Middle-Grade vs. Young Adult
The difference between the middle-grade and young adult book categories may seem obvious—one’s for younger kids and one’s for older kids . . . duh! Well, that explanation is a bit reductive because there are loads more things to consider, but it’s also not even incredibly true given the fact that I know plenty of thirty-somethings who read books in both categories (raises hand). Really, the categories exist for folks like us, publishers, who are desperately trying to get books into the hands of a target audience, and people with children who want to make sure their kids are reading at what they deem to be an appropriate level. Slapping a label like middle-grade or young adult on a book makes it infinitely easier to market and infinitely easier to pick up for readers. So, what might you expect to see in a book placed in the middle-grade category and what might you expect from a book labeled as young adult?
The first detail people generally look to when determining which age category is most appropriate for a book is the main character’s age. How old is your protagonist? Oftentimes, young readers want to read about characters who are just slightly older than they are, so for a middle-grade book, you’re looking at characters anywhere between ten and thirteen years old; and for a young adult book, the characters are typically between fourteen and twenty-two. But the differences don’t stop there! Let’s break it down even further.
If you’re writing a middle-grade or young adult book, we hope these guidelines will help you figure out where your book might fit best, and if you’re reading a book in either category . . . have fun! They’re two of our favorites!
written by Grace Ball
Why Are Black-Owned Bookstores Important? with Krystle Dandridge of The Book Bar
Wildling Press chats with The Book Bar’s owner, Krystle Dandridge, about why indie bookstores matter and why Black and brown books, bookstores, and book communities are so important (and how she manages to run a great bookstore in Richmond, VA!).
Mary-Peyton Crook 00:25
Today we have with us a very special guest, Krystal Dandridge, owner of The Book Bar in Richmond, Virginia, which is a Black-owned, woman-owned bookstore that centers BIPOC authors and brands in an effort to uplift and support a culture that is often silenced. Welcome, Krystle, and thank you for being with us!
Krystle Dandridge 01:01
Thank you! Thanks for having me.
Mary-Peyton Crook 01:03
Of course! I know you have a very busy schedule; you had a big event yesterday, which is awesome. Krystle, what are your pronouns?
Krystle Dandridge 01:10
Mary-Peyton Crook 01:11
So just give us a little intro to The Book Bar and tell us what it's all about.
Krystle Dandridge 01:15
The Book Bar is a bookstore and wine shop. It's really a boutique bookstore. We center Black and brown voices, Black and brown creatives, Black and brown authors, Black and brown wines, art . . . everything in there is very much to promote and uplift Black and brown people. And the events that we do also reflect that. And so it's just kind of a space for community, a safe space for people just to come in and take a load off, you know? A little self care.
Christina Kann 01:43
Mary-Peyton Crook 01:46
You can definitely tell when you go into that space, that it's set up for relaxation, and for community to be together. There's lots of space for seating and for groups to sit together. It's really awesome.
Christina Kann 01:58
Yeah, take away the books, and it even could be like a wellness spa, you know what I mean?
Mary-Peyton Crook 02:04
Absolutely. And I love the story on your website of how The Book Bar came to be, how you came to open a bookshop. Can you tell us a little about about that?
Krystle Dandridge 02:14
Sure! It's always a funny question, because I never remember what I say to people. But it really comes down to, I mean, I've been a reader my entire life, and growing up, the difficult thing was finding books by people who look like me with stories about people who look like me and had similar experiences. I've walked into bookstores, and they would have an urban book section, which is fine, that's great, except Black people are not a monolith. So what are some other stories that are not urban fiction stories?
Krystle Dandridge 02:44
And that's if I found somebody who looked like me in the store. If they were in the store, it was like, in a section in the corner somewhere in the back with very few books, and I just, I got tired of that. And that was growing up. And so to, you know, now be in my 30s, to still walk into some bookstores, and that's the same exact experience . . . to me, it was problematic. And so I figured why not create a space? Especially given Richmond didn't at the time currently have one, and hadn't had one for some years--well over, I think, two decades going on three decades, Richmond had not had a Black-owned bookstore. And so for me, it was just kind of like, well, this is what I want. Let's create it.
Christina Kann 03:21
That's so wild and so important, because there's so many wonderful Black writers and readers here, you know? It's such an important part of the readership community here.
Krystle Dandridge 03:32
Mary-Peyton Crook 03:32
Absolutely. Yeah, it's wild to me because Richmond . . . you know, I love living in Richmond, I've lived here for a long time, but I feel like it thinks of itself as a cool place to be, as really a more modern place to be, but it took until 2022 to get a Black-owned bookstore in Richmond, [a place] that considers itself a really literary town.
Krystle Dandridge 03:52
Richmond is full of bookstores. Which is a great thing! Richmond is full of independent bookstores, but you just can't find Black or brown bookstores. And I just, I never understood why.
Mary-Peyton Crook 04:03
And you talked a little about it, but maybe flesh out a little bit about why it's important that that kind of space is in our community. Why is it important to the community of Richmond or to any community to have that Black-owned, woman-owned, but specifically Black-owned bookstore?
Krystle Dandridge 04:17
Representation. Representation matters. At the end of the day, everyone wants to be able to see themselves in any role there is, any role possible, and when you have so many forces kind of working against you, like the media, whatever you have, everything that you're seeing is very much mainstream, very much white. It's like, "All right, so where do I fit in?"
Krystle Dandridge 04:39
And so to have representation right in your own backyard is extremely important because it's, you know, yes, times are changing, yes, things are reflected on the TV, but again, I'm in my thirties. That's not how this looked when I was growing up. And so while things are shifting, it's still important because there's going to be a little girl or a little boy who wants to own a bookstore or who loves reading books or who wants to see stories about people like them.
Krystle Dandridge 05:04
And so walking into a space where you know it's no question: there is acceptance (because we know that that's not everywhere you go), walking into a space where you know, without a doubt, you're going to be accepted, you're going to find people who look like you, and you're going to have something that you can aspire to--that's important. Representation just . . . it matters.
Mary-Peyton Crook 05:21
Absolutely. That importance has been so clear through the outpouring of support and community engagement that you've had for your year that you've been open. You just celebrated your first anniversary on February 5! Congratulations!
Krystle Dandridge 05:35
Mary-Peyton Crook 05:35
Christina Kann 05:36
Mary-Peyton Crook 05:37
And I know it's just gonna blossom even more as you're running it. What does it mean to you to know that you've successfully provided that space for the community for a whole year now?
Krystle Dandridge 05:47
You know, I don't know how to answer that, because I think I'm kind of still processing it. Like, I still am trying to process everything, the fact that I've been around for a year, the fact that it's not the easiest thing to do. And it's interesting, because everyone's like, "Oh, you just, you know, I'd love to own a bookstore, you just kind of read books all day." And I'm like, "I wish! I wish that's all I did!" You guys walk in, and you might see me reading a book; however, that's probably in the midst of everything else I have going on, because I still love reading books, but I also have to read books! So sometimes you walk in to see me reading a book, and I'm actually working, it's not just me lounging around reading.
Krystle Dandridge 06:23
So trying to process everything and still stay grounded, still keep the mission forefront, because it's not always the easiest thing to do. It's hard to really understand what it truly means, you know, that it's been a year. And so for me, I'm like, a year's not that long. But on the flip side, I'm also like, but it's been a year, it's been a year.
Christina Kann 06:43
So long, yeah.
Mary-Peyton Crook 06:45
Especially for a business!
Christina Kann 06:47
Especially for a business with a storefront. At Wildling, we don't have a location. So it's like, all you have to do is have an email account, you know?
Krystle Dandridge 06:55
The storefront, that's the other piece of it. The storefront has been around for a year, but the business opened Juneteenth of 2021 virtually. So, the storefront has been a year, the business has been around a little bit longer, not much, but a little bit longer. And like you said, that storefront makes the difference, because you don't pay rent on an email! Trust me, I remember those first six months or seven months, and I was like, "Okay, I got this," and then that storefront hit, and I was like, "Okay, what's this?"
Mary-Peyton Crook 07:25
Yeah, Wildling, you know, being remote, we still have plenty to fill our days and plenty of work to do all the time. Tell us a little bit about what a day in the life of a bookstore owner is like, because I know you're juggling a million things all the time. Do you get any breaks for yourself? Do you make sure to take breaks for yourself? And what's your sort of day-to-day look like?
Krystle Dandridge 07:47
I do my best to take breaks. Just because self care is important to me. So I do my best to take breaks. However, I am still a therapist. I'm still a licensed therapist, and so I am still doing therapy on the days the store's closed.
Christina Kann 07:58
Oh my gosh.
Krystle Dandridge 07:58
Mary-Peyton Crook 07:58
Krystle Dandridge 07:59
Yes, so I try to schedule--and I do have someone who works very part time for me, just to kind of give myself a day off. And that took a long time to get to, because for the longest . . . I went almost a year without a day off.
Christina Kann 08:11
Oh my god.
Krystle Dandridge 08:11
And so there's that. Chaos is probably how I would describe my days. There are some days where it's not, but for the most part, it's chaos, because I've been placing orders, following up on orders, trying to figure out what the next order is going to be, just trying to plan an event, getting events together that are already planned and making sure I have everything in order. . . . Or like if we speak of like yesterday's event, trying to figure out how I'm going to seat everybody, because those tickets sold out and people are still showing up! And you know, now I gotta figure out what to do.
Christina Kann 08:43
What a good problem!
Krystle Dandridge 08:43
Right! And it's funny, because everyone's like, "That's a great problem to have!" And I'm like, "Yes, after the fact!" In the moment, it's not a great problem to have.
