Today, I thought I'd talk a little bit about a trend I've noticed in the writing world, especially 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: 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 popular series, who have released novellas, usually in e-book form, to go along with the 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 that case, it wasn't e-novellas, but short supplementary print pieces that J.K. Rowling wrote to go along with her books. Most of these were sold to benefit certain charities. There was The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Quidditch through the Ages, and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. You all remember those? I read them multiple times. They didn't contribute in any way to the plot of the series, but they added to general knowledge of the world of Harry Potter and continued to prove that J.K. Rowling is a genius worldbuilder.
Whether or not this had been done before I am unsure of, but I 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.
There were more children's series that put out supplementary guides after Harry Potter, basic books about the world of the series and such. Then Twilight hit. After that whole nonsense where Meyer was going to write the series again from Edward's view but got upset 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. Like with Harry Potter, part of the Twilight novella funds went to charity.
Then, with the YA dystopian trend that followed on the heels of The Hunger Games, there came a number of bestselling YA series, and with them came many additional novellas. The only reason I really noticed this enough to start talking about it is that I have a Kindle, thanks partly to my high school. I use it mostly for school stuff, but I also have a huge backlog of free classics on there to read and some modern books that I want to keep on my person. Because I have it, I can buy e-books. As I've created Amazon book wishlists, I've noticed that the recent YA series I've enjoyed the most have begun releasing supplementary e-novellas.
The first one I noticed was for the YA sci-fi dystopian Shatter Me. I loved Shatter Me 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 add the first two books to my wishlist, I found something interesting: a cheap e-novella. 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(ish). 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 of The Bachelor, also had an e-novella, The Prince, which takes place before the trilogy, following the love interest. The Selection is another trilogy I have hopefully and eagerly followed. So this novella got put right on my wishlist as well. At this point, I started to notice the trend.
I started paying attention to all the novellas being released in supplement to other YA series. You can find them everywhere, with Veronica Rossi's Through the Ever Night trilogy, Oliver's Delirium trilogy, 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 a related novella. Some authors are even releasing single chapters told from a new view, as with Roth's Divergent supplement and Meyer's additional scene in The Host. All of this seems to have led up to Roth's recent announcement that she will be releasing four novellas 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, 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?
I've written one series, as you readers know, and I'm working 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. 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 an old idea?
Basically, what is the deal with this trend?
If anyone reading has any input on this, I would absolutely love to hear it.
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