TCWT August 2014 Blog Chain

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the blog chain this July! It was another fantastic one, and I really enjoyed reading all of your posts.

For August’s chain, I thought an interesting topic could be:

“What characters are you most like?” 

Once again, you have a lot of freedom with this topic. While the character(s) you choose should hopefully come from a published work, it can be from pretty much any type; book, movie, musical, short story, poem, etc characters are all fair game. And as for the post itself, you can set it up however you like. Maybe you could talk about the characters’ experiences and how they are similar to some of your own, or you could focus on how that particular character changed you–really whatever comes to mind you’re welcome to post about.

And I think that’s all! If you’re interested in participating in the blog chain, just comment below with a link to your blog and any days you can’t post on, and I’ll assign you a date. (First-time visitors: you are completely welcome to join as well!) The final schedule for August’s chain will go up on our blog chain page on August 4th, so you have until then to sign up. Thanks! :)

 

TCWT July 2014 Blog Chain

 

As always, a huge thank you to everyone who participated in last month’s blog chain! All of the posts were really thought-provoking, and it was especially cool seeing such a variety of opinions on book-to-movie adaptions. (If you missed the chain, you can still see the list of participants and their posts here.)

 

Since the last few blog chains have focused more on actual, published books, I wanted to return to a writing-related topic for July. 

 

“What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started writing?” 

 

Once again, you can pretty much go wherever you like with this topic, whether it be an actual advice post, a discussion of aspects of your writing journey, a list of what you wish you knew/what you’ve learned (you are certainly not limited to choosing only one thing), or something else entirely.

 

If you’re interested in participating in the blog chain, just comment below with a link to your blog and any days you can’t post on, and I’ll try to assign you a date as quickly as possible. (First-time visitors: you are completely welcome to join as well!) The final schedule for July’s chain will go up on our blog chain page on July 4th, so you have until then to sign up. Thanks! :)

 

“The Netflix Effect” For Books?

**Please note: This is all speculation. I’m a writer, not a publishing insider, but I think this is a topic worth discussing.**

If you are familiar with the television realm, you’ve probably heard in some way about “The Netflix Effect.” Basically, the Netflix Effect–or at least the one I’m referring to–describes the growing shift toward binge watch-able shows. Since Netflix now has its own television shows (Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, etc.), they have decided to shake things up, and so rather than releasing one episode every week, they make all thirteen in a season available at once on the season’s release date. This new strategy has done wonders for the company and its subscribers, as it gives people a way to watch the seasons straight through without having to worry about forgetting what happened in the previous episode. Another interesting twist is, I think, that this method gives fans an incentive to watch all of a given season immediately after it releases, because watching some of the bigger Netflix series has almost become an internet-wide event. After all, since all of the episodes are available at once, it feels like everyone is watching.

But then the other day I started thinking about this Netflix Effect in terms of books–specifically trilogies. You hear a lot of complaints about the one-year-or-more waits between most books in trilogies, usually for good reason. These waits, while totally sensible if you look at it from the points of view of the writer, editor, publicist, and so on, can be a bit of a strain on a reader. For one thing, by the time a sequel releases, you as a reader will probably forget much of what happened in the previous book, and unless you loved it, that fact alone could leave you anticipating the next book much less than you otherwise would have. (And from a book-selling standpoint, even if you end up buying that next book, this still matters. When you are excited for a release, you tend to let other people know, and word of mouth is a major driver of sales.) And it’s true that you could always reread the first of the series before the sequel releases, but with so many new books appearing on the scene every day, people in general seem to be less inclined to reread a book they didn’t absolutely love the first time. In that way, the wait almost becomes a hassle, and if you didn’t feel strongly about book one, chances are you may altogether lose interest in the second book by the time it releases (whereas you would be more likely to buy it if all of the books had already released).

As someone who has struggled with the above, I’ve begun to gravitate back toward that Netflix strategy as a solution: what if, in the future, an entire trilogy could be collectively released on the same day? Bearing in mind that there are probably a number of technical problems with this idea–I’m sure there is a reason no publisher I know of has done this before–it is certainly something to think about it. Not only would this method give a reader more incentive to buy the rest of the books in the series after finishing the first one (if they’re all right there, why not?), but it will also get more people to want to read the series in the first place, since it eliminates a lot of the cliffhanger/wait time anger that usually makes people hesitant to start a new series.

