How J.K. Rowling changed the world! It’s all about timing.

Since writing about best sellers and what they might and might not have in common I’ve been thinking about the timing of books and how it might influence their success.

But before that, let me just mention that this week 9-16th Febuary (2018) there is a ARC giveaway over on Goodreads for my book BOUND TO YOU.  Check it out and maybe you’ll get a chance to read it before everyone else!

Back to the blog post

Let’s go back to the good old 90s. Back before YA was so huge,  e-books hadn’t been invented and this was how we watched TV.

Okay, maybe the TV had been around for a while but still, it was a very dark time. Because Harry Potter had not yet arrived to make our lives awesome. In fact, I still remember back before I started waiting for my Hogwarts acceptance letter (which I’m still waiting for. Clearly someone in admissions screwed up big time.)

Anyway.

Harry Potter came along, beautifully and funnily written with a strong and clear plot. It was the start of the young adult genre, of children and teen lit that was more than it had been.

But, remember how Rowling got rejected a whole bunch of times before someone finally took a chance on her?

(Well maybe you don’t, because who likes to tell that story, but that’s what happened.)

My theory is that Potter came along at the right time, just exactly the right time for that big middle grade / young adult book revolution the world was ready for. One of the people she sent it to realized as much and the rest is history!

Point is, she started it – because Harry Potter an amazing story, it’s well written, plotted and it was just what kids and their parents were hoping for. Waiting for. Dreaming of.

If it hadn’t been as amazing as it is, it wouldn’t have hit so big and remain on the best selling charts over twenty-years later. Maybe it would have slowed down

How JK Rowling changed the world

Pin me!

the YA revolution and all the books that have come after it would have been different. Maybe some of them wouldn’t even have come out.

So did Rowling start the young adult book revolution or was it the timing? Would some other book that we now don’t even remember have come along and taken her place if she hadn’t finished the first Harry Potter book? Or did she start everything? Did the world change because of her?

A combination of these?

Or am I just a crazed Harry Potter fan, trying to give credit for something totally unrelated to one of my favorite book series?

I don’t know. But I do believe that timing at least had partly to do with Harry Potter is one of the most famous characters in the world. The book is brilliant, but would the world have gone for it a decade earlier? We can’t know, but it’s interesting to speculate.

Moving on to the next YA book that hit big.

Twilight

I’d like to say Twilight is both a response to Harry Potter and a reaction to the scary modern world. Arriving as we all became more aware of general creepy dudes able to pray on young girls via the internet / social media + increases in terror and school shooting Bella’s protectors aren’t just big and strong human guys. One is an unkillable vampire and the other a werewolf. They both want to protect her and would die to do so.

In a world full of a lot of scary shit, I think part of the appeal of Twilight might have been the idea that the magic (which was feared just a generation or two ago) would be used to protect us from the normal ordinary dangers that suddenly felt so much more…well, dangerous. Bella was the perfect reader insert and despite the scary situations Bella ends up in / gets herself into, she is always saved by one of her boyfriends or one of the vamps.

Following on this came books like The Hunger Games and Divergent – where the girl can kick ass on her own and Percy Jackson where the main character is part god. (Also books like Vampire Academy and Mortal Instruments fits in with this genre, where the hero discovers he/she is something more).

Are the reader for these books the same as the ones who loved Twilight? The girls who got tired of reading about Bella being in distress? Or is it the next generation, boys and girls born a few years later?

Adults?

(Fun fact: 70% of YA and teen books are purchased by adults (18-64), so even if some of these are parents, quite a few buyers of YA are reading the books themselves.)

I think sometime during the early 00s YA books became something different. They became normal books with teenage protagonists.

Yeah, for those of us who have mostly read books published post 2005-ish, it’s kind of hard to think back to before that. Maybe we didn’t even read YA books before that (I didn’t since I’d just about become a teenager then) and so it’s hard to understand but for a really long time books for kids and teenagers were more about teaching, scaring, warning, dictating to kids.

Now, this started back during like the early days (we’re talking a few hundred years) when books first and reading start becoming a thing. Books, for both adults and teens alike, were used more as learning tools than for enjoyment. Even books that seemed to be fun and fiction often had some sort of message – such as listen to your parents, girls play with dolls, boys pull pranks and such.

Just like fairytales back in the day, this was just how it was. You had a message and you made sure the book or story made it clear to everyone what it was so it could help them do what you thought was right.

For adult books, this was phased out more and more (even if some people still write with a very clear message in mind, be it about the evils of communism, the greatness of faith or to make us aware of increasing social classes) but for kids and teen books, that teaching tone stayed for a long time.

