Most Anticipated YA Books of 2018

It’s list time again! 2018 promises to be another great year of reading, and I’ve pulled together 15 of my most anticipated novels of the year (plus a few bonus titles at the end). The first set includes new standalones or series starters, and the second set contains books from ongoing series. And as always, the list is in alphabetical order and doesn’t contain books I acquired (even though I can’t wait for those!).

Whether you’re a contemporary, fantasy, mystery, or historical reader, you’re sure to find something to add to your TBR list!

New Standalones or Series

Ace of Shades by Amanda Foody

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/30238163-ace-of-shades 

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/35604686-the-astonishing-color-of-after

The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/23197837-the-belles

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/34728667-children-of-blood-and-bone

Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/31207017-love-hate-other-filters

Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/34817232-olivia-twist

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo 

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/33294200-the-poet-x

Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/17312156-tempests-and-slaughter

Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/35604682-tyler-johnson-was-here

***

Ongoing Series

Bright We Burn by Kiersten White (The Conquerer’s Saga #3)

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/22817368-bright-we-burn

Catwoman: Soul Stealer by Sarah J. Maas (DC Icons #3)

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/29749098-catwoman

Hero at the Fall by Alwyn Hamilton

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/29739428-hero-at-the-fall

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, and Brodi Ashton (The Lady Janies #2)

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/36301023-my-plain-jane

A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir (Ember in the Ashes #3)

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/30809786-a-reaper-at-the-gates

Sightwitch by Susan Dennard (The Witchlands #0.5)

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/35481848-sightwitch

 

And don’t forget…

These books don’t yet have their covers (or maybe even their titles), but I also can’t wait for…

  • For A Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
  • Sea of Ink and Gold #3 by Traci Chee
  • Throne of Glass #7 by Sarah J. Maas
  • What Goes Up by Wen Baragrey*
    • *Technically this is MG, but it’s an awesome crossover with the best, quirkiest characters

Author Platform Cheat Sheet

Want to start building your author platform, but not sure how? Check out these quick and easy tips below for getting your online presence up and running!

Website

  • I like to recommend WordPress for website building since it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you, but there are lots of other great ones, so be sure to do your research based on your needs.
    • As far as a theme or design goes, choose colors that will complement your book cover, as well as typefaces that are easy to read. Most sites offer the ability to view your design as it would look on a computer, tablet, or mobile device. Be sure to check all three for compatibility.
  • Your domain name should be firstnamelastname.com or firstnamelastnameauthor.com, something that folks can easily find when looking you up. 
  • Be sure to check on your website at least once a week to make sure all data is correct and up to date.
  • You should have social widgets at the top of the page, and the bottom or sidebar too if possible. Also make sure you have a widget for email subscriptions if you are collecting emails for a newsletter.
  • Once your site has been created, make sure you have some version of the following pages available on your menu bar or drop down:
    • Home
      • The home page should feature a nice photo of you and/or your book and a brief introductory statement. I often recommend adding a Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram feed to the home page or to your sidebar. 
    • About the Author
      • Here you can include an author photo and your author bio, which can be the same or different from the bio provided in the book. (Sometimes it’s fun to add more detail!)
    • Books
      • List the description of your book(s) on this page, alongside the book cover.
      • When the book is available for preorder or sale, post links to various retailer sites so you can direct readers to where they can buy the book.
    • Contact
      • You can include a form email or an author email address here, list your social media links, or direct readers to your agent/publicist, depending on your comfort level.
    • When you begin lining up events or get some coverage in the media, you can add a “News and Events” page where you can list events, link to articles, and post photos.