Another potential benefit, to add to my point in the first paragraph, is hype. Hype is a powerful tool, and if it feels like everyone is reading a particular series (which, assuming a collectively released trilogy gets reasonably well marketed, I’d bet a lot of people will be inclined to do since all of the books are there and ready to be explored (for reference, think about how the sales of books one and two tend to shoot up when the final book in a trilogy releases)), a number of those who aren’t reading it will want to find out more. But on the other hand, this means that the hype for the trilogy will be very concentrated in that one-to-four-month time span as everyone reads the books. While with the Netflix shows another season can always be released to regenerate hype, the end of a trilogy is the end of a trilogy, and if a book series were to be collectively released, the hype for it, while strong, will die down rather quickly.*

Still, when you consider that a number of people are starting to adopt policies where they won’t read a series until all of the books have released, this “Netflix Effect for trilogies” strategy is certainly something to consider. I’ve even noticed some publishers having shorter-than-a-year time gaps in between the release of books in a series, which might be a sign of things to come. For now, this is mainly limited to New Adult (Finding Fate, Losing It, A Little Too Far, etc.), but I’ve also been noticing it happening in some Young Adult series as well (ExtractionGlitch, etc.). From where I stand, I’m not sure many publishers will try the Netflix, release-everything-in-one-day method because of the concentrated hype problem I mentioned above, but I have a feeling we’ll start to see shortening time intervals between release dates of YA trilogies. Considering that 1) YA is becoming reasonably flooded with new books and 2) that many readers are less inclined to wait years for a next book in a series as a result, it certainly seems likely. And, if publishers eventually choose a select few trilogies to be released all at once, I can see that strategy being very effective as long as it’s limited to only certain, well-marketed trilogies.

If this shift were to happen–and I have no idea that it will–it will obviously be more difficult for the writer and the editor, but that could be solved by a longer period in between the date a book is sold and the date it publicly releases. But whether this possibility is realistic or not, I find it to be at the very least exciting to consider, and is certainly something I would welcome as a good thing.

 

 

*There are also, I’m sure, a number of other contractual issues with bookstore/library distribution as well as other potential problems with this strategy, but my guess is that this concentrated hype problem is the main pitfall of the Netflix-for-books idea.

 

EDIT: There is an upcoming New Adult trilogy by a popular author, Ann Aguirre, in which each book releases one to two months apart.

TCWT June 2014 Blog Chain

**Quick announcement: On June 14-15, just outside Chicago, Illinois (U.S.A.), a few really great people are hosting a writing conference for teen writers known as the Chapter One Young Writers ConferenceIt’s led by CEO Julia Byers, Creative Director Molly Brennan, Associate Online Administrator Kira Budge, Event Aide Lynn Byers, and a number of other contributors heavily involved in the teen writing world. They have workshops and speakers (one of the coolest people out there, Amy Zhang, whose equally amazing YA contemporary Falling Into Place releases in September, is the headliner!), and the conference is open to all writers from middle school to undergraduate level. If you’re interested, you can register now, and you can find more info on their website.**

(Note: I’m not personally associated with the conference, but it looks fantastic so I agreed to post about it!)

***

 

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say that May’s blog chain has been one of my favorites since the inception of this blog. Everyone who participated had such brilliant responses, which meant each post totally gave me a host of shiny-new-ideas-I-will-probably-never-write–which, as far as I’m concerned, is always a plus. So thank you endlessly to all who participated and followed along; it was tons of fun. (If you missed the chain, you can still see the list of participants and their posts here.)

 

Now, for June’s blog chain, the prompt is:

 

“What are your thoughts on book-to-movie adaptions? Would you one day want your book made into a movie, or probably not?”

 

This topic feels especially relevant because of the large number of “YA movies” that are releasing (or have already released) this year, and I know from talking to a lot of you that your opinions on book-to-movie adaptions vary wildly, the latter of which should hopefully make the chain all the more interesting.

 

As always, you’re welcome to approach this prompt however you like. You can discuss some book-to-movie adaptions you’ve liked or disliked in the past, you can talk about your thoughts on adaptions in general, or if you just want to do a review of a recent book-to-movie adaption (or talk about why you are excited about an upcoming one), that’d also be awesome! And for the second part of the prompt: we all know from seeing our favorite books in movie form that it’s unlikely Hollywood will completely capture the essence of a novel, as chunks of the story will always get lost of translation. So if given the opportunity to work with a film studio on adapting your book, would you risk it? Or would you be like Salinger and never let it happen? I’m curious to hear what you all think!

 

If you’re interested in participating in the blog chain, just comment below with a link to your blog and any days you can’t post on, and I’ll try to assign you a date as quickly as possible. (First-time visitors: you are completely welcome to join as well!) The final schedule for June’s chain will go up on our blog chain page on June 4th, so you have until then to sign up.

 

Thank you! You guys, as always, are amazing.

 

The Secret Life of a Teen Writer

I’ve always been a writer. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been putting my thoughts into stories in some way or another. At first, they were pretty obscure: epics of talking mice travelling to new worlds through da Vinci paintings, or tales of rebellious fruit who decide to wage war against their vegetable overlords. As I got older, those stories turned to novels (or at least half-written ones), and those novels into polished manuscripts. And yet, right from the beginning, I hated telling people about my writing.

