Miscellaneous Memoranda

There’s an interesting article at Stacked by Kelly Jensen about ‘book packagers’ – that is, companies that come up with concepts for a book series (often targeting the Young Adult market), then hire writers to write the books. For example, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and The Luxe series were both products of the book packaging company, Alloy Entertainment. The article reports that authors are now starting up these sorts of businesses themselves. There was James Frey’s company, Full Fathom Five, which attracted a lot of the wrong sort of attention a couple of years ago when it was revealed how little he pays his writers (and the writers don’t even get their name on the cover of the book). Now Lauren Oliver and Lexa Hillyer have had commercial success with Paper Lantern Lit. I’ve read a couple of the books mentioned in the article, unaware that they were ‘book packaging’ products, and found them to be competently written but fairly bland and forgettable. Still, I’m not exactly the target market.

There’s also a fascinating post at Justine Larbalestier’s blog about the differences between YA and adult romance, and no, it’s not about how explicit the sex scenes are. I’m not sure I agree with all the assertions – for instance, is it really true that most adult romances are told from the perspective of both lovers, whereas YA is usually first person and a single point of view? However, I found the discussion really interesting, particularly the idea that eternal love and happily-ever-after endings rarely work well in YA novels.

Over at Kill Your Darlings, there’s an interview with Dianne Touchell, who ran into some problems at a literary festival because her YA novel, Creepy and Maud, was judged to be a bit too confronting by the festival organisers. Cue discussion of whether YA novels today are too dark and depressing . . .

There have also been a few (depressing) articles and posts lately about how difficult it is to earn a living as a professional writer. Tim Kreider at The New York Times reported how frequently he’s expected to write for no pay at all and Sherryl Clark wrote a post on her blog about acclaimed authors who have given up on writing altogether because they need to pay their bills. On the other hand, Paula Morris at New Zealand Books pronounced herself happy to be a part-time writer because there’s “something pathetic in the designation ‘full-time writer’ – it tries too hard, and manages to sound boastful and defensive at the same time”.

Finally, best of luck to all those doing NaNoWriMo this month. (I don’t think I could write 50,000 words of novel in a single month. Well, I could, but at least 40,000 of the words would be complete rubbish.) To encourage you in your endeavours, here’s a lovely giant squid:

Captain Nemo and the Giant Squid
Captain Nemo and the Giant Squid, from the 1870 French edition of ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea’ by Jules Verne. Illustration by Alphonse de Neuville and Edouard Riou.

4 thoughts on “Miscellaneous Memoranda”

  1. Thank you so much, Michelle, for your writing!

    I’ve just read the three Montmoray books in a week, which isn’t a speed often seen since my baby became an active toddler. They are MARVELLOUS and I am going to give copies to everyone I love.

    And I’ve spent the last half hour reading your delightful blog, too. Thanks so much!

  2. Goodness, can’t believe I misspelled Montmaray ON YOUR BLOG! Sorry about that.

    Well, I *can* believe it, because when I was writing about it on my blog today, despite being generally a boastfully excellent speller, I had to try spelling it three different ways and then double-check on your blog. It turns out it’s a bit like ‘broccoli’ and ‘graffiti’ which I rarely spell correctly the first time (and had to type very slowly just now).

    Anyway, sorry!

    Today I bought two copies of Brief History to give as presents, and decided it was my favourite book this year.

    Thanks again!

    1. That’s okay, everyone has problems spelling ‘Montmaray’. And then they put a ‘u’ in ‘FitzOsbornes’. It’s entirely my fault for making up difficult-to-spell names, but I’ve ensured that won’t happen in my new book – the main character’s last name is ‘Smith’.

      Thanks for the blog mention – and your four-word book summaries are so clever! Maybe if I could do that, this blog would be updated a bit more frequently. I have lots of thoughts but no time or energy at the moment to write some proper blog posts. I must do my Favourite Books of the Year post this week, though . . .

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