Friday, February 15, 2013

Supporting Authors


by Jill Williamson
We're starting something new at Go Teen Writers. It's called, Support an Author.
I've been a published author since 2009. And while I am finally starting to make a little money off this job, “little” is the key word. If my husband didn't have a job that could pay our bills, I wouldn't be able to write.
There are a lot of misconceptions out there that authors are rich. This is not true. As you all can probably imagine, authors work very hard for years for nothing in hopes that they will one day be published and start to earn a living. But most authors are discouraged to learn that it takes years to start earning that living. That few authors become as successful as J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, James Patterson, or Stephen King. Few become half so successful. The same is true of all the arts whether you paint, do photography, or write music and sing. You work hard at your craft, you put yourself out there, and you hope that something might take off someday, but you love it so much you just keep on creating.
I guess that why they call them “starving artists.”
I say all this not to gain your sympathy, but to motivate you. You are one of these authors, after all. This is your industry. And while there are lots of ways to get books free these days, whether you get review copies, win contests, or check books out at your local library, free books don't keep authors in print.
So, if you have a favorite author, I encourage you to buy at least one new copy of his or her books a year. Buy one new book a month, if you can. We're only talking ten to twenty dollars. Show your support for the industry you have decided to be a part of. Sadly, it’s not enough that readers like an author’s books. If no one will buy them, that author might not get to keep writing. It's happening right now to friends of mine.
And used books don’t help an author. The stores need to know which authors sell.
We're doing this here at Go Teen Writers. As part of the new Support an Author plan, whenever we do a giveaway, Stephanie or I will purchase the book for that prize new from Barnes & Noble or Amazon and mail it to the winner. And when I give mine away, Steph will buy it. And when she gives hers away, I'll pay for the book. We're tired of hearing about authors struggling, and we want to do what we can to support each other and our industry. So, spread the work. Encourage people to buy a new book every once in a while. You just might be helping a guy feed his family. And that's pretty sweet.
Let’s support the authors we love.
Go team! 
If you've bought a new book in the past couple months, share what book it was in the comments. And, anytime you buy a new book, feel free to post on the GTW Facebook page what you bought so we can see what people are reading. I'll start. I recently bought:
Hurt by Travis Thrasher
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley

78 comments:

  1. That sounds wonderful!! I've a question, though. Don't publishing houses pay the author (is it royalties) and then the publishing house gets all the money from selling to various stores and the stores get the money from people buying? So if I bought a book new, wouldn't the money just go to the store? How does this help the 'starving authors?'

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  2. Wow, this sounds like a great idea! :)

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  3. Sort of, Tiffanie.

    When a publisher buys a book, an author is paid an advance against royalties. So, say you worked at Walmart and they paid you your next ten paychecks in advance. That means you got $5,000, but you still have to go to work each day until you work off that $5,000 advance.

    With a book, the author gets his advance, then he has to wait for the sales of his book to pay that back before he makes any more. Each book sale gives him a set percentage towards that. So, he might get a dollar for each book that is sold. This means that his book has to sell 5000 copies before he will make any more money on his book.

    Once his book sells 5000 copies, he'll then get paid every three months a dollar on every book that sells from then on. So, if he sells 10 copies more in the next three months, he'll make ten dollars more. If he sells 5000 copies more in the next three months, he'll make $5000 more.

    Now, a guy can't live of $5,000 a year. He might scrape by off $20,000 a year, but most advances are between $1,000 to $5,000. That's why authors don't usually make enough money to support themselves until they have several book out at once, all making a little bit or royalties here and there.

    Who makes what breaks down differently per book. There is a printing cost per book, then a design cost, then an amount is added for the publisher to make a profit, then that extra dollar for the author. That will give a wholesale price.

    For example:
    Printing cost: $2 (The amount of $ is costs to have the book printed)
    Design cost: $2 (The amount for book editing, cover design, typesetting, and company overhead)
    Author royalty $1
    TOTAL: $5 (Total publisher cost on the book.)

    So, if the publisher decides to put a $9.99 retail price on the cover, the distributor will sell the book to bookstores for 40% off that $9.99, which is $5.99, that would mean that the publisher would make a profit of $.99.

    The bookstore will sell that book for $9.99, in hopes of making a profit of $4 per book, but often books are on sale or customers use a coupon, but that $4 mark up is enough that the bookstore is able to make a profit.

    If the book doesn't sell, the bookstore can return it to the publisher for a refund, which the publisher deducts from the author's royalties.

