Pub Rants

Sign Of The Times?

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STATUS: Ah, only two meetings today. It’s such a nice break. I feel like I can actually tackle the 170 emails sitting in my inbox from yesterday.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I GUESS THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES by Elton John
(Ok, I ‘fess up. I put that song on so I could write this blog entry.)

I saw this deal post on Deal Lunch and burst out laughing. I just love it. I think Caitlin and I might be kindred spirits—even though I’ve never met her.

Sarah Prineas’s THE CROW KING’S DAUGHTER, featuring faerie lore without the urban setting and without drugs, sex, and angst, to Toni Markiet at Harper Children’s, in a good deal, in a three-book deal, by Caitlin Blasdell at Liza Dawson Associates (NA).

A faerie story. A real one! Not meant to be urban paranormal. Not meant to be a Twilight knock-off. It’s truly a sign of the times when an agent posts a deal for what a story is not. I’m so tickled, and I can well believe it went for 6-figures. I’d buy this book!

In other news, I had a great lunch with a children’s editor yesterday. She mentioned that she was seeing a lot of what she called Karaoke young adult novels. Mystified by the term, I asked her to explain. She said she was seeing a lot of submissions where teens passionately talk about their issues in dialogue but there doesn’t seem to be much of a plot per so. Lots of angst. Not much story.

Needless to say, this editor was not buying them. As for me, I couldn’t say I’d be snatching one up to represent.

Karaoke novels. Get it? Teen characters that sing their own angsty song—and I certainly wouldn’t call it singing the blues.

Now that term cracks me up too!

34 Responses

  1. Carradee said:

    “featuring faerie lore without the urban setting and without drugs, sex, and angst,”

    …i.e., not Holly Black, right?

    Honestly, it’s the “no sex” that makes me the most interested.

  2. MeganRebekah said:

    I read this is in my Publisher’s Lunch Deluxe email and the first thought that popped into my head was “Wow, I really want to read that!”

    I enjoyed the Twilight series, but am ready for something more. Something different.

  3. Heather said:

    I really want to read that faery book, too. Who would’ve thought that taking a more “innocent/traditional” approach to fantasy would seem more daring than a book that includes the once risky drug/sex elements!

    Also, I love the term “karaoke novel.” I sense an abuse of that phrase in my future… XD

  4. Annette Lyon said:

    Sad that a YA book w/out angst, sex, or drugs is an anomaly. That’s why I’ve been a fan of Janette Rallison for years. She’s been largely alone in writing awesome books for youth without the dark angsty crap. Teens have enough trouble in their lives–an escape into a great book without more of it is a good thing.

  5. Novice Writer Anonymous said:

    I agree that it is very sad that no drugs/no sex is anomalous in this industry. I would at least pick that book off the shelf and read the blurb about it to see if I’d be interested.

    Karaoke novels…great term…wonder if critics will ever try to trace the development of the karaoke novel?

  6. AstonWest said:

    Well, there were many stories about the success of cellphone novels a while back, so maybe thought they’d start a new fad with karaoke novels?


  7. Anonymous said:

    “I’d buy this book!”

    How can you say you’d buy it without even having read it? Do you sometimes represent authors based on concepts alone, before the manuscript is completed?

    Or do you mean, [If I read this, saw that it was a complete and engaging story with commercial appeal, and happened to recognize it as such at the time before anyone else signed it], I’d buy this book!

  8. Anonymous said:

    “I’d buy this book!”

    How can you say you’d buy it without even having read it?

    I think she was saying, she would purchase it on the shelf, not, she would represent it. I don’t know about you, but I tend to buy books I haven’t read.

  9. Kristin Laughtin said:

    I too have to laugh that “fairy story” automatically equates to modern drug/sex/angst fantasy, and it has to be pointed out that this book doesn’t contain those elements.

  10. Catherine said:

    Oh, wow. I need to go and show this to my friend. She’ll be delighted that she’s not the only one writing “traditional” fairy stories, ones without the sex/drugs/angst urban fairy thing. She was worried that she was all alone.

  11. Weronika said:

    I love, love, love the term “karaoke YA.” It’s the perfect description for the trend.

    And I’m very curious about this–I’ve been waiting for some good faerie lore, definitely want to read it.

    Thanks for sharing!

  12. Rebekah said:


    Wow… I AM pleased. Very pleased. I thought I was writing something for a hard-to-market genre, too. What a relief to find out that’s not true!

  13. Anonymous said:

    Catherine & Rebekah-

    Not to burst your bubble, but Sarah Prineas already had a best-selling book under her belt when she sold this new one. I have a feeling that would’ve contributed more to its saleability than the actual idea itself.

