Say it ain’t so! Arthur Levine, of Harry Potter and His Dark Materials fame, is leaving Scholastic? Arthur A. Levine, the man who brought Harry Potter to the US of A, an early champion of Phillip Pullman’s fantastic first His Dark Material novel The Golden Compass, the dude who Benzinga claims has an imprint backlist “which has produced more than three hundred works of hardcover literary fiction, picture books, and nonfiction for children and teenagers”, my main man, is now leaving Scholastic.
“I’ve had a wonderful run at Scholastic and will greatly miss working here. There are such strengths and so many gifted individuals. But I’m excited to found a company led by a mission to make books reflecting the greatest diversity and the highest standards of artistic excellence.”
I already hear you asking – what’s the name of this new company? We don’t know – it’s unannounced.
As for your second question – the goal of this new company? – the answer is…
They plan to give a voice to a wide range of new authors, putting focus on having “a mix of 75% minority creators, including people of color, indigenous people, and LGBTQ individuals”.
So there is hope. A lot of it actually!
So while J. K. Rowling goes off and makes three more Fantastic Beasts movies, Arthur Levine, the man who brought Harry Potter to the US of A, my main dude, is now dedicating his time in helping minority authors get their voice heard by the public.
Happy birthday Internet! Today the Internet turns thirty-years-old. It’s been a long thirty years. In fact, I barely a remember a time before the Internet, but I’m only twenty-two.
In a nutshell, the Internet has done a lot for us. Some good, some bad, but mostly it gave us neutral tools that we, as a collective, outright abused. So thank you, Internet for these 10 things you gave us!
10. It’s easier to buy books
Can you image going outside of your house and looking for a book, traversing through dark and shady bookstores, digging in trashcans looking for that one book? Well not anymore! Thanks to various sites, and the websites belonging to independent bookstores, we can now just simply type in the name of the book and find the best deal available!
Or, on the flip side, we can spend hours on the internet looking through every book in existence for the book that just catches our eyes.
Support indie bookstores though. For real.
The only issue is having to wait to get the book. No more grabbing the book and leaving. Nope! Our primary mode of buying contains a lot of waiting.
9. Easier to sell books
I got these piles of books and I want to get rid of them. Do I throw them out? Nah, I need some cash to buy some other books, and maybe pay off my student loans. What to do, what to do?
Well, thanks to the internet I can go online and sell the books. Millions of people just like me are looking to buy books and I might have what they’re looking for! And the odds are higher than when before the internet was around, given those millions of people I mentioned before.
Have you written a book and you can’t just wait for the public to read it? Having trouble finding an agent or publisher? Well, self-publishing might be for you.
You have more creative control and, according to Editage, “Traditionally published books have a limited shelf life in the bookstore and are periodically removed to make way for newly published books. Self-published books, on the other hand, are always available in online bookstores and can be discovered and purchased months and years after the book is published.”
The cons? The bookstore’s won’t see your book unless you get traditionally published, but at least they will always be in the online store! Plus, you get immediate statistics on who bought your book.
But be wary: There are a lot of scams out there. As with everywhere on the internet.
7. Traditional Publishing
There are a lot of working parts to make a book a reality. The writer has to maintain contact with their agent, their cover designer, their editors. All these moving parts, and no easy way to stay in contact.
Not anymore. Thanks to the internet, you can just email all these people.
Haven’t been published but have a ready manuscript? Then you have to pitch your book. Back in the day writers sent out letters:
No longer. Well it’s an option, but why not just email them? It’s quick, easy, and costs nothing.
In 2012 The Pew Research Center found that in February that 21% of adults in America were reading from an e-readers.
And why wouldn’t they? E-readers take up a lot less space than books, you can fit them all on your tablet, and many more books are available at the tip of your finger. As long as your tablet is charged, then you have not only one book for your commute, but an entire library.
Imagine if you had to carry your entire library with you?
It would only be better if the books actually read themselves to you. Oh wait…
You can buy a book and a celebrity will read it to you! It’s like when you were a kid and you had a bedtime story, except this time you’ve never met this person! Plus, all these listenable books are ready with only a touch. You can fit as many as you like in your phone, so no “My house is filled with all these gigantic books” problems.
Now when you go to the gym, you can have earbuds and listen to your books.
Isn’t that great? And going off the “I’m at the gym working out and I’m reading” motif, you can read and do many other things. Multitasking for the win. Complex has you covered with a top 10 list of books you can listen to while driving.
The Times even found that “[commuters who may not have picked up a paperback since leaving university are increasingly listening to audiobooks on the way to work as it is seen as more relaxing than reading.”
The best part? All these listenable books are ready with only a touch. According to National Public Radio, “Now they’re a $1 billion industry with more than 35,000 titles published in 2013 alone.”
Unless you bought a book and it doesn’t have an audio book. Then you’re stuck to doing things the old fashioned way, like a peasant.
Why stop at listening to someone reading a book when you can listen to people talk about books. Podcasts have you covered.
Here The Guardian lists ten (Ten!) places where you can listen to your book talk. Reviews, discussions, podcasts have them all.
It’s the largest site for readers. Need to know how far you are in your current book? Goodreads give you a percentage. Need to know how long you’ve been reading Game of Thrones?
