7 Reasons You Should Write A YA Novel, From One Woman Who Did

12 November 2015

From Bustle:

Whoever said that the publishing industry was dying hasn’t had a peak into John Green’s bank account. Of course, that’s YA publishing – the former “kids table” version of the book market now currently in a position to host the whole dinner party.

The adult book market may be a tricky place to play, but right now YA is white hot. So much so that it may actually be saving the rest of the literary world! At the end of 2014 book sales were up across all categories by 4.9 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers (AAP) and almost all growth was in young adult.

In other words – you should write that YA novel you’ve been dreaming up now.

. . . .

 2. YA Style Is Incredibly Fun

High emotions, twisty tales, constant cliffhangers and short chapters define the genre. That makes for fun writing that can be a great area to play in if you’re experienced or novice. Read as much YA as you can get your hands on to get a feel for the style then decide how you’ll make it your own.

. . . .

 4. Your Adult Friends Will Totally Read Your YA Masterpiece

A 2012 survey by Bowker Market Research found that 55% of young adult novels are bought by adults, and that number has only grown in the past three years. So if you’re worried about the literary lovers in your life turning a nose up at your teenaged saga, fear not. A great story is appealing to everyone.

. . . .

 6. You Can Self-Publish and See Just as Much Success

Let us never forget that Fifty Shades of Grey started as Twilight fan fiction. Self-publishing is an incredible pathway to securing a book agent at the least or selling a million copies on your own, at the most. Not to mention Wattpad star Anna Banks and Amanda Hocking, who eventually signed a book deal for a cool $2 million.

Link to the rest at Bustle

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New app offers ‘books for the Snapchat generation’

21 September 2015

From CNN:

“Umm…why do u have Claires phone?”

“Well if u must know i sat down on this park bench to read”

“And sat right on someone’s phone. Claire’s I’m guessing”

“What r u reading?”

That’s an excerpt from a book meant to be read on an iPhone or Apple Watch. It’s available on an app that launched this week called Hooked.

Prerna Gupta describes her app as “books for the Snapchat generation.”

Hooked will feature short fiction for young-adult readers. Gupta said that 80% of young-adult novels are read digitally. So the teen-set seemed like the most natural audience.

. . . .

Each book will be roughly 1,000 words and is designed to be read in about five minutes. The stories will be told entirely through dialogue and read like texts. Messages show up on screen when readers click “Next.”

“Epistolary literature is nothing new,” she said. “Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ is one of my favorite books and the story is told entirely through letters.”

Link to the rest at CNN

Author Cornelia Funke Launches Own Publishing Company

17 September 2015

From Wendy Warris at Publishers Weekly

In an unusual move, bestselling children’s author and illustrator Cornelia Funke, whose fantasy series Inkheart and Mirrorworld have been globally popular, cites creative differences with her U.S. publisher, and a growing wish to be free of restrictions on her artistic output, as the motivating factors in her decision to start her own press, called Breathing Books. Funke’s partner in this endeavor is Mirada Studios in Los Angeles.

. . .

…Funke says she was “stunned” by the email she received from her editor at Little, Brown in the U.S., who she says was also speaking on behalf of the author’s U.K. editor. “It said, ‘We love the book, Cornelia, but could you please change the first chapter? It’s a birth scene. That’s a little drastic for our audience. Could you please put that somewhere else?’ ”

. . .

“From the very beginning, I had the problem of Little, Brown placing the Mirrorworld series in the 9–12 age group when I had told them it was age 14 and up,” Funke says. “The last seven years were bitter at times because of that argument.” She is grateful to Little, Brown, though, for giving her the rights back to the whole series, which has sold over 150,000 copies in the U.S.

. . .

As she speaks, Funke exudes confidence in her decision to become a publisher. “Little, Brown and others are like ocean liners that can only go to certain places,” Funke says. “I want to be a sailboat so I can fit into other places. If I have to figure this out myself, good!

