Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Thrilled and terrified...

The release of a book is simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. Up till that moment the book has just had potential and promise. Now it is up to people to decide whether it is something they like and want to buy. Now readers will have a read and make up their own minds. As they should. My marketing and promotion strategy has always been kind of organic, and long term. Agent Janet Reid talks about the same sort of thing here and I think this has always been my philosophy. I'm not keen on being actively 'sold to' so I try to avoid doing this to others. And reading the phrase 'the next big thing, or 'by the next (insert famous author's name here)' about a new book hot off the press makes me grumpy. I want to hear what other readers think. Genuine word of mouth is not something you can manufacture.

Yet again there is much debate about the suitability of books for their target audience. In particular the winner of the 2014 Carnegie Medal, The Bunker Diary, by Kevin Brooks. Folk have been outraged that such a bleak book can win a prize. Because now more teens might read it. Nicola Morgan talks very thoughtfully about this fact, and our desire to protect young people, here.  I've talked about my stance on this issue before. I believe children and teens are self limiting and smart readers. There is no magic transformation into adulthood from adolescence. It can't happen in a vacuum. Teenagers must have access to information in order to become responsible, empathetic adults. Better that they read about difficult topics in a book, than have to experience them first hand in order to understand. Letting teens read books like The Bunker Diary might actually be a better form of protection for them.

And I loved this terrific smart response to that annoying article in Slate admonishing adults who choose to read YA books. It made my day. Because:

Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these things are the marks of childhood and adolescence. - CS Lewis

But you should really go and read the whole thing. Or an extended version of CS Lewis's original article here.

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