Thursday, June 25, 2009

In Which the Author Babbles and Then Offers a Dance as Penance

First, a couple links: a recent beautiful Astronomy Picture of the Day; and, if you happen to be a Battlestar Galactica fan, a recent segment from NPR's Weekend Edition all about the music of BSG. (Ahem. But please don't leave any Season 4 spoilers in the comments, because I'm only partway through the season. ^_^)

Second, I give notice: my blogging is apt to be spotty over the next few weeks as my move takes place. Monday the guy with the big truck comes to pick up the stuff. What happens next -- and when -- depends entirely on the schedule of the guy in the truck. We're rolling with it, people. Uncertainty is FUN! Sigh...

Third, a recent interesting FAQ:

You've mentioned that an adult edition of Graceling is available in the U.K., Australia, and the Netherlands, and is scheduled to be published in France. Is there an adult version of Graceling available in North America?

The "adult" British edition of Graceling and the "young adult" American edition of Graceling are identical, word-for-word, except that in the British edition, of course, my American English has been Britishized. (I.e., "armor" is spelled "armour," double quotes become single quotes, and a few distinctively American words have been changed to the British equivalents.) And, the exact same Dutch translation is used for both the YA and adult editions in the Netherlands. I'm not sure what will happen in France, but I assume the two French editions will also match.

What makes Graceling YA in North America is that it happened to be purchased and published by a children's imprint (Harcourt Children's Books) in North America. What makes Graceling adult in the U.K. is that it happened to be purchased and published by an adult fantasy imprint (Gollancz) in the U.K.. The covers and design are different, and might reflect the different ages to which the books are supposedly marketed -- but, ironically, my Dutch publisher uses the American YA cover for their adult edition and the British adult cover for their YA edition, because the feeling in the Netherlands is that the dagger works best for older readers and the girl-with-sword works best for younger readers.


(left to right: American young adult cover; British adult cover; Dutch young adult cover; Dutch adult cover)

I guess you could say that my book is a crossover of sorts. My American agent focused on submitting the book to YA imprints, because books like Graceling tend to land YA publishers here at home. But my European agent got some bites from adult imprints -- so, there you have it! If the emails I receive are any indication, readers of all ages read both editions.

Of course, this whole thing brings up the messy question of the difference between YA and adult lit. This is one of my least favorite questions, because I don't entirely believe in the distinction -- or, more accurately, I don't believe in ranking adult lit above YA lit (or any other children's lit) when it comes to literary merit, which most people seem to do without even thinking about it. It's the same as the genre question. We all know that sci fi (or horror or romance or mysteries or whatever) and serious literary fiction are mutually exclusive categories, right? WRONG. Anyway. What I won't do here is try to define YA literature by its content (though I am happy to send you to a recent post on The Horn Book blog, where Roger Sutton got into it a little bit. Also, check out the comments in this post. The YA v. adult question is one you can find people haggling about all over the Internet, if you do a little searching).

What I hope I have done is explain that ultimately, in the publishing world, the (sometimes arbitrary) distinction depends on things like what imprints pick the book up; the way the book is designed, marketed, and publicized; and where in the library/bookstore the book can be found. But regardless of whether the edition is adult or young adult, the words in the book are the same. Make sense?

FYI, when I write, I am not assuming any particular audience age. I just write.

I think I just beat that question pretty much into the ground.

If you've made it this far, here's a reward: a great dance from last week's SYTYCD. Karla (contemporary jazz) and Jonathan (salsa) dancing contemporary, choreographed by Stacey Tookey. Check it out -- it's worth 2 minutes of your day!

20 comments:

mysteryflavour said...

I am a HUGE fan of the music from BSG. Bear McCreary's a genius. Have you heard the theme from Caprica?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CguEY9e2SqQ

A. Grey said...

Great post! Very informative. Since I'm still in the process of making it to the market, what you've said helps me a bunch. Lots of people - not people who know anything about publishing or writing, but who mean well - have told me that I ought to write FOR a specific genre, or sub genre. For example, YA fantasy exactly. They think somehow that it'll narrow the field and give me a better shot at securing either an agent, a publisher or both.

My instinct is just to write. Period. And I try to explain that, but my arguments are weak, since I'm not able to articulate WHY I feel as though trying to 'fit' one specific thing isn't a good idea. Well, now I know that I'm at least on the correct path! Now, *sigh* back to editing, and preparing submission packets and hoping...