    This is annoying, but part of the business side of writing. Author gets his statement, sees that he sold 348 copies of his book in the last three months, then notices that 136 copies were returned, so it's really like he only sold 212 copies. And, by the rate in my example, if he had paid back his advance, that would be a check for $212, certainly not enough to pay his bills for the last three months.

    The same mark-up procedure is true of any product. I used to work in the fashion design industry. I was in charge of cost sheets for the dresses. It would look like this:

    Fabric cost based on yards used $2.87
    Trim (buttons, zipper, etc) .50
    Sewing cost to get dress made 1.67 (Seriously, people get paid like $.30 to sew a pair of jeans in Mexico.)
    Total production cost: $5.04
    Mark-up for designers to make a profit: $3.00
    Total wholesale cost: 8.04

    Walmart buys the dress at $8.04 each and marks it up to $19.99, giving them lots of room for the 40% off rack to still make them a profit.

    That's business.

    Hope that helps!


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    1. This is a really good explanation, Jill.

      I also want to add that I'm a writer who would write no matter what. Whether I'm contracted or not, writing is something I love and that I can't just turn off.

      But for my publishers, it's business. And it took me awhile to embrace that fact. That if I don't make money for them, they can't afford to keep me.

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    2. Thanks!! Yes, that was really clear. :D

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  4. Funny you should write this post now, Jill, sinc I had just decided to do this on my own. Buy one new book a month to support an author. January's book was Solitary by Travis Thrasher. February's book is Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore.

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    1. Sweet! Love both those books, Gillian! Hope you do too. :-)

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  5. Wow...this really makes me think more about the whole publishing process. It's extremely sad to hear there are those who had to stop writing because of this. I, for one, am definitively going to be more supportive here out!
    Anyone know of any new and upcoming author that could use my help this month?
    By the way, could you please tell me how much harder is it to land a publishing deal when you state that you only plan on publishing one novel in the next five to ten years? I love writing - always have and always will - and a forever dream of mine has been to share my stories with the world but after high-school, I will be going into law and I am afraid that once I get into that, my writing will be more on the back burner for awhile. At least my professional writing. I want to know if it is worth actually trying to get published when you know it will only be this one book for awhile. I understand that I definitively wouldn't be going in for the money but still...is it? Thank you so much! And once more, great post!

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    1. Oh, Leorah! That made me tear up :) What genre do you like?

      Publishers are definitely looking for authors who can produce great books (that sell!) on a regular basis. My understanding is that these days they ideally want you to release a book every 6 months if the quality doesn't suffer.

      If you're not a book-every-six-months author, they're fine with once a year ... but I don't see many who do less than that these days. I'm not saying that's an absolute truth, it's just my observation.

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    2. What Steph says it totally true. Publishers are looking to invest in authors. They put marketing dollars into helping you get your books and your name out there in hopes that you'll partner with them in the long run.

      But you don't have to tell them you only plan to write one book. That's not really their business until they buy your book, anyway. And if you wrote a stand-alone novel, it might not matter.

      To Kill a Mockingbird was Harper Lee's only book, and she did okay. :-)

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    3. I hope it doesn't seem like I'm butting in here or anything, but I thought Leorah's question was interesting, and after reading it and your answers I had another question...Stephanie, you said that most publishers are okay with releasing one of your books every year, but often don't go longer between releases. However, I was wondering--are you referring to books in a series, or to stand-alone novels, too? For instance, suppose all of your books were stand-alone novels; in your opinion, if that were the case do you think more time could potentially pass between novel releases?

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    4. I guess Jill kind of touches on this in her question, but I hoped you both might be able to clear it up. :) Thanks!

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    5. Lol, public conversations invite butting in, I feel :)

      Yes, I think even with stand-alones there's value in a consistent release schedule. One of my favorite authors is Sarah Dessen, who writes stand-alone contemporary YAs for the general market. She has a book come out every summer. Another of my favorite authors is Julie Klassen, who writes stand-alone historical romances for the Christian market. Her books release every January.

      Readers really like consistency and they respond to it. A girl who likes Sarah Dessen likes know that every year when she's out of school, she'll have a new Sarah Dessen book to read by the pool.

      Does that make sense?

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    6. So firstly, thank you SO much everyone for your advice! I have all my answers needed now and I am ever so thankful to all of your help! (And I do mean you too Taylor too for asking more specific questions!)
      @Stephanie - :D I am really into all sorts of genres. One day I'll be reading a dystopian and the next, I'll be cuddled up with a good historical. Mystery and romance have always been two of my favorite aspects in a book however, so anything you come across with those two would greatly be appreciated!
      @Jill - Really?! I didn't know that! Definitively inspiring!