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

Posted by PG Vacation bench warmer Bridget McKenna


Pottermore readies radical relaunch

11 September 2015

From The Bookseller:

Pottermore, the website built to extend the Harry Potter brand online and sell e-book editions of the original seven titles, is to be relaunched with a radical new design and approach. The new mobile-first version will drop the gaming elements, focus on its core audience of young adults, and allow its content to be indexed by search engines.

The overhaul, to be unveiled in the coming weeks, has been led by Susan Jurevics who joined as Pottermore c.e.o. almost two years ago. The move sees the website shift its focus away from introducing new readers to the brand, to “delighting” those users who have grown up with the books and who now wish to explore more facets of the growing franchise.

Jurevics said the changes had been driven by identifying the core users of the site, how technology had developed since its original launch (in April 2012), and the need to reflect that the Harry Potter universe is no longer confined to the original seven books. A stage play is currently under development, and the first of three new films, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, is to be released next year.

. . . .

Jurevics told The Bookseller: “When Pottermore first started, it was positioned for the next generation of readers, and that next generation was almost by default tagged to be children. So the current site gamified the content, making it very simplistic in terms of collecting things and casting spells. That was appropriate for children, but that wasn’t actually the core audience.” Jurevics said that the user base was “overwhelmingly young adult and female”, something she discovered “pretty quickly” once she joined the firm in October 2013 from Sony, where she was senior vice-president, responsible for the company’s marketing.

The relaunch also reflected technological advancements in the way users now access content sites, Jurevics said: “From a technology point of view, when Pottermore was designed and conceived the iPad had not yet been launched, and the population didn’t yet sleep with their phones on. The current Pottermore is really a laptop or desktop experience and that type of usage is going away.”The new site will be smartphone-first to reflect this “fundamental change in user behaviour”, with content designed for touchscreens and swiping.

Perhaps the most significant shift is the removal of the central concept behind the original site, which required users to become students of a virtual Hogwarts in order to progress through the books and experience the site. Jurevics said the change reflected the way the Harry Potter series had now evolved outside of the core seven books.

. . . .

Pottermore now employs 35 people.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

When Pottermore first opened, a lot of people, including PG, checked it out.

After about ten minutes on the site, he concluded it was a mess. With respect to JK Rowling, it was a web equivalent to vanity publishing – extraordinarily expensive, but without any likelihood of commercial success. PG would love to know how much was spent on the original site and how much traffic it was generating after a few months.

PG checked out Pottermore’s rank on Alexa, not always terribly accurate, but free and not bad for broad generalizations. Pottermore’s global rank for traffic is currently 9,487 and its US rank is 3,805. This is a higher rank than your author’s site, but really bad for a site driven by the Harry Potter/JK Rowling brand, especially for a site employing 35 people.

By comparison, XKCD.com, a low-budget site that appears to be operated by about 1.5 (very talented) people, has a global rank of 1,720 and a US rank of 574.


Does the age of an author matter when writing YA fiction?

27 July 2015

From The Guardian:

I saw several really young writers at the Young Adult Literature Convention (Yalc) who seem to know just what their readers are feeling. Does the age of an author matter when writing YA fiction?

The appearance of so many young authors whose books are connecting so brilliantly with YA readers was a hugely successful hallmark of Yalc (Young Adult Literature Convention, held last weekend in London.

But, before the older writers are overlooked prematurely it is worth remembering, that Yalc was itself the brain child of Malorie Blackman as one of her projects during her time as the UK’s children’s laureate. Malorie Blackman is neither a new author nor a particularly young one but nonetheless she has written many outstanding YA novels including the best-selling Noughts and Crosses sequence of novels (now published as a graphic novel) and Boys Don’t Cry, a story of teen parents that is as understanding of the modern pressures on teens as anything else available.

Like many others who have been writing for this age group, Malorie Blackman, left her own teen experiences behind a longish time ago but it doesn’t stop her understanding the overwhelming emotions of adolescence and their bravery in standing up for themselves and others when they see unfair things happening.

