Tag: publishing industry

A selection of 2018's bestselling YA reads, including 'Children of Blood and Bone' and 'The Poet X'

YA Crisis: U.K. Faces Steep Decline in Demand for YA Books

YA is a massively polarizing genre, and, when faced with its possible decline, any avid reader is bound to have one of two drastically different reactions. One possible reaction is something along the lines of: Finally! Now I’ll never have to read about an entire world that somehow possesses the logic and nuance of a Buzzfeed zodiac quiz! The other is NO! 

If you’re in the first camp, consider what this sharp decline actually means: fewer children are reading.

 

Banner: "YA? Y Not?!"

Image vIA woMEN wRITE abOut coMICS

 

It’s no secret that childhood reading is extremely beneficial with significant academic and interpersonal perks: readers score higher on tests and have stronger interpersonal skills, including empathy and the ability to understand others. Delighted critics may rejoice the disappearance of YA’s infamous, highly-stylized dystopias and not understand the problem—that’s not what YA is. And the decline in British YA sales has had consequences beyond fewer possible blockbusters: children’s books are also underperforming in libraries. Experts warn that this decline—which comes in the wake of drastic budget cuts—may have lasting consequences on the reading habits of a generation.

To answer the question of why this is happening, let’s consider the matter of where this is happening. Though YA sales have been consistently strong in the U.S., sales have suffered in the U.K. specifically—2018 saw the lowest profits in eleven years. (To refresh your memory, that was the year before The Hunger Games‘ release changed the game for YA fiction.) To understand the crisis, it’s critical to understand the difference between the American and British market for YA books: there isn’t one. According to British YA authors, the U.K. market for children’s literature is oversaturated with American content.

In 2018, all of the U.K.’s top 5 bestselling YA novels were by American authors. Only one British writer even cracked the top 10: Michelle Magorian, author of Goodnight Mister Tom (which is a decades-old classic rather than a new release). Those across the industry are concerned about what this might mean for U.K. children… and what it already means for U.K. authors.

 

U.K. YA authors of queer fiction Lisa Williamson and Alice Oseman

Books by authors Lisa Williamson and Alice Oseman, u.k. Authors of LGBT+ YA fICTION
Image Via Pretty Books

 

Promotion is centered around these foreign books while advances for British authors remain dauntingly small—£1,000 for an entire novel. These prohibitively small payments will limit new authors struggling to break into publishing. U.K. authors have also reported that American books tend to receive the most promotion, making their marketing efforts far more successful. And it’s not just authors who aren’t seeing any income: the aforementioned library cuts have led to the termination of around 1,000 librarians and shrinking purchasing budgets for new material. Fewer librarians, fewer books, and fewer young readers.

There are factors besides the overwhelming American cultural influence, most notably, a misconception about what YA is. For starters—not a genre. YA Waterstones buyer Kate McHale stresses, “YA is an age category.” With big titles covering topics ranging from fantastic depictions of Nigerian myth (Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi) to a queer Muslim girl forced into an arranged marriage (The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan) it’s clear that YA is no longer all about who can write the hottest vampire kisses… if it ever actually was. YA is a territory of increasing diversity and a proven willingness to tackle difficult issues. The only thing these books have in common is that their protagonists are within a certain age range—the distinction of YA has nothing to do with the quality of the writing or the significance of the piece.

 

'The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali' and more diverse releases

Image Via SABINA kHAN tWITTER

 

Children’s book consultant Jake Hope believes that another factor in the decline may be the price of YA books. Though teenagers generally don’t have significant (or any) income, books for that audience cost the same as books for adults who (generally) have disposable income. While this may be true, it’s also true in countries throughout the world. The concern of U.K. children seeing adolescence primarily through an American cultural lens seems far more significant. Furthermore, U.K. authors of color have voiced concerns about their representation in the market. Of the U.K.’s 2018 YA authors, only 1.5% were people of color—as opposed to a more significant (if still slight)11% in the U.S.

 

Statistics on authors of color, showing an incredibly small percentage of UK authors of color.