Social Media

  • Choose at least two platforms to keep updated daily or as often as possible. 
  • If you’re not a natural social media user, create a post schedule for your accounts. Hootsuite is a favorite for this, or you can just keep a list and manually add posts.
  • Use a recognizable author/book photo for your bio and cover photo on all sites.
  • Be sure to list your book and website in your social media bios.
  • Make sure you have a Goodreads account and that you have claimed your book if it has already been uploaded. Turn your account into an author account—read about the Author Program here: https://www.goodreads.com/help#join_authorprogram

General Tips

  • Join author groups and stay active with them on social media. This can be an author group (such as a debut group), or something like RWA or SCBWI.
  • Follow your local bookstores and libraries on all social media and interact with them regularly. They can be some of your most wonderful advocates!
  • Engage with followers and those you follow by liking, retweeting, and commenting.
  • Depending on the site, consider using hashtags and mentioning others in your posts when appropriate. This will get you more exposure and allow you to connect with folks more easily.
  • Note that you can include plugs for your book whenever possible, but be sure that you are also providing new content and supporting followers so your accounts are not just advertising spaces.

For more author platform tips, check out the links below:

Platform for Fiction Writers

Beyond the Manuscript: What ELSE an Editor Looks for in a Submission

10 Ways Being an Editor Is Like Being a Doctor

My sister-in-law actually is a doctor, and she would probably say an editor isn’t like a doctor at all. Technically, she’d be right. (And thank goodness—no one wants me giving out medical advice.)

Not-so-technically, here are 10 ways being an editor is like being a doctor.

1. An editor’s submission inbox is a waiting room. It’s packed with people (manuscripts), and sometimes it can take a while to get in to see us. Many editors take between 4 and 8 weeks minimum to review a submission, so you may want to get comfortable. (But hey, you know we’ve got a ton of great reading material out in the waiting room to keep you busy.)

2. Editors want to know your health history. If editors gave out health history forms, here are what the questions would look like:

  • Have you ever been published before?
  • How many words do you write a day?
  • Do you edit regularly?
  • How many critique partners have you had?
  • Are any of your relatives authors, booksellers, or librarians?

3. We like making diagnoses. Editing is all about figuring out what ails your manuscript. This can be anything from dialogue to punctuation to character arcs to action scenes. We look for the big issues first, and then narrow down from there.

4. We also like finding a cure. A good editor can find the problem and help give you a solution. There may not be a pill that can fix a manuscript in a snap, but a revision regimen will get your book into great shape. If you find yourself with an editor who only points out problems and doesn’t offer helpful suggestions, you may want to work with someone else.

5. A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. When editors provide edit notes, we almost always point out what’s right with the novel before we point out what’s wrong. This isn’t just to raise an author’s spirits—it’s to highlight the parts of the manuscript that are working well so the next draft can build upon that success.

6. One word: surgery. Let’s be real, editing is basically book surgery. Our red pens are basically scalpels. Our edit letters are basically medical charts. And hopefully, the author had some anesthesia before the operation began.

7. We deal with difficult patients. I’m lucky that 99 percent of authors I work with are easy-going folks, but that’s not always the case for everyone. Some authors demand lots of second opinions or refuse to take their medicine. Others want the doctor to hold their hand every step of the way (even if the doctor has other patients).

8. We work long hours. Okay, I definitely don’t work crazy night shifts like my sister-in-law, but editing can take a looooong time, especially if you’re an editor with a lot of books on your list. The Editorial Freelancers Association estimates that a developmental editor (aka an acquisitions editor) can do 1-5 manuscript pages per hour, or 250-1,250 words. If the average novel is about 70,000 words, you’re looking at a minimum of 55 hours of work…and that’s only on the editing. Editors also work on jacket copy, metadata, cover direction, presentations, research, reading submissions, and more.

9. Our job is to keep authors and books healthy. It’s always my goal to help authors start or continue a successful writing career. Editors want their authors to be happy and successful, and to have a book (or books!) that is well read and reviewed. We take our jobs very seriously to provide the best possible care for the author and the manuscript. We don’t have a Hippocratic Oath, but maybe someone will create a Shakespearean Oath one day soon.

10. We want you to come back for a checkup. I love working with authors on a second or third or fourth book! Building those relationships are what make this job so rewarding. So if you’re enjoying a great working relationship with your editor, be sure to go back with you next manuscript.

After all that, if you’re still not convinced being an editor is like being a doctor, well, you’re right. But we’re pretty close.

