The Andre Norton Award

21 March 2016

PG received the following message from M.C.A. Hogarth:

Next year, SFWA would like to ensure indie participation in the jury for the Norton award, which recognizes the best in YA and Middle-Grade fiction for the year. I’m not familiar with the indie YA and MG markets, so I’m hoping for some recommendations of folks who’d be willing to serve on next year’s jury. They’d have to know the indie YA or MG market well, and be willing to read a lot of (free!) books; I’d also like them to help me raise awareness of the award among indies so we can get more of their works sent to the jury.

Jurists can be YA or MG authors themselves; they’d have to recuse themselves from nomination for the year, but they can serve.

Here’s a link to the relevant SWFA Norton Award page and you can contact Maggie through her author site.

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Are we witnessing the death of young-adult dystopia at the movies?

21 March 2016

From The Los Angeles Times:

In movie theaters this past weekend, a reluctant teen hero led a rebellion comprising an implausible clan of oppressed but likable young iconoclasts. Together they rose up around their chosen one to fight their government’s evil social engineering.

Sound familiar? No, it wasn’t a new installment of “The Hunger Games,” “The Maze Runner”or “The Giver.” And it wasn’t a reprise of “Saturday Night Live’s” “The Group Hopper” sketch, which blended almost every current dystopian teen trope into a trailer for a fake movie “written entirely,” the joke went, “in the comments section of a ‘Hunger Games’ trailer.”

The real film was “The Divergent Series: Allegiant — Part 1,” the third in the franchise starring Shailene Woodley and Theo James.

But with an opening weekend box office of just $29 million — compared with a $54-million start for “Divergent” (2014) and a slightly lower $52 million for “Insurgent” (2015) — “Allegiant” debuted at a disappointing No. 2 behind the rabbit-fronted “Zootopia, calling into question whether we are witnessing the end of the young adult dystopian wave at the movies.

. . . .

But few films in this genre have been able to claim “The Hunger Games'” big bucks. The 2013 science-fiction thriller “The Host” made just more than $26.5 million in its entire domestic run, even though it was adapted from a novel written by “Twilight” author Stephanie Meyer and starred two-time Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan. Another alien-centric adaptation “The 5th Wave,” still in theaters, has made just under $34 million since its January debut.

. . . .

Senior media analyst for comScore Paul Dergarabedian doesn’t agree that the weight can be placed solely on the genre in question. “Athough as a whole the YA dystopian movies have had massive success, many films from this category have fallen short, so their continued relevance in the marketplace has come into question,” Dergarabedian said in a email.

He added, “The overriding premise of most of these films seem very similar and thus the natural conclusion is that YA audiences may be looking for other, perhaps fresher options.”

. . . .

Even though the movie dystopia looks to be slowly dwindling in box-office numbers, the “bleak future” trend is alive on television. The CW’s critically adored “The 100” just got renewed for another season, USA premiered Carlton Cuse’s alien-occupied Los Angeles thriller “Colony” in January and AMC’s “The Walking Dead” (while mostly teen-free) is still running strong with a spinoff “Fear the Walking Dead” in tandem. More is on the way. The CW gave the green light to an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” with a dystopian bent. Wrap your head around that.

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

‘The X-Files Origins’ YA Novels Will Follow Adolescent Mulder and Scully

23 February 2016

From Entertainment Weekly:

X-Files fans will be able to add a new chapter to Mulder and Scully’s story with The X-Files Origins series, a pair of YA novels about 15-year-old Dana Scully and 17-year-old Fox Mulder.

EW can exclusively announce the two new novels inThe X-Files Origins series, Agent of Chaos and Devil’s Advocate. Each story is set in the spring of 1979, when serial murder, the occult, and government conspiracy were highlighted in the news. The books, acquired by Imprint/Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, follow Mulder and Scully as they experience life-changing events that set them on the path to becoming the FBI agents depicted by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson on the cult-favorite TV show The X-Files.

Link to the rest at Entertainment Weekly

BISG Implements New Subject Headings for Young Adult Books

1 February 2016

From Publishing Perspectives:

For the last 10 years, there has been exponential growth in the children’s book market, largely in the Young Adult category.

As an interesting outcome to that growth, the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) has implemented new BISAC code subject headings, migrating from Juvenile Fiction (JUV) and Juvenile Non-Fiction (JNF) to YAF (Young Adult Fiction) to YAN (Young Adult Non-Fiction).

The reason for adding the YA headings is that, over time, YA has become its own subject or genre.

Although discussion around the codes has gone on since 2003, it wasn’t until 2014 that the idea of creating a new section devoted to young adult books began to gain more ground.  After a survey of BISG’s entire membership showed that more than 80 percent of members would find it valuable if the BISAC included specific codes for teen/young adult content, talks were undertaken with some of the biggest stakeholders—such as Penguin Random House, Nielsen, Barnes and Noble—to define the benefits of this change.

Stakeholders noted that YA content would benefit from its own designation for potential sales opportunities, awards tracking, and to help with unreliable audience codes and age ranges and grades.

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives

PG says discussions started in 2003 and new codes are announced 13 years later – another data point demonstrating that Big Publishing is not operating on internet time.

Does YA Mean It’s a Clean Read?

14 January 2016

From author Tianna Holley:

The answer is no. Books are not regulated and graded like movies, music, and video games, and it’s up to the authors and publishers to choose the genre. A young adult novel usually means the main characters are in their teen years. However, some books with older characters can pass as a young adult read if they’re clean–such as the Alissia Roswell Series.

Although most people believe a young adult book keeps to certain standards–no sex, low violence, and mild cursing–that’s not the case. I’ve stopped reading many books  only halfway through, because I was disgusted with the hard cursing, sexual content, and lack of morals in the main characters. I know of one book that I put down without finishing the first chapter. The main character’s mouth made me cringe with R-rated cursing, and she was a horrible person.

. . . .

While volunteering at my daughter’s middle school book fair, two girls were standing behind me talking about books. One of them pointed to a book and said, “Fifty Shades of Grey right there. That book shouldn’t even be in here.”

While reading the reviews of a book I considered downloading for my daughters, a lot of the reviewers complained that the main teenage character had a low self-esteem from abuse. She then befriended a group of boys and winded up becoming “their girl.” Instead of choosing one boy, they shared her (which seems more abusive).

. . . .

If you’re reading this and getting upset with me for trying to control what my children read, you should be aware that I’m also trying to control what I read. I don’t want to read intense sex scenes, and I honestly don’t want my children reading them, either. It really doesn’t have a place in our home, and I hope you’ll respect that. Please don’t spam me with your opinions and argument.

Link to the rest at Tianna Holley and thanks to Morgyn for the tip.

Here’s a link to Tianna Holley’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

PG sympathizes with parents’ desire to exert what control they can over what their children read and see.

In past volunteer work, PG encountered the devastating effects that pornography can have on individuals and families. Consequences included divorce, job loss and attempted suicide.

As with other behaviors, such as gambling, pornography only becomes a behavioral addiction for some individuals (usually, but not always, men), so those who aren’t adversely affected may not understand the impact it has on the susceptible.

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

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.

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