Image Via Nikesh Shukla Twitter

 

Just how steep is this decline, anyway? Steep. Publishers report a 26% decrease in sales. And just how serious are the consequences? Experts believe this could “severely” affect literacy levels. The solution to this problem might remain unclear, but the problem is increasingly obvious.

 

Featured Image Via Bustle

 

Christiane Serruya's 'Royal Love'

Novelist Accused of Plagiarism Blames Ghostwriter

This year has been a wild one in terms of publishing scandals… and, of course, February isn’t even over yet. So far, we’ve got the Jill Abramson plagiarism scandal; the cancellation of a YA debut due to accusations of racist themes; and the cancer lies, urine cups, and possible plagiarism nightmare in the whirlwind of Dan Mallory’s well-documented B.S. Just before the month comes to an end, we’ve got another scandal for you—plagiarism allegations against bestselling romance novelist Christiane Serruya. Fans might’ve fallen in love with her books, but they’re not head-over-heels for her behavior.

 

Christiane Serruya Goodreads List

Image Via Goodreads

 

Christiane Serruya may have written the Trust trilogy, but she doesn’t exactly seem to be trustworthy. Fans of Courtney Milan‘s The Duchess War alerted the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author to similarities between her novel and Serruya’s newest release. Sorry, did I say similarities? I meant that these passages are so similar they look like a children’s spot-the-difference game—is it the comma hiding in the background? Is it the slightly different word order? Take a look at the plagiarized passages and see for yourself why Milan’s next war won’t be fictional:

 

Milan: “Her nostrils flared; he almost thought she might stamp her foot and paw the ground, like an angry bull.”

Serruya: “Her nostrils flared; he almost thought she might stamp her foot and paw the ground, like the bull that had attacked Siobhan.”

Milan: “‘If you’re any good in bed, I might fall in love with you. If that is going to be anathema …’ ‘No,’ he said swiftly. He looked away from her, and when he spoke again, there was a slight rasp to his words. ‘No. That would be perfectly … unobjectionable.”

Serruya: “She stared back, both fascinated and appalled. ‘And if I fall in love with you? Is it going to be anathema?’ ‘No,’ he said swiftly, and looked away from her. There was a slight rasp to his words, when he faced her again. ‘No. That would be perfectly … unobjectionable.’”

 

Courtney Milan with novel, 'The Duchess War'

Image Via San Diego Tribune

 

Milan has made her official statement on the situation—and it’s mostly (and understandably) an expression of anger:

I have not listed all of the similarities because, quite frankly, it is stomach-churning to read what someone else has done to butcher a story that I wrote with my whole heart … I wrote The Duchess War in the midst of a massive depressive spell and I bled for every word that I put on the page. But you know what? Cristiane Serruya has to be the biggest idiot out there. I’ve sold several hundred thousand copies of this book. I’ve given away several hundred thousand copies on top of that. Does she think that readers are never going to notice her blatant plagiarism?

As for Serruya’s own, original work, Milan dug deep: “no wonder you’re copying other authors, girl.” Yikes!

Serruya might have been a royal pain for Milan, but at least her response has been more appropriate than her actions. Immediately after the allegations went viral, Serruya pulled Royal Love from sale. Though she offered an apology, she also gave an excuse: according to Serruya, the ghostwriter she hired is responsible for the plagiarism.

 

Christiane Serruya, author under plagiarism allegations

Image Via Writers and Authors

 

Ghostwriters are legal and somewhat commonplace, particularly when it comes to bestsellers. World’s wealthiest author James Patterson has a whole team of ghostwriters (so, a team of Christmas elves who only talk about murder) to maintain his prolific output. Many celebrities use ghostwriters for their own memoirs as, let’s get real, it’s rare to be famous and a talented writer at the same time. While famous writers don’t need to be talented (which we can all agree on unless your Fifty Shades of Grey opinions are particularly intense) we can assume the combination is an unlikely one. Some fans may not be pleased with this explanation: ‘don’t worry that I didn’t write the book; it’s just that I didn’t write the book.’ But the explanation is logical, if not entirely satisfying.

Serruya called the allegations “distressing,” resolving to pull the book “until [she has] made certain this is solved.”

 

Featured Image Via New in Books