Christina Kann 08:43
Krystle Dandridge 08:43
In the moment, I'm like, "I don't want to turn you away, but I don't know where you're gonna sit, and I don't want you to have to stand for two hours," which, you know, doesn't seem like a long time. But I'm like, you know, these people coming in, we're not talking about teenagers who don't have thirty-plus-year-old knees and backs.
Mary-Peyton Crook 08:56
That's so important.
Krystle Dandridge 08:58
We're talking about adults who can't stand that long. So you know, great problem to have, but like, this is where the day-to-day is like, "Okay, do I have all the inventory I need? Oh, shipping is delayed? Okay, how long is shipping delayed? Okay, so I won't have any books for the holidays, I have none, like none of my books are coming, none of the hundreds of books I ordered. Nothing's showing up? Oh, okay. No, that's, that's fine. I can be a bookstore without books. Why not? Who needs books in a bookstore?"
Mary-Peyton Crook 09:35
You have to really learn to pivot.
Krystle Dandridge 09:37
You adapt. But I'll also say the community has been super supportive. Because I'm very transparent. I will tell you, "Hey, I ordered books; I don't know where my books are. I can order some more for you." And they're like, "Oh, it's okay, we'll wait! Let's go ahead and place an order. It's okay." And you know, that to me is the support that I need and the support that is helpful because that's what kind of keeps me going. I feel bad when I don't have books, but I'm like, "I promise I ordered them. I just don't know where they are!"
Krystle Dandridge 10:06
I just had a shipment of over a hundred books come in on Friday, and I placed that order like three, three and a half weeks ago. And I placed it knowing I had this event. I was like, "Let's over-order, let's get some books." And I'm like, "Okay, well, you know, I placed the order. I don't know where my books are, but I placed the order, and I'm about to have over 100 people in the store, and I don't have a book for them! I don't have anything!" It showed up, thankfully, but . . .
Christina Kann 10:33
We can definitely relate to that, trying to get authors their books in time for their events as well. There's so many elements of buying books that are just out of your hands.
Mary-Peyton Crook 10:42
Krystle Dandridge 10:43
Most of it is out of our hands.
Mary-Peyton Crook 10:44
You try to really prepare well in advance, but it still can show up late even then. It's crazy.
Krystle Dandridge 10:50
It's, you know, it's part of the business. But again, it's that year, that year is learning. I learned over that year a lot.
Mary-Peyton Crook 11:00
Yeah, and it's great that you still have that support. I remember, on your grand opening day, obviously, you know, it's grand opening day, day one of the first year, so anything could happen. And I remember you coming out and right before we were able to go in you were talking about the fact that you didn't have the books that you had ordered yet, you were still waiting on so many books. And I walked in, and I know that it's much more full now, but it still was so beautifully set up and the books looked great. You had them facing out, which I love because that lets you see the cool covers. And people were still just flooding in and having the greatest time.
Krystle Dandridge 11:37
It was great.
Mary-Peyton Crook 11:38
You know, I think that's because you've created that sense of community and the sense of space over just a place to buy books. Ordering that book is important, but I don't think you'll ever run out of people that still support you and love that space.
Krystle Dandridge 11:52
That's the great part about it. The grand opening was a shocker for me. I don't know what I expected to happen, but when I walked out and saw the number of people . . . in my mind, I was like, "Oh, it'll probably be like twenty, maybe fifty people, it won't be a whole lot. Very naive of me, because I walked out and like . . . My family was there. If you came to the grand opening, you saw my family because they were everywhere helping everyone--
Mary-Peyton Crook 12:15
Krystle Dandridge 12:15
--behind the register, mostly, but they were definitely everywhere, them and my friends. And prior to the grand opening, as we were standing inside, I was like, "No, I'll cut the ribbon. A few people are coming, but you guys can probably just go back to my house and just, you know, relax. I won't need any help." And then we opened the doors, and everyone came in, and I was like, "So y'all can't leave. You have to stay, I just need all hands on deck. Don't ask me what I need you to do, because at this point, I don't know, I wasn't expecting everybody to be here, so thanks for staying. Sorry you're hungry, but we're here now. We're in this together, we're gonna make it through, and I appreciate the patience."
Krystle Dandridge 12:16
That line . . . if you were there, that line was wrapped around the store. And there were just all these people, and the store was packed. I'm in panic mode because I was like, "Oh, the city said my capacity is this, and we're like, way over that. Should I put people out? Like what do I do?" Again, I was brand new to retail. I was like, "What do I do? Do I not let them in? It's cold outside. It's February. It's freezing outside. Do I take a chance? Because I don't want anyone catching pneumonia trying to get into a bookstore! That's ridiculous.
Mary-Peyton Crook 13:32
Maybe those rules are a little bit soft for a grand opening.
Krystle Dandridge 13:35
Mary-Peyton Crook 13:36
It was great. It was so much fun.
Mary-Peyton Crook 13:37
What's your favorite part of running a bookstore?
Krystle Dandridge 13:40
Christina Kann 13:41
Yeah. That's a good answer.
Krystle Dandridge 13:44
Getting the books early, because if you're a book addict like me, then your TBR is ridiculous, but you still want the next book. I think it's a tie. I'll say there's a tie between the books and the authors. I have posted about it. I absolutely love meeting authors. Authors are my rockstars. You guys can have all the music artists you want. I love them too, but there is nothing like meeting authors, especially because they're down to earth! They're down-to-earth rockstars, or at least the authors that I've met. They are down-to-earth rock stars! They're like "Yeah, sure, let's chat!" And I'm like, "Really? You wanna talk to me?" So I think that's amazing. And the books! I have arcs sitting right in front of me right now. I get so many arcs (way too many sometimes, but I'm okay with that. I give a lot away, actually.) But getting those arcs, being front and center trying to see, like, what's coming out? Can I read it? When I read it, I'm like, "Oh, let me make a video about it. Let me post on social media but try not to spoil it. Let's talk about this book and not tell you all why it's so amazing when I just want to be like, "Oo, and then they did this and then they did that."
Mary-Peyton Crook 14:54
That's so hard, because the ending can really make or break (obviously) a book, and and it would be so hard if you're genuinely giving your reviews to not include that part of it.
Mary-Peyton Crook 15:06
And that brings me to talk about your social media presence @rvabookbar on Instagram and Tiktok. Those are my favorite places to find you, because your presence on social media on those channels is so authentic. I was thinking about it, and I think it's obviously because so many of the posts are just you talking to your followers, talking to this community of readers, and giving genuine book reviews. And you seem to post a lot, which I can't imagine with your schedule.
Mary-Peyton Crook 15:35
What kind of advice would you give to--I know you're in a particular position as a bookseller--but what advice would you give to someone looking to create sort of an authentic, compelling Bookstagram, BookTok, whatever channel they want to use?
Krystle Dandridge 15:49
Ignore what's already out there. And I say that because when I first opened my IG account, I was going with, you know . . . Well, when you're on Bookstagram, all you see is the mainstream, white faces, that is what you see. You have to literally search for people who look like me. What you see are aesthetic pics, that's what you see. And there is nothing wrong with the aesthetic pic; I actually think they're pretty, I just don't get anything from them, personally. But when I started, that's what I was doing. I was like, "Okay, well, people want to see aesthetics, because of course, these people's aesthetics got thousands and thousands of likes. So that's what people want." But then I realized I wasn't using my voice.
Christina Kann 16:27
Krystle Dandridge 16:28
And then again, going back to the [book] reviews, you would see the aesthetic, and then you would see the synopsis of the book. I don't like that, because I can read the back of the book myself. So because I can read the back of the book myself, you're not really helping me want to buy the book, because you just told me what the book was telling me anyway. How was that helpful? And what I learned was I was actually getting better traction when it was my voice versus the voice that matched what you saw on Bookstagram, which was, "Here's a picture of a book. Here's what the back of the book says."
Christina Kann 17:01
Krystle Dandridge 17:01
Cool. But I see that on the hundreds of profiles I see every day. So that's not helping me, versus people who are like, "Okay, but why should I buy this book?" which is what people want to know. They're looking for book recommendations.
Krystle Dandridge 17:12
There are a lot of people that are cover buyers; I'm a cover buyer. So yes, the pretty book catches my eye because I'm like, "Ooh, what's that?"
Mary-Peyton Crook 17:19
For sure, for sure.
Krystle Dandridge 17:20
But now what? Why should I buy it? So the advice that I have is for BookTok and Bookstagram, because BookTok is very much videos, Bookstagram is both pictures and reels. But I say use your voice. Like for me, my personality comes through in my videos; it's kind of like talking to me. I love books, and I love talking books. So I'm just kind of like, "Hey!" I'm animated. I like to be very animated. And so I'm like, you know, "What would make somebody really understand why you should get this book?"
Krystle Dandridge 17:54
And I'm recommending what I like, I'm not just kind of like, "I'm a bookseller, here's a book that's in my shop and I have to sell it." No. Some books are just not for me. And that's okay. So when people come into the shop, and they're like, "Well, what about this book?" I'm like, "Well, if you like XYZ, then you'll like it. It's just not my cup of tea, because I'm not an XYZ reader." But on my Bookstagram or my BookTok, I'm like, "Oh, did y'all read this? Let me tell you why you should read this. Because you're not going to regret it!" I like the books that I'm recommending. So I'm not just going to be like, "Oh, I have to sell this. Let me just shove this down your throat and hope that you believe me and come by. No, I thought this was amazing."
Mary-Peyton Crook 18:32
Yeah, I love watching your book recommendations, because you are so passionate about them. And for lack of a better term, you give more of the vibe of the book; you talk about what it's really like versus just, "Okay, this is a mystery. This is fantasy." You really give us the elements of the book that are a reason to read that book over others. Which is what what we're looking for as book readers.
