The Harry Potter Effect
from The SFWA Bulletin #173, Spring 2007
The Future of Children's and Young Adult F&SF
Isabel Howe interviewed Jean Feiwel, former publisher at Scholastic and currently publisher of Feiwel and Friends, a new children's division at Holtzbrinck. Some excerpts from Feiwel's answers:
Libraries and teachers have a very central and critical role to play in promoting books, but selling books is another matter. The institutional market is there, but it's not as robust as it once was. Kids are buying books more than they may be taking books out of the library. What happens in publishing is that a trend starts with a book. So Harry Potter started fantasy… Then, with a certain amount of success, everybody jumps in… so that at a certain point, the category is completely gutted. It's then going to diminish.
But I don't think sci-fi will ever go away, fantasy will never go away…
KATZ: Teen is an incredibly healthy area. Books sell in very large numbers, they're all over the bestseller lists. Books call sell anywhere from 100,000 to 200,000 copies in a year. … Teens have a lot of disposable income…. It's from very generous parents and grandparents.
VAIL: [An editor told me] the two hot things in the next year or two are going to be paranormal or supernatural, and she actually explained to me the difference between paranormal and supernatural – that paranormal is more grounded in reality, like a regular kind who has a bad day and goes home and says something to the mirror and the mirror answers her. Supernatural is more like the devil would actually come out of the mirror.
Harry Potter does drive kids into the bookstore…. Whether because kids are going on their own steam or armed with gifts, and partly with the growth of Barnes & Noble as a destination for preteens and teens, has become more of a community to-to place.
REAMER: I will tell you that it seems from our sales that more girls are reading than boys. We also think more adult women are reading than men. Our experience is women buy more books than men do. … but it's our experience that around 12 or 13 we really lose a lot of boys. Either they're not reading at all or they're reading adult books. We can hold girls for a longer period of time in the children and teen area.
MORAN: I think the studies show that men read more for information and woman read more for pleasure. And that's why we think we see boys moving out of our area in the adult science-fiction and fantasy area, which is very strong…
VAIL: I wonder if it's a possibility for boys who are 14, 15, 16, to read really good, meaty stuff that's actually not full of dragons.
See my Summer 2006 (issue #170) column for tips on increasing the greenness of your own books.
Get a Clue
Sandy Balzo wrote in the March 2007 TTD that the MWA Board voted to fund a pilot project of book donation through their MWA:Reads program.
MWA members and their publishers will coordinate book donations through the West Virginia Library Commission. Each book will bear a bookplate designating them as donations from MWA:Reads.
Libraries Love InSinC
In other promotional news, SinC President Rochelle Krich wrote in her column in the March 2007 InSinC that the organization developed a display kit to celebrate its 20th anniversary. The kits included a poster, bookmarks, membership brochures, and a directory of SinC authors by geographic areas. Libraries were specifically contacted asking them to request the kits.
The result was 1,950 requests, so many that they had to do a second printing of their materials. Information about the libraries will be added to a database SinC is developing so that they can better connect readers with SinC authors. They are also creating a database of local book clubs for to benefit authors' outreach.
RWA's Image Committee: Disbanded
And one case of a committee that succeeded by failing. Roxanne St. Claire reported in the February 2007 RWR that their Image Committee spent a full year brainstorming ways to leverage their "Have We Got a Story for You" tag line into further promotion opportunities. (See their website at www.storyforu.com)
In the end they decided… to dissolve the committee. Why?
Is Your Title A Bestseller?
They're more, though, much more. Campbell Geeslin's "Along Publisher's Row column in the Winter 2007 Authors Guild Bulletin alerted me to a study undertaken by Lulu. According to the press release on their website:
Among the study’s findings:
Even better you can Put Your Title to the Test at Lulu's Titlescorer (www.lulu.com/titlescorer/index.php) to determine its chance of becoming a bestseller or compare two titles against one another at Lulu's Titlefight! (www.lulu.com/titlescorer/fight.php). This is not an exact science, claims the disclaimer. No kidding.
Online Chicago Manual of Style
Mystery Writers of America, The 3rd Degree, 17 E 47th St, 6th floor, New York, NY 10017, www.mysterywriters.org/
Romance Writers of America, Romance Writers’ Report, 14615 Benfer Rd., Houston, TX 77069 [new address], www.rwanational.org
Sisters in Crime, InSinC, P.O. Box 442124, Lawrence, KS 66044-8933, www.sistersincrime.org/
Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Bulletin, 8271 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048, www.scbwi.org/
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