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A Month of Japan – Cowboy Bebop

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

TV Rec – Cowboy Bebop

cowboybebp

What it’s all about: The Bebop crew is just trying to make a buck. This motley lot of intergalactic loners teams up to track down fugitives and turn them in for cold hard cash. Spike is a hero whose cool façade hides a dark and deadly past. The pilot Jet is a bruiser of a brute who can’t wait to collect the next bounty. Faye Valentine is a femme fatale prone to breaking hearts and separating fools from their money. Along for the ride are the brilliant, but weird, hacker Ed and a super-genius Welsh Corgi named Ein. On their own, any one of them is likely to get lost in the sprawl of space, but together, they’re they most entertaining gang of bounty hunters in the year 2071.

Why you should watch it: One of the best blends of science fiction and western I’ve ever seen—with a jazzy flare provided by Yoko Kanno’s fabulous soundtrack—this show and its characters have a lot more going on than the official description suggests. There are lots of laughs and lots of hijinks, to be sure. But as the story progresses, the relationships deepen and complicated pasts are revealed, details that seemed like throw-away gags early on turn out to have unexpected meaning, and you’ll find yourself more invested than you ever anticipated. A must for any sci fi fan.

What’s your favorite genre mash-up? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime:

songnewestreleaseblog

Originally published at YA Author Megan Crewe. You can comment here or there.

A Month of Japan – The Friends

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Book Rec – The Friends by Kazumi Yumoto

thefriends

What it’s all about: Curious about death, three sixth-grade boys decide to spy on an old man waiting for him to die, but they end up becoming his friends.

Why you should read it: The premise may sound morbid, but this story manages to balance darkness and lightness, both poignant and sweet. The boys grapple not just with their ideas about death but also family dynamics, social hierarchies, growing up, and of course their evolving friendship with each other. Each is distinct and believable, and the way they come to connect with the old man feels authentic too. This is a quiet, thoughtful read, and its impact creeps up on you.

What’s your favorite book about a group of friends? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime:

songnewestreleaseblog

Originally published at YA Author Megan Crewe. You can comment here or there.

Picturing A Mortal Song‘s Characters

As always when working on a book, with A Mortal Song I went looking for character “models” early on to give me a solid visual of the major characters. They may or may not be how you pictured them too, but here’s a quick look at four of them through my eyes. 🙂

Sora

sora1  sora2
My model for Song‘s protagonist was originally a different actress, but then I saw Aoi Yu perform in the movie Hana and Alice—particularly this dance sequence—and I knew she was my Sora. I had the picture on the left above open on my computer most of the time I was drafting the book, and it’s part of the reason Sora ends up in a green shirt.

Keiji

keiji1  keiji2
I knew right away that my Keiji was going to be Tatsuya Fujiwara, who I mainly knew from the movie Battle Royale. He spends most of that film looking pretty serious, but you can see he’s got a playful side too.

Chiyo

chiyo1 chiyo2

My “magical girl” was the most difficult character to cast, because I had a clear picture of what she looked like in my head… but she’s a pretty unique figure inside and out, so finding a real life person who matched her was tough. I turned to the JapaneseStreets website for inspiration. The girl on the left has the right vibe and general look (though Chiyo would be younger), and her hair color is like the girl on the right (without the green streak).

Takeo

takeo1 takeo2
And here is my stalwart warrior, represented by Takeshi Kaneshiro. With that intense gaze, he would have fit the role perfectly.

What do you think? Do my models fit the characters as you imagined them?

Originally published at YA Author Megan Crewe. You can comment here or there.

A Month of Japan – Okashi Connection

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Snack Subscription Box Review – Okashi Connection

okashibox

What you get: Okashi Connection offers three different box sizes, from $14 (5-7 items) for the cheapest to $33 (14-18 items) for the largest. Shipping is included. Each box includes only snack items (no toys or other special items). Their focus is offering a variety of snacks found only in Japan. The company is based on Japan and that’s where the boxes ship from.

Review of the box:
My Sumo box arrived in the very attractive packaging you can see above, which immediately made me excited to see what was inside.

okashiopen
It was fully packed with tons of goodies and a handy guide that gave a brief description of what each snack was, in vivid color. And what a lot of snacks there were! Here’s the full spread:

okashiall
I jotted down my thoughts on each of the snacks as I tried them out and gave them a rating out of 3 (0 = nope, 1 = all right, 2 = quite good, 3 = OMG where can I get more of this?).

okashi6
Kinoko No Yama Big Size – I don’t know what the small size is like to compare, but these mushroom shaped biscuits had nicely smooth and rich milk chocolate, with the cookie stem adding a great bit of crunch and texture. 2.

Lemon Pocky – I love Pocky and I love sweet lemon flavoring, so you can imagine how these went over. 😉 The icing had a lovely, creamy, tangy flavor and there was lots of it (if I had any complaint, it’d be that I like a tad more cookie in the cookie-to-coating ratio). 3.

okashi1Shuwabo Grape – A long, chewy candy with a satisfying texture, but I’m not a big fan of grape flavoring, so didn’t love this. 1.