Favorite Books of 2017…Part 2

I know it’s not quite the end of the year yet, but my reading pace drastically slows in December with the craziness of the holidays. (I do reserve the right to add more books to this list if I can fit one or two more great reads in before December 31!) Somehow 2017 is nearly over, and I’m celebrating the arrival of 2018 with my favorite books of 2017…part 2. (If you missed part 1, check it out here: Favorite Books of 2017…So Far.)

A reminder on the rules of this particular list:

  • Not all of these came out in 2017. Some came out a while ago and I am just behind on my TBR pile! *Shame*
  • Books are listed in alphabetical order and not ranked order. Choosing favorites of the favorites is too hard!
  • None of these are books I have edited, since obviously I love my babies the most.
  • And finally, these are all YA novels because, well, I’m a YA editor. (And Peter Pan. Who needs grown-up books? Okay, maybe grown-ups.)

Here we go!

Daughter of the Burning City by Amanda Foody

A fantasy based on the city of Gomorrah in traveling circus form? With a girl who creates real life illusions to be her friends and family? And a villain who is killing them off even though they aren’t supposed to be real? UM, SIGN ME UP. This book is dark and twisty and so very unique. I highly recommend to anyone looking to read something fresh and different in the YA fantasy world. (Also, who else is pumped for Amanda’s upcoming Ace of Shades?!?!)

The Girl From Everywhere / The Ship Beyond Time by Heidi Heilig

 

I do realize I’m counting two books as one here, but that’s okay because this is a fantastic duology. I was a little late getting around to The Girl from Everywhere because I felt time-traveled out, but Heidi Heilig does an incredible job of twisting time-travel tropes on their heads and creating a world that feels both familiar and magical. I instantly connected with her characters and loved the lush, beautiful settings (real or imagined) for both these books. She also has a new book coming in 2018! *happy dance*

Girl in the Blue Coat by Monica Hesse

I devoured this book in four sittings (or technically two sittings and two treadmillings because a girl’s gotta exercise). I’ll say this up front: Hanneke is a complex character. She’s not the type of heroine who always makes the right choice or who is unerringly brave and selfless. She’s the type of heroine who feels real, whose struggles and emotional conflicts are the same ones many of us would have if we were in her shoes. This is a artfully woven mystery, a haunting depiction of WWII, and a true coming of age story.

Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas

Not gonna lie…I was skeptical about this one. It’s ToG but not with my favorite ToG characters, and spinoff novels haven’t always been my cup of tea. (I was also having A Feast for Crows flashbacks.) But I should never have doubted the flawless SJM, because once again, she delivered. New worlds, new characters, new story lines…I had to sequester myself for a full weekend to read this beauty uninterrupted. AND THE REVEAL ABOUT ONE OF THE CHARACTERS FROM ToG!!! AAAAHHHH!!!

You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins

Mitali Perkins is a master of the family narrative, and the women you meet in this novel are a testament to her skill of developing nuanced, multifaceted characters who refuse to be put in a box. This was the type of book where I laughed, cried, and learned, all while enjoying a beautiful story. I also think You Bring the Distant Near might be the most gorgeous book title in all of existence and would be willing to fight you if you disagree.


As of 12/7/17, those are the 2017 favorites! I’ll be sure to let y’all (y’all? I’m not southern) know if I add more. One can never have too many book recommendations! (Says the girl who owns 5 very precariously full bookshelves and hoards the rest of her treasure trove in her childhood home where there are even more shelves. Thanks, parents!)

For the Love of Books: How to Give Thanks When You’ve Burned Out

With Thanksgiving only days away, I’ve been thinking about what I’m most thankful for when it comes to my professional life. I have some awesome coworkers, a list of super talented authors, and I get to work on books every day. So in some ways, that list of “thankful” items is a mile long.

But as everyone in the book business knows, ours is an industry of exhilarating highs and devastating lows. It’s an industry of two steps forward and one step back. It’s an industry where every yes seems to come with a no.

The reality is, publishing is not for the faint of heart. The success of any book is based on the ability to merge business with art, consumerism with creativity. It’s a difficult balance to strike. On top of that, rejection follows us at every stage of the publishing process. Authors are rejected by agents. Agents are rejected by editors. Editors are rejected by pub boards. And all of us know the pain of putting an amazing book out into the world—one we all poured our hearts and souls into—and watching that book be rejected by readers.

