Thursday, September 01, 2011

Guy Friday-- Gauntlet Flinging.

Hey, you! HarperCollins! (Jab, jab.) I'm glad that you are publishing the Guys Read series and put together awesome panels of authors of books for boys at an American Library Association event in 2007 (Which Robert Lipsyte talks about here) and at Book Expo America. I believe at one point, the word lucrative was bandied about, and that's what I want to talk about today.

You can make money selling books for boys! All you need to do is to become a one stop source for harried female librarians, teachers and parents who really don't have a clue what boys want to read.

Have you done a web search for "books for boys" recently? You don't find much, and most lists are outdated. Even Guys Read could be a little better. I spend hours looking for books for boys and still struggle to find them. Hours.

Are you not making money on Tim Green's books? Because I buy two or three copies of each of those titles. Penguin isn't making money off the thirteen copies of Anthony Horowitz's Stormbreaker that I have? Little, Brown doesn't find Darren Shan remunerative? Simon and Schuster recently saw the light about publishing a fourth Monstrumologist book by Rick Yancey (I bought three of the first.). Random House has a list of boy books-- they manage to put 17, going all the way back to The Book of Three in 1965. Only 17 books in 46 years? Come on! And what's the HarperTeen list? Michael Grant, Pittacus Lore, and a hundred women?

And shame on you, HarperCollins, for not bringing Barry Hutchison's Invisible Fiends books to the US. Seriously, what on earth are you thinking? Do they not make money in the UK?

This is what we need: A web site that says "Hey, girl librarians recommending books to boys are busy! Let us help! Look, focus groups of actual boys like THESE books."

Please give us:
  1. Lists!
  2. More books guys like!
  3. Reviews of these books!
  4. A frequently updated blog of guy related book news!
Sure, authors don't want to write for just one gender and lose sales or readers. But if the studies (Center on Education Policy, ALA) are correct and boys struggle with school because they aren't reading as much, isn't it worth it?

Like it or not, by middle school and high school, there is a dichotomy between boys and girls. They don't sit at the same lunch tables, they don't watch the same t.v. shows, they don't wear the same clothes, and they don't always read the same books.

Men in publishing, men authors, men teachers and men librarians, if you want to help boys get books, please help the girls in the front lines.

I'm a girl. There's only so much that I can do. And you can bet I'm not wearing boys' underwear.


  1. Good for you, flinging the gauntlet! I hope it helps! I shared your post on twitter/google+/Facebook.

  2. I agree 1000000%!

    As a former boy reader (now a man-boy reader?? not sure if that sounds right...) this is the one genre that I'm totally into and have enormous belief in.

    Can I be a bit shameless here and say that I just wrote a book with this exact audience in mind? (Well, I sorta wrote it for me when I was a thirteen-year old). And I can't tell you how many times I heard "boys' books are a hard sell" on the road to publication!

    But now it's out! It can be done, even for a young, debut author :)
    Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars

  3. Way to go, Ms. Yingling!

  4. Well said, Ms Yingling! I'm not a librarian, but the mother of a teen boy, and I love that you're championing the boys!

  5. I'm old enough and have been in children's lit long enough to remember the campaign for better books for girls -- see how well that worked. I agree that things have needed to even up a bit.

    But is it the publisher's job to provide bibliographies? Isn't that what librarians do? Publishers publish, librarians compile.

  6. Sharon, I agree to a certain extent. It did seem wrong, though, for the Random House list to be so out dated and short. Also, I come in contact with a lot of librarians who no longer have time to do pathfinders. I do lists all the time and still feel like I am missing a ton of books.

  7. I am not a publisher, but I DO have a great list for you of books for teen boys! Have read and reviewed them all and recommend them highly - here you go : ) Check them out further at

    Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft
    The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk
    You Don't Know About Me by Brian Meehl
    As Easy As Falling Off The Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins
    Reality Check by Peter Abrahams
    Going Bovine by Libba Bray
    Deadline by Chris Crutcher
    Payback Time by Carl Deuker
    The Long Wait For Tomorrow by Joaquin Dorfman
    Godless by Pete Hautman
    Pop by Gordon Korman
    Seth Baumgartner's Love Manifesto by Eric Luper
    King Dork by Frank Portman
    Struts and Frets by Jon Skovron
    Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz
    Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordon Sonnenblick
    Food, Girls and Other Things I Can't Have by Allen Zadoff

    Hope this proves helpful to anyone looking for teen boy books!

  8. James Patterson's Read Kiddo Read is not specifically for boys, but it was created with Patterson's son in mind:

  9. Bravo ms. Yingling! Although Charlie joe Jackson would disapprove.