YA fiction has been around for a long time. Beverly Cleary’s Fifteen, published in the US in 1956 and in the UK in 1962 is often cited as the first book for teenagers because it was one of the launch titles for the Peacock series that Penguin launched for this new market of readers. Impossibly tame for today’s readers in terms of the details, it was the only book on the list that was about contemporary adolescence and so included a version of the feelings, tensions and teenager/parent relationship that were a precursor to today’s YA fiction.

. . . .

Most recently, John Green’s runaway success The Fault in Our Stars has bowled over YA readers – and readers of all other ages too. John Green is young but his adolescent years are well behind him.

. . . .

Nonetheless, as the young Yalc authors showed, YA is gaining an exciting new dimension from upcoming very young writers. Among them are Samantha Shannon who signed a deal for her seven book series set in a dystopian world shot through with the supernatural which begins with The Bone Season when she was still a student and Helena Coggan who was even younger (15) and still at school when her first novel The Catalyst, also a dystopian fantasy, was published earlier this year.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

The most banned and challenged books of 2014

23 July 2015

From The Los Angeles Times:

A memoir by a sexual assault survivor, a science fiction comic book and a children’s book about gay penguins were among the 10 most frequently banned or challenged books in the United States last year, according to the American Library Assn. (ALA).

The ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom today released its annual “Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books,” based on over 300 reports of community members attempting to have literature removed from libraries and school curricula. The organization notes that “attempts to remove books by authors of color and books with themes about issues concerning communities of color are disproportionately challenged and banned.”

Four of the books on the list are by writers of color: “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie, “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi, “The Bluest Eye” by Toni Morrison and “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini.

Seven of the 10 books were challenged because they were “sexually explicit.” Among those books are two that deal with child sexual assault: Morrison’s novel “The Bluest Eye” and “A Stolen Life,” a memoir by Jaycee Dugard, who was kidnapped, raped and held prisoner for 18 years by a Mendocino couple.

. . . .

The top 10 most banned and challenged books of 2014:

1. “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” by Sherman Alexie. Reasons: anti-family, cultural insensitivity, drugs/alcohol/smoking, gambling, offensive language, sex education, sexually explicit, unsuited for age group, violence. Additional reasons: “depictions of bullying”

. . . .

4. “The Bluest Eye,” by Toni Morrison. Reasons: Sexually explicit, unsuited for age group. Additional reasons: “contains controversial issues”

Link to the rest at The Los Angeles Times and thanks to Tim for the tip.

Why Are There So Many Young Adult Writers On The Top-Earning Authors List?

23 July 2015

From Forbes:

A quarter of the 16 writers on this year’s Top-Earning Authors pen Young Adult fiction; two are in the top five. That’s a stunning ratio, considering the list has long been dominated by crime, thriller and romance stalwarts such as Stephen King, Danielle Steel and James Patterson.

Patterson remains publishing’s richest penman, earning an estimated $89 million between June 2014 and June 2015. Hot on his heels is “The Fault in Our Stars” author John Green, who banked $26 million in that time frame. Green pocketed a little more than Veronica Roth, who earned $25 million to rank third.

Both Green and Roth were newcomers to the Top-Earning Authors ranking in 2014. Green’s income leaped $17 million on last year’s $9 million paycheck, while Roth’s earnings increased $8 million. All told, Young Adult (YA) authors pocketed a combined $83 million this year, up 53% from the $54 million haul top-earning YA authors recorded in 2014.

So how are YA authors making so much cash? It’s thanks largely to Hollywood.

“When a great book finds a new life on the big screen, it drives people who have never discovered them from movies to the books,”  explained Ellie Berger, president of Trade Publishing at Scholastic, the house responsible for Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series. According to Berger, publishers can see more than a 10% lift in book sales around the time a movie version is released. “Once the movie comes and goes, we are still able to sell strongly as we do now with the Hunger Games,” Berger said earlier this year.

