A haunting YouTube series is about to become the hottest new YA book

25 March 2015

From The Daily Dot:

You move to a new town, to a spooky new house. You hear noises and see unexplainable things, but your mom, your only ally, doesn’t believe you and starts acting strange herself. What do you do?

That’s the premise of The Haunting of Sunshine Girl: Book One, a new paranormal YA novel that has YouTube roots. It all began as a shared idea between then-16-year-old Paige McKenzie; her mother, Mercedes Rose; and their business partner Nick Hagen, who had done some YouTube research to find the best topic to cover.

. . . .

“On YouTube, the number-two-searched thing was ‘ghost.’ ‘Lil Wayne’ was number one. All the ghost channels at the time were all 30-year-old men, or 40-year-old men. [Nick had] worked with my mom previously on another paranormal-type project. We kind of got together and hashed out a general process.”

They came up with the idea of telling the story of a teen girl experiencing hauntings, helmed by McKenzie as the face and voice behind Sunshine.

“It was weird,” McKenzie explained. “We put up three or four videos, and then went ‘OK, let’s see what happens.’ Our first 5 million views were totally organic.

. . . .

McKenzie was a total YouTube newbie when the channel launched in 2010, but she quickly adapted and learned what it takes to be a digital video success.

“Between the three of us, we had eight or nine hours of watching YouTube,” she laughed. “I don’t know what we were thinking, but it worked! I kind of want to do a little bit of everything. Sunshine has been an eye-opener if nothing else. It’s really great to see I can do other stuff. I can act, but also I do all the camera work. I do the editing; I’m a director. It’s fun to put on different hats. Now with the author business, I have a lot of things I have the potential to do someday if I wanted to.”

That’s right, 20-year-old McKenzie is also the voice behind the Sunshine Girlbooks, with the help of a coauthor. For her, collaboration seems natural. What doesn’t is the fact that with the written word, she can’t immediately get feedback from her tens of thousands of digital fans.

“The main difference is you could just film something and put [finished videos] up on YouTube and get immediate response,” she said. “With a book, I know the editor says she liked this, but it’s not immediate response. That’s been weird.”

. . . .

Sunshine Girl does hit a spot that falls outside the current trends of young adult literature. It’s not postapocalyptic, and it’s not complete realism either. It’s somewhere in between. Yes, there’s some romance in the story, but without giving too much away, even the romantic elements play into the paranormal worry that pervades the book. The mystery is far more important that a girl wondering about her first kiss.

Link to the rest at The Daily Dot and thanks to Dave for the tip.

Here’s a link to The Haunting of Sunshine Girl: Book One

JRR Tolkien falls off children’s most popular books list

4 March 2015

From The Guardian:

JRR Tolkien’s fantasy novels have been elbowed out of the annual lineup of the most popular books for schoolchildren by a deluge of dark dystopias and urban fantasies.

The seventh What Kids Are Reading report, which analyses the reading habits of over half a million children in over 2,700 UK schools, revealed today that Tolkien’s books have dropped out of the overall most popular list for the first time since the report began six years ago. In previous years, Tolkien’s titles have featured within the chart’s top 10 places, mostly among secondary-school children.

Instead, this year in secondary schools the most popular title was John Green’s tale of a heartbreaking teenage romance, The Fault in Our Stars, followed by two dystopian stories: Suzanne Collins’s Catching Fire, from the Hunger Games series, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent, set in a world where people are classified according to their personality traits.

. . . .

The report found that UK pupils’ most popular reads fell into two “distinct” categories – either dystopian fantasies by the likes of Collins, Clare and Roth, or what it described as “irreverent, larger than life anti-hero comedies” such as Kinney’s Wimpy Kid stories, Dahl’s The Twits or Walliams’ Gangsta Granny. “While the primary chart top 20 is split down the middle, featuring equal amounts of comedy and fantasy, by secondary school the ‘most popular’ charts almost exclusively feature darker conflicts from an epic fantasy genre,” it said.

Link to the rest at The Guardian

A Year of Experiments

21 February 2015

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

This week, I did something I hadn’t done in nearly five years: I wrote a book proposal. Yep, I hit upon a project that I think would be better off produced through a traditional publishing company. If the proposal does its job, and the project sells, I’ll be more forthcoming about what the project is and why I went this way.