Mary-Peyton Crook 18:56
And that's such a strong case for why it's so important to buy from local bookstores over things like Amazon over even looking on Instagram or Booktok. Because the bookseller should be a book reader like you are. And that's where you're really going to have a conversation with someone about what kind of books are coming up, what book recommendations they can make for you, and it just makes the process so much better than, say, just scanning on Amazon for a book. That's why bookstores are so important.
Krystle Dandridge 19:29
Bookstores will forever be important. Bookstores . . . first of all, they're in your community. So we're talking about tax dollars, all of that, that goes back into your community. So why would you not want to support a bookstore that's in your community? I understand the ease of shopping online and just having it delivered to you in a day or two. I get that. But there are so many reasons to choose an independent bookstore over choosing shopping online and supporting something that isn't in your community. It's not in your community, it's not benefiting your community in any way, shape, or form. And then the interesting thing is people wonder when they're like, "Oh, well, bookstores are obsolete" or "They don't stick around, they don't stick around," because instead of walking in and talking to a person, you decided to click on it.
Krystle Dandridge 20:13
And I'm not against online shopping, but there are also ways to shop online to purchase books that are not through Amazon so you can still support what's in your community: Bookshop.org! Independent bookstores through Bookshop.org. You can go through Bookshop.org, choose the bookstore you want to select (The Book Bar) and your purchase benefits that store. It still supports the store in your community, and you can get it shipped directly to you, easy.
Mary-Peyton Crook 20:40
That is so nice. We love Bookshop.org. I literally just used it the other day, and my purchase . . . I bought one book, one paperback book, and it said it gave $5.99 to a local bookstore, which is crazy considering that the book was like $18, you know, so that's a huge amount for online, which is awesome.
Krystle Dandridge 20:59
It's great. We get a huge portion of that percentage. And then you also have Libro.fm for those who are like, "I only do audiobooks." Libro.fm, same concept.
Mary-Peyton Crook 21:09
Mary-Peyton Crook 21:11
To sort of wrap up, what are ways that people can support RVA Book Bar if they don't live nearby?
Krystle Dandridge 21:18
Online! You can always support me online, RVABookBar.com, www.rvabookbar.com. Events are posted there, and there is a link to my Bookshop page. You go under "Shop," it'll say "Shop Books," and you can search all of the books you want. You can always come inside! You can't lose with that either. But there are so many ways you can follow me, on IG, TikTok, Facebook, and YouTube @rvabookbar. Or come down to the store: 1311 East Main Street in Richmond, Virginia.
Mary-Peyton Crook 21:47
Well, thank you so much, Krystle, for being with us today, for taking time out of your busy schedule. I love The Book Bar, we all do at Wildling, and however we can support you, we are here to do that.
Krystle Dandridge 22:00
I appreciate that.
transcribed and edited by Mary-Peyton Crook
Join us for a chat with C.K. Fullerton as we talk about all things romance: how she got into the genre, her tips and tricks for writing in the genre effectively, book recommendations, and more!
Grace Ball 00:23
I'm so excited today because Mike and I are joined by Wildling's very own C.K. Fullerton, author of the upcoming Blood and Brujeria.
C.K. Fullerton 00:54
Hi, I'm so excited to be here.
Michael Hardison 00:56
Yeah, we're definitely happy to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Grace Ball 00:59
Thank you so much for coming on the pod today. Okay, first things first, what are your pronouns?
C.K. Fullerton 01:05
She and her.
Grace Ball 01:06
Awesome. Well, Happy Valentine's Day, everybody. We asked C.K. to come on the show on this particular day of love because we want to talk about romance baby. We consider C.K. to be an expert on the romance genre, so we want to pick her brain a bit. But before we get into it, C.K., do you want to tell the listeners a little about your book and how you got started writing in general?
C.K. Fullerton 01:37
Yeah, definitely. Blood and Brujeria: In the Shadows is the first book of three. And it's a paranormal urban romance about a half witch half vampire named Cassandra, who comes from a family of vampire slayers that protect the city of San Diego. And while she's out slaying vampires, she discovers an influx of all these new vampires coming into the city causing trouble. And so she works together with her friends to try and figure out where all these vampires are coming from. And on the way she rescues a troubled vampire named Landon, who ends up kind of being a part of the mystery, but not everything is as it seems with him. So the first installment of this book of the series features a plus size Chicana female lead, a diverse found family, lots of magic, and lots of unapologetic smut.
Grace Ball 02:26
Michael Hardison 02:27
Grace Ball 02:29
We are so excited about this book. I've had the pleasure of working with C.K. on it throughout production so far, and we're super excited about it. It's going to be awesome.
Michael Hardison 02:40
Yeah, even with the sneak peek that I got of it, it was just really exciting. I can't wait to read more of it.
Grace Ball 02:45
Yeah, C.K., I don't know if you know this, but Mike is actually the one who, like, acquired and like recommended your book to the rest of us.
C.K. Fullerton 02:53
Oh, how cool! I didn't know that. Well, thank you.
Michael Hardison 02:55
Yeah, that was me. It was one of my first like entrances into reading romance. And I've read a few before, but this one just really piqued my interest, because of the paranormal side of it too, just that combination was just, it was fun to be part of, and you know, dive into that world.
C.K. Fullerton 03:10
Awesome. Yeah, and I feel like the genre is really exploding right now. So I consider like paranormal romance to be a subgenre of fantasy romance. And in general, it's just having a huge upsurge. You know, one of the reasons I got into writing again, I wrote when I was a teenager, and then kind of fell out of it in college. But during the pandemic, I rediscovered reading, like so many people, and I used to love fantasy, YA fantasy, and then I discovered fantasy romance. I was like, oh my god, this is like the adult version of what I loved as a teenager. But these characters are dealing with things that I deal with, you know, and so I got to still get my fix of escapism with fantasy, and it was like going into a new world, but also it was for an adult. So I actually related to the characters because when I would read YA as a thirty-year-old woman, it was like, it wasn't really hitting the same way because my life changed. So that was really what inspired me to get involved in the genre as well.
Grace Ball 04:11
That's so cool. So you said you did some writing in like high school?
C.K. Fullerton 04:14
Grace Ball 04:15
What kind of stuff would you write?
C.K. Fullerton 04:18
Still paranormal. I mean, I was a huge Anne Rice nerd, so lots of witches, lots of vampires. Some of the stuff I read back, I'm like, that was Anne Rice fanfiction. I read like so many fantasy romance novels in 2020 and 2021. Like once I got into it, I was like I'm gonna just immerse myself, and I read like, probably forty books in two months. Like it was like really intense. And like a book a day sometimes. Yeah, and then not all of them were great. Like I feel like I went from like the really top tier down into like, some of the stuff that was not so great. And that's when I went you know, I could . . .
Grace Ball 04:55
Kind of spiraled
C.K. Fullerton 04:55
Yeah, I was like, I could probably write something, and like I want to because I'm running out of good stuff. So I really wrote it because I was like, I am at a loss here like I'm, I haven't found anything good. I think it was like I read like, probably four or five just really bad books back-to-back, and then I was like, okay, I'm gonna do something about this.
Grace Ball 05:15
C.K. write the book you want to see in the world, am I right?
C.K. Fullerton 05:18
Exactly. Yeah, and then you know the other thing too is that so many of the books I was reading were really focused on white characters. There are not a lot of brown vampires out there. And then not a lot of like representation in the genre, and then plus sized characters as well. I feel like, even if there is that representation, it's still in kind of, sometimes a fatphobic lens, where we're still kind of focused on their body size, almost like hyper-focused.
Grace Ball 05:49
Yeah, that's so true. And I feel like that comes up a lot in the romance genre, just as like an issue, because, you know, there is so much body description.
C.K. Fullerton 05:59
There is and it can be so unrealistic as well.
Grace Ball 06:03
Yeah, that is so true. So, you said that you read just an insane amount of books, particularly during the pandemic, were they all sort of romance related?
C.K. Fullerton 06:15
Yeah, I like kind of hyper-focused on fantasy romance right at the beginning of my reading journey. Now, I've really gotten into contemporary romance as well.
Grace Ball 06:24
Do you have any recommendations?
C.K. Fullerton 06:25
Oh, yes, I wrote them down. For contemporary romance, anything by Emily Henry, like she deserves all the hype she's getting on social media. I'm so glad they're making a movie out of one of her books. And like they're just all fantastic. Great romance, but also just wonderful, like character development. And she's just really smart and her characters have really great voices. So I love her. I also really enjoyed It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey. Really good dirty talk in that one, if that's what you're into.
Grace Ball 06:58
C.K. Fullerton 06:59
And then, Set on You by Amy Lea has great plus size representation. Delilah Green Doesn't Care is a super cute sapphic romance, if you're looking for that, that female/female. And then from the fantasy romance perspective, I really love Scarlett St. Clair's Hades X Persephone series. Also, we can't talk about fantasy romance without mentioning the queen, Sarah J. Maas.
Grace Ball 06:59
C.K. Fullerton 07:01
She's popular for a reason. They are really good. The hype is true. Crescent City is like one of my all time favorite books. So you really can't go wrong with those.
Grace Ball 07:35
Do you think that's a good place to start for anyone who's wanting to get into the genre?
C.K. Fullerton 07:40
I would actually recommend Scarlett St. Clair's Hades X Persephone series to start, or "The Bridge Kingdom" series by Danielle Jensen. They're just not so long. So with Sarah J. Maas, they get really long and there's a lot of them, so that one's an investment. So if you know you really like the genre, after you kind of do some of these smaller series, then you can really dive into those books. Because, you know, buying books is expensive. I mean, I'm a library person. So that's, that's great, too.
