Release Date ~ May 22, 2012
Review copy received from publisher
What do you need to know to break in to the flourishing young adult (YA) market? With humor and a solid grounding in reality, author Victoria Hanley helps readers understand the ins and outs of the YA genre, how to stay inspired, and how to avoid common mistakes writers make in trying to reach teens. This book includes unique writing exercises to help readers find their own authentic teen voice and dozens of interviews with YA authors, blogging experts, editors, and agents to give inspiration and guidance for getting published. Chapters include writing exercises and self-editing techniques tailored to YA, along with encouraging words on dealing with self-doubt, rejection, and lack of time.
I normally don't review non-fiction books, but when Sourcebooks contacted me regarding Wild Ink, I thought it would be a good fit for Esther's Ever After seeing as it directly relates to Young Adult books. So many readers and fans of YA are writers themselves; so I'm happy today to share a rather non-conventional review of this non-fiction book from Victoria Hanley today, as well as a guest post from Victoria on outlining and the writing process.
First of all, Wild Ink deals with the YA genre in general; and actually has sections on both fiction and non-fiction writing and books. The goal seems to be to help writers figure out what the YA market is like, and if it's right for them.
YA is tricky because it's supposedly for teenagers- but the thing is that so many other age groups are reading YA books, and it's currently growing in popularity. It's no longer narrowed to a specific age group of teens- it's beloved by a large (and growing) number of readers. Victoria Hanley points to a few facets of YA books which make it so appealing; ideas like exploration, transformation, and passion which make it so enjoyable for readers of all ages. And as well, she tackles a number of subgenres under YA; paranormal, horror, sci fi, etc. It's a great resource for those trying to navigate the rather confusing world of subgenres within the YA category, and as much as I appreciated her straightforward explanations, I could see how this could feel somewhat suffocating if the definitions were taken too literally in terms of what these subgenres feature.
I think it's important to note that Victoria also deals with market trends, and stresses that it's most important to write about what you love; what you're passionate about. That passion and excitement will come across in that writing- it's why some books will do very well, even if they don't fit the current "trend".
There's also a great chapter on obstacles and writing - one of the best I found in the book. Victoria deals with a number of struggles people who write (or those wanting to write) struggle with, and gives some tips on how to overcome them.
But one of the best things about this book, I found, is how much I learned just from reading it. Unlike most readers/bloggers, I have a desire to write but I really don't write anymore. I haven't written a story in YEARS, and I'm unsure if I ever will. I also don't have a strong desire to be published- but I learned so much about writing and the process writers go through, and even about YA books themselves, that I believe will help me when I'm reading and REVIEWING YA books. Because part of being a reviewer is understanding books, and trying to pick them apart on different levels. Figuring out what I liked and disliked about a book and why I felt that way- then trying to express that to others. And I especially took note of how applicable this was to me in Victoria's chapters on writing dialogue and characters.
It was also great to include a number of Q&A sections from experts involved with the publication process, in a number of areas.
I do think there were some chapters that could have dealt a bit more in depth with what happens after your book is actually written - for example, I thought more details could have been given on the chapter dealing with marketing your book. I think a number of people are well aware of exactly what a blog tour is and how it works, but there are also a number who simply just don't know what it is or entails, and more information on things like that would have been helpful.
And now, Victoria also included a guest post she wrote on outlining your novel, for all of you aspiring writers!
To Outline or Not?Here’s a question I often hear from people interested in writing a novel: I can’t come up with an outline. What should I do?
You may have heard of “pantsers” vs. “outliners.” The term pantser derives from “flying by the seat of the pants.” Pantsers jump into their stories without outlining in advance, completely caught up in the characters and unconcerned (at first) about the plot. For a pantser, the experience of writing is one of immersion in a fictional world. The plot reveals itself along the way. Trying to outline up front would only bring on discouragement and a sense of futility. But once the first draft is done, outlining can be helpful to a pantser because an outline will identify tangents or redundancies that need to be trimmed or plotholes that require new pages.
Outliners plan ahead: They can’t imagine sitting down to write a book without having an idea of where the story begins and ends. Outliners take courage in knowing the bones of a novel before they begin to flesh it out. Often, they’re not attached to specifics, adapting well when characters change and grow and events take new turns as they write. But to an outliner, plunging in with no sense of direction would only bring on discouragement and overwhelming doubts.
So it’s helpful to know whether you’re a pantser or an outliner. When you understand your style, you’ll quit thinking you “should” be approaching things another way. All approaches are valid so long as they get you to write!
Finding what works for you is the big golden key. This seems to be true for everything from diets to exercising to picking out shoes, so it’s no surprise that writers often need to experiment before discovering what will help them get ‘er done!
Wishing you well on your quest,
Thanks for stopping by and sharing with us some tips, Victoria!
If you're interested, you can check out the second chapter of Wild Ink here; which will give you a taste of what to expect from Wild Ink as it deals with the first section on novel writing.