Goodreads gives you the date you started. Need a book recommendation? Need to see what your friends are reading? Goodreads is the Facebook for book readers. Thank you Internet.
2. Fan Fiction
Now you can share your Harry Potter fan-fiction and you can read other people’s Lord of the Rings fan-fiction. You can flex your creative muscles, to stain those the calves of those sentences, to tighten those wordy hamstrings, training you to become the new generation of writers.
Plus you can change the ending to Game of Thrones if you don’t like it. (You might not like it.)What could be better?
The Best Thing Ever
Are you ready?
Be warned, this is by far the best thing the Internet has ever given us….
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.
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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.
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 Boneby Tomi Adeyemi) to a queer Muslim girl forced into an arranged marriage (The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Aliby 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.
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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.
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.
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.
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 Waralerted 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.’”
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.
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 Greyopinions 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.”
If you missed our earlier article on Mallory’s cancer lies, click the link or continue for a summary of the horrifying details. The thriller author’s recent notoriety should have been more fatal to his career than the cancer he falsely claimed to have. Instead, there have been few professional repercussions-a plot twist many attribute to Mallory’s race (white) and gender (male). Behaviors that may have doomed another writer or editor’s career-speaking in a fake British accent, allegedly leaving cups of urine around the office, pretending to have two PhDs while having exactly zero PhDs-seem benign when considering the big, ugly lies. Mallory did not have terminal cancer; his mother did not have terminal cancer; his father was not dead; his brother did not kill himself. The bigger, uglier truth, is that these falsehoods are unlikely to slow the sales of this runaway bestseller.
Mallory’s second novel is in the works. His publisher, William Morrow, has shown continued support.
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To those just jumping in on the Dan-Mallory-is-a-liar bandwagon, you may be wondering, “could any of it really be true?” Bluntly, no. In an official apology (if that’s what his evasive statement actually was), Mallory admitted to his never having cancer. While he claimed his lies about a physical illness were to conceal his bipolar II diagnosis, psychology professionals say that the disorder would not cause organized, deliberate deception over an extended period of time. This was not an offhanded lie-Mallory impersonated his brother in emails, describing his (Mallory’s) own devastating wit and inspiring bravery in the face of terminal illness. Yikes. Also, all of his family members are distinctly not dead. So there’s that.
Unfortunately for everyone but Dan Mallory (and his loyal publisher), the novel was an instant #1 bestseller, the first debut to top the charts in eleven years. The resounding success of The Woman in the Window is no joke and no lie-but the novel itself may also have its basis in deception.
Image Via Sarah Denzil
A recent New York Times article has drawn comparisons between The Woman in the Window and Saving April, a 2016 bestseller from British author Sarah A. Denzil. If you don’t mind mild spoilers, let’s take a look at the similarities in a tidy, damning list form.
Both novels include the following:
Anxious, middle-aged female protagonists… One named Hannah, one named Anna…
…who discover something awful when spying through a window.
They discover something awful about their neighbors, who…
are an unhappily married couple and their troubled adopted child.
The troubled adopted child has a birth mother with substance abuse issues.
The protagonists are wracked with guilt over their past car crashes…
…which killed their husbands and young daughters…
all because they were distracted during a fight about their husband’s infidelity.
Unreliable narrators whose use of alcohol leads police not to trust them.
The same exact final plot twist.
“It is the EXACT same plot like down to the main characters’ back story,” reads an Amazon review comparing the two eerily similar novels. “Sorry but there’s no way the amount of stolen material is a coincidence.”
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While it’s true that many crime novels share similar attributes, the timeline is also suspicious. Denzil’s novel hit shelves in early 2016; Mallory didn’t sell his novel until autumn of the same year. Mallory claims to have written his own thriller during summer 2015. Since he also claimed every member of his family was dead, his statement seems impossible to unilaterally believe. The Times article reports that Denzil has spoken out about her discomfort with the similarities-specifically, regret that some online reviewers believe Mallory’s book was the original. (It wasn’t.) Readers and writers across the Internet are asking the same question: is the book plagiarized?
Here’s a question with a more upsetting answer: if it is, will it matter?
The most effective accusations of plagiarism come when an author has copied another’s specific language or phrasing. Theft of creative intellectual property (plot points, characters) is much harder to prove-particularly in cases of genre fiction, where beloved tropes abound. As a result, most authors choose not to pursue legal action.
One such rare lawsuit occurred recently between fantasy authors Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark-Hunter books) and Cassandra Clare (Shadowhunters franchise). The series are similar in the broadest sense: both feature demon-fighting characters who protect the ordinary world, ordinary objects imbued with magical powers, and swords with names. Though Kenyon’s claims were dubious, this particular case illuminates the problem of intellectual property suits.
Image Via Cassandra Clare
Sherrilyn Kenyon didn’t invent glowing swords, and Sarah A. Denzil didn’t invent unreliable female narrators. But Dan Mallory did sell his book after Saving April‘s successful release… and he’s lied about everything else. While it’s unlikely that Denzil will endure the financial and emotional burdens of a copyright lawsuit, it is regrettably even less likely that it would make a difference in the face of Mallory’s financial success.