It can be hard to push past the setbacks and the rejection and the self-doubt. It can be even harder to admit to ourselves that while we may be in our dream industry, we don’t always feel like we’re living the dream. Continue reading

Rocking NaNoWriMo: 7 Tips for Reaching 50,000 Words

We’re almost halfway through National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, which encourages writers to participate in a 30-day challenge. The goal? Write 50,000 words in the month of November. Tens of thousands of people have participated since the program’s creation, and many of them have gone on to complete manuscripts, make great writing friends, or eventually sell books. Amazing!

50,000 words in 30 days can sound daunting (especially if you’re planning to spend a whole weekend in a Thanksgiving-dinner-induced food coma). But here are seven ways to make the most out of NaNoWriMo and to help you reach your goal. Continue reading

The Right Writer: A Quiz

With the recent press about the forthcoming novel American Heart, I’ve heard a lot of people asking, “Am I the right person to write XYZ type of story?”

First of all—this is not a stupid question! (And because I don’t subscribe to the belief that there are no stupid questions, you know I mean that.) “Am I the right person?” is predominantly asked by writers seeking to create books that feature diverse characters and stories. Hooray! Please do create narratives that are diverse and inclusive, because we can all agree that having more diversity in the book market is a very good thing. An even better thing is when those stories are written by own voices authors who share the experiences or backgrounds of their characters.

Now, few authors create characters exactly like themselves…that’s usually called a memoir. Writing outside our own lives and tapping into the collective human experience is a hallmark of storytelling, and there’s nothing wrong with creating characters who are different from you. In fact, we should always be exploring other points of view—if we didn’t, reading would be really boring! But are you writing a book that would be better (i.e. truer, richer, more compelling) coming from an expert voice? Because there’s a big difference between sharing a story and sharing someone else’s story. Continue reading

“What Kind of Book Should I Write?” An Editor’s Plea to Ignore Trends

When I meet with aspiring authors, I’m often asked, “What kind of book should I write?” Everyone wants to know what the next big trend will be and if they should start writing in that niche. My answer? Ignore trends. Don’t ask someone else what kind of book you should write—write the book that speaks to you. Don’t follow the crowd—stand out from it.

Here’s the thing about publishing: it moves slowly. This may not be news to you if you’re a George R. R. Martin fan (though let’s be real, that one’s all on George), but some folks are surprised when they learn a book can take a year—or two or three—to get published. Factor in the time it takes to write a manuscript and query it, and you can be looking at anywhere from two to five years. Sometimes even more.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty of the publishing process here, though I will note that those years are well spent developing a manuscript, creating a cover, building a marketing strategy, and launching a book into a competitive market. The real point of this post is that writers should ignore trends no mater how enduring those trends seem to be. Continue reading

What to Expect When You’re Expecting… an Edit Letter

When a book gets acquired, it goes through several rounds of editing. This process goes beyond proofreading and copyediting—an acquisitions editor will go through the entire manuscript and look at plot, character development, pacing, and all kinds of other big-picture elements. This is called a developmental edit or a macro edit, depending on the publisher. And when the acquisitions editor is done, the author gets an edit(orial) letter.

Edit letters can be scary! Authors get a document telling them all things they need to do make their book better after spending months—maybe even years—writing and editing and polishing a manuscript. Yikes!

Now, I can’t speak to how each individual editor creates their edit letter since everyone edits differently and every book needs a different kind of attention. Some edit letters are three pages long, some are twenty-three. Some letters focus on a particular subject (like voice or plot line), some talk about lots of different issues. But for me, there are five key pieces to this kind of letter: Continue reading

Your Bookish Fall Wardrobe

The leaves are already starting to turn in my neck of the woods, so (after bemoaning the loss of summer) I opted to browse this season’s literary outfits.

Below you’ll find some of the best wardrobe pieces for your inner word nerd, and I’ve put a * next to the companies that are associated with book-related charities or literacy organizations. What better way to shop than that? Continue reading