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    7. Could you recommend something for me too? I feel like if I tried to pick something out from our local bookstore nothing would support struggling authors - basically our entire YA section is bestselllers. I like anything character-driven, basically. Realistic fiction, romance, fantasy, historicals. Not really sci-fi (sorry Jill!) But thanks for this great idea!

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    9. @Stephanie: Yeah, that does make sense, and I can see how consistency can be appealing to readers. And I have noticed that some of my favorite authors tend to release new books on a schedule. Like Jodi Picoult; she usually releases a book per year, and each one tends to come out just before my mom's birthday every year (perfect, since Mom loves her books!). And John Green usually seems to release a book every two years--2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 (only Looking for Alaska in 2005 doesn't fit). As a reader, it's definitely nice to know when to expect a new book, so I do see what you mean. :) Thanks for answering my question!

      @Leorah: Aw, you're welcome! I'm glad I could help. :) And hey, Jill's right--even if you did just publish the one book and leave it at that, there are people who have made a single book work for them. And if you wanted to write more later on, I'm sure you could figure out how to make it work best for you. :) Whatever your decision, though, I wish you all the best with your writing!

      Hugs!

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    10. Maya, I would recommend The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers - its a really cool mystery about a girl trying to find her twin brother after getting a letter signed his code name, when he's supposed to be dead. It's by far THE cleverest mystery I have ever read. And so far, it's her only book, so I'd imagine she needs a little help. But she has another coming out soon, I can't remember when, but you can fun out by googling her. Also another good author I'd recommend is Joy Preble - I've probably talked about her books here before, so sorry - but she's really good, she has a great voice. So far she has a trilogy (dreaming anastasia) and book 1 of a new series is coming out in may. If you like fantasy/romance/historical I would DEFINITELY recommend dreaming anastasia, and even if you're not the kid of girl who thinks she adores history, I'd urge you to try it, because the action actually happens in the present, so you're not struggling to understand a different world, but it is really, really, REALLY good! The story is too complicated to explain here, and I think I've rambled long enough, so if you think you might like it then google it! Google books has a sample I think, where you can read the first few chapters, and then you can buy it at Barnes and Nobles or wherever :)

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    11. Sorry for butting in, but The Vanishing Game sounds like just the type of book I would love! Thanks for the recommendation :)

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    12. It's amazing! So, so, so clever. The end is just... Wow. I won't give it away, I'll just say I had to pick my jaw up off the floor an have t surgically reattached. You'll know what I mean when you read it... ;)

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  6. The last books I bought were Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Diary of a Wimpy Kid (I know - I'm late!), and The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall.

    I've also started specifying on my Christmas lists what books I want new and what I'm okay with being used. Jill might differ on her opinion of this, but there are some books I'm fine with buying at Half Price Books (like the Harry Potter series).

    My husband just bought me Lauren F. Winner's latest. She's nonfiction and I ADORE her. And she's one who I started by checking her book out at the library, and then converted to buying new and in hardback.

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    1. I totally agree. J.K. Rowling is making enough money. Though I already have all her books, except that new non-YA one. I will buy HUGE author's books used. People like Rick Riordan, Chris Paolini, Veronica Roth, Suzanna Collins. If you see the book EVERYWHERE, the author is probably making a ton of money. But if you can't find the book in your bookstore or library, chances are that author could use your sale, so go online and buy it, or something.

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  7. And this topic apparently makes me ramble, because all my comments thus far have been super long. Or maybe I'm just trying to avoid the scene I know I'm writing in my WIP today...

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    1. LOL

      I'm supposed to be typesetting... *whistles*

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    2. We come here to procrastinate. I should be writing. Hello, habit-I-need-to-break-soon.:)
      ~Robyn Hoode

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    3. At least we're procrastinating in a writerly way, right? That's gotta count for something...

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  8. I tend to read a lot of books from the library, but even so I still buy books pretty regularly because if I read a book I love, I usually want to own my own copy. My most recent purchase was an ebook, St. Mallory's Forever (by writing duo Saffina Desforges AND two teen authors, Miriam Joy and Charley Robson!), but before that I got (in hardcover or paperback format) Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan, as well as Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. Next up on my "to purchase" list is The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult--a book I'm willing to buy before I read it, because I LOVE Jodi Picoult's work! :D

    I think this is a great plan, and I'm definitely all for supporting authors. Thanks for the encouragement! :D

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    1. I know, she's fantastic! And her new book sounds really, really good. I can't wait to read it! :D

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    2. Anna Dressed in blood is AWESOME!! You will love! Also girl of nightmares - im so jealous! It's not out in the UK yet :(

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    3. Aw, that stinks--I hope there are UK editions out soon for you...because I agree, the Anna books are amazing! I love a good ghost story, and the way Kendare Blake mixes ghosty stuff with fantasy: EPIC. :) I'm so happy to own both books, and glad you agree with me about their awesomeness!