Just ask your parents, or check out your grandma’s attic and read some of those books. Maybe you’ve read Narnia or seen the movie? There is some very clear Chosen One, Judas, Son of God symbolism going on there. Or Tom Sawyer? Or Robinson Cruzo (which was a children’s book to start with). There is often some moral or lesson to be learned. Even when there isn’t, the tone for children and young adult books, used to be very different.

But it’s not anymore.

Young adult books are just books with heroes that happen to be teenagers. There are genres (for a long time children’s books were either red/ blue or sorted into a few simple stacks by a few different, often gender-based criteria. Like SF/Fantasy + Cowboys for boys and Horses + High School for girls.)

These days there are YA books in every genre: crime, romance, mystery, horror, fantasy, drama, science fiction, dystopias and HBTQ and more. Any kind you like. The only difference is often a happier ending, less death and violence (maybe excluding the Hunger Games!) and younger characters, compared to adult novels.

So it’s no wonder adults are reading these books (because who doesn’t like a happy ending?) because these days they are just books. Often with really fun/ interesting concepts and way more straightforward than some adult novels.

It’s not just about the age or teaching a lesson. Everyone can suddenly pick one of these books up to read and enjoy it. So it becomes about the idea, the society we live in and yes, the timing. All those things influence the success of a novel.

So Twilight, the Mortal Instruments and The Hunger Game are books for everyone – not just teens. So it’s not just the social group we define as young adults we need to look at to maybe see why timing has been part of why these books have become successes.

Twilight might have partly become such a hit because it gave a sense of protection from the scary world – using what once was scary monsters to do so.

The Hunger Games maybe gave us a reflection of our world, for while we don’t kill our classmates or co-workers, sometimes both school and work feel like a fight. Right? It’s a struggle. Only the best ones get that scholarship, that promotion. In a world of dwindling resources and more competitive work environments, and government and politicians that don’t keep their word, is it no wonder a book like The Hunger Game became a hit? We’re all a bit disillusioned and we watch more reality TV than any other generation…

Following along this vein are all the half vampire, half-god, half-angle books. When we’re competing for everything, it’s comforting to know you got an ace up your sleeve. This also ties in with Twilight ‘the world is scary’. Only in these books the characters know why the world is scary and dark – and are part of fighting it. Divergent combines this with every teen (and adult too) hatred for being labeled, by having the main character be ‘divergent’ and unable to be labeled as one specific thing.

Not quite a young adult we also got the very successful super bestseller Fifty Shades of Gray, which is similar to Twilight (which make sense since it was a Twilight fanfiction) in many ways. Here you have Anna being “protected” by Christian – who might not be a vampire or werewolf – but he does have a boat load of money. And that’s almost as good. Even if the price for being with him comes with kinky sex the heroine isn’t to keen on, she ends up being willing to pay that. For love, sure. But also part of the safety and wealth he offers I imagine (I can’t say for sure as I only read book one of this series.) I’m sure no one says as much in the book or if they did Anna would probably deny it, but for a lot of people reading Christian Grey’s wealth is part of why he can act the way he does and why a woman might let him.

In a lot of ways I think 50 Shades (and many other similar that flooded the market after its success) can be seen as exploration and a sort of modern-day fairy tale? A dark one, for sure, where the princess chooses to be a willing captive.

Or is it a disillusionment – the new fairy tales often feel darker (thinking of the upswing in live action fairytale movies in the early 10s). Maybe we’ve lost our belief in them, or at least original Disney versions? Or maybe this isn’t really dark, maybe this is the new fairy tale? A reflection how we want the good old days but with new twists?

I don’t know.

Maybe all the darker stories from the Hunger Games to Fifty Shades to Maze Runner and even The Fault In Our Stars or Thirteen Reason Why is reflecting, perhaps, a new generations view of the world. A world now full of things we fear; poverty, sickness and terror. A future where things have gone downhill to the point where we let children kill each other on live television?

That’s a depressing thought.

I for one hope this isn’t the case, and I don’t really think it is. Society goes through phases and so does genre popularity. For a while, there was vampires, werewolves, gods. Then there was dystopias and re-makes of fairytales. Are we still in the dystopia phase? I don’t know. What comes next? I don’t know.

But probably something. Maybe the thing that gets the timing right. The thing we’re all hoping for, hungering for, even though we don’t know it. And here timing is key I think. You can write a great book but unless the world is ready for it (or perhaps if they’ve had enough of books like it) it won’t be successful. Or not as successful. And even if you write a book that is slightly above mediocre – a book with a theme or new idea that the world wants or become fascinated with can become the next big thing.

So…

It means, think a little about what you’re writing. Has it been done a thousand times before? If so, how do give it a new twist? Meyer made her vampires sparkle (and she made the “vegetarians”) that was new. Collins had her death matches be televised (believe it or not she wasn’t the first to ever write about kids killing each other as part of a government conspiracy.)

