The OF Blog: How not to help out an author with his/her research

Thursday, October 03, 2013

How not to help out an author with his/her research

For the most part, I've refrained in recent months in bashing what I see posted at the site linked here.  But sometimes I am made aware of a gem of a post that deserves to be skewered.  Such is the case here, where an author (some on Twitter speculated that it might be Joe Abercrombie, but I'm uncertain.  Edit:  On Twitter, Abercrombie says it's not him and I believe him) apparently asks the blogger in question for a few suggestions regarding YA sites, lit, etc. that could be used as research/contact info for a planned YA novel.  What the blogger writes, however, is something that is a marvel to behold:

One of my favorite SFF authors is writing a YA novel in order to be more "accessible." Since that writer has been known for darker material for many years, along with the book's editor they are wondering what would be the most popular YA-related websites, blogs, message boards, and publications out there? Pitching this work to the right people will be quite important, and in this instance the adult SFF Blogosphere may not necessarily be the way to go.
As you know, I'm not too keen on YA stuff, so I can't really help them out. So I thought to ask you guys! =)

What say you!?!

 First we learn that the intent of the author is to write YA "in order to be more 'accessible.'  There is nothing about trying new ways of telling a story or anything approaching art for art's sake.  Nope, straight up cash grab seems to be the implication behind "accessible."  There is nothing wrong, I suppose, in writers taking on writing in a perceived more lucrative market, but generally these efforts do not pan out well if the writer in question is not at least familiar with the expectations of said genre (or genres, since "YA" is a catch-all term that encompasses many, many more strands than what most literary genres contain).  So I could see a writer wanting to do his/her research first before trying to write within a certain literary field/tradition.  After all, many SF/F readers excoriate writers from other lit genres who write SF/F without displaying any real awareness of the trends, arguments, or preferences of those particular genres.

But it is puzzling to see that a writer openly asks one particular blogger to talk about this.  It's been my experience in the past that generally such queries into what lit in the field should be read/consulted are generally private in nature.  Perhaps that was the case here and the blogger in question just chose to broadcast it because he has little knowledge and even less interest in YA?  Maybe so, but the wording is rather off-putting, to say the least.

"Pitching this work to the right people" sounds very commercial-oriented and again is something that I wouldn't typically expect to be presented in an open forum such as a blog post.  It changes the tenor of the request from a simple seeking of information that would aid the writer in gaining a better perspective of the readers for whom s/he is writing the work to a more cynical one in which the intended audience matters little outside of what those readers might be willing to purchase.  It's the difference between trying to understand the likes of an audience and attempting to sell a product to them.  One takes into consideration more than just elements will get readers to buy the work at hand while the other simply is a product pitch being prepared.

And of course, it wouldn't be an amusing post without the "as you know, I'm not too keen on YA stuff" to make this appeal for resource information to be a potential trainwreck.  Who in their right minds would want to suggest anything of value on a blog whose editor expresses his dislike for the form?  Poor form, to say the least.

But to quote the final sentence, which seems to beg for multiple interrobangs, "What say you!?!"


James said...

I find it perplexing that neither the author nor the editor are able to research this for themselves or, worse yet, have no better source for this information than a blogger who has used 'YA' as a catch-all pejorative for any fiction containing elements that might appeal more to younger readers.

I did suggest that it was Abercrombie when this was brought up on Twitter, as he is the only author I know that is taking a step away from darker adult fare to try out writing for a younger audience. I am probably wrong about the author because it really makes not fucking sense, but it is hard to not connect the dots between this vague author wanting to write a YA novel and the only author who has been in the news lately for moving into that direction.

Who knows, maybe Abercrombie has started a trend.

Roland said...

Like when he asked people to submit their self-published work so he could tear the work/author a new asshole. He started that post with explaining how much he hated the self-publishing business and that all it produced was crap.
Why would anyone submit their work then?
The weird thing was that he got a bunch of submissions, chose one to read and then never addressed the issue again.

RobB said...

I believe Pat is trolling/playing a joke on all of us with posts of this nature.

Larry Nolen said...

Well, whoever it is, I feel sorry (almost) for the writer. It seems this post struck a nerve:

WTF??? It's not Joe Abercrombie, folks! Received a number of emails from the people at Random House telling me that they are getting a lot of negative reactions about this. It appears that all the shit originates from dumbass Larry's Twitter account. So could someone please let those stupid dumbasses know that this has nothing to do with Joe Abercrombie?? I can't access Twitter here at work... Fucking idiots... :/

Ummm....all I can say to this really is that if others think such a post is gauche at best, then perhaps the entire enterprise is doomed? Well that and I don't think he's using that epithet correctly;)

RobB said...

No, the negative reaction isn't because of the tone of the post itself, but of the people reacting to it logically.

Sure, that makes sense.

Larry Nolen said...

In a tin foil hat world, yes, yes it does :P

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