Tag Archives: Slate

Everything I Learned From “Against YA” and More

7 Jun

Two announcements before my post:

T.B. Markinson’s debut novel, A Woman Lost, is on sale until June 11th. Only .99 cents. I really admire T.B. Markinson, so I hope you take the time to check out her novel by clicking here.

The eBook of Seconds Before Sunrise releases in 5 days! That’s right. Only 5 days. I cannot believe it. I plan on sharing more insights from The Timely Death Trilogy soon. (Actually, I wanted to today, but the upcoming topic is very important to me.) Feel free to check out my Pinterest board full of hints and surprises before I announce more information, and be sure to join the ebook extravaganza party on Facebook for your chance to win a Kindle.

Happy reading!

Two days ago, my Facebook and Twitter blew up with a giant pink picture of an Alice-in-Wonderland-Look-Alike. It is an image that came with a title I cringe at: Against YA: Adults should be embarrassed to read children’s books.Even worse? The subtitle is “Read whatever you want. But you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.”

This horrifying article I am about to discuss can be found here. Written by Ruth Graham (not by THE Ruth Graham, you know, the philanthropist, but by Ruth Graham of New Hampshire.)

Don’t know who she is?

According to her Twitter, she’s a “contributing writer to the Boston Globe’s Ideas section; freelancer out and about (Slate, the Atlantic…). Former editor (New York Sun, Domino).” Her website – Ruth Graham: Freelance Journalist – is actually right here on WordPress.

Why am I sharing this?

Because I think it’s important to understand the writer behind the piece. I was hoping that if I followed her, I would understand where her opinion derived from. I was desperate for a deeper understanding, a slight chance that she meant well when she clicked “publish” on her viral post, so I followed her Twitter feed yesterday. I learned a lot from the woman behind the chaotic arguments that consumed every social media outlet I can think of, and I thought I would share what I learned below.

This wasn’t good for my blood pressure. It probably won’t be for yours either. You have been warned.

1. “Also YA writers & agents asking if I think they shouldn’t do their jobs. Uh, no? Definitely keep doing your jobs!”

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It isn’t okay to read YA as an adult, but it’s definitely okay if you can make money off of it. Also, if you’re a YA author, make sure to tell your adult readers that if “they are substituting maudlin teen dramas for the complexity of great adult literature, then they are missing something.” This is because all YA novels are “uniformly satisfying” and completely unrealistic. Make sure your YA novel follows these standards because they are undoubtedly true. Every YA ending causes you to either weep or cry. Trust me on this. Graham explained how “emotional and moral ambiguity of adult fiction—of the real world—is nowhere in evidence in YA fiction.” Forget the fact that fiction is FICTION – not nonfiction. Adult fiction is a reflection of the real world and young adult fiction is a pleasurable escape from reality. Every. Time.

2. “Another mysterious thread today has been angry librarians & parents defending themselves for reading YA for professional/parenting reasons.”

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So mysterious. Readers actually want to defend a genre they read? Whoever thought readers actually cared about books? I definitely wouldn’t have expected teachers, librarians, and parents to defend novels they shared with their child. Weird. I would call Nancy Drew to get on the case, but I am a 22-year-old adult; therefore, I should no longer think of her as a viable reference to solving mysteries. But I do know this: parents should never read what their kids read. Knowing what their kid enjoys or trying to understand why their kid enjoys it is exactly why we have so many bad parents in this world. Librarians, too. Why should they spend more time trying to understand the marketplace? It’s not like it’s their job or something.

3. “I’m not saying I’m not pretentious at all, of course. But I’m definitely not the MOST pretentious. But trust me: There’s more pretentious stuff out there.”

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If you’re not the most pretentious, you’re okay. If you’re not the most mean-spirited or hateful or cruel, it’s also okay because there are worst people out there. In regards to reader shaming and reading snobbery, as long as you’re not the worst, it’s okay. Just put the disclaimer, “at the risk of sounding snobbish and joyless and old.” Follow that sentence with “we are better than this.” This will unify your reader and you while also distracting them from the fact that you don’t sound snobbish, joyless, old, or pretentious. You just sound like you want everyone else to be.

4. “I’m not at all opposed to guilty pleasures! I’m just arguing for some guilt along with the pleasure.”

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You can read YA as an adult, but you better feel damn guilty about it. You better feel so guilty that you ask for a gift receipt anytime you buy a YA book at your local bookstore so they won’t know you are the reader. Actually, get an eReader, so no one knows what you’re reading in public. Shame on you if you don’t feel any guilt. You could’ve spent that time reading real literature, preferably something with “Weird facts, astonishing sentences, deeply unfamiliar (to me) characters, and big ideas about time and space and science and love.” This is what Ruth Graham reads without any guilt, because she considers it literary, so you should, too.

5. “Working on something today that will make some people mad, wheeeeeeee!”

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Rejoice in the fact that you can anger people. This means you’re an adult with important things to say. Angering people means you are, in fact, important, and you should be proud and happy to anger people. This is literature. This is what reading is all about.

Okay. So I may have gone a little overboard. My blood pressure is still too high, after all, but I had to respond. I had to point out the fact that this article was written, knowing how much it would anger the reading community, yet we allow it to go viral because it strikes a place in our reading hearts that HURTS.

We love to read what we love to read.

I am very passionate about changing our reading community to only encourage readers. In fact, I’ve written about this before in my blog post Readers Hating Other Readers, and – sadly – I doubt this will be my last time writing about this.