Grace Ball 08:00
Oh my gosh, that reminds me that we also have to wish, in addition to Valentine's Day, wish everyone a happy Library Lovers Day. Because that's what today is too!
C.K. Fullerton 08:22
That's so cool!
Michael Hardison 08:23
I'll celebrate that one. That's a single one. I'll celebrate Library Day. I love the library!
C.K. Fullerton 08:30
Me too! Thank god I have a library because I would have gone broke reading all those books.
Grace Ball 08:37
We love our libraries. So with writing romance, there's probably a particular approach to this genre. It sounds like maybe you've written just mostly in this genre, but how would you say that it might be different from writing in another genre, if that makes sense?
C.K. Fullerton 08:55
Yeah. I think that, you know, falling in love takes a particular kind of self-awareness and some compromise and empathy. And so I think if you're going to write about that experience, as an author, you really have to be able to dive into that. And so you really need to come from an empathetic place, you've got to dive into your characters' thoughts, their emotion, and really look at your characters' personal grow, because usually they need to do some sort of growth in order to make a relationship work. And so you can build the most complex world with like, epic fantasy, like, you know, this great world building, but if you are not rooting that love story in some very familiar human experiences, it's just not going to click. So I think that's the biggest aspect of it, and that I see across the whole genre--contemporary fantasy, paranormal--and that's one of the things I really love about it is that it does have this very human aspect to it no matter if you're on a planet with blue aliens, like you still have this very familiar experience that most people have had. And so I think that's the the thing to focus on.
Grace Ball 10:06
That's a great way to approach writing in the genre, because that's ultimately what people are looking for is to like see a human experience reflected in a story. And it's fun to have all these cool, different realms and settings, but I think you're right that people are looking to really read that human experience. So I love that. So when you are writing, are there any aspects particular to this genre that you find to be difficult? And if so, how do you meet those challenges when come up against them?
C.K. Fullerton 10:44
It's so funny, because, romance, of course, we're talking love, love scenes, sex scenes, and those were actually the hardest parts for me.
Grace Ball 10:52
C.K. Fullerton 10:53
Yeah, because you can just get so in your head about it, and you kind of have to let go of it feeling a little cringy sometimes. Particularly when you have characters like talking about being in love, it can feel very cliche and cheesy. But you want these heightened experiences and moments, you want it to feel climactic, you want it to really jump off the page. And so you've got to be able to go there and laugh at yourself and let go of the fact that some of the things that you're saying, maybe seem cheesy, but if it's rooted in the truth of the character and what they're feeling, and it makes sense, then it works. So to overcome that, definitely, I just let myself be playful with it. And part of that was I wouldn't read over anything that I had written while I was writing. So I was only allowed to go forward, I wasn't allowed to go backward until the scene was fully fleshed out. Because I felt like if I was in a good flow with it, whatever they were saying, or whatever was going down, it was meant to happen that way. And then I could go back and say, oh, that line didn't work, or does this physically make sense? Like, logistically, how are they doing this? But I will say it did help to have Grace as an editor because you did an amazing job of of being like, I don't think that they would say that or, like how, how is this happening? Which is one of my biggest complaints in romance in some of the sex scenes is like, I just don't understand, like, physically, I can't see it in my mind.
Grace Ball 12:25
Yeah, because you are visualizing.
C.K. Fullerton 12:28
Grace Ball 12:28
So if all of a sudden somebody's doing something crazy, you're like, well, I'm not sure exactly how we got from point A to point B.
C.K. Fullerton 12:36
Michael Hardison 12:38
That makes me think too, talking about the logistics of the scene and everything, and I wish I had pulled some up before we started this interview, but when you go back and read the excerpts people find of men writing women badly in romances.
C.K. Fullerton 12:51
Michael Hardison 12:52
That brings me so much joy to read how cringy those sections are, just like, you didn't go back and read that? Is the woman's body really shaped in a way that you can do that?
C.K. Fullerton 13:03
Michael Hardison 13:04
And it's so funny to me. You need to know what you're doing before you write it.
C.K. Fullerton 13:09
Some basic anatomy.
C.K. Fullerton 13:10
Yes. Yeah. And so like, I learned to really love writing those scenes, because once you build up the relationship, and it finally happens for your characters, it's so fun. But even as a super sex positive person, it's still like, kind of weird at first to actually put that down on paper.
Grace Ball 13:34
Well, you do a great job with it. I feel like I didn't really edit too many things in the spicier scenes of your book, because I was like, she nailed it. So on the flip side, what kind of brings you back? What makes you really, really excited about writing romance?
C.K. Fullerton 13:52
I think that the community of readers is the thing that inspires me the most, like everyone is usually just so welcoming and inclusive and excited about sharing different books. And throughout my writing journey, I've just found so many different little pockets of wonderful people that I can reach out to that are also writing. And I feel like a lot of people in the community felt the same way I do, where they didn't see the books that they wanted so they just started writing, which is super inspiring. And also I just love good banter. So I feel like that's one of the great tropes of romance is there's always some good back and forth. And so that's one of my favorite things to write. It just really like helps build that tension. And then those are the scenes that I hear in my head, where I can't keep up with the characters because it is just going and I'm just trying to type it as fast as I can. So that's where I get like the most excited.
Grace Ball 14:46
That's cool. So you mentioned that you talk to people in the community. What is like the most effective way you found to connect with other people because I'm sure that our listeners, you know, would be interested in hearing about any sort of groups or platforms that you that you're able to share?
C.K. Fullerton 15:04
Definitely, I really found going on Instagram, finding other people that are writing in my genre. So other like indie authors. And then a lot of them have Discord groups or are part of different Discord groups, and so if you message them and see what groups they're a part of. I'm part of a couple of different Discord groups. And we'll do writing sprints together on there. So that's been really helpful and really fun. And then you know, you hype each other's books up when they come out. And you're just kind of there to brainstorm with other people, even about like making reels, or marketing ideas, and how to use social media, kind of picking other people's brains that have already been doing it, too, has been really helpful. So I think Discord has been like the best platform for me personally in building those relationships.
Grace Ball 15:50
That's so cool. That's awesome. Alrighty, so what are some strategies you use to effectively build tension in a romance novel? I think, you know, you said, the banter is really important. How do you make that happen on the page?
C.K. Fullerton 16:00
I wish I could give like an a, b, and c to like how that happens. But honestly, like I said, the characters start talking in your head, for me, at least. And that's when like the best banter comes in. I think, of course, you need to set up a situation where there are obstacles for your characters, you can't really have sexual tension, if the characters have nothing stopping them from hooking up and seeing where it goes. So you have to have a very clear reason why these two people who are attracted to each other can't get together, or else it's just pointless. It doesn't make sense.
Grace Ball 16:41
C.K. Fullerton 16:41
I think, yeah, having that conflict, knowing what that is, having it be something that is a true obstacle, that isn't something that a reader would go like, really, that's the reason why they're not getting together? Like it's got to have higher stakes. And then I think that having a good idea of how the attraction started, and how it builds--kind of the middle of that tension--that is making it maybe go from a physical attraction to an emotional attraction. And then finally, knowing what the catalyst is going to be for them to overcome that obstacle. I think, you know, depending on how high stakes your obstacle is, your event that's going to make them finally get together needs to match that.
Grace Ball 17:26
Yeah, there's obviously the physical element, but there's the emotional element too that could even be potentially more important to make convincing.
C.K. Fullerton 17:34
Yes, yes. I mean, you know, that kind of idea, like insta-love. And I think a lot of readers in the genre don't necessarily love that trope. And I feel like it is very based on the physical, and if they don't bring in the emotional later, it just, it just really falls flat. So I do think that ultimately, to make it feel like that human experience we were talking about earlier, you really do need to find that connection between these two people. Otherwise, just watch porn?
Grace Ball 18:07
Yeah, that's so true. There's a story there. Just kidding! So I forgot to ask you, I meant to ask you earlier. Do you have favorite romance tropes? I think we all do.
C.K. Fullerton 18:24
Yes. Yes, I do. I mean, I'm a sucker for enemies to lovers. I just love it. I can't get enough. If anything has it, I'll read it. And I also love a good "who did this to you?" scene. Those are always fun. And I feel like those are very specific to fantasy romance. That's like a very popular trope. Also, friends to lovers, I read a couple friends lovers books, I did not think I would like it as much as I did. But those have a great emotional connection because there's already a backstory, they obviously are good friends, so they trust each other, and so it kind of builds from there. And then I do love a good fake relationship, but it has to be a believable reason why they're faking. If it's not a good reason why they're faking, I just can't buy in. So that one I feel like it's hard to do, but when it's done well I enjoy it. And then of course the one bed trope, you can't go wrong.
Grace Ball 18:24
Oh my god, I was gonna say, I always have to mention the one bed trope. That's my favorite.
C.K. Fullerton 18:49
Yeah. So good.
Grace Ball 19:27
Classic. I love that. Okay, so we've touched on this a little bit, we've talked about some of the ways that the genre is kind of currently evolving and how its evolved in terms of inclusion. So what kind of changes in that vein are you seeing and like, what do you see for the future of the genre?