Shuwabo Change Cola – Similar to the Grape, but with a supposedly cola flavor and a sour streak down the middle. Sour isn’t my thing, and this was very sour, but that effect faded quickly into the sweetness of the rest of the candy, and otherwise the taste was quite enjoyable. It tasted more like orange and lemon to me than cola, but what do I know? 2.

Pikachu Gum – Mix and match gumballs in four different flavors (as well as another “flavor” for cleansing the palate before trying a new one) along with “recipes” for combining them. I found the flavors didn’t last very long, but I enjoyed most of them. The red had a nicely realistic apple flavor rather than the standard artificial type; the orange tasted like orange; the yellow was vaguely creamy and tangy, more vanilla to me than the yogurt it was labeled as, and the blue was a strong cola flavor. I only tried one of the gray ones and it was kind of horrifying, so I skipped that step afterward. 2.

okashi2
Juu-C Colorful Ramune – These little discs were satisfyingly crunchy and only a little powdery. They had a fruit-gum-like taste, a bit tart but mostly sweet, and a fizzy impression like soda. Would eat again! 2.

Pine-Ame Gummies – The texture on these gummy rings was softer than I prefer in gummy candies and the pineapple taste was pretty thin, only faintly tangy, mostly just sweet. So overall kind of bland. This was the only snack in the bunch I didn’t finish. 0.

Pachi Pachi Panic – The texture of this pop-rock-like candy was a little off-putting to me (the bits stuck to my teeth as I chewed) and the crackling sensation was unsettling, but the strawberry and cream flavoring was so enjoyable I kept eating anyway. 2.

okashi3 okashi4a
DIY molded gummies kit – I found it hard to follow the instructions on the package, so I messed it up a bit, but I was still impressed by the smooth, not too hard or too soft texture of the gummies I created. The flavor was sweet but not too sugary, very tasty. 2.

Peroty Hello Kitty Choco Pops – The milk chocolate was enjoyable creamy, but I didn’t really taste the strawberry in the strawberry one. The banana one had a light artificial banana flavor that worked well with the chocolate. 2.

Puchi Busse Tasty Vanilla Cakes – The soft pastry in these layered “cakes” was a little artificial in texture, as with most prepackaged treats like this, but it had a great mix of sweet flavors. 2.

okashi4b
Pop Zack – These crunchy biscuits had a bit of a chocolate flavor along with a very buttery butterscotch flavor that I wasn’t expecting but loved. 3.

Pototto Plus – With this interesting approach to potato chips, the oil is packaged separately and you shake it into the package right before eating. It definitely gave the chips a fresher, less processed taste. However, all I could taste was the olive oil and salt, none of the supposed herbs, and I like a more prominent flavor in my chips. 1.

okashi5
Saku-Saku Panda – These cookies had a good balance of chocolate with biscuit, plus they were very cute! The chocolate was nicely creamy. 2.

Alfort Mini Chocolate Blonde Milk – Another nice balance of cookie and topping. The “blonde” chocolate wasn’t my favorite (I’m more of a dark gal) but I did enjoy how creamy and sweet it was. 2.

Overall thoughts: Lots of different snacks, most of which I wasn’t familiar with, and almost all of them I enjoyed. I do wish there’d been a little more of the salty snacks to balance out the sweet ones.

Overall rating: 28/45, 62%

Note: I received this box free in exchange for my honest review.

Join me next week for more recs! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime:

songnewestreleaseblog

Originally published at YA Author Megan Crewe. You can comment here or there.

A Month of Japan – Princess Mononoke

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Animated Film Rec – Princess Mononoke

mononoke

What it’s all about: Inflicted with a deadly curse, a young warrior named Ashitaka sets out for the forests of the west in search of the cure that will save his life. Once there, he becomes inextricably entangled in a bitter battle that matches Lady Eboshi and a proud clan of humans against the forest’s animal gods… who are led by the brave Princess Mononoke, a young woman raised by wolves.

Why you should watch it: I love pretty much all of Hayao Miyazaki’s films, and this one makes my top ten fave films of all time. The story is fast-paced but also thoughtful, the characters complex and engaging, and the animation is beautiful. Also the music! The soundtrack is just lovely. I appreciate that the environmental themes are clear without being heavy-handed, that there are plenty of powerful women characters, as always in Miyazaki’s work, and that there is no tidy ending, but more a message of potential and hope.

If you’re a Miyazaki fan, which of his movies is your fave? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime:

songnewestreleaseblog

Originally published at YA Author Megan Crewe. You can comment here or there.

A Month of Japan – Battle Royale

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Live Action Film Rec – Battle Royale

battleroyale

What it’s all about: In the near future, the economy has collapsed, unemployment has soared and juvenile crime has exploded. Fearful of their nation’s youth, the Japanese government passes The BR Law: Each year, a 9th grade class is sent to a remote island where they will be locked into exploding neck collars, given a random weapon, and forced to hunt and kill each other until there is only one survivor left.

