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Writing and Selling the YA Novel

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Learn what a young adult novel is, how to write young adult fiction, how to get it published, and how to promote it.

218 pages, Paperback

First published April 4, 2008

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About the author

K.L. Going

15 books246 followers
K.L. Going is the award winning author of numerous books for children and teens. Her first novel, Fat Kid Rules the World was named a Michael Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association, and was included on YALSA’s Best Books for Young Adults list and their list of Best Books for the Past Decade. Her books have been Booksense picks, Scholastic Book Club choices, Junior Library Guild selections, NY Public Library Best Books for the Teenage, and winners of state book awards. They’ve been featured by Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Children's Book Council as Best Books of the year. Her work has also been published in Korea, Italy, Japan, Germany, and the UK, and her novel Fat Kid Rules the World is soon to be an independent film!

K.L. began her career working at one of the oldest literary agencies in New York City. She used this inner knowledge of publishing to write Writing and Selling the Young Adult Novel -- a how-to book for aspiring writers, published by Writer's Digest. She has also written short stories for several anthologies and currently has multiple picture books under contract. She lives in Glen Spey, NY where she both writes and runs a business critiquing manuscripts. She’s also a mom to the world’s cutest little boy.

To visit KL on-line go to www.klgoing.com, www.facebook.com/klgoing, or at http://twitter.com/#!/KLGoing.

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5 stars
38 (23%)
4 stars
54 (32%)
3 stars
59 (35%)
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14 (8%)
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Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews
Profile Image for Ene Sepp.
Author 12 books87 followers
September 26, 2019
Neile, kes ei ole varem noortele mõeldud raamatuid kirjutanud, on sellest raamatust tõenäoliselt väga palju kasu. Asja teeb huvitavamaks ka raamatu ülesehitus - nagu tavaline koolipäev tundide, vahetunni ja söögivahetunniga. Iga tunni lõpus on ka "kodutöö" ehk mõni harjutus. Seetõttu julgeks seda soovitada ka noortele, kes tahaksid oma kirjutamist arendada.

Paar mõtet, mis ma välja kirjutasin:
- teismelisest peategelasele ei tohiks anda elukogemust, mida neil veel pole
- ideid otsides, mõtle sellele, mis maailmas praegu toimub (ja mis sind huvitab) ning kuidas võiks peategelane sellesse suhtuda?
- kirjelda tegelasi nagu oma parimat sõpra kellelegi võõrale - sai ei alustaks ju ninakujust, juukse- ja silmavärvist?
- passiivsete ja aktiivsete tegelaste vahe
- tegevus, dialoog ning kehakeel kui nende ühisosa
- tegevuspaik ja sellega seotud: mida sa näed, lõhnad, helid, tekstuurid ja maitsed
- ära unusta olulisi tegevusliine nagu nt keskkooli abiturent muretseks igal juhul eksamite, ülikooli või töö pärast. Isegi kui see ideesse ei sobi, ei saa seda ära unustada.

Tore oli ka näha, et on teinegi kirjanik, kelle jaoks on oluline ühe hooga kirjutamine. Kolm kuud jutti pole probleem aga kui jääb paar päeva vahele, siis... jah...
Profile Image for Emma.
387 reviews23 followers
November 26, 2011
While on one hand, it's references to Twilight being a well written and 'rich and haunting' novel resulting in me getting fed up with it early on, it made some goods points towards the end of the book.

What I didn't like was it's lack of originality. I've never read any book of the sort and I'd already felt like I'd read this book a hundred times before. It was very Americanised in its view of YA and the whole time I'm reading, I'm thinking 'this is setting me up to write a YA novel that's exactly like what's already out there'. It's lack of originality baffled me.
Profile Image for Grace.
889 reviews75 followers
December 23, 2017
This a great book to read for beginning writers, but for me, since I've been writing for a long time and am only 20 years old so I'm still pretty much in the young adult category, a lot of it was stuff I already know. The first few chapters are the basics, like what YA books are and how to relate to young adults. So I skimmed through a lot of that, but after the basics it got better and was more helpful for me.
Profile Image for Cara Davis.
Author 1 book68 followers
September 5, 2011
I tend not to read books on writing. I feel like if I'm reading about writing, that's time I'm not spending writing. However, I've hit kind of a wall with my work and so I trekked to the library to see if there was something that might help me out. Young adult fiction is my area of choice and this book spoke to me for that reason. However, I was a little disappointed and I may go back to my original stance of not reading books on writing.

It isn't the book's fault, of course. The problem is, Going's advice is all stuff that I already knew. This book is perfect for people who are just starting out in writing or who don't know too much about it but want to know more. For someone like me that's been writing for over a decade and is still pretty much a teen at heart, it's a nice refresher course but doesn't offer a whole lot of new information.

The setup of the book is clever; Going, rather than have regular chapters, divides the book up into periods like a school day, assigning homework at the end of each chapter. These exercises are very handy, although I didn't actually do them. The insight from teens sprinkled throughout the book is also a great addition, since who knows better what teens want to read than actual teens?

