do I do?

My advice to my clients, to all novelists (and to myself), is always the same: push yourself. Don’t settle for your first idea, or even your second. Don’t stick with a project simply because it’s written, when you know rewriting or moving on to the next thing will be even better. Can you tell a story? Great. Now ask yourself, why does my story need to be told? What about it is new, what about it pushes boundaries? What about it has, at least, the potential to change a person’s life?

Teens need you. Teens need writers. I know I did. Novels saved my life, and I am one of thousands in that club. So be fearless. When you tell someone what your story is about, what’s their reaction? You want “Wow,” you want, “Oh my goodness, really?” You even want, “You can’t write a book about that!”

We’re all striving to do something great, and most of us ultimately land somewhere between where we started and the stars. If you want to be a novelist, you have to want to be the best novelist, or you’ll never get off the ground. As maddening as it can be, I’m glad the publishing biz is so competitive. It pushes us to be more.

So get good, write a good novel, hone your craft until you are a master of structure.

Then start again.

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Booklist Review of THE DOLL’S EYE

Congrats to Marina Cohen on this awesome review of THE DOLL’S EYE:

Doll's Eye_CoverThe phrase “Be careful what you wish for” takes on ominous significance in this creepy story where wish fulfillment and perfection make for a menacing collaboration. Hadley Jackson, along with her mother, stepfather, and stepbrother, has moved from the city to an old country house that seems to keep losing occupants. Something maliciously magical is brewing, and it emanates from a dollhouse hidden in the attic. The story alternates between Hadley’s perspective and that of the first girl to live in the house, each of whom find that the wishes they make tend to come true—but not as intended. Hadley’s efforts to undo her calamitous wishes lead to an unexpected ending that will surprise readers with its bold, menacing conclusion. Doppelgänger dolls, flesh-eating flies, echoes between realities, and a glass eye contribute to the doomed, gothic undertones of Hadley’s story. As the pieces between past and present fall chillingly into place, they threaten to trap Hadley in a world of her own dreaming. Read this one with the lights on.

— Kara Dean

 

Pre-Order THE DOLL’S EYE on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and  Indiebound.

You can order Marina’s super spooky debut middle-grade, THE INN BETWEEN, on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Indiebound.

Check out Marina Cohen online and on twitter.

#MuslimShelfSpace, Most Anticipated, S.K. Ali Giveaway

2017 is going to be an amazing year for YA. I’m so excited to see S.K. Ali’s SAINTS AND MISFITS on EW’s list. And in such good company! Check out all those #ownvoices projects.

iovrkqlt_400x400SAINTS AND MISFITS follows 15-year-old Janna Yusuf, daughter of the only divorced mother at the mosque, as she examines her faith and relationships in the wake of an assault. It will also be Salaam Reads‘s first YA novel, which is pretty darn cool.

Speaking of which, you must check out S.K. Ali’s #MuslimShelfSpace hashtag and giveaway. Here’s how it works: tweet a pic of your #MuslimShelfSpace, tagging @sajidahwrites, for a chance to win a Muslim #ownvoices book! Folks have been tweeting their bookshelves full of #ownvoices books by Muslim authors all week, and it’s wonderful.

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You can follow Sajidah at @sajidahwrites, and check out Sajidah’s piece on her quest to find an agent.