My parents would ask me what I was working on, and I’d mumble out a vague answer and then turn in the other direction; my relatives, who my parents told all about my books, would ask when one would be published, and I’d just say something along the lines of it being “far away” and would try to change the subject; and my friends… well, I wouldn’t tell any of them that I write at all.

Even now that I have grown more experienced with the book world, have joined twitter, started my own blog, and so on, that hasn’t really changed. I’ve not only continued to avoid discussing my own writing in real life, but in a way I’ve also created this whole second world for myself, this super-secret online life. And maybe it’s because this makes people feel like spies, which is always a plus, but I’ve noticed from talking to other writers that this happens a lot. In fact, from what it sounds like, there are a number of us who write or blog “undercover,” who have over time created a second life for ourselves online.

And for the almost three years now that I’ve been active on the internet, I’ve been wondering why this is. On the surface, it seems like a pretty easy answer, right? I mean, it isn’t difficult to blame this whole “secret writing life” phenomenon on some level of introversion within us all. Or maybe, it seems, we’ve created this separate writing world because of societal pressure, because we are so afraid to be ourselves in public that we feel the need to hide our love for writing or something. And while there may be some truth in those theories, I personally have never really bought into either of them, because both imply that I am, on some level, ashamed of being a writer. When the fact is? For better or for worse,* I’m pretty damn proud of it.

So then… why? Why get involved with the writing and book and blogging communities, then work so hard to keep it a secret from people I know in the Real World? Why keep it to myself? What’s the point?

I’ve been thinking about this for a while, and here’s what I’ve decided:

It’s because sometimes we all need a way out.

It’s because we all need a way to express ourselves.

It’s because we all need an escape.

There is something truly freeing in the secrecy of a “second writing life,” in being able to have something that is just yours, something that you can come home to every day and, like a blank canvas, fill with your thoughts. Writing is a naturally freeing experience, but when you can write just for you, for you and a few weird people on the internet, the possibilities become endless. You don’t have to worry about anything; you just write. And for me, that is exactly why I keep my online life a secret: because it has become my outlet. Because it’s the safe place I can escape to whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed. Because it is a world full of like-minded people who make me feel a little less strange. But most of all, because this secret life is mine.

And that, to me, is the heart of it all. Having this life that I get to keep all to myself allows me a way out when I need one, gives me a world that really just makes sense to me. There is even something kind of meta about it all, like through this secret life I’m suddenly creating an entirely new story for myself, like I am the main character in the book I’m writing. And in that way, why I do this seems (to me) at least a little bit logical. I don’t make a second life because there is anything wrong with the first one; I make it because I need a way to make sense of the first one.

After all, at the end of the day, we all do need to take a step back. We all need a place where we feel safe, a medium through which everything becomes both a little clearer and a little more sane. It doesn’t mean we’re unhappy with our real lives or anything; it’s just necessity. Some people find this escape through gossip, through music, through sports. Some people find it by looking at art or writing troll-ish YouTube comments or staring at the stars with their next-door-neighbor. And me? I just happen to find it through books and writing.

It’s not introversion that has me keeping this secret–not really, anyway. It’s because my online life is the same as your private journal, or your favorite TV episode, or that best friend you stay up all night every night talking to. Or anything else–but chances are, you have something. Some secret, some place that is always a constant. Something that is yours.

Because we all have our secrets. And sometimes, that can be a very, very good thing.

 

(*By “worse,” I am of course referring to the day the FBI finally arrests me for my Google searches.)

May 2014 TCWT Blog Chain

I’m totally thrilled to announce that the blog chain is back–for real this time. After a long hiatus, it’ll once again happen every month, starting this May. (For those who are unfamiliar with what the blog chain is, you can read a brief explanation here.)

So let’s get right to it. The topic for May’s blog chain will be:

What kinds of published books would you like to see more of? 

This is inspired by the Twitter hashtag #RBWL (stands for Reader/Blogger Wishlist), which is basically a place for people to post about the kinds of plots/characters/themes/genres/etc they personally would like to see in more published books. So maybe someone wants to read a published book whose plot is like Hamlet meets Game of Thrones, or someone wants to have more YA historicals on the shelves, or someone else wants there to be more mute characters in literature. Anything fits; it’s all about whatever you wish there could more of. (You can find some examples of what I mean here or here.)

For the sake of this blog chain, you can be as vague or as specific (or, as serious or as random) as you like in your “wishlist.” It’s probably best if you could include more than one idea in your post, though, and it’s even better if you could organize them all into some sort of list. However, that’s certainly not a requirement; if you have a better idea, go for it! You have plenty of freedom with how to respond to this topic.

Hopefully, this will not only be a fun way to explore the different types of books you feel we need more of, but will also provide some writing inspiration for anyone who has been struggling with what to write next. (So in that vein, you may want to be careful about posting story ideas for books that you personally are writing.)