I'd definitely recommend this book to people who are very, very new to writing and need some guidance, but I'll personally be looking elsewhere to see if I can drum up info I don't already know.
Profile Image for Crystalee.
Author 1 book11 followers
July 19, 2010
One of the best books on writing that I've read. It was creatively done and covered every aspect of writing for teens, from coming up with ideas through how to submit and the money aspects of becoming a published authro.
Profile Image for Lee Thompson.
Author 27 books179 followers
January 18, 2012
A very wonderful book on writing for teens. Clear, concise, entertaining, and enlightening.
Profile Image for Sarah Olson Michel.
42 reviews20 followers
November 15, 2018
Really enjoyed this book. The author did a great job including the thoughts and suggestions of real teens. Would recommend to anyone who needs a basic understanding of the YA genre.
Profile Image for R.G. Ziemer.
Author 3 books15 followers
February 12, 2017
Writing and Selling the YA Novel by K. I. Going is a good how-to book for aspiring authors of young adult fiction. The author applies an insider’s knowledge of the business to a fairly basic outline of fiction-writing essentials. Going has worked as an agent and editor, and achieved critical success with her own YA books Saint Iggy and Fat Kid Rules the World, which was a Michael L. Printz Honor Book.
In keeping with the YA theme, the format of the book follows a high school schedule from Home Room to Shop Class. The author advises us first to examine the contents of our “Lockers” for what we bring to the struggle before proceeding to class. From there it’s a quick dash from one subject to another. Learn how the YA genre has come about in History class. Study characterization in English class. In Social Studies you will work on setting. Do the Math by learning about agents and contracts. And every step along the way there is “homework”, with exercises and activities to help the reader in his quest for success with the YA novel. Going’s style is engaging, clear and succinct.
The general advice about writing fiction is not likely to be news to practicing fiction writers, but throughout the book Going tries to frame things with a YA perspective. For example, in discussing narrative voice and point of view, she refers to other works of YA fiction such as Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Robert Cormier’s The Chocolate Wars. This is useful, but it exposes the books’s biggest weakness: It was published in 2008.
In terms of the publishing world and popular media, as we know, things move fast. There have been any number of trends and changes to the genre since Going wrote her book, such as the whole vampire craziness and explosion of the urban fantasy and supernatural romance sub-genres. That said, there’s nothing wrong with looking back to some of the YA “classics” for good examples of the writing craft. Personally, I added a number of titles to my reading list based on Going’s recommendations.
The Math chapter of this book is definitely affected by its lack of timeliness. In the intervening years since this books’ publication, almost all agents and editors are accepting electronic submissions instead of snail-mail. Likewise, Going’s advice about reaching out to readers and creating a following doesn’t consider the last decade’s changes in the roles of social media. Nevertheless, Writing and Selling the YA Novel could be a useful book to novice writers or even the more prolific who are looking at YA for the first time.

Profile Image for Roger Hyttinen.
Author 10 books62 followers
February 16, 2014
Writing & Selling the YA novel by K.L. Going, is a helpful book if you are thinking about becoming an author of YA novels. I've had this book on my bookshelf for quite awhile and recently decided to revisit it. Going has worked as an assistant literary agent, book doctor and has published several books in the young adult genre so we get somewhat of an "insider's" view to the publishing world.

Written in 2008, parts of the book are a tad outdated such as the importance of having a MySpace account, references to Friendster and the author's assertion that e-books are NOT the way of the future. But apart from that, the book contains plenty of helpful information and writing advice. The tone of the book is conversational and playful, aiding in making the material fun and interesting. I felt that she did an excellent job at explaining how writing fiction for young adults is different than writing adult fiction, and, contrary to what many people believe, writing books for young adults it is NOT easier but rather is much more challenging. At the end of each chapter, she provided a "Teen Panel" in which actual teens were asked questions specific to the chapter.

The structure of the book is formatted as high school student's schedule. The chapters (or class periods) are as follows:

History - Learning from the YA Past
Gym - Tossing Around -- and Running With -- Ideas
English - Writing Convincing Characters
Lunch - A Plateful of Healthy Plot
Social Studies - Studying Settings From Every Time and Place
Study Hall - Time to Delve Into Authentic Teen Voice and Point of View
Sciences - Experimenting with Editing Techniques
Math - Adding It All Up: Agents, Money and Contracts
Shop Class - Getting Your Hands Dirty: Teen Sex, Drugs, Slang, Technology, and Marketing your book

This book does not go into the mechanics of writing but rather serves as a guidebook of advice for delving into the world of YA fiction and found this book (with the exception of those few outdated social media references) as relevant today as when it was written.
Profile Image for Anna.
936 reviews106 followers
November 14, 2008
This is not a bad book to read if you are interested in writing and publishing a young adult novel. It definitely covers all of the basics from audience to voice to creating unique and likable characters. It also presents the realities of getting published with or without an agent. Parts of the book reminded me of how-to books on writing that have been geared towards young adults (like some of the Writers Workshop books by Ralph Fletcher). However, the last two chapters of the book clearly made it stand out as a how-to book for aspiring professional writers.