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    4. Oh, they're the best!!! Don you just love Cas's adorable loyalty?? I HOPE HE RESCUES ANNA!!!! :) they're just too cute together! And I love how Carmel isn't the typical catty, evil queen bee, breaking the stereotype and everything, and Anna is really interesting. I'm gonna be her for book day, but in her non-bloody form, don't want to be committed to a mental asylum if no one else has read it haha ;)

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    5. I love Cas's character, period! His voice in the novel is so authentic and natural, sometimes even humorous despite the fact that he's in this crazy fantasy/paranormal story. He and Anna--and, heck, Thomas and Carmel--are all such great characters! But yeah, I know what you mean--throwing around references to a possessed, murderous dead girl, a teenage ghost hunter, voodoo, haunted houses and so on is a little strange in many conversations. ;)

      Anyway, yes, I loved both books--they and the characters made it onto all of my "best of 2012" blog posts! (If you're interested, here is the first one--it's got links to the others in it.)

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    6. oooOOOOooooh, will check that out!!! :) thanks!

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    7. Awesome! Thanks for taking a peek (and commenting! :D).

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  9. I found it disheartening when I realized how hard it was to make a living as an author and I still find it disheartening.

    The last two books I bought were Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and Conflict & Suspense by James Scott Bell. I'm reading Conflict & Suspense right now and love it. It really compliments Plot & Stricture :)

    For the record, I've been debating whether to buy the book or kindle version when the GTW book comes outM

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    1. Thanks, Tonya :)

      I love Stephanie Perkins' books. Lola and the Boy Next Door was great too. I wouldn't feel comfortable recommending it to younger teens, but I found it really absorbing. Lola is so charmingly quirky :)

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    2. Tonya--

      FYI, authors tend to make just as much or more off the ebook, even if it's cheaper for you. That's because there is hardly any manufacturing cost involved (paper and printing). And publishers give a higher royalty for ebooks. So while an author might only get a 10% royalty on his paperback sales, he might get 25% on his ebook sales.

      So don't feel pressured to buy the print over the ebook on any book.

      Downloading free ebooks is a whole separate issue that's similar to music piracy.

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    3. But not from a reputable seller, right? Like when it gets offered for free for a period of time on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, that's fine.

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    4. Wow, didn't know that about the e-books, Jill! :)

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    5. Yeah, that's totally fine, Steph. I meant those piracy places. Amazon and B&N get permission from the publisher to do free campaigns.

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  10. I recently bought The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I also preordered Mind Games by Kiersten White, which comes out on the 19th. I'm very excited for it!

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    1. Oooh, bonus points for Jessa for pre-ordering!

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  11. I usually get books from the library and recently I've been getting review copies, but I did buy Chasing Jupiter by Rachel Coker and last year I bought Interrupted! I'll definitely try harder to support authors now! =)

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    1. I'm sure Rachel appreciates your support, Emily! That's cool.

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    2. I'm thinking about buying/asking for those, too. I really admire and want to support her ... not to mention they sound just lovely.

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  12. Ooh, I want to do this so badly! But our local bookstore is shutting down! D: I'll have to go to a Barnes & Noble or do some online buying. I guess it's a reminder that quaint little bookshops need our support, too.

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    1. Oh, that stinks :( We have a great indie book store in Kansas City, but it's a bit of a hike from my house so I mostly go there for special events.

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    2. Wahhh! I wish it wasn't so, yet my town doesn't have a bookstore, so I buy online, which only feeds the beast, I suppose. Ah well...

      I miss my old bookstore. :-(

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  13. I've read The Hero and the Crown, it is SO good! I think that it is a series and I have read other books by that author too, that are all good.

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    1. Still haven't gotten to read it yet, but I can't wait!

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  14. It's so sad when I think of struggling authors unable to sell their books or who are turned away by their own publishers. I'll be sure to partake in this challenge and buy at least one new book a month. Besides writing book reviews and liking Facebook or Amazon pages, would anyone happen to have any suggestions for supporting authors that don't necessarily involve spending money?

    And like Leorah mentioned above, if anyone happens to know of an author that could use some help this month, please let us know!

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    1. Liking the author's Amazon.com page and each individual book page is a big help, Jill. And telling people about the books you like. You can share an Amazon link on your Facebook wall, and that helps authors because everyone who is your friend gets to see the cover.

