At this point, this link is a little old, but I think it’s too important to just skip: “What are we doing to YA?” by Hannah Moskowitz. If you’re a writer, of any genre, READ IT.
In a nutshell:
I’m starting to wonder if YA is turning into something written by/for the internet community under the guise of writing for everyday teenagers, and that who likes you on the internet is more important to your career–or, if not to your career, to your psyche and your perception of your success–than if teenagers are picking up your book.
Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes! YES.
I don’t have any stats to back me up, but I have friends, and we have blogs, and Twitter feeds, and works-in-progress. And I have seen us all step up to the edge of this problem, and stare down into the abyss, and then look at each other with fear in our eyes.
To be honest, I don’t know that I can add much more to the conversation beyond the questions that Hannah posed and the discussion that ensued in her comments. (READ THEM.) But I do want to say that I see this problem, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I don’t blog to amass “fans.” I don’t comment on agent/author sites to make connections. I don’t write books to impress anyone. If that happens, awesome. But to me, it’s just icing on the cake.
(And for the record, I scrape 80% of the icing off all baked goods. It’s just not my thing.)
I blog because I’m a chatterbox. I comment because I’m overly opinionated. I write books to tell great stories, to move and entertain people.
(And for the record, I’ve been doing this stuff since I was 9 years old — way too young to have an agenda.)
Yes, I want to be a successful, life-long author. But I think the best way to do that is to write fantastic novels. And fantastic novels can only come out of (never-ending) hard work, perseverance, humility, passion… Not from kissing butt in the “blogosphere.”
I’m not saying that writers shouldn’t blog or Tweet or join online groups. On the contrary, I think the online writing community is wonderful! It’s a great resource for information and support. Without it, I wouldn’t have made so much progress in the past couple of years.
I’m also not saying that authors who blog are “playing the game.” Maybe they are, maybe they aren’t. I try not to make assumptions, and either way it’s none of my businses.
What I’m saying is, I’m not playing the game. I don’t want to, and now I know/remember that I don’t have to. (Just look at J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins!) Playing the game doesn’t sell books. Playing the game doesn’t guarantee you a long career. In fact, playing the game may hurt the very industry we love…
So I’m really glad Hannah blogged about this. Because once you discover this world, it’s easy to get caught up, to forget your true motivation. Sometimes we all need a reality check, a gentle reminder, to help us re-focus on what’s really important.