C.K. Fullerton 19:48
Well, I think that because more readers are taking it into their own hands and writing their own things, I think we're seeing much more realistic sex scenes, in particular. Women aren't orgasming by penetration alone or like fifteen times in a row or like the anatomy doesn't make sense, like we're really seeing realistic female pleasure focused sex scenes, which I think is really important. And I think it's really empowering. When you're able to have a language to talk about what you need, you kind of close that orgasm gap in your own relationship. And readers are also really talking about that as well. So it's taking away a lot of the shame around sexuality. And that's something that I think is really changing the way that people are writing. I also think that the group of people who grew up reading YA, we're older now, we want different things. And we want to see older characters too. So I feel like there was so much focus on like teenagers for such a long time. And now I'm seeing a lot more books about people in their 30s--I read a book about a woman in her 50s--you know, like we're starting to see age inclusion as well, not just different body types, not just different races, but also different ages. And I think it's really important because sexuality doesn't stop. And so I think representing different phases of life as well is really cool to see.
Grace Ball 21:06
Yeah, me too.
Michael Hardison 21:08
Y'all are lucky with YA, and growing up on that--that wasn't really a category when I was young. And my actual first like romance book I read when I--because there wasn't YA accessible--so I grabbed a book from like, my mom's shelf.
Grace Ball 21:21
Michael Hardison 21:21
I started reading it, and it was seventh grade, and it was V.C. Andrews. I don't know if you're very aware of them or not, but they write some pretty like, wild stuff. And after she passed, they continue to use her name to write more, but it's just all of this really like grocery store level, trashy novels, about like rich, rich families, and there's a whole lot of sex, and all these things, and I'm in seventh grade earning my like, Pizza Hut points reading V.C. Andrews books. I read an entire, like seven book series my seventh grade summer, and I was like, wow, adults are weird.
C.K. Fullerton 21:59
Oh, there is certainly a place for that, too.
Grace Ball 22:02
That's so true. Oh, man, this has been so fun! Okay, so, C.K., could you give our listeners like one final piece of advice about writing romance, just to wrap it all on up?
C.K. Fullerton 22:16
I think I'd want to go back to just letting yourself be uncomfortable a little bit. You know, there are going to be times when I think writing the emotions and writing about love can sometimes feel awkward and cheesy. But if you are really rooting it in your characters' truth, if you've really set up scenarios that put them in a place where they can be vulnerable, I think you can't really go wrong. And so also being very clear about "the why" they're getting together. What is it about these two people that they're relating to each other about? And why are they attracted to each other beyond the physical is really important. And from there, I think you'll have a great foundation, and then you can start to play, then you can start to work on the banter, then you can start to add in some tropes, then you can create your world around them, and give them some different conflicts. But ultimately, you need to have that foundation there to build on.
Grace Ball 23:17
Beautiful. Wow, thank you so much for talking with us today, C.K., and being the first guest on our new season of "How Do I Book?"
C.K. Fullerton 23:27
Thank you. I'm honored!
Grace Ball 23:29
Really, yeah, it was truly such as such a pleasure talking with you. And thank you for sharing your valuable perspective.
C.K. Fullerton 23:36
Thanks so much for having me. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.
Grace Ball 23:39
Happy Valentine's Day!
Michael Hardison 23:40
Happy Valentine's Day!
Grace Ball 23:41
And that's how you book!
transcribed and edited by Grace Ball
Follow CK Fullerton online!
How Do I Set a Reading Goal?
Happy 2023, y’all! With the start of a new year come all the resolutions—personal, professional, and, of course, literary.
Tons of readers all over the world set annual reading goals for themselves with each new year. This means that around New Years, they choose an ideal number of books they’d like to read in the following year. Some readers take their goals quite seriously, while others might forget their goals right away—and plenty of readers don’t track their reading goals at all.
Why do people go different routes? What’s the big deal with reading goals?
Where do I track my reading goal?
There are a couple different ways to track your reading goal, independently or through a program, in writing or digitally.
Lots of readers use apps to track their reading. Storygraph and Goodreads both ask readers at the beginning of each year if they’d like to set a reading goal, and then readers can keep track of their books read compared to how much they still need to read to stay on target. These apps also keep track of when you read a book and what you thought of it as well.
Some readers may choose to keep track of their own reading goals. You could start a spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to keep count of the books you’ve read so far this year. Others might prefer to keep a handwritten account of their reading in a journal and tally their books on the inside cover.
What are reading goals good for?
Setting a reading goal for yourself is a great way to make reading a priority. If you want to make sure you’re reading consistently throughout the year, having a goal you’re trying to hit can keep that momentum going. It’s harder to let yourself fall into a reading slump or drift your attention to Netflix or doomscrolling if you’re always keeping that reading goal in mind.
What are reading goals bad for?
You should not set a reading goal for yourself if you’re going to use that to guilt or shame yourself. Reading should be a fun, relaxing activity that makes your brain work juuuuust a little bit. It should not feel like a burden or a punishment! If you’re setting this goal to trap yourself rather than inspire yourself—don’t. Be gentle with yourself, and only read when and if you actually want to.
Set realistic goals.
A good compromise if you want to set a reading goal but be careful not to trap yourself is to set realistic, attainable goals. If you read 5 books last year and it felt hard, you’d be setting yourself up for failure if you vow to read 50 books next year. A realistic goal can feel like an attainable challenge, and you’ll be more inspired to dive in.
If you set a reading goal last year, use that as a guide for setting your reading goal for this year. If your goal last year was 30 books and it felt really easy and you still had time to read more at the end of the year, maybe try doubling your goal and go for 60 books this year. If your goal last year was 52 books and you only read 12, and you’d still like to try to read more books, go for a small increase and aim for 15 books next year. If your goal last year was 100 and you hit it with a week or two to spare and it felt challenging and great, set the same goal for next year, or stretch it slightly to 105.
If you set your goal too small and you find yourself nearing that magic number in May, you can always update your goal later! It’s better to start with a small goal, blow it out of the water, and get to set a stretch goal than it is to set your goal too high and never really feel like you can get there.
Should I set a reading goal for myself?
This is up to you. You don’t have to jump on the trendy bandwagon and set a reading goal just because the readers around you are. Ask yourself why you’re considering setting a reading goal for yourself and why you read, and be real with yourself about what you can do.
At the end of the day (often literally), reading shouldn’t be a chore. It should be a pleasure.
written by Christina Kann
How Do I Find Bookish Gifts?
Got a lot of book-loving friends? Of course you do--bookish friends are the best kind of friends. And those great friends deserve great gifts, whether it’s for a birthday, a holiday, or maybe just to thank them for introducing you to your new favorite author.
Here’s a wrap-up of our favorite bookish gift ideas of the season.
A book from Bookshop.org
It might seem too obvious to say, but get your book bestie . . . a book! There’s still nothing like the gift of a new book, fresh with that new-book smell. *Deep inhale* Yep, it’s a high like no other.
But this time, instead of ordering on Amazon because it’s easy, or maybe because your favorite bookstore’s online selection is more limited, you can now support your favorite indie bookstore by shopping the super-convenient, massive selection of books available on Bookshop.org. Bookshop works with local, independent bookstores to provide an immense selection of books that are as easy to find and order as they are on Amazon--but instead of your money supporting billionaires and completely bypassing authors, your money goes to your local bookstore! It’s a win-win!
(Can’t figure out which book they’ll love? Get them a Bookshop.org gift card!)
A set of dust jackets from Nerdy Ink
The art of Nerdy Ink is otherworldly--and surprisingly affordable. It’s apparent that the artist behind the brand is a book lover themself, because so much passion is put into every piece. As of now, they’ve got dust jacket sets for collections like the Percy Jackson, Shadow and Bone, Red Rising, Throne of Glass, and Tolkein series of books, and at only $30-39 for an entire set, they often sell out. So hop to it! Your book bestie will cherish these (and you).
A cute tee from Inkwell Threads
You. Will. Love. These. Tees.
There are a lot of bookish T-shirts out there, and Inkwell Threads repeatedly comes out with the best designs. They are bright, colorful, modern, and clever as heck. Plus, there are so many options that you’re bound to find something for every kind of reader: your super-sarcastic friend who’s into horror, your daydreaming pal who wishes they lived at Pemberley with Mr. Darcy, your witchy sister who gives off all the fae energy, and even that one friend with kids who often struggles to find the time to read at all.
They’re so well designed that your friend will want to wear these tees with every kind of outfit. There’s nothing like getting to wear your favorite bookish attire out and about and looking chic and stylish. Pair one with a blazer, a high-waisted pant, and voila!
A protective book sleeve from Book Beau or DreamingofCelie
A true book-lover has at least one book with them at any given time. But taking your favorite book out into the world is a dangerous game: those book covers can be dented and torn and spilled on, the ends get all bent-up if you try to put them in your bag, and what if you’re reading in the park when it suddenly starts (*shudder*) raining?
Get your friend a gift that will protect their books in any situation: a pillowy book sleeve from Book Beau or the DreamingofCelie, two shops with lots of designs, cool options (some are waterproof and zip-up!), and even related accessories, like mugs, e-reader sleeves, tote bags, and reading pillows.
Book Beau is a company that’s grown a lot in the past few years, so their quality and variety are great. The designs are gorgeous, and their thick sleeves comes in sizes “Mini” (for trade paperbacks) through “Jumbeau” (for your giant hardcovers).
DreamingofCelie (an Etsy shop) also has high-quality products and a great variety, plus it’s full of designs purposefully made to bring more inclusivity to the bookish world, like the infectiously joyful "Latina Joys" sleeve, the unique "Black Woman Comic Panels" sleeve, or the freaking adorable “Women on the Go” sleeve. The shop is a Black-woman-owned business boasting almost two thousand sales and rave reviews for quality, design, originality, and customer service. You can’t go wrong here.
A book holder
Your bookish friend may want to read everywhere and at any time, but the reality of reading is sometimes frustrating and messy. You want to read on your lunch break, but holding your book open with one hand and eating with the other can lead to hand cramps, your book flipping closed when you’re in the middle of a juicy scene, and mustard splattered across the pages of your favorite hardcover. Or maybe your kid fell asleep in your arms again, and while you’d rather die there than wake them from that peaceful sleep, you know if you had an extra set of arms you’d be a hundred pages into that novel you’ve been dying to start.