Good luck with your move! If you beak down (perish the thought) near Virginia, let me know and I'll give you a tow! (okay, I just couldn't resist rhyming) You'll be settling in before you know it!

Nasir said...

I didn't know writers need agents in europe as well as america! i thought the publisher just publishes the book in other languages. :( this is turning out to be a big hassle. I've been writing all my life, and finalizing the touches of my first novel (i've written screenplays, short stories, and plays before) and i'm just thinking to not go through with the whole 'finding an agent and hustling' doesn't seem worth it.

i do appreciate the information you've provided, though. thanks.


PS, if graceling ever to be a movie, i so picture, Keira knightley for some reason lol.

Becky said...

Maybe I'm the only one who does this, but I always put YA ABOVE adult books. There are so many more adult books published that YA is more selective by default. Therefore, those should be the better books, right?

Yeah, I know my brain doesn't always work, well, normally.

tinkandalissa said...

I am sure it depends on the agent in question, but I have read on some agents blogs that they like to see the novel identified in a query as adult or YA by the author. I am sure it is subjective. I always just assumed if the protagonist is a teen, the book was YA.
I've been reading mostly YA lately. The bad thing about this: I'm reading a series that has way too many similarities to my novel, so now I am super discouraged and bummed. Has this ever happened to you? I dont know if I should just keep writing it anyway, or move on to something else. :(
Good luck on your move!
On the more important part of this post: Thank you for the SYTYCD link!!! I abso-friggin-lutely LOVED that dance! Loved it. Even wrote myself a note (bcuz I have the worst short term memory ever)to google that dance just so I could watch it again. And isnt little Jonathan just the cutest?
I have several faves this year, but am favoring the boys more than the girls. I heart Phillip. I hate Thursdays because someone has to get booted. So sad.

Andrea said...

I -love- fantasy genre and YA fiction, but I have to admit that I feel subconsciously guilty for reading almost nothing else since I finished my library degree a year and a half ago. I attend my book group, and while they discuss their literary triumphs, I can't wait to get home and find out about Alanna's next adventure. (Thank you for introducing me to Tamora Pierce's writing, by the way!) I was so pleased when The Graveyard Book won the Newbery, not only because it is awesome, but also because I was the only one to have read it before the meeting and could tell everyone how great it is. I know that my reads are worthwhile, but I still have a hard time convincing myself not to feel guilty. This week I read Peter S. Beagle's We Don't Talk About My Brother collection, and that contained some of the best writing (and some of the most wonderful stories) I've ever read.

Good luck with the move!

tinkandalissa said...

Ok. So, I hope this works, but I am not a computer whiz, so I have no clue how to make those nifty little click here thingy's:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kahHOdILAn4
this is a clip from season 3 of SYTYCD. Apparently I didnt realize that I've been watching it for so long! Haha. But this is one of my fave past dances coreographed by none other than Wade Robson!! Woohoo! He's awesome. Enjoy...

Kaethe said...

Good luck with the move.

Angie said...

I'm a huge BSG fan - and the music is just one of the many reasons! Thanks for the link.
I also wanted to say thanks for trying to answer the whole YA v adult fiction. I didn't realize it was one of your least favorite questions. But the whole thing IS perplexing - I love books - regardless of the label. Obviously, books have to be catagorized (sp) so they can be found, browsed through, brought etc. But why 'pigeon hole' a book? I'm following your links right after this post.
Good luck on your move! We'll miss your usual Monday/Thursday but will keep checking to make sure you've made it in one piece.

amyhenderson said...

I loved the SYTYCD video. It occurred to me in watching it that rarely (except in shows like SYTYCD) do we see two people moving together with such awareness of the other. Is this how you imagine Katsa and Po in the hand-fighting equivalent to dance?

Good luck with your move.

Talitha Borealis said...

Some of my most favorite YA stories are basically "adult literature" or have no distinction. The Wolf's Daughter series by Tanith Lee also comes to mind here. For years, YA books have had a huge treasure trove of fantasy, better in some cases than most of the "adult" novels.

Or maybe I just like to read so much that labeling one genre and getting stuck in it would mean way less books to get!

kristin cashore said...