Let me know if you have any questions! Otherwise, to sign up, all you have to do is comment below with a link to your blog and any dates that don’t work for you (if applicable). And new people: you are always welcome to join, too!

(Sign-ups for this blog chain will end on May 3rd. On May 5th, the chain will begin.)

 

7 Popular TV Shows If They Were Made for a Publishing Audience

(So after nearly a year of infrequent posting, TCWT is finally back–for real this time! I’ve missed this blog, and I’ve missed you guys, and I’m really excited to be returning.

To give a quick update: I’ve spent the last two weeks updating old posts in preparation for this blog re-launch, organizing them into archives, and although not all of the posts are updated yet (I have yet to go over the critique partner posts, for example), those that are should hopefully prove to be at least a little bit helpful. We also have a new, cleaner blog design; our list of books by teen authors has more than doubled after I added to it last week; we now have, in that vein, a page for upcoming books written by teen authors (two are releasing from Big Five publishers this month alone, and one of those two has already sold movie rights!); and finally, yes, the blog chain is returning as a monthly occurrence as well. I’ll announce the topic for May’s chain in mid-April!)

***

So while watching most all of the writing/publishing/blogging community live-tweet the Game of Thrones premiere last night, I remembered Allegra Davis’s bookish reality TV show post from two years ago, and I thought, Well, what if Game of Thrones were remade for a writing/publishing audience? And from there, I starting imagining what it would be like if other popular TV shows were redone for book lovers… and then this post happened. I wish I could say it ended well. ;)

Breaking Books – After getting fired from his job and realizing he is broke, a high school librarian named Walter Write, desperate to make money to support him and his thirty cats, uses his knowledge of books to write and self-publish dinosaur erotica novels. He knows that what he’s doing is wrong, but he has no choice, and dinosaur erotica is a hot sell–pun intended. So hot, in fact, that the money quickly starts rolling in, and Write becomes famous in the underground dinorotica community for creating the finest dinosaur love stories out there (specifically, books involving his trademark blue pterodactyls). Soon, to increase his audience, Write begins working with a mysterious publisher named Gustavo who uses his small press as a front for dinorotica bookselling all across the world. And as the thousands of dollars turn to millions, Write tells himself that he’s merely trying to gather the funds to support his cats for the rest of their lives, but he soon realizes that, in fact, he isn’t: he’s doing it for him. Because, most shockingly of all, he likes writing dino love stories.

Game of Office Chairs – A drama following power-hungry editors from all across the publishing realm, who play an unending game of poaching each other’s authors, blackmailing publicists at other houses until they quit, and doing everything they can to propel their imprint to the top. Fans are still reeling from the shocking third season finale, which ended with the Red Merger, where two of the rival publishers attempted to merge–and their furious employees responded by drenching both buildings in red paint.

Sherlock: A BBC (Book Broadcasting Corporation) series about Sherlock Holmes, London’s best literary talent scout, who investigates books published throughout the web and, with the help of his partner Watson, analyzes the writing and decides whether those authors have what it takes to land a publishing contract. Unfortunately for Holmes, his rival, Moriarty, keeps finding undiscovered talent faster than he can.

Sleepy Hollow: This supernatural thriller takes place interchangeably between the Amazon-Big Five war of 2079 and two-hundred years after the fact when Bezos’ long-dead military commander Ichabod Crane comes back to life and mutant Kindles start terrorizing the town of Sleepy Hollow. The series revolves around Crane and a local small press owner as, through their attempts to save the town, they uncover one of the greatest conspiracies in all of publishing history

Mad Publicists: A group of corrupt publicists works to convince readers to buy books they know to be of poor quality. Famous for drinking and writing vicious reviews of competitors’ books while on the job, Don Draper, the show’s lead, is desperate to hide the numerous secrets from his own dark past–especially a lengthy vampire romance he self-published years back.

The Auth-Bachelor – A group of some of the most prolific literary agents in the industry, who have their own share of personal troubles and are in need of a new client to resolve them, compete to win the representation of an extremely talented, somehow-unpublished writer. As the writer’s initial queries lead to a partial-turned-full with each agent, the reality show teems with romantic one-on-ones. And even after the writer is forced to choose only one agent that he wants to be represented by, things happen fast; after all, one day the two meet, and the next they’re picking out a publishing house together!

The Walking Read - Set in a post-Amazocalyptic world hundreds of years after the fall of Amazon took the rest of the publishing industry with it, where authors everywhere have become so desperate to get their work published that they’ve resorted to attacking everyone they see until the people agree to read the tattered remains of those authors’ books (shameless self-promotion just got serious), a rag-tag team of former self-publishers has to fight their way through the desperate-author-riddled world and into New York City, the heart of the former publishing industry, in their attempts to save the writerly race.