Why you should watch it: A lot of people have compared this movie (and book—there’s a book as well) to The Hunger Games because of the similarity in the basic premise: the government forcing teens to kill each other in a sort of game until there’s only one survivor. Something I think Battle Royale does better: it doesn’t pull its punches. Sympathetic characters end up killing other characters not by accident or in immediate self-defense but because they have to make hard choices to survive or they (understandably) melt down during tense situations that arise. Other characters who haven’t trained to be killers nonetheless find they’re willing to embrace that role. There are many shocking moments and many heart-wrenching moments, and it’s a film that will stick with you long after you’ve watched it.

*Note: Graphic violence, not suitable for particularly young or sensitive viewers.

If you’re familiar with both this movie and The Hunger Games, which do you prefer? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime:

songnewestreleaseblog

Originally published at YA Author Megan Crewe. You can comment here or there.

A Month of Japan – Princess Tutu

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

TV Rec – Princess Tutu

princesstutuWhat it’s all about: In a fairy tale come to life, the clumsy, sweet, and gentle Ahiru (Japanese for “duck”) seems like an unlikely protagonist. In reality, Ahiru is just as magical as the talking cats and crocodiles that inhabit her town—for Ahiru really is a duck! Transformed by the mysterious Drosselmeyer into a human girl, Ahiru soon learns the reason for her existence. Using her magical egg-shaped pendant, Ahiru can transform into Princess Tutu—a beautiful and talented ballet dancer whose dances relieve people of the turmoil in their hearts. With her newfound ability, Ahiru accepts the challenge of collecting the lost shards of her prince’s heart, for long ago he had shattered it in order to seal an evil raven away for all eternity.

Princess Tutu is a tale of heroes and their struggle against fate. Their beliefs, their feelings, and ultimately their actions will determine whether this fairy tale can reach its “happily ever after.” (from MyAnimeList)

Why you should watch it: Princess Tutu has so many of my favorite story elements. It takes popular tropes from fairy tales and magical girl cliches, and twists them in unexpected ways. It features vibrant characters who reveal more and more layers, and grow and change, across the entire series. It shows morality as something full of shades of gray rather than black and white. And it has a wonderful meta-fictional approach: stories within stories and a puppet-master orchestrating events from afar, who may not be as untouchable as he thinks. Not to mention the unique integration of ballet and classical music into the story. This isn’t just one of my favorite anime TV shows—it’s one of my favorite TV shows period!

What’s your favorite twisted fairy tale? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime:

songnewestreleaseblog

Originally published at YA Author Megan Crewe. You can comment here or there.

A Month of Japan blog seriesBecause A Mortal Song is set in Japan, in the month leading up to the book’s release I wanted to celebrate some of the amazing media out there by Japanese creators. Monday to Friday for the next four weeks, I’ll be highlighting my favorite books, TV shows, and films (as well as some snack box services—you need something to munch on while you’re doing all that watching and reading!). You can find a full list of my faves and other resources here on my website.

Let’s kick things off!

Book Rec – Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi

moribito

What it’s all about: Balsa was a wanderer and warrior for hire. Then she rescued a boy flung into a raging river—and at that moment, her destiny changed. Now Balsa must protect the boy—the Prince Chagum—on his quest to deliver the great egg of the water spirit to its source in the sea. As they travel across the land of Yogo and discover the truth about the spirit, they find themselves hunted by two deadly enemies: the egg-eating monster Rarunga . . . and the prince’s own father.

Why you should read it: Balsa is a great protagonist, a tough and skilled fighter but also compassionate. I loved the interplay between her and the prince (who grows a lot over the course of the story and really comes into his own), her mentor, and her friend/almost-romantic interest. The story’s mystery is unraveled at a good pace, with twists I didn’t see coming, and I appreciated that one of the key figures in finding the answer isn’t a fighter but a scholar. The action sequences are exciting and the questions of history and morality thought-provoking. Plus, if you can get your hands on a print version, it has an absolutely lovely interior design including two-page illustrations for each section! An all-around excellent fantasy novel. 🙂

Who are your favorite fantasy heroines? Let me know in the comments.

Join me tomorrow for my next rec! You can read more about A Mortal Song in the meantime:

songnewestreleaseblog

Originally published at YA Author Megan Crewe. You can comment here or there.

New Book Announcement + Pre-order Offer!

I’ve been sitting on this news for ages, and now I can finally reveal that I have a new book coming out this September! It’s my pleasure to introduce you to A Mortal Song (click to see the cover larger):

A Mortal Song coverSora’s life was full of magic–until she discovered it was all a lie.

Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.

As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.

Song will be released September 13th in Kindle ebook*, paperback, and hardcover format. You can pre-order from some retailers now with others coming soon!

Amazon button Barnes and Noble button Indiebound button Chapters Indigo button Book Depository Button

Or order a signed copy directly from me: Paperback ~ Hardcover

If you do pre-order, I have a special offer for you! Everyone who pre-orders the book—in any format, from any retailer—and submits their receipt will get a digital gift pack featuring:

-An exclusive digital booklet following Sora’s journey through Japan with photos from the author’s travels and lots of story commentary.

