Articles tagged "fiction"

The Rise of “New Adult” Fiction

It’s everywhere you look — media about young people in their 20s, trying to figure things out. It’s on HBO, it’s in film, it’s definitely in the blogosphere (it’s also the writer of this blog post, obviously).

Image by: Pete Ashton

Millenials,” as they’re known, have become a hot commodity in the media landscape, as this tech-savvy generation learns to deal with a recession and a prolonged adolescence that includes internships, grad school, and making a million different decisions about what they want to do with their lives.

So, it makes sense that a new genre of literature might emerge about this set. And, of course, it has emerged from authors who use multi-platform publishing. Cora Carmack, who self-published her book, Losing It, saw her book rise to number 18 in the New York Times bestseller list without it even having a print edition. She was then offered a contract from HarperCollins to write more books, as well as a re-release of Losing It.

The term itself – New Adult (NA) – was coined by St. Martin’s Press as a midway between adult literary fiction and young adult books. It didn’t really take off until this year, however, as scores of independent writers began writing novels that talked about these “Millenials” in an engaging, experimental and exciting way. A new website, call NA Alley, reviews a number of “NA” titles that are popping up from independent authors.

That a new genre would explode from the ranks of self-published authors makes total sense. Publishing through an open platform allows writers to experiment as well as publish books that might not already fit into a niche market. By finding readers, they are creating their own markets, and big publishers are beginning to notice. Publishers now follow the independent authors, not the other way around. 

As readers continue to look for new books that they can relate to, novels have to change with the tastes of each generation. Unfortunately, large publishing is slow. Independent writers, always keeping their ears to the ground, can identify new genres, know what they want to read themselves, and publish it without having to wait for the market to catch up with them.

Fact-Checking Your Book

With the precipitous fall of the New Yorker‘s Jonah Lehrer, whose books and articles were riddled with inaccuracies, it’s clear that a quick way to ruin your career as a writer is to pass off fiction as fact. But as you put together a book based on reporting, the line between fact and fiction can blur. 

It’s difficult to get all the facts right. Journalists write a piece then get fact-checkers to make sure they’re correct, or amend the facts. But for the writer who uses an open-publishing platform, the risks are magnified. You have to fact-check your own piece, and if you end up letting a few fabrications through the cracks, your entire career can be ruined.

In that spirit, here are some “Best Practices” for fact-checking your own writing:

1. Always get two sources. If you can find a fact or statistic once, you can probably find a different outlet to back up the same fact. It might seem like overkill, but even the most trusted sources get it wrong sometimes.

2. Wikipedia is a good resource! It might seem counter-intuitive to trust Wikipedia with facts, but the online encyclopedia has an insanely devoted group of volunteer editors who make sure that every fact is correctly sourced. Even better, they include links to the original sources on the bottom of every page, allowing you to find a more trusted source. It’s best to think of Wikipedia as a helpful tool, and not a definitive source.

3. Make the call. If you need answers about facts from specific individuals or organizations, call them. The Internet might be the repository of all things important, but at the end of the day, just calling someone can get you a lot further than endlessly scanning Google results.

4. Have a friend highlight. The best way to differentiate between something that should or shouldn’t be fact-checked is by having a friend or editor highlight all the facts in your piece. Often, when you’re close to a subject, you can’t tell the difference between what you know or what you think you know. A skeptical friend can be a writer’s best friend.

Starting with these four practices can help your writing become more accurate and also help you avoid the terrible fate of a writer who fabricates. Do you have any of your own best practices to add to the list?

Vampire Diaries Author Loses Rights to her Book

If you think writing a series of acclaimed supernatural thrillers, which get made into a successful television show and sell thousands of books, would be considered a job well done, think again.

Publisher HarperCollins removed LJ Smith, author of The Vampire Diaries, from the project after friction during the editing process. Smith said she was pushed out after arguing against cutting characters, scenes, and other creative decisions that she felt were important to her vision of the story.

Smith, who began writing the novels on a “for hire” contract back in 1990, was shocked to find out that she had no rights to any of the characters or stories she created. In an e-mail, Smith reflected, “Even though I have written the entire series, I don’t own anything about The Vampire Diaries.”

This is an all-too-common story among writers of genre-fiction. Authors desperate enough to sign anything end up losing any creative or financial control of the characters, and the ensuing sensations, they create. Where a publishing house offers a vast marketing and distribution network, it also tends to dilute and altogether alter a writer’s creative vision. To some writers, like LJ Smith, this becomes too much to bear. They fight to keep their work intact, only to find “a letter addressed to the ghostwriter by name, telling her to completely rewrite my book.”

We’re neither arguing against the need for a good editor, nor against some self discipline and revision on the part of the author, however, we think this example demonstrates an important benefit of self-publishing: complete creative control and financial ownership of your work. Even after writing several successful novels, LJ Smith was removed from her series with little to no warning whatsoever, and absolutely no recourse.