Editing Books for Girls (When You’re a Boy)


There’s a lot to be said about the publishing industry as relates to gender. I’ll try not to wade into them all. For now, I just want to bring up a small part of it, in order to highlight how much I adore the image above.

As a male editor in children’s books / YA books, I get a lot of questions around the fact that there aren’t a lot of male editors in the children’s books / YA books. I get a lot of submissions from agents that are “perfect for boys!” and I’m very thankful for it, because I would love to find perfection in anything.

And I always get a question about whether or not I’m looking for “girl’s fiction.” I have no idea what this means. I do know what it’s supposed to mean. I understand the connotation, if not the denotation of the phrase. But I don’t want to give the phrase safe passage in its attempt to communicate with me. I want to say, “huh?”

But I don’t, because it’s annoying to pretend that you don’t understand something when really you just disagree with the premise. So I usually say that yes, I do acquire girl’s fiction. Though I tend to dislike “strong female characters” that have been so ludicrously juiced with testosterone that their “strength” isn’t much more than a bunch of arm-wrestling matches with Michael Clark Duncan. And yes, I would adore, adore, adore, any manuscript about anyone that is well written. Even if it’s a girlie book.

But all of it aside…I wish I could just hand everyone this LEGO ad from 1981 and say, “THIS! I want books about and for THIS girl.” I love the smile. I LOVE that the advertisers call it “beautiful.” I love that it isn’t militantly “anti-pink” or a statement against femininity. I love how completely oblivious the girl seems to be to all the conversation that publishers, sociologist, media analysts, etc have about media. I love her sneakers, and the tree planted on top of the man’s head.

More of this ad, please. More books like the ones she’d read, or live in.

About danielnayeri

Daniel is the author of HOW TO TELL A STORY and STRAW HOUSE, WOOD HOUSE, BRICK HOUSE, BLOW. He is also the Director of Children's Books at Workman Publishing. He got his start in publishing as a Literary Agent. This site was created to answer any questions readers might have about books in one place. If you have a question, please email Daniel.Nayeri at gmail.
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4 Responses to Editing Books for Girls (When You’re a Boy)

  1. Great post, Daniel. Thanks for this:)

  2. eleanorwithers says:

    How many times am I going to come back and read this without leaving a comment?
    Well said, beautifully put, and here,here!!! :)

  3. Ari says:

    I love this image! And it’s funny that it’s from the ’80s when we are supposed to be “more equal” now and “poltiically correct” about gender in media/workplace

  4. Pingback: Nayeri, Daniel | Writing for Children and Teens

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