Well, the world of cheap and clever items has heard your cry!
Coffee/tea/wine that they can enjoy while reading
written by Mary-Peyton Crook
Little Free Libraries
There’s a 99.9% chance you’ve seen one while driving or walking around. A precious little house on a stick with a door you can open and BOOM—inside, it’s full of books. What a beautiful world we live in. But do you know what these tiny book havens are, or where they come from?
These boxes of bookish goodness are called Little Free Libraries. Most of them are registered with the Little Free Library 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization; you can tell which are registered by the plaques they bear featuring their ID number. But even those that aren’t registered are still lovingly referred to as Little Free Libraries, because we are not here to gatekeep book access.
How did Little Free Library start?
The very first official Little Free Library was created in Hudson, Wisconsin, in 2009. A very cool dude named Todd Bol built a miniature model of a one-room schoolhouse and then filled it with books to honor his mother, who was a teacher and a lifelong booklover, and mounted it on a post in his front yard. His friends and family loved it so much that he happily made more to share with them.
The next step for Little Free Library was Rick Brooks, who was an outreach program manager at the University of Wisconsin. Together, Bol and Brooks decided to make Little Free Libraries their next endeavor. Andrew Carnegie once committed to creating 2,508 libraries; to honor him, Bol and Brooks committed to creating 2,508 Little Free Libraries by the end of 2013, a deadline they beat by a year and a half in August 2012. In 2015, they were awarded the Library of Congress Literacy Award. In 2020, they were awarded the World Literacy Award from the World Literacy Foundation.
Todd Bol tragically passed away in 2018 from pancreatic cancer. According to the organization’s site, “He remained dedicated to Little Free Library’s mission in his last days, saying, ‘I really believe in a Little Free Library on every block and a book in every hand. I believe people can fix their neighborhoods, fix their communities, develop systems of sharing, learn from each other, and see that they have a better place on this planet to live.’”
This year, 2022, Little Free Library hit the 150,000 library mark, which is truly incredible. And this number doesn’t even include the unregistered libraries!
What’s the point of Little Free Libraries?
Today, Little Free Libraries are about two things: community and book access. The main point of Little Free Libraries is to provide books freely to communities, especially those communities where getting books can be a challenge, particularly for children. According to the LFL website, 2 out of 3 children living in low-income communities own zero books. Little Free Libraries are a great way to change that. Anyone can start a Little Free Library anywhere (on their own property, anyway). But on top of that, LFL has their Impact Library Program, an initiative that strives to install and maintain Little Free Libraries in book deserts in the US and Canada.
Who can start a Little Free Library?
Anyone who owns land that the public might walk past can start a Little Free Library! A LFL does have to be on your personal property, and it has to be somewhere people can easily access it from public property. This is why most of the LFLs you see will be in someone’s front yard or by a business’s front door, right up against the sidewalk.
Little Free Library owners are called “stewards.” This language, rather than calling them “owners,” is meant to indicate the long-term commitment of opening a LFL. You can’t just install one and then never think of it again. LFL stewards are librarians, caretakers. It’s their job to make sure the LFL stays safe and clean and full of books!
How can I find a Little Free Library?
The funnest way (in some people’s opinion) to find a LFL is to drive or walk around and happen upon one. This is part of the charm of the LFLs—they pop up when you’re not expecting them.
But if you’re a planner, there is a way to seek out LFLs near you. Little Free Library has an amazing app that features a map where you can find all the registered LFLs near you! As a reminder, there are plenty of unregistered LFLs as well, so this map is not comprehensive, but it’s a great place to start if you’re unsure where your local LFLs are, or if you’re traveling and seeking out new LFLs as you’re sightseeing.
This LFL isn’t full of books. What’s up with that?
There are some small house-looking constructions, especially in cities and low-income areas, that don’t have books inside, but instead have food and other necessities. These are community food pantries run by amazing people to support their local communities. If you open up a LFL and find canned goods and other food items inside, be glad you’re in such an amazing community, and move on in your search.
Sometimes, you might open up a LFL to find that it’s totally empty. No books, no nothing. This usually happens when a LFL steward has moved away from their home that had the LFL, moved from the business where they built the LFL, or for some other reason isn’t able to care for the library. The best thing you can do if you find an empty LFL is to fill it! Go home, grab some books you no longer need, hop in your car, and go fill that bad boy up. You might even consider bringing wipes or other materials to clean the library up a bit and make it appealing to the community!
How can I engage?
The best way to support your local Little Free Library is to take a book, leave a book. When you have a book you don’t need or want anymore, take it to your local LFL, and perhaps peek inside to see if there’s anything of interest to you in there. The more that books are coming and going from these LFLs, the more people will want to visit again and again to see what’s new. Some LFLs even have social media accounts where you can follow to support them. You can make a post when you visit to share that LFL with your networks.
Little Free Libraries are amazing little oases of books that came from a wonderful initiative to make books more accessible to children who need them. We’re lucky that we all get to participate in taking a book, leaving a book, reading a book, and sharing a book. So if you’re wondering how to spend your afternoon, download the LFL app, see where the libraries are near you, and set out on a bookish adventure!
written by Christina Kann
Sci-fi / Fantasy—they’re grouped together all the time, and for good reason. The genres overlap in many aspects and are both categorized as speculative fiction. So, what exactly makes them similar, and what distinguishes one from the other? And why should you even care?
Science fiction explores how science might impact a society or individuals, oftentimes in the future. Sci-fi presents a world that doesn’t exist but could exist with technological advancement—classic examples are Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
Fantasy, on the other hand, contends with the supernatural, the magical, with settings in different worlds that could not exist—see The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin.
Both include super fun sub-genres. Here are some examples in a very non-comprehensive list:
Writing a science fiction or a fantasy novel will require creativity and imagination to be sure, but you’ll also need to follow some rules. Oftentimes people think of science fiction as logic based and differentiate fantasy by chalking the genre up to a magical nonsense land where the rules don’t apply because . . . well, magic! We don’t recommend taking this approach.
Like science fiction, fantasy also requires a set of rules that the reader can follow so that the story remains satisfying and impactful.
Science fiction and fantasy both deal with worlds that are unlike our own. The differences come into play when building those worlds.
Common (not required) characteristics of science fiction:
Common (not required) characteristics of fantasy:
Why does any of this matter? Well, if you’re writing a sci-fi or a fantasy novel, it’s important to know the elements characteristic of each genre. You wouldn’t want to leave readers scratching their heads by including a wizard, a selkie, and a hobbit in your sci-fi novel, right? It’s important to be familiar with the genre you’re writing in so that you can be aware of the conventions of that genre. There are certain elements of each genre that readers come to expect, and we wouldn’t want to disappoint!
So, when does defining your genre become important? When querying your book, publishers will want you to be able to be able to sum up your book succinctly and clearly, and oftentimes genre can be a great first step in doing this. The reason publishers tend to care about this categorization is, ultimately, the genre will determine certain elements of marketing and how your book gets into the hands of readers. If you’re unable to clearly define your genre, categorizing your book in industry databases becomes more difficult, which could inhibit readers from finding it.
Whether you’re writing the next great sci-fi or fantasy novel, keep your reader in mind, and do whatever you can to make your book as accessible to them as possible.
written by Grace Ball
Getting in the Publicity Mindset with Jody Sperling from The Reluctant Book Marketer
Christina Kann 00:24
Welcome to How Do I Book? by Wildling Press. We like to chat about book writing, book publishing, book marketing, and, of course, book reading. We're trying to help new and experienced authors develop their craft, widen their perspectives, and learn to get a little wild every once in a while. I'm Christina, and I'm extremely excited to be joined today by Jody Sperling, host of The Reluctant Book Marketer. Hi, Jody!
Jody Sperling 00:49
Hi, I'm excited to be here.
Christina Kann 00:52
We're so excited to have you. Before we go any further, what are your pronouns?
Jody Sperling 00:57
Oh, I'm a he and a him and all of that good stuff.
Christina Kann 01:01
Awesome. Please tell us a little bit about your podcast, The Reluctant Book Marketer, and any of your other work.
Jody Sperling 01:10
I started The Reluctant Book Marketer back in January of 2022, so it's pretty new. I came to a crossroads in my life where I realized I was doing a whole bunch of stuff that I was having fun doing, but I wasn't passionate about it. I thought, "I'm going to regret my life if I don't jump out into the unknown and get my books out there." So this is part of me building a brand. I want everybody to hear my name everywhere they go, and I want to teach people how to do that for themselves if they want to sell a million copies of their book. That's the goal.
Christina Kann 01:45
I love that so much. For all of our listeners out there, if you want to try out The Reluctant Book Market, or maybe sample an episode, I guested on last week's episode.
Jody Sperling 01:55
Yes, and it was a great conversation. It was a fantastic conversation.
Jody Sperling 01:59
I completely agree. I really enjoyed it. We got into some philosophical publishing industry stuff. I definitely recommend everyone check it out.
Jody Sperling 02:10
Yes, me too.
Christina Kann 02:13
We're here to talk today about publicity mindset. How do you get your brain in gear when it's time to publicize your book? This is something that you talk about a lot on your show. People don't talk about that a lot, but it seems pretty important, actually.
