Thursday, April 19, 2012

Believing in second chances

I've been thinking about second chances lately (and third chances and fifths and tenths...). In my recent post "Differentiating the US and UK children's book markets," I pointed out how the UK has more established children's authors, whereas the US market is endlessly fascinated with debuts, the next hot things. But I see that as a market driven trend, and it wouldn't surprise me if the UK follows suit in the coming years.

A recent Guardian article about Suzanne Collins trumpeted that The Hunger Games was her debut novel (embarrassingly, a month later, this error is still online). By my count, The Hunger Games is Collins' sixth published novel (my former middle school students loved her Gregor the Overlander series).

It took me a while to figure out why the Guardian's error so enraged me. Admittedly, I'm a bit of a snob, so journalists getting basic facts wrong usually sets me off. But it was more than that. It was the assumption that Collins was an up and coming hot thing that upset me.

We live in a society fixated on the next hot things, the out of no where sensations like Stephenie Meyer, J. K. Rowling, and Mark Zuckerberg. But just as many amazing stories and innovations come from experience--if not more!

A recent blog post by the next hot thing, Robin LaFevers (author of Grave Mercy, which I raved about on Tuesday), also spoke of second chances. You see, Grave Mercy isn't LaFevers' debut novel. It's her, uh... 15th? She mentions a few other recent hot authors like Laini Taylor (Daughter of Smoke and Bone is her fifth novel) and Jennifer Nielsen (The False Prince is her fourth novel). Seriously, check it out, it's a wonderfully smart, inspiring post!

It's encouraging to think this industry may not be as focused on the next hot thing as it seems. Now if only we could figure out how to celebrate experience a bit more.

10 comments:

  1. Agree times ten.
    Part of the fascination with J. K. Rowling is her personal 'Cinderella story.' I hear about this from plenty of adults who never read any of the HP books. They're interested in the 'author's story.'
    Marketing and great writing are not the same thing. They sometimes overlap, but often remain separate species. As someone who is marketing-challenged, I give respect to all who have this in them and do it well. But it is not to be confused with an artist’s blossoming and maturation.

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    1. Thanks, Mirka. It's like the Olympics, isn't it? It's ceased to be about incredibly gifted and dedicated athletes, but how tear-jerking their personal stories are. It always surprises me how obsessed people get with this type of thing, but I guess it's human nature.

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  2. I think you may be right about finding the "next hot thing". It seems the "overnight sensation" is part of the publicity.

    Thanks for the LaFevers link. Love this author. :)

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    1. I was so glad to stumble onto that post from LaFevers, and very happy to share! I'm actually in the middle of reading her first Theodosia book right now!

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  3. I agree. I believe some people latch onto the hot, new thing label. I get excited about debuts, but I also am overjoyed when I read the same author time and time again, enjoying their writing from beginning to present while noticing that with experience there's growth. For example, I've always liked Lisa McMann's writing, but I've been wowed by her last two YA novels. She's also writing MG and switching genres. That's experience for you.

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    1. Yes, that is wonderful, seeing an author growing and changing, and so exciting as a reader to follow that journey.

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  4. Great post, Anne. Like your comment about the Olympics, the personal story becomes "the" story. (e.g., Dara Torres)

    I love to grow with a writer through their books over time. ELizabeth George is one of my favorite examples. "Our" conversation just get richer and more challenging.

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    1. Thanks, Bridgette. And so true about those special authors who we follow through all their books. Though I must say, I haven't read any Elizabeth George, so must check her out!

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  5. Great post, Anne. I'm off to follow your links. . .

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