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  15. That's awesome guys!! I'll totally buy some more books! There are at least ten books that I really want to buy (including yours!) so I'll try to help!

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    1. Have you read the book "fire" by Kristen Cashore?? It's a good fantasy. Your username reminded me haha :)

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    2. No but I think I've heard of it! I'll check it out! "Fire" is my nickname that my friends gave me so I use it pretty much everywhere!

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    3. Thanks, Fire! That's awesome! :-)

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  16. Currently I have no money... When I do I often buy books. :) I think the last book I bought was Chokepoint, but my mom and dad bought me several books for Christmas, including:

    By Darkness Hid, Waterfall, The Maze Runner, Palace of Stone, Lightkeeper's Ball...

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    1. The only one of those I haven't read was Palace of Stone. Was it good?

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    2. I'm actually still reading it. I like it so far! I loved Princess Academy and just about anything by Shannon Hale, so ya know. :)

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  17. Sadly, I have to budget my book spending. But when I see a good deal I try to take advantage of it. For instance, I just bought Stephanie's Skylar Hoyt's series. :-)

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  18. I recently bought The Last Thing I Remember by Andrew Klavan and Leviathan by Scott Westerfield within the last couple months. I also bought The Truth of The Matter by Andrew Klavan earlier today. :P

    Awesome post! :]

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  19. I just bought That Was Then, This Is Now by S.E. Hinton (amazing author) and Love, Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. I loved both of them, but the first is a lot more serious, and the second is more light. I'd recommend both! :)

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    1. I've read Outsiders and I've read Stargirl, but not those two! LOL

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  20. I've recieved Interruptions: a Life Beyond Words by Rachel Coker. Rachel's a teen writer and has posted on this blog a few times. Her novel is amazing and captures me in a profound way because she's a teen writer. Her work should be more popular not only for her age but also for her quality of work.

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  21. I've recieved Interruptions: a Life Beyond Words by Rachel Coker. Rachel's a teen writer and has posted on this blog a few times. Her novel is amazing and captures me in a profound way because she's a teen writer. Her work should be more popular not only for her age but also for her quality of work.

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  22. Do any of you have recommendations of a good young adult mystery or historical novel to buy?

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    1. Mysteries:
      Sirens by Janet Fox
      The vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers

      Historical:
      Sirens by Janet Fox (yes, it's a historical too)
      Dreaming anastasia (trilogy) by Joy Preble - this has fantasy & romance too

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    2. Ooh! And Joy Preble has a paranormal mystery out in may called The Sweet Dead Life, and a few days ago a mystery anthology featuring her, John Green, Libba Bray and Lauren Myracle amound others called Who Done It? came out :)

      I haven't read this mystery yet, but the blurb was awesome and I have it waiting on my kindle: Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson

      Do you like supernatural/paranormal? If so, I recommend Anna Dressed in blood by Kendare Blake, the Strange Angels series by Lili St Crow, The mediator series by meg Cabot, the Abandon trilogy by meg Cabot, Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe, Beautiful Creatures series :)

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    3. YA Mystery? I LOVED The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley MacCall. So good. And it won the Edgar Allen Poe Award last year for best YA mystery too.

      I like Melanie Dickerson's historical romances. They're fairytale retellings. The Merchant's Daughter, The Fairest Beauty, The Healer's Apprentice.

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  23. I got the first two books of the "Wolves of the Beyond" series by Lasky, as well as a complete works of James Herriot recently...still working my way through all of them, but will soon be back to burning B&N cards like tinder. Plus Family Christian...unfortunately, I don't get many gift cards for there. I'm also waiting for about 4 other books to be released.

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  24. Recently got the last two books in the Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series!

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  25. Great, great, great post Jill! I love buying books (in a real version, not only e-books) for the very fact to display them in my bookcases. Most recent boughts are 'The wolves of Mercy Falls' triology by Maggie Stiefvater and 'My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century' by Rachel Harris.

    It is sometimes fairly hard though for me to buy copies of books, as I prefer them over the digital ones (it is just not as nice), but as I don't live in the US a lot of books (especially from indie authors, which I love to read as well) are just simply not shipped to "the far end of the world" we call Europe

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  26. Even before I found this post, I was buying books quite a bit. Say, 1-3 a month. Most recently I bought Delirium and Pandemonium (Lauren Oliver), Divergent and Insurgent (Veronica Roth), and The Darkest Minds (Alexandra Bracken). Love 'em all!

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Disagreement is welcome. Rudeness is not. Please be considerate of each other!