Jody Sperling 02:35
What I realized for myself is that getting in the right mindset is more important than every other action I take, and mindset and action can't be pulled apart. There are things I have to do every day. I woke up really low-energy today, for example; I had a really busy weekend. I just felt worn out coming into today. I realized I had to run up and down the stairs in my house like 20 times and do some push ups and stuff like that to get my blood moving, because I knew if I didn't come to the day with a lot of energy, I wasn't going to get anything done. And that's all about mindset. It's not about exercise. I don't take very good care of my body; I probably should. But really, I'm fully bought into the idea that if we get our mind right, the actions we take will result in big, awesome things.
Christina Kann 03:24
If another person is looking to get their Monday brain in gear, energize themselves, maybe they don't have to run up and down right staircases. You are certainly welcome to, but for somebody else, maybe that's a healthy breakfast or a cup of coffee or a brisk morning walk to energize you and get you in the right headspace to do whatever it is you have to do. When is the right time for authors to get into a good and energized publicity mindset?
Jody Sperling 03:28
I've been having this conversation with folks over on Twitter quite a bit right now. I keep telling people: As soon as you know you want to write a book, you should start marketing yourself, and be really assertive about it and go overboard on it. Don't wait until you have the draft of the book done. There's disagreement there. Some people believe you should give your whole heart to the creative process and then think about marketing later. But that's where a lot of my regret lives: I waited too long.
Jody Sperling 04:26
That is the one trick question I'll ask people: When should you start marketing? Because the answer is: You should have already.
Jody Sperling 04:34
Yeah. 20 years ago, right?
Christina Kann 04:37
If you haven't yet started, start today.
Jody Sperling 04:39
Christina Kann 04:40
Yeah. Should an author's mindset shift at all when it comes to publicity? As they go through the stages of publishing, drafting, editing, publishing, to selling, does that mindset shift at all?
Jody Sperling 04:57
I don't think the mindset shifts. The best thing we can do for ourselves is get into the headspace where we're all in. We're not doing ourselves any favors if we're halfway in, half-hearted, taking smaller measures than we need to. It always benefits us to have an all-in mentality. That can sound really frightening to some people, because maybe you don't even know like how in you actually are. But figuring that out and then getting all in on it will will really prepare you for the journey. Practically, you're going to do a lot of things differently as you get closer to publication. So the actions you take will be different for sure.
Christina Kann 05:36
The actions will probably become more concrete, as you have a confirmed title and a cover and fun stuff like that. But the mindset stays the same. If authors have answered my trick question correctly, and they started publicizing themselves as an author before they even started drafting their books, should they write with a publicity mindset?
Jody Sperling 05:59
I think we touched on this a little bit in our conversation on The Reluctant Book Marketer. I think so. I really feel that there is a strong benefit to thinking about your reader. The other day, I kind of went on a little bit of a rant, and I was talking about this. How did it happen -- in the art sphere, specifically -- that we use the phrase "I write for myself"? I get what that means, and I think some people also get what it means. You have to write what you're interested in. But if you write for yourself, you might as well journal, because you're never going to share it with somebody. In that way, think about your reader. It's pretty profound.
Christina Kann 06:40
I would agree with that. The publicity mindset is sort of about sales. It's about selling your book and selling your brand. So how can authors bring their publicity mindset to their personal network, when they're at the beginning of marketing their book and they're trying to make the most of their own personal network without being weird and salesy?
Jody Sperling 07:04
That's a great question. You know those people who started selling Amway, or they're doing some kind of diet program, and you hear from them after 14 years of nothing? They message you on Facebook, and they're like, "Oh, Christina, how are you doing? It's been so long." And immediately, you know they've been scammed. I really advocate for being upfront with what you're doing. "Hey, I wrote a book, and I think you would love it. Do you mind if I share it with you?" I think it gets rid of the awkwardness. That's how I do it. I'm kind of in a transformative point in my own mindset, where I was so focused on niche, paying attention to exactly who my book was for and who my podcast was for. Now I'm starting to realize I'm actually limiting my own opportunities. I just try to tell people what I've got, any opportunity I have, and be natural about it.
Jody Sperling 08:02
Yeah, be natural. Totally. That is the key to all interactions. But specifically, especially when you're trying to sell something, you just want to be really organic. Does the mindset and the approach change change at all when an author moves out of their personal network and into the public sphere, with cold emails and cold calls and trying to get get the attention of people they don't know personally? How does that mindset change, if at all?
Jody Sperling 08:33
When you start doing any kind of cold calls, or building outside of the network you've established for yourself, you're going to feel more frightened. You're going to have more negative interactions, and people are going to say things to you that probably don't feel good. It happens, even when you are just going out into the world. With a spirit of total generosity, I want to give you what I have to make your life better. Even if it's entertainment for a novelist or something like that, you are giving something generously. Some people will still be really angry at you. They will ask, "How dare you waste my time?" So I don't think your mindset changes. But those are the things you should be prepared for. I try to use that word, "should," very carefully, because I'm not here to tell you how to do what you do. But you should be prepared to get pushed back. And if you aren't, you're probably not pushing hard enough to get your work into the world.
Christina Kann 09:28
Yeah. So maybe starting with an author's personal audience, personal network can be a bit of a dress rehearsal before going out and trying to approach the public with it. Your personal network, even if they're not interested, will be nice to you because they value their relationship with you.
Jody Sperling 09:47
Let me share something with you, because I think this will be applicable for people listening. I do a lot of cold marketing on Twitter, and it's effective for me. But what I've noticed is when I go to reach out to some audience, send them a message -- If they are my target, I actually have a harder time sending a message than if there's somebody with esteem, if they have the the checkmark or something like that. If they have a bigger audience than I do, I get really scared. And I think that's something to pay close attention to, because the people you value are the people who are hardest to talk to. It's weird.
Jody Sperling 10:23
It's a higher risk because they are a more meaningful connection to you.
Jody Sperling 10:29
Yeah, and they could walk away. You could scare him away. But here's the truth. I've never scared anybody away so far. I have made some people angry, but I've never scared someone away.
Jody Sperling 10:40
Some people are just really ready to get angry on the internet, and there's nothing you can do about that.
Jody Sperling 10:44
Christina Kann 10:47
Your podcast is called The Reluctant Book Marketer, and I have always really loved that. And by "always," I mean in the couple of months since I happily discovered your podcast. I've found that a lot of writers are introverts; it just comes with the territory, I think. So I really like the notion of encouraging reluctant book marketers, people who have a hard time self-promoting. How can shy, introverted authors -- who started out writing for themselves and are now trying to turn it into a busines -- how can those people get into this mindset?
Jody Sperling 11:25
It's hard to tell somebody how to make that shift. It's a necessary thing. Embrace the the reality that we are reluctant, and accept it, and don't expect it to ever change. I think that's a really big piece of this: you're not going to change; you're always going to find this uncomfortable. If you do right now, you will continue to find it uncomfortable for the rest of your life. But you do it. Reluctantly, you do it every day, because what you're putting out into the world is so important. You can't bear to not see it out there. I wish I had something a little more concrete to help. But these podcasts, honestly, they're here for you. You can get in that mindset and slowly work your way up to new actions that bring results. When you do see results, when you see a measurable result, when you know, "Hey, I reached out to Katherine, and I asked her to buy my book, and she bought my book" -- that feels good, snd it makes you want to do it again. Success is a cool thing that way.
Jody Sperling 12:31
Yes, we are success-oriented at Wildling! We start all of our meetings by talking about recent successes, things that have happened recently that we're excited about. And then we're like, "Okay, let's move on to the nitty gritty of the meeting."
Jody Sperling 12:45
I love that. That is a great way to get your head in the right spot.
Christina Kann 12:49
I love what you said about listening to podcasts. These kinds of podcasts can really help because... Sure, if you're uncomfortable inherently as a person with something like promoting yourself, your brand, your work, it is always going to be uncomfortable. But by learning and educating yourself, you can make it a little less uncomfortable every day.
Jody Sperling 13:11
You can get familiar with anything, like speaking on stage. At some point, you're going to have to do a reading, and most likely, that first time, you're going to be terrified. But familiarity does breed a little more comfort.
Jody Sperling 13:22
Yeah, yes, absolutely. Hand in hand with that, a great way to get comfortable with something is to just dive right in and get that first terrifying reading out of the way so you can start to get better at it and get more comfortable with it.
Jody Sperling 13:36
Christina Kann 13:38
How has publicity changed in the past couple years due to the COVID-19 pandemic? How has this forced authors to sort of pivot with their mindsets and approaches?
Jody Sperling 13:51
I love that. I love that question. I'm probably not 100% the most qualified person to to answer it in some ways, because my own personal journey is very much defined by COVID. I left the W-2 world, like so many people, because COVID opened my eyes and showed me things I was not doing in my life that I needed to be doing, and some things vice versa. I think what's changed is that there's a reluctance in people that you reach out to to want that personal connection. It almost feels like we automated a lot more. And I'm not sure why. But there are ways we can take advantage of it; I think that we need to push back. I've really been advocating in my own world for one-on-one connection as much as possible. I think writers can take advantage of that, especially early on. At some point, you have to pay to reach a larger audience. That's just the advertising part of marketing and your mindset, getting real clear on "I want to touch one person's life at a time and have a meaningful interaction." I think we lost a little of that during COVID; that's my feeling.
Christina Kann 15:02
Since we sort of lost that one-on-one interaction, like you said, everything became a lot more automated, because digital stuff can be so much more easily automated. What creative approaches have authors use to publicize their books during the pandemic, despite that lack of one-on-one interaction?
Jody Sperling 15:23
Thanks for asking this. I think there's a real, concrete, measurable way to have results. Think of whichever social media channel you're most comfortable with, the one where you feel you have an audience who is engaged with you. Continue to build into that. But then, instead of posting on your wall about what you're doing, go for the message. I know it can feel weird, but jump into people's messages and send them a message and engage with them there. You change the nature of the interaction when you're not performing publicly. And then maybe you can have a cup of coffee with somebody, if you want to dive deeper and have them be like closer in your network. But, generally speaking, I think there's more value in messages than we give ourselves room to operate in.