Sometimes all you need is a twist on something old and that makes it totally new. Totally relevant. Because that’s the big thing here. The timing, well, it’s just an extension of relevance.

What are problems that are relevant to you, today? The people around you? If those people are teens – that’s great, but often problems and moods are bigger than just one age group. So be aware of the world around you. The problems and struggles. And see if there is some way to corporate them into your book.

Happy writing!

Did you enjoy this post? Here are some others that might interest you.

All Best Selling Book Series Have This In Common

Mary Sue – Who Is She and Why She’s Bad News For Your Story

Inside the head of a boy…(How to write from a guy’s POV)

Writing Promt

Advertisements

Inside the head of a boy…(How to write from a guy’s POV)

Writing from a guy’s POV is something I find kind of hard. It’s interesting but it also requires some different things than writing from a girl’s POV. Since I am a girl, girly things come easier to me and I tend to prefer writing from a female character’s POV for most of the story. But sometimes you need to write from a guy’s point of view and to make things easier for all the gals trying to write like a guy – I put together a list of things I found helpful to think about when writing a male character when you’re just starting out.

how to write

Pin me

This is from reading male authors, talking to some guy friends and reading about writing guys as a girl. There are apparently a few things guys do differently than women – these are not fact or anything just some things that seem to be true and help me.

Things to think about when writing from a guy’s POV

1) Gossip is stupid. At least the way girls gossip. Boys will, of course, talk about people but often it’s more direct perhaps than how girls do it (I think we tend to be sneakier and repeat things over and over).

This, of course, depends a lot on where you set your story. In high school, everyone gossips; who is dating who, who has the coolest new haircut, who got a nose job. Also, guys find a different kind of gossip interesting. Sports, who has a ‘gay’ shirt and other topics that are key in their lives (could be an art contest or Taylor Swift concert, it just depends on your character) is of course important. This applies for all characters, we don’t gossip about things that we don’t find interesting or might somehow influence us.

2) Can only “do” one thing at once. This is something I’ve heard a lot about and I’ve noticed in my guy friends. It’s not that they can’t do more than one thing it’s that they like it. Like if there is a problem they want to fix it before doing something else and once they have a plan to do it, go for it. I feel like me and my girl friends tend to spend more time thinking of different ways to fix before actually doing it than my guy friends.

Which I think this is important when writing. As a woman and writing female characters I tend to skip around in their thoughts. So when writing guys I try to focus on one idea or thought or plan get full focus and then move on, rather than run a whole bunch of plans at once. I feel like this makes the character’s POV different from the female one. So while it might not be how all guys work, it’s a good way to separate the internal voices of your characters.

3) More visual. Guys are often about things they can see rather than things they can feel, at least at first. Also, a lot of studies show boys think about sex between two and three times more often than girls, so maybe keep that in mind (this does not mean all guys go around just thinking about sex all the time but when writing a male character adding them noticing something sexy about their love interest licking her lips – yes, I’m looking at you Mr. Gray – might be good.)  But this also applies to other aspects of your male characters, I find some male authors often repeat descriptions of things they like (which could just as well be his car or new sneakers as his love interest) so that could also be something to try.

What Do Guys Do?

1) They do things: Unlike girls who like to talk about what we’re going to do guys actually do things! 😛 At least that was how it always was in older books, “the passive woman” and “the active man”. There is however still a lot of this still around and in some instances, it might be worth being aware of. If you want to play the trope straight or try to subvert it is up to you.

A lot of the time, though, guys tend to “go for it” when they have an idea more than girls. Especially as teens, men can be a bit more rash which can be seen in the stats on how many more accidents teen boys are in compared to girls.

Not that there aren’t active and action focused characters that are girls and more thoughtful planers that are guys. That works and the other way around is cool too. This has a lot to do with a character’s personality and who the main character is. If your main character and POV is a girl, she needs to be the one who gets them out of trouble. She needs to take action on her own, she can’t be ‘saved’ by the male character/ hero/love interest at the end.

2) Don’t talk around things, this is another stereotypical thing but most of the time guys are a little blunter. If they don’t want to do something they just say “That sounds boring. I don’t want to do it.” while most girls go “yeah sure that’s a pretty nice idea but maybe we could do this other thing instead.” Your male character might be shy or timid and not want to offend the character he’s talking to but if that’s the case he’ll probably just shut up and go along with it. No matter how boring he thinks it sounds, rather than talk his way around it. This will, of course, differ depending on who your character is around, but overall, guys tend to have “learned” they don’t need to apologize as much for their opinions as girls.