  14. Anonymous said:

    On a side note, I checked out the agency representing the sale, and they do request the more formal style of querying, stuff that the more popular Query-critique blogs say “DON’T DO! YOU LOST ME! BORING!”

    Which is, name-drop first, describe categories, mention your academic qualifications so you’ll look more respectable, never grab with a hook in first paragraph, etc etc.

    Funny what works for a lot of established places, while the guide-blogs on the Internet decry the same methods.

  15. Kathleen MacIver said:

    I’m another looking for and writing more traditional stories…stories that aren’t filled with drugs, sex, and angst. As this post shows, a LOT of us are looking for that.

    So why is it so hard to sell? Why aren’t more editors buying it, since so many are desperately looking for it and not finding it?

    ::shrugs:: Hopefully one day my name can be listed in a deal like that one (even if its not six figures).

  16. Anonymous said:

    “She said she was seeing a lot of submissions where teens passionately talk about their issues in dialogue but there doesn’t seem to be much of a plot per so. Lots of angst. Not much story.”

    Wouldn’t that be “Twilight” which has made MILLIONS? Hmmm, intriguing that it worked for one author.

  17. Anonymous said:

    Kristin’s QUOTE: “…She said she was seeing a lot of submissions where teens passionately talk about their issues in dialogue but there doesn’t seem to be much of a plot per so. Lots of angst. Not much story…”

    I apologize in advance for what I’m about to say, because I know I’m going to get rotten fruit thrown at me, but in my opinion this describes tons of YA fantasy trilogies, including ones on the NYT bestseller list. That’s ALL you get with them. Boring love triangles where there are no actiony scenes, no plot, just a bunch of talking. I remember one a few years back that made a big splash as a lead title and everyone raved about it, but every single chapter was just two characters having a conversation, then two different characters having a conversation. Repeat twenty times. The end.

    In a way I’m relieved that someone else has noticed, on the other hand, that’s all that seems to sell. I don’t get it. They have a fun or different premise but the execution blows. Maybe that’s all the marketing dept needs, though — a hook, even if the book doesn’t deliver on it. ‘Cuz they sell like hotcakes.

  18. Eric said:

    I have to agree with your sentiments about the Karaoke novel. The images that idea invokes are hilarious.

  19. Anonymous said:

    I think I’m going to post this above my computer today as I hack around a new book idea — No Karaoke! Think Plot!


    You gotta love this blog. 🙂

  20. Anonymous said:

    I actually think it’s bizarre that so many people seem to think there’s anything remotely interesting or fresh about ANY book about faerie lore. Call me a grump, but I think Anon 5:00 a.m. has it correct about why anyone’s excited.

  21. susiej said:

    I agree with so many of the rest. I have hope again. I just sent a query to your agency with a story of faerie lore. I tend to think of it as an antidote to the vampire bite. I really, really believed your agency would be interested. I got a form rejection.

    After reading a past post of Nathan’s on form rejections, I was beginning to fear my story was unmarketable.

    Now, I can hope it was my query that bombed, and not my story.

  22. Anonymous said:

    I agree with Anon 5:00 a.m. and 12:17 — it’s like half the posts didn’t read the entire Original Post. The fairey book in question is from a previous published author that has already had a best-selling book. That type of author already has the upper hand in getting a new book deal, no matter the hook or, dare I say, lack of hook in her book.

    That doesn’t neccessarily translate into the market suddenly turning into a place where every book suddenly don’t need a twist or surprising hook of some kind. Right?

  23. Genre Reviews said:

    I read that deal, too, and my first thought was “hey, that sounds like a novel I’d enjoy!” That’s pretty sad when, as you pointed out, the description was mainly about what the novel wasn’t. Still, it sold me.

  24. cindy said:

    i’d highly recommend FAERY REBELS by rj anderson just out by harpercollins for those looking for a beautifully written and refreshing faery story. congrats to sarah!

  25. Anonymous said:

    “Since when is a “good deal” six figures?”

    That’s a deal listing designation, as in:

    “nice deal” $1 – $49,000
    “very nice deal” $50,000 – $99,000
    “good deal” $100,000 – $250,000
    “significant deal” $251,000 – $499,000
    “major deal” $500,000 and up

  26. aimeestates said:

    This leaves me feeling very hopeful. I started writing a story for my daughter two years ago that has turned into three Faerie novels thus far. No, there’s no sex, drugs, or rock and roll. I’m tired of books for kids presenting adult issues. What ever happened to parents divorcing being the most critical thing a 12 year old had to face?