-An exclusive 25-page short story showing a key sequence in the book from another major character’s POV.

-An exclusive high-res digital poster of the book cover, signed by the author.

-Access to Megan’s secret bonus content webpage, where you’ll find deleted scenes from Song as well as her other books.

-A chance to win even bigger prizes, including swag and signed books.

Click here for more details or to claim your gift pack!

*Other ebook types available on request. Email me to ask.

Originally published at YA Author Megan Crewe. You can comment here or there.

Giveaway: YA Fantasy Novels of 2016!

I know things have been a little quiet around here lately (these days I’m more active on Twitter and Facebook if you want to follow me there too), so as a thank you to all the awesome readers out there, I’m giving away five of the most anticipated YA fantasy novels of the year!

Just click the image or here to enter, and you could win Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan, The Star-touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, Riders by Veronica Rossi, and The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater. That’s a lot of great reading!

Good luck! 🙂

Originally published at YA Author Megan Crewe. You can comment here or there.

Creating a Killer Virus

I just noticed that this guest post of mine is no longer available on the original site, so I’m re-posting it here for any new Fallen World readers who missed it. 🙂

The idea of a mysterious sickness that no one knows how to cure is one of the scariest things I can imagine. When I started planning the book that would become The Way We Fall, I realized early on that I didn’t want to just gloss over the science with vague explanations. I wanted to understand the virus I was creating, so I could find believable ways to make it even scarier.

I read several books on viruses and disease, and talked with a microbiologist to make sure my ideas weren’t totally crazy. Much of my research didn’t go into the book–it just there in the background as I wrote. So I’m going to share with you here the factors I considered, and the reasons my virus acts the way it does.

Transmission

Viruses can pass from person to person in all sorts of ways. Pretty quickly, I decided mine was going to spread by respiratory means. That is, through the air: an infected person coughs or sneezes, releasing the virus into the air, where it can then be breathed in by another person, giving the virus a new home.

Why respiratory? Well, for my virus to be truly scary, it needed to spread quickly and easily, and airborne viruses are by far the most contagious. After all, you can catch them without even being that close to someone who’s infected. And all it takes is one cough and the virus can reach every other person in the same room. The only reason some of the world’s deadliest viruses, like Ebola, haven’t caused widespread outbreaks is that they can only be transmitted through direct physical contact with someone who’s already sick. Scientists who’ve seen hints that the virus may become airborne find the possibility terrifying.

Incubation

When you catch a virus, you don’t get sick immediately. There’s always an incubation period during which the virus starts to replicate itself in your body, before there’s enough of it to cause any symptoms. Some only take a day or two to emerge; some a week or more.

When creating my virus, I was inspired by measles. Measles spreads through the air, but it doesn’t give you the standard respiratory symptoms (coughing, sneezing) right away. It hides out in the body’s own cells, reproducing itself and gradually invading other systems, only provoking symptoms some ten days later. I gave my virus a similarly long incubation period, for a few reasons. Like measles, it doesn’t primarily infect the respiratory system–instead, its focus is the brain and nervous system, so I figured it would need some time to settle in there. Also, the longer it takes for people to realize they’re infected and start taking precautions, the easier it is for the virus to spread. And finally, for someone exposed to the virus, having to wait ten days to find out if they’re going to get sick is a lot scarier than only waiting two.

Symptoms

During my brainstorming, I sat down and made a list of all the possible symptoms a disease could cause, focusing on what seemed the most frightening, both to the person infected and to those witnessing it. More than anything, people seem to fear diseases that affect the mind. Consider the fact that it’s been years since the Mad Cow outbreak, and people still make nervous jokes about it. Who talks about SARS or H1N1 anymore? Look at the current fascination with zombie stories, in which the “disease” continues to control the behavior of the infected even after death. As uncomfortable as we are having our bodies turn against us, the thought of losing control over our minds is far more terrifying.

But zombie stories have always bothered me a little, because I find it hard to believe that the disease could take over nearly an entire civilization, when anyone infected is acting in ways that should make anyone not infected stay far far away from them. For a virus to have the best chance of passing through a population, I thought, it’d need to be doing something to attract new “victims” to it. Like the toxoplasmosis parasite which makes rats it infects less afraid of cats, so they’ll be more likely to get eaten and pass the parasite on to the preferred feline host.

So while the first symptoms that emerge when a character is infected with my virus seem like a typical respiratory infection–coughing, sneezing, fever–there’s also an itch. An itch caused by the virus tinkering with the nervous system. And before too long, the virus starts affecting the parts of the brain involved in inhibition and social desires. Those infected lose all sense of discretion at the same time as developing an intense longing for human company. If there’s no one around, they seek other people out, get as close to them as possible, and often pass the virus on.

If that were all, of course, it would be an embarrassing and uncomfortable sickness, but not all that scary. Which is why the virus doesn’t stop there. Since it was already attacking the brain, it made sense that as the disease got worse, people’s ability to process reality might break down completely, into delusions and hallucinations. And, in the end, almost all of them die. Like most of the diseases that frighten us the most–Mad Cow, Ebola–my virus has an incredibly high mortality rate.