Link to the rest at Forbes and thanks to Dave for the tip.

The Original Ghostwriter Behind Nancy Drew Was One of The Most Interesting YA Writers of All Time

15 July 2015

From Slate:

Nancy Drew—the eternally teenaged detective who has appeared in hundreds of books since The Secret of the Old Clock was published in 1930—recently turned 85. Over the years, dozens of authors have penned the sleuth’s adventures under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene, and she has been the subject of TV series, movies,graphic novels—even a line of video games. Her influence is so wide that not onebut three Supreme Court justices have cited her as a childhood hero. It’s no wonder then that the 85th anniversary milestone stirred up nostalgic media coverage and has been celebrated with conventions as far-flung as Iowa, Ohio, and New Jersey.

But last week marked another, quieter anniversary for Nancy Drew: what would have been the 110th birthday of Mildred “Millie” Wirt Benson, the first author ever to write under the name “Carolyn Keene.” Despite having produced numerous children’s books under a variety of names, Benson herself is not widely known—which is unfortunate, because as a gutsy journalist, aviator, and feminist (though she didn’t like to call herself one), she was one of the most interesting YA writers of all time.

Benson ghost-wrote 23 of the first 30 Nancy Drew books for the Stratemeyer Syndicate, the publisher also behind The Hardy Boys and The Bobbsey Twins. She became involved with the series after answering a trade ad placed by the Syndicate’s founder, Edward Stratemeyer. In Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, Melanie Rehak examines the contributions Benson made to the now-iconic character. “She gave Nancy many of the qualities we remember so fondly and fiercely, like her determination, her intelligence, her self-reliance and her athleticism,” Rehak told Slate in an email. “Stratemeyer hired Mildred because he wanted someone who could infuse Nancy with these things, and he could tell Mildred was a go-getter from the moment she answered his ad.”

. . . .

Just 25 years old when the first was published, Benson, then Mildred A. Wirt, was also a tenacious reporter, for the now-defunct Toledo Times, and later for the Toledo Blade. She worked there, despite her failing eyesight and a tendency to fall asleep at her desk, until her death in 2002, aged 96, and was at work on the day she died. She outlived both her journalist husbands, first AP reporter Asa Wirt, then her Toledo Times editor George Benson.

Even in the earliest days of her journalism career, Benson was tenacious. “In the ’40s, when she started working at the Toledo Times, she was a court reporter. She got the job because a lot of men went off to war, and they were starting to hire women,” said Fisher. When female staffers were told that when the men returned, the women would likely be out of a job, Benson only worked harder, and was competitive with her male colleagues. In her determination to get a story, she became notorious for parking herself outside councilmen’s office doors. One such councilman was so desperate to avoid talking to her, the story goes, that he climbed out his office window rather than face her questions.

. . . .

Some of Benson’s greatest adventures happened while she was in her 50s and 60s. She made numerous trips to Central America, including the Yucatán Peninsula in the 1960s, traversing the jungle in a Jeep, canoeing down rivers, visiting Mayan sites, and witnessing archaeological excavations. She had been an active swimmer since her college years, and who would often take a dive at the Toledo Club before going to work at the Blade. She saw Haley’s Comet twice in her lifetime: first as a child in 1910, and then again in 1986.

Benson remained largely unknown outside her circle until she testified during a 1980 trial for a case involving Nancy Drew publishers—the first public acknowledgement of her involvement with the series. Simon & Schuster and Grosset & Dunlap later officially recognized her authorship of Books 1 through 7, 11 through 25, and 30, in 1994. Benson subsequently became a legend for Nancy Drew fans.

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Matthew for the tip.

