So today I thought I'd talk a little bit about a trend I've noticed in the writing world, primarily, in YA series. It's not an entirely new thing, but it's blown up recently, and I find it interesting that no one else seems to have commented on it. So let me start, and say, What is up with all the series with novellas nowadays?
Don't know what I mean? Let me explain a bit more. Recently, there's been a spat of YA authors, in the midst of putting out relatively popular series, who have released novellas, usually in e-book form, to go along with the series. I'll give a few examples in a bit; probably some of you can think of them yourself, if you've been keeping up with said series.
This isn't an entirely new thing, as I said at the beginning. As I matter of fact, I can remember this happening a while back, with the most famous children's series of all, Harry Potter. In this case, it wasn't novellas, but short supplementary (print) pieces that J.K. Rowling wrote to go along with the series. Most of these were sold to benefit certain charities. I'm thinking The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch through the Ages, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. You guys remember those? I read them all multiple times. They didn't contribute in any way to the plot of the series, but they expanded general knowledge of the world of Harry Potter, and continued to prove that J.K. Rowling is a genius world-builder.
Whether or not this had been done before I am unsure of, but I somehow doubt it. Before Harry Potter, the children's publishing world was not as it is today. Rowling set the precedent for many developments in this area.
After this, I don't recall much happening in the front of series with novellas. Certainly there were more children's series that put out supplementary guides after Harry Potter, basic books about the world of the series and such. But there was generally a still point, up until Twilight hit.
After the Twilight Saga became a phenomenon, after that whole nonsense where Meyer was going to write the series again from Edward's view but then threw a tantrum when part of it leaked, she released a novella, called The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner, which focused on the story of an entirely inconsequential character in Eclipse. Meyer had written the story to help the movie writers with their understanding of the vampire world, and honestly, it was kind of cool. It both told a story and supplemented the world that surrounded Twilight. And though I know we all hate to think Twilight did anything for the world, I believe that this was where the YA series with novellas trend began. Interestingly, like with Harry Potter, part of the Twilight novella funds went to charity.
Now, it took a while for the YA series with novellas thing to take off. I'm not aware of any for a long time after Twilight hit. After Twilight was the Hunger Games, which gave us no supplementary novellas, but then... then came the YA dystopian trend that followed on the heels of the Hunger Games. Then came a number of bestselling YA series/trilogies, and with them came the next trend--series with novellas.
The only reason I really noticed this enough to start talking about it is that I have a Kindle. I use it mostly for school stuff, but I also keep a huge backlog of free classics on there to read, and some other modern books that I like to keep on my person. Because I have a Kindle, I can buy e-books. I also, ultimately because of my Kindle, have a few Amazon wishlists. And this is how I came to notice that the recent YA series I've enjoyed the most have begun releasing supplementary novellas.
The first one I noticed was for the YA sci-fi dystopian with fantastical elements series Shatter Me. I loved Shatter Me, which I know I've mentioned, and was super happy when the second book, Unravel Me, didn't fall flat, as second books often do. The third book has yet to come out, but when I started searching to get the first two books on my wish list, I found something interesting--a novella, released only in e-book, and for pretty cheap.
It's called Destroy Me, and it's a supplementary story looking at the time in between the first two books from the view of the villain/not-villain (it's a long story.) And honestly, I thought that was super cool, which is why it's on my Kindle Wishlist now. This book doesn't appear to be for charity, but nonetheless, it's a great idea.
This was immediately followed by me realizing that The Selection, another YA dystopian trilogy reminiscent in this case of The Bachelor, also had an e-book novella, The Prince, which takes place before the trilogy, following the love interest. The Selection is another trilogy I have hopefully and eagerly followed, not as tightly as Shatter Me, but close. So this novella got put right on my wishlist as well. At this point I started to notice that a trend really was occurring.
Because after this, I started paying attention, and I noticed tons of novellas being released in supplement to other YA series. All these novellas, mostly in e-book format, following different characters in the series... you find them everywhere. For Veronica Rossi's Through the Ever Night trilogy, for Oliver's Delirium trilogy, for Kagawa's Iron Princess series. Even Percy Jackson/Carter Kane have a novella of their own. Name a recent hit YA series, and you will probably find yourself a related novella. Some authors are even releasing shorter supplements, single chapters told from a new view, as with Roth's Divergent supplement, Free Four, and Meyer's additional scene in The Host. All of this seems to have led up to the recent announcement by Roth that she will be releasing four novellas in addition to the Divergent trilogy from Tobias's point of view, which does very truly excite me. I have them on my wishlist too, already.
This novella thing is honestly a brilliant idea. I am in no way putting this trend down, because I quite like it. But I do have some questions. Like, for example, how did this happen? I haven't heard anything from the industry on this sudden trend, and as a YA writer, I'd like to know. Are YA authors with successful series now being pushed to do this? Are publishers and agents asking them to put these novellas forward? Or is it a personal choice? Or both?
I've written one series, as you readers know, and I'm coming up to writing a trilogy for NaNoWriMo, in November. So someday in the future, if they get published and become successful, will I be expected to write supplementary novellas to sell? I feel like that's something I need to be prepared for, at least to begin brainstorming some ideas for the set.
Personally, too, I'd like to use such novellas for charity, as with Rowling and Meyer, which is something I haven't seen in any of these recent releases. Is that allowed, or is that an old idea?
In basis, what is the deal with this trend?
I'm honestly asking right now. If anyone out there, anyone reading, has any input on this, I would absolutely love to hear it. I might write an addendum if I get enough info, telling people what the deal is on this new trend. So if you have any idea about this trend... come forward, minion.
Thank you for reading, and I'll see you next time for a post on comics and funny fictional inventions of me and my friends, here at home, at college, and abroad. :)
Images via Goodreads.
I'm an unpublished novelist, primarily of YA fantasy, and a freelance editor. I love psychology, cats, social justice, and love! I'm also a huge fangirl. More than anything, stories are my life.
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