One of the things that’s stuck with me after all my reading is how easily and quickly new viruses really can emerge–viruses we have no treatments and no vaccines for. I hope The Way We Fall works for readers who are looking to be scared, because I certainly have frightened myself.

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

Big Giveaway!

If you’re looking to add a whole bunch of titles to your reading stack, Earth & Sky is in with 99 other ebooks and a Kindle Fire in this huge giveway! It includes a wide range of genres, but here are a few of the YA spec fic titles you could win:

Go here to enter, and good luck! :)

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

New Year’s Ebook Sale!

Welcome to 2016! To start the new year off with a bang, I’m putting both the re-release of Give Up the Ghost and Those Who Lived: Fallen World Stories on sale. :)

You can get the Kindle ebooks for just $0.99 through the US site (Ghost / Those Who Lived) or the UK site (Ghost / Those Who Lived).

If you prefer paperbacks, never fear: You can order signed copies from me for $1 off the usual price (ordering info here).

Or you can order paperbacks directly from Createspace at a 20% discount (use coupon code KE8BL7QQ for Ghost / QKLGLM5S for Those Who Lived)

Enjoy!

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

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The results are in from my New Publishing Connections survey, and I’m excited to share them with you! To sum up quickly, this survey was intended to discover to what extent authors need connections within the publishing world to get a first (fiction) book published.

To begin with, I’d like to thank the 257 authors who contributed their answers! Unfortunately, that number wasn’t quite enough to allowed for some of the more detailed analyses across genres and other answers. So I’m going to keep the survey open, and if I get at least 100 more responses, I’ll go back and reanalyze the data to see whether the patterns stay consistent and whether I can identify any new ones.

If you’d like to contribute data on your first (fiction) book sale to a traditional publisher and haven’t already, you can find the survey here. Much appreciated!

Now, on to the current results…

The Books

Of the first (fiction) books reported on in the survey, 49.6% were young adult, 22.3% middle grade, 13.3% adult genre (romance, SFF, mystery, etc.), 11.3% picture books, and 3.1% adult literary or mainstream. (Weighting toward YA and MG would be because of my specific reach when promoting the survey, not anything about the industry.) These books were sold between 1979 and 2015, with most of them having sold in the last five years (60.6%). 22.6% had sold between 2006 and 2010, 11.8% had sold between 2001 and 2005, and only 5.2% were sales before 2000. (There were no sales reported actually in 2000.) Most — 50.4% — were sales to Big Five publishers, while 16% were to other large presses, 19.5% to mid-sized presses, and 14.1% to small presses.

The Connections (or lack thereof)

68% of the books reported on had sold with an agent’s representation; 32% had sold directly to the publisher.

67% of the agented authors had gotten their agent through cold querying — i.e., they’d had no prior contact with the agent and no one acted as a middleman bringing them together. 11.5% had gotten their agent via a referral, 6.9% had met the agent at a conference, 5.2% had gotten a request from the agent due to a contest submission, 4% had gotten to know the agent via social media, and 4.8% had some other connection (e.g., materials requested because seen online).

96% of agented authors had no prior contact whatsoever with the editor their first book sold to. 3.4% had met the editor at a conference or workshop, and 1 author had gotten a referral to the editor.

Therefore, 44.8% of the total respondents sold their first novel via an agent they had no prior contact with to an editor they had no prior contact with.

Looking at the unagented authors, 41.7% had sold their book via a cold query or submission (no prior contact with or connections to the editor). 17.9% had met the editor a conference, workshop, or similar event. 16.7% had gotten a referral. 7.2% had gotten noticed via a contest. 6% had gotten to know the editor via social media. 3 authors were approached by the editor based on self published books. And a handful of “Other” responses were mainly authors who had previous interactions with the editor around past books on submission that hadn’t sold.

Therefore, 13.3% of the total respondents sold the book without an agent, to an editor they had no prior contact with.

Which brings the total of authors who sold their first books without any connections to the people involved in that sale up to 58.1%.

Past Credits (or lack thereof)

One point raised when I conducted my previous survey on this topic was that some authors might have gotten their foot in the door not via direct connections but on the strength of prior publication credits and/or social media presence. So I asked about that too this time around. 53.5% of the authors who responded had no prior credits or platform whatsoever. 10.9% had sold short stories in the same genre as their first (fiction) book. 16.6% had sold short stories and/or articles but none in the same genre. 6.6% had traditionally published nonfiction books. 3.9% had self published stories or books selling fewer than 1000 each; 2.3% had self published stories or books with at least one title selling over 1000 copies. 2.3% were known for their social media presence. A number of others were journalists (freelance or on staff), had worked for hire under pen names, had published poetry, and/or wrote academic texts.

Cross-referencing the authors without connections with authors without past credits/platform, we end up with:

28.7% of the total respondents sold their first novel via an agent they had no prior contact with to an editor they had no prior contact with, without having any prior publication credits or social media platform.