Nasir, don't worry about the European agent thing. I didn't have to go find her on my own -- she's the co-agent that my American agent always works with in Europe. Similarly, I have a film co-agent who's trying to sell my film rights, and I didn't have to find her -- she's a woman my American agent works with. There are scouts and agents all over the world, actually, trying to sell my rights, and I didn't have to find any of them! If you have a good main agent, that agent will have the contacts elsewhere to get your books sold in different markets. Also -- at the risk of getting complicated -- sometimes a publisher IS in charge, not necessarily of publishing in other languages, but of finding publishers in other languages for you. It all depends on what deal your agent strikes with your publisher at the beginning. My agent negotiated so that Harcourt bought North American rights for Graceling, but I kept foreign rights. That meant that it then fell to us, rather than Harcourt, to find deals elsewhere in the world. And by "us," I mean it fell to her and her team. ^_^ (Generally, that's the preferred arrangement -- to keep foreign rights in your own hands -- but it can work well both ways!)

Anyway, point is, you're getting way ahead of yourself! Don't worry about all that -- take one thing at a time!

Alissa, the phenomenon of reading a book or series and having to stop because it's too similar to my own work and is freaking me out? That phenomenon is EXTREMELY familiar to me, so much so that I'm planning to blog all about it some point. Partway through writing Fire, I had to stop reading ALL fantasy cold-turkey! The themes are just so similar in fantasies, and I felt like I was plagiarizing -- even though I wrote my things BEFORE reading the things I was supposedly plagiarizing from. I only recently started picking up fantasy books again. Sometimes it really is best to just lay off the reading if it's making you uncomfortable with your own work. (I started reading a lot of mysteries, actually, because they were really different from what I was writing.)

Okay, longest comment ever, but I just wanted to thank everyone for your thoughts about YA v. adult AND for the BSG and SYTYCD love and links. Artemis, I've encountered people like that -- they just don't get it, and I think you're right not to waste your energy trying to explain! I get it.

THANK YOU FOR WISHING ME LUCK WITH MY MOVE! I AM FREAKING OUT! :)

Jazz said...

I do think the cover with the girl standing up feels more YA, but I like the dagger cover much better so I'm glad that is what the US picked!

Kristin, I am hosting a contest for a Graceling audiobook at my blog.

http://missdanaidae.blogspot.com/2009/06/hello-have-present.html

I thought you might want to let readers know, but I know you are busy with moving. Good luck with the move. You can do it!

Anyone who sees this comment should feel free to enter and tell your friends!

Nasir said...

Thank you! I really appreciate it. I'm going through hell right now with my own writing, i feel like my prose is embarrassingly stupid, and the plot sounds silly. lol. i appreciate the info. it's much more reassuring to hear the facts from an actual writer than 'how to books' at barnes and noble.

<+++<< said...

Hi Kristin Cashore. I just read Graceling one week ago, and I loove it sooo much!! It immediately shot up to enter my list of top 10 books! I like your style of writing and also your plot structure^^. I hope you would stop by my blog and post some comments. Also, I want to tell you to keep up the good work. I can't wait for Fire and Bitterblue!!!

Amanda said...

/swoon

Don't you just love SYTYCD? Although I was really disappointed that America didn't see fit to vote Philip off after that TERRIBLE tango and poor Max was sent off instead!

Here's an interesting thought - if Graceling gets made into a film and you could pick any SYTYCD choreographer to work on the fight/training scenes between Katsa and Po...who would it be? :)

(p.s. - best of luck with your move. I feel your pain; we are moving to the Bay Area from England and it's just such a drain, emotionally and physically...)

Con said...

A writer friend of mine says YA literature is the final refuge of plot. (paraphrasing and I don't know if someone else said it first) I love that.

Anonymous said...

Not trying to be pushy, but is there a synopsis of "Fire" yet?

Nancy A. said...

Thank you for answering my question! Well I'm sure I'm not the only one who asked it... I really appreciate your taking the time to share this information!

Sarah Weir said...

I like the American cover a lot, but something pulls at me from the Fire cover where she is standing partly in shadow holding her bow.

I think your explanation is a good one. The only big differences I see between the two genres is that Adult book characters tend to be a little older than YA, and they often have a lot more detail, sometimes exhaustively so. Which is why I like both depending on my mood and why I love yours because there is just enough have a visual in my head without being too wordy. :)