Suffice to say, these days all writers have options—and as I weighed my options on this particular project, I realized that the best way to handle it was to license it to some place traditional.

. . . .

At the same time, I’ve finished the first novel in a series I’ve wanted to do for almost ten years. The Fates series, which I’ve written under the name Kristine Grayson, introduced three teenage girls who were acting as the Interim Fates. I had written Tiffany’s story and had trouble selling it eight years ago. When I reread it, I realized that the book was just fine. Then I mentally reviewed the rejections I’d received on the project back then, and realized what the problem had really been.

The rejections had all focused on the “dialect” and the unacceptability of the point-of-view character. The young adult editors who saw the book said the point of view was unacceptable for the market, and no YA reader wanted to read about characters like this.

At the time I was truly confused. I’d sold books about those kinds of characters—magical characters negotiating our world—before. I couldn’t figure out what these editors were talking about. When I asked my then-agent, he said that the editors were just clueless. Comforting, sure, but not helpful.

Now I realize he didn’t want to tell me what the editors really meant.

So I didn’t know what I had done “wrong” until this year (nearly a decade later). It was a problem I had seen before; I just hadn’t recognized it.

Tiffany is African-American. Her race shows up in the very first paragraph. There is no dialect—there isn’t even slang in that opening. Just a rather sassy voice of a confused young woman who has entered our world for the very first time.

I never thought of the book as anything but a Fates book, so when I got horrid (and I truly mean horrid) rejections—mostly based on that first chapter saying that no one would read a book like this let alone publish it, I thought I had done something wrong in the writing.

I hadn’t done anything wrong. Unless you consider a non-white protagonist to be something wrong. I hadn’t. I still don’t.

But now I don’t have to deal with the perceptions of what is or is not acceptable to the YA market. I can just finish the trilogy-plus that I’ve been trying to write for years now.

The book is now in production, and I finished the next book, dealing with Tiffany’s half-sister, Crystal. In March, after I finish the seven (seven!) short stories I’d promised that are all due right now, I’ll write Brittany’s story, and then the final wrap-up novel.

Those novels will be published, one a month, later in the year.

I could never have done this in traditional publishing. Obviously, right?, since I couldn’t sell the first one because of Tiff’s race. But I’m not really referring to that: I’m referring to the one-per-month pace.

As most of you know, I’m publishing one novel per month right now, and whoa doggies, did that turn out to be a good idea.

Not just from a sales standpoint—which is sooooo much better than expected (thank you, Retrieval Artist fans!)—but from a creative standpoint.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch and thanks to Dorothy for the tip.

Here’s a link to Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s books

Critics of ‘vulgar’ book for young adults want Governor General’s award rescinded

23 January 2015

From the Ottawa Citizen:

A Kanata children’s author has joined a protest over the awarding of a Governor General’s Literary Award to what critics are calling a “vulgar” and “gratuitous” book for young adults about gender identity issues in high school.

Kathy Clark says she is among 1,500 people across Canada petitioning the Canada Council to revoke the 2014 award because of graphic content in Raziel Reid’s debut novel When Everything Feels like the Movies.

The novel is inspired by the true story of an openly gay 15-year-old California boy who was shot to death in 2008 by a classmate he’d asked to be his Valentine.

. . . .

Clark, author of two children’s books, says Reid’s use of language is inappropriate for a book recognized in the young adult classification (12 to 18) within the children’s literature category.

“I know it’s difficult to write about difficult and sensitive issues,” says Clark. “But it’s very possible to write about them in an appropriate way without resorting to vulgar language.”

. . . .

In a statement to the Citizen, the 25-year-old author said he set out to reflect what young people talk about, and how they talk about it.

“I’m not promoting a culture, I’m depicting one — and I’m doing it with the graphic language that culture uses, and with the themes that culture is consumed with: fame, drugs, sex, and selfies,” Reid said.

“For my generation, a (Facebook) Like has replaced physical warmth and affection. This has created a nihilistic society obsessed with ‘instafame’ and instant gratification. As a result, youth are facing a deeper isolation than ever before. I wrote this story so that readers can understand lost teenagers like my narrator Jude Rothesay.”