Jody Sperling 16:11
Absolutely. That kind of takes it back. Even though it's not a face-to-face encounter, it is a one-on-one encounter, and that person feels special. They also feel a personal obligation to respond, whereas people can ignore posts.
Jody Sperling 16:31
When I'm on Twitter, I do one of my normal questions. I'm sold out; Twitter's the best social media for writers, and you can disagree, and that's great. But I realized a normal question would generate somewhere in the neighborhood of 60,000 impressions; everybody was seeing it. But then, if I would promote my podcast or my book, I'd get nothing. I couldn't figure it out for the longest time. It felt really intrusive to try to go and message somebody, "Hey, would you check out my podcast?" But what I realized was that people who really like me and engage with me already didn't even know I had a podcast.
Jody Sperling 17:09
Wow. The dreaded algorithm.
Jody Sperling 17:12
Yes, exactly, it was suppressing that stuff. And people wanted the podcast, they were excited, and now they are listening to every episode. It's amazing. That applies to your book as well. You think you're doing a ton of self-promotion, but most of your audience has never even seen what you have to offer.
Jody Sperling 17:30
That can be a really great shift in an author's mindset: It's not that you're messaging them to ask them to buy your book, but you're messaging them to let them know your book exists.
Jody Sperling 17:39
Christina Kann 17:41
How can authors stay motivated when they're starting to feel that publicity burnout? I think everyone, at some point, feels, "Oh, my gosh, I cannot write one more social media post, I can't, I don't have the energy." How can authors stay motivated?
Jody Sperling 17:55
Motivation is tied to success. Like you said, if you're having success, you have limitless fuel. If you see the results of what you're doing, you will never be burnt out or feel tired or demotivated. But you're not going to have success all the time. In fact, a lot of times, it feels like you're speaking to nobody. When that's the case, having concrete goals is more important than I ever gave it credit for. If you're listening right now, and you're not a goal setter, and you hate goals, I really encourage you to to reflect on that. Something weird happens when you make goals, and you can at least see what you're striving for.
Christina Kann 18:41
It circles back to what we were talking about before: If you stay positivity-oriented, and look at what you've done, and set small goals for yourself you can hit, then it's easier to stay motivated, because you're constantly seeing small successes. What's one thing that authors can do today to start getting into the right publicity mindset?
Jody Sperling 19:05
This one is so important. If you take me up on this, it will change everything for you. Talk to somebody you're not familiar with, and let them know you've got your book. It'll change everything.
Christina Kann 19:17
Just dive right in to it. Yes, I love that. I love that so much. Well, thank you so much, Jody, for coming and joining us. Where can people find you on the internet?
Everywhere you go. I'm @jodyjsperling on Twitter. And I have my website, www.thereluctantbookmarketer.com. But if you go to Twitter, it's all branching out from there. I love Twitter.
Christina Kann 19:39
You ask some really fun conversation starter questions on Twitter, some writing, some not writing and I love those. So everyone, please go follow on Twitter. Lots of fun over there.
Jody Sperling 19:51
Thank you, Christina was great talking.
And please check out The Reluctant Book Marketer episode featuring Christina!
Some people say that when you read a book, you create a movie in your head, so there’s simply no need for the existence of book-to-film adaptations. However true that may be, those adaptations do exist, and some are excellent and others are absolute travesties. Here at Wildling, we have strong opinions on this topic, and we’re sharing them with you!
Christina's fave: His Dark Materials (2019-current)
This is a TV show on Amazon, not a film, but same diff! This series based on the Philip Pullman trilogy is a beautiful, skillful tribute to the original text. The book series is complex, fantastical, and multifaceted, and the show manages to convey all of the many layers of this story without seeming to have to compress anything together or skip anything—seriously, I was hard-pressed to find a single omission that I didn’t fully agree with. In fact, they even found the time to develop some characters and plotlines more thoroughly than the books did. This show is the perfect argument for my thesis that fantasy book series are truly better served by being developed into shows rather than films. Seasons 1 and 2 (based on books 1 and 2) are out on Amazon now, with Season 3 due in 2022.
Christina's failure: Dune (1984)
This film is an insult to the original text, its beautiful and cerebral themes, and its vast, fiercely devoted fan base. The film was too long by about two hours, and yet somehow it failed to explain properly even the most foundational concepts from the novel. Granted, the novel is dense, vast, and epic—but the movie seemed to have truly turned its nose up at the source material the way a child quits the school band when they can’t master the trumpet within a week. The ubiquitous touch of the mid-eighties didn’t help things, either. DO NOT WATCH.
The new movie is great, though.
Christina's bonus: Ella Enchanted (2004)
There are a couple of films out there that are terrible adaptations of their source material, but really fun in their own right. My numero uno in this category is Ella Enchanted. The book is great. The film is great. They have next to no resemblance to each other beyond some core concepts, like the main character having to obey any command and eventually falling in love (sorry, spoilers!). My brain can separate these enough to appreciate each of them without comparing them.
Mary-Peyton's fave: Anne of Green Gables (1985)
I could watch the 1985 film adaptation of this book over and over again! It really captured the heart of the book, and Megan Follows perfectly captured the wild spirit of Anne Shirley--a kind, clumsy, and stubborn girl adopted by an older couple who had wanted to adopt a boy, but ended up falling in love with the quirky redheaded bookworm. I wish every little girl could watch this movie, like I did (well, maybe not exactly like I did, since I had it on two VHS tapes). Anne didn’t fit into the small, quiet box that young ladies were meant to inhabit in her world (and still are in this world), and although people tried to shame her, she never apologized for being herself. The acting in this film was perfect, subtle, and real, and the writing kept much of the humor and heart that makes the book so wonderful. I highly recommend this for a family movie night.
Mary-Peyton's failure: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005)
When I read these books as a kid, I was enchanted. The real world would melt away, and I’d find myself completely within the world of Narnia alongside Lucy, Edmund, Susan, Peter, and Aslan. So years later, when I first saw the movie trailer, I was beyond excited. But I was so disappointed in the movie. As often happens when grown-ups decide to make a popular children’s book into a movie, it had lost much of what made the story wonderful; ironically, it had lost much of its wisdom and depth. The best kids books, the classics that stay with us throughout time, deal with some really heavy and “grown-up” topics, like grief, betrayal, and loneliness, in such a way that helps kids process those things. But the movie version of such books often comes out as a shallow, cartoonish, and flashy shell of the book. Ella Enchanted, The Golden Compass, and the Percy Jackson series are great examples of this--those books are downright dark and even scary at parts, which makes the story so much more intense; the more terrible the evil, the more magical it is when good wins. Kids don’t fall in love with these magical adventures because they’re fun; they love them because they are full, deep, and emotional stories of bravery, growth, kindness, and more. The fantastical adventure is only part of the appeal. It seems like the people who made these movies missed the point.
Michael's fave: The Princess Bride (1987)
Who doesn’t love The Princess Bride film adaptation? If you don’t, I don’t want to know you. Too harsh? Maybe, but this movie is amazing! It has it all: adventure, comedy, suspense, and wuv, tru wuv. William Goldman, the author, was a huge part of the adaptation and this helped keep the movie true to the book. And with Rob Reiner directing, pure magic was made. He also directed book to movie adaptations like Stand by Me and Misery. The only bits and pieces of the book that are not found in the film were edited out simply because of time constraints. And anything added were small additions; did you know there weren’t any shrieking eels in the book? As someone who deliberately reads the book before the movie comes out so they can tell whoever will listen how much the movie failed to capture the power of the book, I’m happy to report that this is one adaptation I can do nothing but praise.
Michael's failure: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (2016)
I had such high hopes for this film adaptation, especially with Tim Burton at the helm! I just knew he would be able to capture the right amount of darkness that hangs over the Peregrine universe. But . . . the movie was an utter disappointment. The author, Ransom Riggs, should have had more of an opinion during filming. Tim Burton ended up swapping the main female character’s powers for those of a weaker female character, which felt like it was just so the main male character could be more of a hero. Then, because Tim Burton wanted to work with Samuel L. Jackson so badly, he created a character and story line that isn’t found in the book. It completely changed the vibe of the first book, and the direct consequence was they couldn’t make a movie series using the other books. Maybe that was a blessing because this film was a complete letdown.
Grace's fave: Practical Magic (1998)
I probably watched this movie for the first time during my preteen years, so it has a special place in my heart. When I found out it was based on a book by none other than the amazing Alice Hoffman, I had to read it. Even though I really enjoyed this book, I truly think the movie is a culmination of the book’s strongest parts—and that’s not just because of the “special place in my heart” thing I mentioned. Okay, maybe a little. There are plenty of differences between the book and movie versions, and they’re both fabulous in their own ways, but I think the Practical Magic movie is an awesome example of how a film adaptation doesn’t have to be a scene-for-scene remake of the book to be good.
Grace's failure: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)
This movie adaptation is so bad that I haven’t even seen it!! I’ve heard enough to know I need to stay away, far away. I know, I probably should’ve included a movie adaptation I’ve actually seen, but the validity of our list would’ve been called into question without, so did I really have a choice? I somehow missed the Percy Jackson train when it rolled through years ago, so I’m catching up and reading them now. I’m smack-dab in the middle—ugh, maybe I’ll end up watching the movie one day. I’ll let you know if I do!
Feel free to add to our list with your favorite and least favorite book-to-film adaptations in the comments below!
by Grace Ball
Wildling's Favorite Books
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