Last weekend The Age had an article showing the Bookscan figures for the biggest selling books in Australia for 2008. I had been glancing at the bestseller lists every Saturday in The Age so it came as no surprise that Stephenie Meyer's young adult vampire/romance series dominated the top ten sellers taking out second, third and fourth spots. Each sold just over 200,000 copies. Another young adult novel Brisingr (141,000 copies), by Christopher Paolini, was number ten and JK Rowling's Tales of Beedle the Bard (201,000) came in at number five. So it looks like writing speculative fiction for young adults is the way to go.
As usual, Bryce Courtenay topped the adult fiction list with his latest selling 127,000 copies, just beating Tim Winton's Breath that sold 126,000 copies. Mathew Reilly wasn't in the list for a change.
I had a look at the blog, Pub Rants by a literary agent Kirstin from the Nelson Literary Agency in the US. In a post at the end of the year, she displayed the following statistics for her as an agent:
number of new clients
estimated number of queries read and responded to (and yes, that is up from last year)
full manuscripts requested (up from last year)
number of projects currently on submission
So from 35,000 queries she only requested a full manuscript from 88 writers and then only took on two of them as clients. Not very promising figures for any writer trying to get an agent. But her blog would add to the number of queries. As far as I know she doesn't take science fiction.
In another post on her blog, an author Simone Elkeles told of the rap video she had made for her young adult romance novel Perfect Chemisty, a modern day Romeo and Juliet (and they say originality is dead). Most of the comments were positive, but on reflection I began to think whether a rap video is appropriate for her potential market, after all, the majority of rap listeners are young males, while the majority of romance novel readers are female. Perhaps a pop song by a Britney Spears lookalike would have been more appropriate. I then began to think that if the author has got this aspect of youth culture wrong, then how relevant to young adults might the novel itself be. But maybe I am wrong and there are enough teenage females into rap music to make it an effective marketing tool.
I thought I had a few other things on writing hanging around my office, but can't find them among the piles of newspaper clippings and web print outs. If I eventually locate them before the silverfish eat them, they will be the subject of future posts.