Jodi Picoult On Her New Book, Writing YA, and Feuding With Jonathan Franzen

24 May 2015

From Bustle:

With 23 books by Jodi Picoult in print, fans of the author have a pretty good idea of what to expect from her novels: a dark subject — say cancer or domestic abuse; plenty of shocking twists and turns; and a conclusion that, while satisfying, may not be the happy ending of readers’ dreams. Picoult can write a gripping thriller or an emotional drama for sure, but as for a sweet, happy story with a fairytale ending? No way.

Yet in 2012, the author decided to do just that, writing the YA, fantasy-based Between the Lines alongside her daughter, Samantha van Leer.

. . . .

Turns out that taking a break from her usual dark dramas works well for Picoult. Both Between the Lines and Off the Page are charming stories bound to please teen readers. It wouldn’t be surprising if the duo continued their work together and made YA a career focus — yet according to the author, that’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.

“Part of the real joy of writing YA is doing it with Sammy. I have a blast working with her,” Picoult says. “But I don’t know that I would’ve [written YA] without her.”

. . . .

“All times that I’ve been working with Sammy, I’ve always been in the middle of an adult book as well. When I wrote Between the Lines, I was switching back and forth between writing a fairytale and writing about the Holocaust — I don’t think you can get more diametric.”

Link to the rest at Bustle and thanks to HN for the tip.

Her Stinging Critiques Propel Young Adult Best Sellers

13 April 2015

From The New York Times:

John Green still vividly recalls the opening line of a stinging critique that his editor, Julie Strauss-Gabel, delivered after reading an early draft of his novel “The Fault in Our Stars.”

“The first sentence was, ‘I really enjoyed reading the first draft of this promising and ambitious novel,’ and the rest was 20 pages of her tearing it apart,” Mr. Green said. “Her editorial letters are famous for their ability to make you cry and feel anxious. They’re very long, very detailed and very intimidating.”

One of her more memorable barbs described an overwrought climactic scene as reading “like bad John Green fan fiction,” Mr. Green recalled. He changed the ending.

Mr. Green didn’t suffer an ego bashing in vain, at least. In its revised and polished final form, “The Fault in Our Stars,” a novel about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love, became a monster hit.

. . . .

In the cosseted world of children’s book publishing, getting an editorial letter from Ms. Strauss-Gabel, the publisher of Dutton Children’s Books, is the literary equivalent of winning a golden ticket to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It virtually guarantees critical or commercial success, and often brings both.

She doesn’t hand out many of them. “I am naturally exceedingly picky,” she said. “If I’m not in love with someone’s writing at the sentence level, then I’m not going to sign up the book.”

Her knack for spotting and developing talent is apparent on this week’s New York Times young adult best-seller list, where novels that she edited hold five of the top 10 spots. She has edited 22 New York Times best sellers.

. . . .

Over the last decade or so, as publishers have been battered by sagging print sales, shrinking retail space and e-book pricing wars, children’s books have become one of the industry’s last bastions of sustained growth. Eight of the top 10 best-selling print books were children’s and young adult titles, with Bill O’Reilly and Gillian Flynn standing out as the anomalous authors of adult books. In 2014, revenue from young adult and children’s books rose by 21 percent over the previous year, while adult fiction and nonfiction fell by 1.4 percent, according to the Association of American Publishers.

Ms. Strauss-Gabel’s unconventional taste and eye for idiosyncratic literary voices have helped her identify and build up some of young adult fiction’s biggest breakout stars.

In addition to Mr. Green’s books, which have more than 30 million copies in print worldwide, she’s shepherded best sellers like Ally Condie’s “Matched” series, which has 3.3 million copies in print in North America. She has shaped the careers of emerging stars like Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins and Andrew Smith, whose surreal novel, “Grasshopper Jungle,” won comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut.

. . . .

 In its latest financial earnings report, Penguin Random House, which operates nearly 250 imprints globally, cited “The Fault in Our Stars” as the company’s biggest hit last year, and said that “major best sellers, especially in the field of children’s books” had helped produce a 25 percent increase in revenue in 2014.

Link to the rest at The New York Times 

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