3) Do care about their hair and clothes. This one might be obvious but I’ve seen some stories on Wattpad that makes me think it’s not. Even if you are a guy (or writing from the POV of one) you’re not going to be like “I picked up whatever was on the floor and didn’t brush my hair or teeth before leaving the house” unless your character is a complete slob. Your guy character might not pick up a pair of jeans and go “wow my butt would look so great in these” but they probably have favorite clothes they think make them look more muscular, thinner or taller too. Don’t go overboard but remember it’s not just girls that want to look hot!

Now, this is very general. Not all guys are this way – because we are all people before we’re men/women. I think what’s really most important to remember when writing male (or female character for men) is that all your characters are human (well unless they’re werewolves or wizard but you get my point). I really like what G.G.R. Martin said about writing women “You know, I’ve always considered women to be people.” I think that’s one of the key aspects of writing a character, be it a he or a she, is that s/he is an individual with dreams, desires and inner demons. So when you’re having trouble with writing a male character just remember, we’re more similar than we’re different; so focus on the character as an individual and you’ll do just fine!

Did you enjoy this post? Here are some others that might interest you.

How J.K. Rowling changed the world! It’s all about timing.

All Best Selling Book Series Have This In Common

Mary Sue – Who Is She and Why She’s Bad News For Your Story

Writing Promt 4

ARC copies + Preorder Time!

I’ve been trying to write up this little post since I got my books a few weeks back! Well my ARC copies – Advance Reader Copies! But at first I was just so excited and then once that lessened a bit I wasn’t quite able to put the excitement down on ‘paper’, so to speak.

The book is so pretty and it’s so weird to have an actual book. It’s been so long in the making it’s almost hard to believe. After all the editing and re-writing and just general stuff that takes way longer than one would think – it’s an actual book! And this isn’t even the hard cover  which I’m thinking is going to be even more awesome!

Here are some photos of the books! Just because!Bound To You Cover

Bound To You Cover

Bound To You Cover

Bound To You -
Bound To You - Dedication

Bound To You Back

Bound To You Cover

Don’t you just love them? They’re even prettier for reals neither my camera nor my photographing skills really dosen’t do them justice!

Can’t wait for April 10th!

If you want to pre-order a copy (or two, books make great gifts) you can do that at any of these retailers!
Amazon
BAM
Powell’s
Indiebound
Ebooks
Google Books
Apple iTunes
Kobo

I’m Swooning…

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a few weeks but life has been busy and I haven’t had much time for reading, writing or blogging (which let’s be honest I’m not even good at when I have the time). Anyway, some people might know this from Wattpad or Twiter but for the rest of you I got news: THE HARD MATE (read it here or here) is being published by Swoon Reads! YAY! Super awesomeness!

So you want the story? Well it all started a long time ago when I wrote the book and got a lot of amazing comments and support from everyone over at Wattpad. Then about a year ago I found the Swoon Reads page and decided to give it a try and posted my manuscript there. Then a little ways back I got some emails from Swoon Reads and at first I was just like “whatever, they’re just verifying stuff” and then they wanted to video chat with me. At this point I was like getting excited, I was like “Mom, some publishing people might really like my book, cool huh?” but I didn’t think I was actually that big of a chance. Video chat conference – which was a bit scary at first – goes on for like TEN minutes and they’re talking about the contract and how much they like my book and I go “You mean you really want to buy my book?” and they go “YES”! Then I spent like most of the video chat being overwhelmed but super happy. That was September. Since then I’ve filled out a lot of papers (and discovered tax forms are no fun), talked about the editing process, shared some of my ideas for changes, they’ve shared some of theirs and so on.

I also got a bunch of Swoon Reads books in the mail last week, which on it’s own is enough to make a book lover like me Swoon!


12178101_942692789135314_1564719863_n

Welcome to the Swoon Reads family!! Awww!

12179211_942693009135292_1564246012_n

The books are:

Velvet by Temple West

The Boy Next Door by Katie van Ark

A Little Something Different by Sandy Hall

Love, Fortunes and other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius

Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things to Mend by Katie Fin

They all seem awesome. I’ve already finished Velvet and The Boy Next Door and I’m going to try to review them here before I read the others (when I do I will link them to this post). Next up I’m thinking Love, Fortunes and other Disasters but we’ll see.

Anyway, safe to say I’m super excited. Soon my of my school stuff will be done for the semester and during NaNoWriMo I plan on writing at least the 50,000 and maybe more (I broke my record and wrote 10,000 words in one day last week). I still can’t quite believe I’m getting PUBLISHED, even though it’s been two months! I guess it might feel real when I actually hold my book in my hands!

Before I forget; I want to thank the people that voted The Hard Mate and me, both on Wattpad and over on Swoon Reads! If it wasn’t for all of you guys the book might never have been finished or been about to be published. So lots of thanks and hugs from me to all of you!

Swoonread article!

Book on Swoo Read

On Wattpad

%d bloggers like this: