OMG, OMG, OMG. Let me tell you about this book. Molly Idle is a genius!
Tea Rex is singularly the most adorable and hilarious book ever.
“Some tea parties are for grown-ups.
Some are for girls.
But this tea party is for a very special guest.
And it is important to follow some rules . . .
like providing comfortable chairs,
and good conversation,
and yummy food.
But sometimes that is not enough for special guests,
especially when their manners are more Cretaceous than gracious . . .”-Flap Copy
When I first saw the F&Gs (folded and gathered book sheets, aka the unfinished version of a picture book), I knew I needed this book. Check out the first page:
These Emily Post style tips are juxtaposed with the little girl trying to apply it to T-Rex. Little kids and adults will love the whimsical color pencil illustrations and the silly juxtaposition.
Recently, a co-worker tried to convince me that the book she is reading is a young adult book. I took one look at it and was like, nope. “But it has the teenage protagonists, and a coming of age story.” Still not YA. And then she asked me, “So what makes something YA?”
And like that, I was stumped. I could instantly tell her book wasn’t a YA book, but my feeble attempts to explain it to her were met with resistance. I googled, and discovered this (though I do not agree with all the points).
So without further ado, I give what YA is and how to tell if a book is YA.
YA is not a genre.
YA is not a genre. It is a category, and a recommended reading level within the realm of children’s books. In this category, there are genres, but let’s be straight: if I hear you say the “Young Adult Genre”, I might need to send you a glitter bomb
Just because a protagonist is a teen/young adult does not make the book a young adult book.
One of my favorite writers, Maria V. Snyder, wrote her debut book, Poison Study, with a younger protagonist. I imagined an 18-20 year old (years later, I discovered it was more like 25). Reading that book, it reminded me of several YA books. Was it YA? No. Does YA often feature a teen protagonist? Every dang time. Do Adult books feature teen protagonists? Yes. Catcher in the Rye does. But in no way does having a teen protagonist equal being YA.
Coming of age does not equal young adult.
Say it with me: coming of Age does NOT equal young adult. Sometimes I feel like telling the people who tell me coming of age equals young adult that they need to read more. In undergrad I took a class called “Coming of Age”, we did not read a single young adult book. I read Adventures of a Simpleton by Hans Jacob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen and Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer. Shockers, both are adult titles. Coming of age is a thing you do when you are a teen, but it is by no means exclusive to being a teen. Hell, I am still “coming of age” and I am well passed legal drinking age.
There is something to the cover.
Remember my post on book covers? Well, I will remind you again that book covers are invaluable. Young Adult books advertise they are young adult books on the cover. The next time you go to a bookstore (please do for this exercise; it does not work as well on Amazon), take a minute and look at the covers of different genres. Romances almost always have a man and a woman in an intimate embrace; biographies always feature their subject; thrillers and mysteries are usually dark. So when I say the cover can tell you different genres, I mean it.
When in doubt, look at the imprint.
There are people in the world who don’t know which publishing house, and imprint at that house, a book comes from. You’re not expected to. As a publishing professional, I always look because I need to know. If Atria (Simon & Schuster) published a book, it is not young adult. If I see Simon Pulse (also, Simon & Schuster), then I know it’s YA. There are some gray areas here, but this is a 99% guarantee of a book’s status.
But the problem was still nagging at me. And because I am a bit obsessive about YA, I decided to dig further. Luckily, I take detailed notes in class and hoard information sheets from my past internships for these very reasons.
When I got home, I closed my door and saw the most beautiful sight: this chart that breaks down YA. I saw this chart at one of my internships, and I wanted it. The chart breaks down the differences between younger YA and older YAs in regards to age ranges, binding styles (hardcover or paperback) and what to expect from the covers, and some notes on the general rules of content.
But I am still left wondering, what makes a book YA and others not?
So I dived into these bad boys:
As I am refreshing my memory see that the marketing and sales channels are different. Then I read the line that is the truth of the matter.
The Number One Way to Tell YA: the situations and how the characters react.
There are some situations we all go through as teens. Sure, I might have never have volunteered to be in the Hunger Games, but everyone has had to figure out the complexities of love. Even in adult books, these situations happen, but teens react differently.
You can say it is because their brains aren’t done developing; you can say they lack the hard won experience as the rest of us. But teens feel things more strongly: what made me cry for an hour after a middle school dance would not faze me now, but for a blimp of annoyance.
This is what makes YA. You can look at all the stats of the book, the cover, but the STORY and how the characters REACT is how you can tell a YA.
This seriesis where I call out amazing people in the publishing world. If I had a publishing house, these would be the people on my fantasy team. #fantasypublishing
If you are a YA addict, and I know you are, then you should know the marketing team Epic Reads from HarperCollins. This team is the BEST when it comes to marketing young adult books. If you are a self-published author, or an author looking to expand your marketing presence, take a note from these ladies.
Check out their Tea Time series for amazing updates on books, interview with editors, and just all round jolly good fun.
Now, if you are thinking “YouTube is not for me,” fear not! Epic Reads does some pretty awesome things with their design skills. Now I personally am not as good with Photoshop as I would like, but the info graphics coming out of Epic Reads are ENGAGING. They don’t just plug HarperCollins’ books, they plug YA books.
As a book lover and publishing person, I adore a beautiful book. I’m not just talking about the quality of writing or the story; I am talking about the total package.
I love how a matte cover can deepen and enhance the colors on a book cover. (If you have the book The Princess in the Opal Mask by Jenny Lundquist, you should go get it. Touch the cover to feel the smooth silkiness of the matte finish, and look at how it deepened the dark colors.)
I love how the endpapers on the covers can be beautiful selected to complement the book. Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Perason blew my mind, in part because of the end papers, which I just flipped by initially for the story.
Even deckled edging (when a book’s pages look like the printer didn’t do a good job cutting) can enhance the aesthetic of a book. Side Note: I am not a fan of deckled edging and often had heated debates with my classmates about whether to deckle or not. I just love a beautifully designed book.
But…then there are eBooks. I got my first e-reader in 2006: a Sony Reader. I upgraded in 2011 to a Kindle. I have been a fan of eBooks from the very beginning. They have allowed self-published authors to distribute their books to a wider audience, and I love that. I do not want to take my beautifully designed book to the gym to sweat all over it, but I will happily take my Kindle. Same goes for the subway and all the grit. Reading at lunch? Going to go with my Kindle then, too. But all the design elements of the print book are lost in the eBook.
So what is the purpose of this post?
Book bundling. Want it. Need it.
Have been saying it for years now, and I have witnesses to my long drawn out soap box moments.
I know some editors are adamantly against it. An Editorial Director at my publishers told me she is in the business of selling a product and she will not devalue it by giving you two for one because it doesn’t make business sense. I can see her point.
However, as a consumer of books, I demand book bundling. There are just some books that you want in multiple forms so you can read in bed, and then get up and go to the gym with the eBook and continue where you were.