At the end of the day I'm not sure how much value this book added. I felt like I already knew a lot of this just based on my experiences in teaching and reading a lot of YA lit. So I think it's a good book for someone who's totally clueless but I would have liked for there to be more there -- info, details, speciics, ideas, etc.
Profile Image for Jayda.
284 reviews61 followers
January 5, 2009
From what I have read so far it's spoken about all stuff that I know, but it puts all of that into a new perspective, which does help. It's nice to read a book based on writing just the Young Adult novel instead of just novels in general. It puts specifics in order and helps me to better understand the genre. The only thing that I don't like so far is how it speaks to me as if I'm older than a teenager. Maybe the writer assumed that I'm a 31 year old who wants to write in the Young Adult genre? It's definitely not unheard of, so I completely understand why that happened. I just wish that it had been written for the point of view of not only adults but adolescences as well.
Profile Image for Atziri.
69 reviews7 followers
July 24, 2011
I read this book for a class titled "Writing the Young Adult Novel". I found it extremely helpful and a very easy read. I would highly recommend it to beginning and aspiring writer's like myself.

Going organizes the book around various different school subjects (gym, english, social studies, science...) which didn't really mean much to me. Nonetheless, her writing tips, insiders knowledge of the world of writing, and the summary interviews with teens help one better understand this genre. The book covers topics such as how to write a dialogue, how to frame your characters, all the way to the things you need to know when you are ready to publish, plus other great resources.
Profile Image for Kesha.
690 reviews5 followers
July 21, 2012
A how to that is organized in a fun, meaningful manner (as a high school schedule). The language is so plan and helpful. Going gives the reader and potential author the confidence to embark on writing a YA novel. The homework assignments are challenging and essential in getting your writing muscles strengthened. I valued the advice to read and read some more to gain a sense of what makes a YA novel YA. She suggests some amazing titles to reference for assistance in analyzing plot, setting, point of view, and characterization. She "brags" she has experience in every aspect of the writing process; this how-to shows she truly knows her stuff.
Profile Image for Whitney.
324 reviews35 followers
November 7, 2012
This was a text book for my Publishing for YA class, and was by far one of the most enjoyable text books I've ever had to read. Going's advice in this book is simple, and easy to understand. While there wasn't any real new advice to be found in this book that can't be found in others, this is a very readable how-to book. Something I really liked that she had in this text was the opinion section in each chapter by teens. It's nice to hear from the audience you're aiming for.

Rated 3 stars because of my mild irritation with the class period structure, and recitation of tips found elsewhere. Useful, but not so much for me.
Profile Image for Cheryl Klein.
Author 4 books35 followers
June 14, 2013
The advice in this book is solid, but it doesn't say much that I haven't read in other craft books or learned from writing workshops. (Maybe because the secret to writing YA fiction is that the rules are pretty much the same as for any good fiction.) Going's gimmick--structuring the book around a school day with chapters like "History" and "Recess"--is sorta cute, sorta annoying. The book doesn't have the soul that Anne Lamott and Annie Dillard have put into their books on writing, but there are some fun sidebars with quotes from young readers.
Profile Image for Dorothy.
Author 5 books19 followers
May 3, 2016
A really useful book for any fiction writer, whether their aim is YA Novel or not. Going takes you right through the writing process, step by step. I've read this book in a piecemeal fashion previously, but on this occasion read the whole book, with a notebook to hand in which I jotted down snippets of advice and points of action. Many books on writing are over self-indulgent with authors proposing that their way is the right and only way. Thankfully, this is not one of those books.

Profile Image for Chris.
Author 19 books157 followers
April 16, 2010
Clearly written, practical, and with just the right amount of detail, this book is a great guide to the business of writing for teens. Going's worked in an agency, in a bookstore, and as a successful YA writer herself, and she dispenses advice for aspiring writers by drawing on her experience in all three fields.
Profile Image for Claire Dawn.
97 reviews6 followers
December 7, 2011
The most comprehensive book available for aspiring YA writers. Going looks at why we write for teens, the history of YA, how to develop ideas, characters and plots, how to edit, settings, money, query and content. She also provides some feedback from teens, which is the single most useful thing for a YA writer.
Profile Image for Angela Joyce.
Author 5 books14 followers
November 4, 2009
I'm glad to see that on here, it writes out "Young Adult" in full. On the book I have, it says "YA" which always looks vaguely taunting to me. I hate abbreviations anyway, but this isn't about me.

The book is gently galvanizing and a lot of fun. I do recommend it.
Profile Image for Janet.
114 reviews
January 21, 2013
Overall, I liked this book. Not sure the use of high school subjects as the theme for the chapters worked for me. I liked the teen comments, and I found a lot of great little tidbits and insights throughout the book.
Profile Image for Heidi.
745 reviews40 followers
April 2, 2009
Sadly, no book about writing is all that helpful... Rarely do they say anything that anybody else hasn't already said. What is really needed is a magic injection...
1,351 reviews10 followers
May 23, 2010
A good basic book written in a conversational style with lots of resources for beginners.
Profile Image for Kara.
Author 6 books42 followers
July 12, 2010
A decent "how-to" book for a beginner.
Displaying 1 - 27 of 27 reviews

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