With a heavy heart, I want to conclude all of the emotions I have ever had about reader shaming:

Adults shouldn’t be embarrassed to read young adult fiction. No one should be embarrassed to read anything. Reader shaming is what we should be embarrassed of.

~SAT

P.S. If you’re a young adult fiction reader – no matter your age – I would love it if you read one of my novels. In fact, I will probably do a little dance of excitement if you do. I even share all reviews right here on ShannonAThompson.com. (If you’re boycotting Amazon, don’t worry. Also available on Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.)

Click today!

Click today!

Hachette and Amazon. Let’s Talk About It.

3 Jun

Important Update (10:22 p.m.): Amazon seems to be loosening their grips, perhaps because of how readers have gone to other retailers to buy Hachette titles, but an agreement has not been made yet. Here’s the article: Amazon Is Now Re-Stocking Some Hachette Titles

If you haven’t heard, Cold War II is happening between publishers and distributers right now – specifically Hachette Book Group (Little, Brown and Company’s parent company) and Amazon – but there are others involved, including Wal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, and …oh, yeah…AUTHORS. (Because the fighters seem to forget to mention the authors.)

I am going to attempt to talk about it. But – here’s the most confusing part – since Amazon and Hachette are respecting their signed confidentiality agreements, neither is speaking specifics. They are talking in their secret club tree house, and you’re stuck on the ground because they are not going to throw you the rope ladder anytime soon. You are not invited. This “signed confidentiality agreement” is a fancy way to tell us that they aren’t allowed to be honest yet, even though they are quite possibly discussing a shift in the market that could affect dozens (probably hundreds) of publishers, distributors, and authors. Rumor has it that they are arguing about eBook prices, including revenue splits. Whatever mysterious, Illuminati decision they come to could set a precedent for all publishing houses and authors of the future. (Okay. So that might be a tad dramatic, but seriously – it could affect a lot of people.)

So what’s the big deal? This has happened before after all, but this – THIS – is different. How? If you want more specifics, here’s a bunch of articles that explain some of the dirtier details: Hachette Chief Leads Book Publisher in Amazon FightWal-Mart, Barnes & Noble, Slash Prices as Hachette-Amazon Feud Continues, Inside Amazon’s Battle with Hachette, Bringing Down the Hachette.

In summary: one of the five, BIG publishing houses is being threatened by one Amazon warrior. And Hachette is only the first…and they don’t look like they’re winning. In fact, Hachette seems to be retreating to protect their other retailers first. (Gaining alleys maybe?) But the terrifying part is the repetition of it all. Amazon has tried to take out publishers before – BIG publishers – and it seems that they want the five owners of the monopoly to fall to one. (One being Amazon, of course.) I know. I know. It’s easy to rejoice in the five falling, especially when you’ve been rejected by them one hundred and fourteen times, but allowing Amazon to take their place is more than a bad idea. It’s self-destructive. If you have ever played the family friendly game of Monopoly, it is not fun when your older brother owns every piece on the board. In fact, I’m pretty sure you’ve just lost the game when that happens.

Have I scared you yet?

I hope not.

I am going to sound like I just flipped 180 degrees, but I don’t think this is something we need to be scared of. (Not yet, anyway.) I don’t believe Hachette and Amazon’s high school drama is something we should obsess over. Should we watch it unfold? Yes. Understand as much as we can? Yes. Share the information as the two companies share it? Absolutely.

Since we don’t technically know anything, we can’t keep talking about nothing. We should share what we know with others, but we have to stop crowding our articles with theories and lies and lack of links for information. We’re only confusing one another. We can, however, talk about what has happened.

After Amazon blocked pre-orders of Hachette books (including the geniuses that are David Sedaris, James Patterson, and Robert Galbraith a.k.a. J.K. freakin’ Rowling) Barnes & Noble and Wal-Mart have stepped into the ring. Oh, did I mention that Wal-Mart is holding a %40 off sign? (on “select titles” of course.)

Yep. That just happened.

You can go to Wal-Mart right now and buy James Patterson (and whichever second author wrote his latest novel) for %40 off – and Amazon can’t do anything about it. Barnes & Noble can though. They are also displaying major discounts, even reportedly selling buy 2, get one free. FREE at certain locations.

As the reader inside of me rejoices, the author inside of me dies.

Why is no one talking about the authors? Granted, I know that Amazon and Hachette are on a Top Secret Mission to save or destroy their authors (who knows?) but every article discussing the latest events are focusing on the giant companies having their way, both claiming to help authors, neither explaining how because of the signed confidentiality agreements. (I can almost picture other publishing houses chanting, “Secrets, secrets are no fun, secrets, secrets, tell everyone!”) But Wal-Mart and Barnes & Noble are steering clear of the actual battle while still reaping the awards of it. In fact, Wal-Mart has reported a %70 increase in sales.

…sigh…

When two get in a fight, two others jumped right in. I guess I’m not against the brawl necessarily. I can’t pick a side when I don’t know what everyone is fighting for. But I am concerned about the authors – you know, the ones who actually WROTE the stories we’re trying to buy (or buying at a %40 discount.) And I am nervous to see the results of Amazon picking this battle with Hachette.

Will Amazon lose its reputation as a customer focused company? Will Hachette’s authors ever see their rewards? Will Amazon fight other publishers next? Will Barnes & Noble or Wal-Mart deepen their involvement now (or even in the future)?

One thing is for certain though.

Readers and authors are the innocent ones. They aren’t battling. They can’t. And they are the ones who are being affected the most.

~SAT

P.S. If you’re asking yourself, “What can I do about this?” – label this my call-to-action:

Stay informed, watch for new developments, and share the information with as many people as you can.

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