6.5% of the total respondents sold the book without an agent, to an editor they had no prior contact with, without having any prior publication credits or social media platform.

So, overall, 35.2% sold their first books without connections to the people involved in that sale, prior publication credits, or a platform with which to gain notice.

Intersections

Agented vs. Not

Being agented for the first book sale was most common with young adult (78.7& agented), followed by middle grade (68.4%), and adult genre (58.8%). PB writers least likely at 31%. There wasn’t enough data on adult literary/mainstream to reveal patterns. Across all genres, authors had generally found their agent through cold querying (65-69.2%). Adult genre writers were more likely than others to have gotten a referral (25%); YA and MG saw fairly similar percentages for contests (around 6.8%) referals (10.6%), meeting at conference etc. (7.3%), and getting to know online (3.3%). There wasn’t enough PB data to reveal patterns at that level of detail.

Being agented seems to have become more common for first book sales over the years, with only 23.1% of those who sold their books prior to 2000 having agents, vs. 56.7% of those between 2001 and 2005, 70.7% in 2006-2010, and 72.9% after 2011. No patterns in regards to cold querying emerged other than none of the 13 responses from pre-2000 had cold queried (they’d mostly gotten referrals). Otherwise cold querying has been by far the most common route to getting an agent over the last 15 years (around 70% of those agented). Referrals as a route to agent decreased over the time periods from 17.6% in 2001-2005 to 12.2% in 2006-2010 to 9.7% after 2011 (not enough data prior to 2000). Meeting agents in person became more common, with no one reporting this prior to 2006, 2.4% in 2006-2010, and 9.7% after 2011; contest submissions only became a thing after 2011.

First book sales to Big Five houses were almost always agented (86%), while mid-sized and other large presses showed similar numbers around the middle (56% and 58.5%), and with small press it was least common to have been agented (30.8%). Coming at it from the other direction, agented writers mostly sold to the Big Five (63.8%) and rarely to small presses (6.3%) whereas unagented writers were least likely to sell to Big Five (22%) and most likely to sell to small press (30.5%).

Prior publication credits or other platform was less common for agented writers (77.4% had none) than for non-agented (57.1%). It’s impossible to determine cause and effect, but I’d wonder if writers who have some experience with publishing are more likely to feel comfortable going directly to editors, or if it’s that it’s more difficult to sell a book without those prior credits if you don’t have an agent, or perhaps a bit of both. Having no prior credits didn’t seem to make a difference in how people got agents, with 67.9% of those with none successful via cold querying, similar to 66.2% of those with some.

Prior Credits/Platform

Authors who cold queried agents and sold to editors they’d had no prior contact with also had no prior credits or platform in 64% of cases. Most common credits for those who had some: 11.7% had sold at least some short stories in the same genre as the book, 12.6% had sold short stories and/or articles in other genres.

Authors who sold directly to editors via cold query/submission had no prior credits/platform in 48.6% of cases. 14.3% had sold at least some short stories in the same genre as the book, and 25.7% had sold short stories and/or articles in other genres.

There were not enough authors with prior credits to break down the data by type of credit or in comparison to genre etc. in any meaningful way at this time.

Conclusions

For anyone who feared that it’s impossible to sell a book without some sort of connection or publication history, I think these numbers should provide reassurance. More than a third of the responding authors published their first (fiction) book without any of that!

To anyone who would take this data as reason for doubt — “But the majority of the authors did have something helping them!” — I’d like to point out that just because an author had a connection or prior credits, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have sold the book without that. We’re not looking at causal relationships here, only criteria that both happened to be present and may have had no impact on each other. This seems especially likely to be the case given that the most common “something” was having previously published short stories or articles that weren’t even in the same genre as the book sold, which seems unlikely to have mattered enough to any agent or editor to make the difference between wanting to represent or buy the book vs. not.

Speaking from my own experience: I queried agents with two earlier books before querying with the one that got me representation (and later sold as my debut). I had the exact same prior publishing credits in all of those cases (a handful of adult spec fic short stories). What made the difference was the book. The agent who did take my debut on didn’t care at all about those short stories, because they weren’t for the same audience as the book and they weren’t especially prominent. She didn’t even mention them to the editors she submitted the book to. So, I had “something,” but there’s no reason to believe my publishing journey with that book would have been any different if I hadn’t.

I’ve also gotten referrals to agents who decided not to represent me because my book wasn’t quite the right fit (and said book later sold via a different agent), and given referrals to authors who my agent decided not to take on for the same reason (and some of those books have since sold via different agents). A referral isn’t going to make someone take on your book if the book isn’t what they’re looking for — and being turned down on a referral doesn’t mean a book isn’t what someone else might be looking for.

In other words, the people who got their first book published without any of that are only the baseline number of people who 100% definitely didn’t need anything except the book and the willingness to put it out there. The people who got their first book published after having published short stories or working as a journalist or getting a referral to an agent or meeting an editor at a conference might have needed that extra stuff to get noticed… but I think there’s a good chance that many if not most of them would have gotten noticed regardless, if they hadn’t had those credits to mention, if they’d cold queried the agent or submitted to the editor without the meeting, because it was the right book at the right time.