Link to the rest at Ottawa Citizen

What Nielsen Knows

20 January 2015

From Digital Book World:

Nielsen . . . gave the audience a couple of its biggest jawdroppers of the day in terms of statistical analysis.

Chief among them:

Eighty percent of YA books sold in the US today, per Nielsen’s findings, are being bought by adults for themselves.

This being good news to those who sell YA, of course, no one in the room gasped, “What’s wrong with those adult readers?”

And, of course, nothing’s wrong with them, although in some circles it would not be out of line to ask what drives more mature readers to return so heavily to these stories with their generally strong emphasis on romance and youth.

But the unanswered question — one that resonates in the UK market’s slide-by of adult trade by children’s as well, as our Tom Tivnan is reporting — hung over the whole day at #LaunchKids.

It may have made some in the room wish that instead of a parade of “we do this” and “we’re having great success with that,” we might have heard, “we believe we’re seeing this trend because it answers this need.”

In other words, much of what [Nielsen] brought us set us up with pressing quandaries about a comparatively booming market that we only partly understand. There are cultural revelations underlying what’s going on here. Their exploration could be good both for business and for booksellers’ sanity.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Children’s/YA Growth Spurt Continues

20 January 2015

From Shelf Awareness:

In the first 10 months of the year, total net book sales rose 5.5%, to $13.2 billion, compared to the first 10 months of 2013, representing sales of 1,209 publishers and distributed clients as reported to the Association of American Publishers. Net book sales in October jumped 11.9%, to $1.03 billion.

. . . .

Among highlights for the year to date: children’s/YA continued to grow, with sales up 21.6%, to $1.5 billion.

. . . .

By category for January-October 2014:


Link to the rest at Shelf Awareness

Forget Your Preconceptions About Teenagers and Reading

19 December 2014

From Publishing Perspectives:

Nielsen hosted the first annual Children’s Book Summit at the McGraw-Hill Building in New York City, co-chaired by Kristen McLean, editor of Nielsen’s Books & Consumers Children’s research and founder and CEO of Bookigee, and Jonathan Stolper, SVP Nielsen Books America. The focus of the conference was to delve deeply into Nielsen’s body of research in publishing, gaming, and film to dispel popular myths about kids and reading, provide publishers information about their audience that might surprise them, and offer opportunities upon which to act.

In 2014, children and teenagers are reading in record numbers and are often driving the buying of books by influencing their parents and peers. The children’s book market has grown 44% in the last 10 years, while adult publishing had its peak in 2008 and is in decline. International children’s publishing is still the largest sector of content creation at $151 billion (surpassing gaming, which is at $133 billion). And reading is still the #1 leisure activity for children 2-10. It’s at 11-13 that is starts to dip, being beaten out by television and games, and at 14-17 pleasure reading loses ground entirely.

. . . .

[N]ot only do 67% of teens read for pleasure, 50% of them also still prefer print books over ebooks. And, while we think that kids on their phones checking Facebook or tweeting means that they don’t know how to interact with each other or that it is taking away from their academic pursuits or that they are just playing games, Junco’s research actually proves the opposite. Online interactions build social capital by giving kids the opportunity to learn more about their peers and help strengthen the intimacy of those relationships and, academically, allow students to have more engagement in their subjects. Unlike adults, teens interact with technology in a very different way, so Junco warned the audience against believing those myths.

. . . .

What the research showed was that, yes, teens only spend 5% of their leisure time reading for pleasure (with watching TV receiving the largest portion of their leisure time at 19%), but book-buying teens are the ones most likely to own gaming consoles and technology like tablets and ereaders. And, with 44% of teens saying they need to disconnect from the internet or take a break, this might help explain their preference for print books. So, while gaming is popular and social media consumes some of their time, it doesn’t mean teens aren’t reading. What is more likely is that they have to read more for school, thus they might need a break from reading during leisure time.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

Are You an Adult Who Reads YA Novels? Congratulations, You Saved Publishing in 2014

17 December 2014

From Flavorwire:

We won’t have the full picture until sometime in 2015, but as it stands right now, book publishing had a profitable year in 2014. In the face of constant fighting between the Big 5 publishers and Amazon, book sales are up across all categories by 4.9 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

Even trade sales, as it turns out, are up 2.8 percent this year. And — in a turn of events that should surprise no one — those trade sales were buoyed by a substantial increase in sales of Young Adult and Children’s books, up 22.4 percent over 2013. When you also consider that religious-press books are up by a meager 2.1 percent, and that, horrifyingly, Adult Fiction/Non-Fiction is down by 3.3 percent over last year, it becomes obvious that YA/Children’s books are keeping the industry out of the red.