Those are my thoughts — I’d love to hear yours!

(And remember, if you’d like to contribute data for a broader analysis, you can still do so here. :) )

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

A couple of years ago, I found out my debut novel, Give Up the Ghost, was going out of print. This was not entirely surprising, because not very many new readers were discovering the book, but it was also saddening, because there were so many new readers who now couldn’t discover the book.

Ghost had a bit of an awkward time of it from the start. While it got great feedback from fellow authors (Justine Larbalestier called it “a beautiful and moving debut”) and industry reviewers, it was also a paranormal YA novel that had no romance coming out on the heels of the Twilight series, and a ghost story that’s more about the emotional concerns of the living than supernatural hauntings. But I’m still very fond of it, and there are many readers who’ve connected with it, which makes me hope it’ll find more. So when I got the opportunity to re-release Ghost myself, I jumped on it.

And as part of that re-release, I have given the book a makeover.* :) Check out the new cover (recently revealed at YABooksCentral, where you can go to enter to win a paperback copy):

Do you like the new look? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The new edition of the book will be available for purchase on December 1st, with a new ebook price of just $3.99. You can pre-order the ebook here, and the new paperback is available here. I will be offering signed copies of the paperback at the same prices as Those Who Lived; if you’re interested, please email me.

*Note: The content of the book is completely unchanged — not because I think it’s perfect, but because I started writing that book more than ten years ago in a very different place in my life, and I think it should stand as the book I wrote then.

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

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Ottawa Teen Author Fest recap

I just got back from an awesome not-quite-24 hours in Ottawa with fellow Penguin Random House YA authors Morgan Rhodes and Natale Ghent. Part of what made the trip awesome was the company of those two lovely women. The other parts?

The wonderful librarians of the Ottawa Public Library who organized and hosted the events (two of whom are pictured with us below):

The amazing sign and display that greeted us at the library:

And of course all of the enthusiastic teens who asked questions and shared their thoughts during our school visit, and hung out with us at the library event. Especially one reader named Artina who brought five of my books for me to sign (and would have had one more, except the bookseller on hand wasn’t selling the one she didn’t already have) and brought me a present, which was so sweet of her and I don’t think has ever happened to me before:

Also awesome? The hotel upgraded our rooms to “romantic luxury suites”, which included a huge “Roman” bathtub (I tried to take a picture but it didn’t really turn out, so let’s just say this thing must have held at least three times more water than my tub at home does), and very comfy bed, and some interesting decor…

Which is relevant to the new project I happened to be line editing during the trip’s occasional spare moments, in a way I will some day explain. 😀 I think I’ll take that as a good sign, anyway.

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

The Canadian A Sky Unbroken is here!

The Canadian edition of A Sky Unbroken is now out in all its shiny hardcover glory! Behold:

I’ll be talking about the series, writing in general, and in some cases reading from the book at a few events around Toronto and Ottawa in the next eight days. Stop by if you’d like to get your book signed, or if you just want to chat:

CANSCAIP Packing Your Imagination Conference
Humber College Lakeshore Campus (21 Colonel Samuel Smith Drive), Toronto, ON – Saturday November 14, 2015, 9am-4:45pm
YA fantasy & science fiction panel 11am-12pm and signing after the keynote

Teen Author Fest – Other Worlds author panel
Ottawa Public Library, Nepean Centrepointe branch (101 Centrepointe), Ottawa, ON – Monday November 16, 2015 – 7pm
(with Morgan Rhodes and Natale Ghent)

ChiSeries reading
Round Venue (152A Augusta Ave, 2nd floor), Toronto, ON – Wednesday November 18, 2015 – 8pm

Please do say hi if you see me! :)

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

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Exciting news: My Canadian publisher for the Earth & Sky trilogy has teamed up with local SF & fantasy bookstore Bakka-Phoenix to present a combined pre-order campaign and giveaway! This is for the Canadian editions of the books, and the offer and giveaway are open to readers throughout Canada.

Here’s how it works:

If you would like to get a copy of the hardcover edition of A Sky Unbroken, pre-order it from Bakka-Phoenix before November 10th (the Canadian release date) and you will receive a copy signed by me as well as swag for the trilogy! You will also be entered to win the grand prize.

If you would like to start or catch up with the trilogy, you can instead (or also) order the Canadian edition of Earth & Sky (paperback or hardcover) and/or the Canadian edition of The Clouded Sky (hardcover) before November 10th to be entered to win the grand prize.

The grand prize: A Traveler kit with everything you’ll need in case a time traveling alien sweeps into your life, and $100 in gift cards!

You can place your order with Bakka-Phoenix by stopping by the store at 84 Harbord if you’re in Toronto, or by calling them at 416-963-9993 if you’re elsewhere. They will be able to confirm book pricing and shipping costs for the books. If you prefer, you can also try the email form on their contact page, but they do not generally take orders this way.

Good luck to all who enter! And feel free to email me if you have any questions about the offer.

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

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I’m in an investigative mood this month, and I’m hoping you all will help me out with an examination of two different areas of publishing.