Ebook sales — which were thought to be declining — are up by 5.6 percent in trade. Hardback sales are down a percentage point, while paperbacks are still strong at an increase of 4.9 percent.

But here’s where things get curious: ebook sales are up by nearly 53 percent in the YA/Children’s book category.

. . . .

It now seems clear that the healthiest market for trade books in 2014 includes adults who buy ebook versions of YA/Children’s books. In a way, these numbers retroactively justify a year of debates over the distinction between children, teenagers, and adults.

. . . .

Although it remains to be seen how the dominance of serial fiction has affected the publishing industry in 2014, we do know that Amazon’s list of 2014 best-sellers featured a majority of fiction serials. It’s no secret that among the subsections of trade books listed by the AAP, YA and Children’s books are the more likely to feature serial storylines.

Link to the rest at Flavorwire and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Meet Zoella—The Newbie Author Whose Book Sales Topped J.K. Rowling

15 December 2014

From The Daily Beast:

Three weeks ago 24-year-old Zoe Sugg published her first novel, Girl Online, a YA romance. In the first seven days, it sold more than 78,000 copies, beating the first week sales figures of any author on record, including J. K. Rowling and E. L. James.

How was this possible? Well, it can’t have hurt that Sugg is already a celebrity brand in the U.K. (where she lives in the coastal town of Brighton). She began her vlog “Zoella”—hints and tips about beauty, fashion, and lifestyle—in 2009, and has been steadily racking up fans ever since. She is probably the best known of the new “Brit crew” vloggers (she took home the Best British Vlogger Award at the 2013 BBC Radio 1’s Teen Awards, and the Nickelodeon Kid’s Choice Award earlier this year), and each video she posts attracts 12 million hits a month. She has more than 6 million YouTube followers, and 2.62 million on Twitter. Her target audience is teenage girls; thus, as with so much teenage culture that seems to exist on something of a parallel plane to the rest of us, if you’re not a teenage girl yourself (or don’t have a teenage daughter/sister), you’ve most likely never heard of her. Well, until now, that is.

Girl Online’s record-breaking sales immediately caused waves, but then Sugg hit the news again this past weekend when it was confirmed by her publishers, Penguin, that the rumors about the possibility that all was not what it seemed with the book were true. The truth was out: Sugg had worked with a ghost writer.

One could argue that this was never exactly hidden from her readers. The ghost writer in question is assumed to be one Siobhan Curham—an established author of both YA and adult fiction. Neither she nor Penguin have confirmed her involvement, or detailed exactly how much ghost writing was involved, but she initially came under suspicion due to Sugg’s mention of her in the acknowledgements of the book: “I want to thank everyone at Penguin for helping me put together my first novel,” she writes, in an admittedly slightly odd turn of phrase—note the use of “put together,” there’s no actual mention of “writing”—“especially Amy Alward [her editor] and Siobhan Curham who were with me every step of the way.” Apparently Curham also posted a blog post back in the summer claiming she had just accepted a job ghost writing a YA novel, a rush job due to be completed in a matter of weeks (now assumed to be Girl Online). The post was later removed.

. . . .

Quite why anyone is as shocked and surprised by this “revelation” as some are claiming, is beyond me. Even having watched only a handful of the Zoella vlogs, the minute I began reading Girl Online I noticed the vast difference between the friendly, gregarious but ultimately rambling tone of the videos (although I’m well aware the style of a vlog is supposed to be chatty, and thus inherently different to that of the written word), and the sleek, polished style of the novel. But there’s also the seemingly hugely overlooked fact that this is what celebrities do. They hire other people to write their books for them, whether memoir or fiction. Sugg is certainly not the first person to do this, and she won’t be the last either.

Link to the rest at The Daily Beast and thanks to T.T. for the tip.


14 December 2014

Based on Veronica Roth’s book

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