1. Publishing Connections

Some of you may remember my original look at the publishing connections myth (i.e., the theory that you have to know someone to have a shot at getting published) which was, wow, more than six years ago now. The original data seemed to prove that the majority of published authors sold their first book with no connections necessary, but people pointed out a few concerns–that I hadn’t been able to break it down by genre, for example, or by what year people had sold their debut in. That myth/theory about needing connections still seems to be hanging on, possibly even more so with all the changes in the industry over the last six years, so I’ve been meaning to take another, more thorough run at the subject. So here we are! Let’s find out to what extent, even right now, for any given type of book, you’re likely to get published without knowing anyone in publishing at all. :)

If you have sold a book-length work of fiction (for any age group) to a traditional publishing house (of any size) at any time, whether with connections or without, I would greatly appreciate it if you took a few minutes to fill out my new Publishing Connections survey. By traditional publishing, I mean a publishing house that offered you an advance and/or royalties to publish your book and provided editorial guidance, cover and interior design, and some level of marketing and distribution at no cost to you. All individual responses are completely anonymous. I’ll keep the survey open until mid-November and then present the results. Please share widely with any traditionally published authors you know if you’re inclined to!

The New Publishing Connections Survey

2. Self Publishing Numbers

A whole lot of traditionally published authors I know are starting to dip their toes into the self publishing world or are curious about doing so, with out of print backlist titles and/or new projects that don’t seem suited to traditional publishing for whatever reason. I’ve found in my own research (for Those Who Lived and the forthcoming re-release of Give Up the Ghost) that definite answers are hard to come by, especially when the self publishing landscape is shifting so regularly. So while I had my subscription to the survey site, I thought it’d be a great time to gather some data.

If you have self published at least one book-length work of fiction (for any age group), new work or re-release, I would greatly appreciate it if you took the time to fill out my Self Publishing Numbers survey. The survey collects data on sales numbers and income across genres, series vs. standalone books, price levels, promotional effort, and a variety of other factors, mostly within the past year. I hope it will reveal some patterns people will find useful in deciding whether to self publish a given book and what strategies to use if they do. All individual responses are completely anonymous, and if you are uncomfortable sharing any specific data, you may skip those questions without answering. This survey will be open until mid-November, after which I will present the results. Please share widely with any self publishing authors you know if you’re inclined to!

The Self Publishing Numbers Survey

If you have any questions about either survey, feel free to ask in the comments on this post or to email me directly. And huge thanks to everyone who participates!

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

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A Sky Unbroken online launch party begins!

The Earth & Sky trilogy is complete today, with the release of the final book, A Sky Unbroken. It’s a little sad taking my leave of Skylar, Win, Jule, and all the other characters, but I’m also excited to be able to share the end of their story with you. So let’s party!

(For those in Canada, our edition isn’t out until November 10th, but you can still party along now!)


Available in stores and online at:
Amazon ~ Chapters/Indigo (pre-order) ~ B&N ~ Indiebound ~ BookDepository (international)

Talk with me!

All day you can post questions or share your thoughts by commenting on this blog post or on the Facebook event page. Remember, if you’re asking or talking about a key event from this book or earlier books in the trilogy, please mark your comment with a SPOILER note so others who haven’t read yet can skip over it.

Win books!

Comment and win! I will randomly select one person who comments on this post to win your choice of any book in the Earth & Sky trilogy in your preferred format (Canadian hardcover edition, US paperback edition, ebook, or audiobook), signed by me.

Follow the Facebook event page and win! I will be posting questions on the FB wall throughout the day which you can answer to win books, so check back regularly!

All giveaways are open to readers around the world.

Additional launch activities (today only!)

Request a signed bookplate and bookmark to put in your copy of A Sky Unbroken over at the signing table.

Join the launch party live chat from 8:30-9:30pm EST, during which I’ll be giving out a few more prizes. Link to be posted here shortly beforehand!

Get inside the book!

Take a peek inside the book by reading the first chapter here or this excerpt from further in here (you’ll have to go down the page a bit to find it).

Hear the music that helped inspire the story by listening to the unofficial soundtrack (scroll down past Earth & Sky and The Clouded Sky‘s).

See images and quotes that I associated with the trilogy by browsing through my “sky” tag on Tumblr.

Enjoy the festivities!

Originally published at another world, not quite ours - Megan Crewe's blog. You can comment here or there.

My Books


Earth & Sky
(Earth & Sky #1, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2014


The Clouded Sky
(Earth & Sky #2, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


A Sky Unbroken
(Earth & Sky #3, science fiction YA)
Skyscape/Razorbill Canada, 2015


The Way We Fall
(Fallen World #1, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2012


The Lives We Lost
(Fallen World #2, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2013


The Worlds We Make
(Fallen World #3, apocalyptic YA)
Disney-Hyperion, 2014


Those Who Lived: Fallen World Stories
(Fallen World #3.5, apocalyptic YA)
self pubbed, 2014


Give Up the Ghost
(paranormal YA)
Henry Holt, 2009

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