Monday, December 26, 2011

Is the Multi-Author Series the Wave of the Future?

Happy Hoppin' Holidays! Happy Boxing Day! (If you want to know what Boxng Day is, here you go.) Did Santa bring you everything you wanted? I hope so!

But I digress. What I really want to ask you is, "did you see the recent announcement in Publisher's Marketplace?"

NYT bestselling author of THE MAZE RUNNER James Dashner's INFINITY RING series, beginning with A MUTINY IN TIME, with subsequent books written by Carrie Ryan, Lisa McMann, Matt de la Peña, Matthew J. Kirby, and Jennifer A. Nielsen, an alternate-history time travel series combining books, "Hystorian's Guide" collectible maps and interactive feature (named for a secret society featured in the books), and an online game where readers travel back in time to fix history, to David Levithan at Scholastic, for publication beginning in September 2012 simultaneously in the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

Holy Hotdogs! What a team of heavy hitters. I immediately dashed off to do some snooping and found an informative article in the New York Times. Basically, in the seven book series the main characters will "encounter historical figures like Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Louis XVI and Harriet Tubman. Children reading the books and playing the online game can interact with the characters and press them for historical information. Playing the game — which will be available on the Web, smartphones and tablets — should lead children back into the books, which contain clues and information that will not be online."

It sounds like it's going a step further even than the game cards contained in The 39 Clues series, which my oldest son adores. (Confession time: I haven't read the series. Throw me into the middle grade dunk tank.) Mr. Dashner, in the NYT's piece, hoped that the interactive content of The Infinity Ring would spur reluctant readers to read more.

It certainly sounds exciting and innovative. (And I love me some time travel!) Do you think these sorts of multi-author series, with gaming/reading interactivity, are the wave of the future? Does this sort of thing excite you, or make you scream "please god, not more screen time for the kiddies!?"


  1. I hadn't heard of this and I have very mixed feelings about it all. I love the premise of the series, but I don't understand why multiple authors are working on it unless it is to shorten the release times between books.

    I only made it through the first three books of the 39 Clues series, though before I started reading I thought it sounded like a great idea. I fear that in trying to smooth out the differences in all authors' styles, there will be a flattening effect on the richness of the stories as well. We'll see what happens. I'd love to be proven wrong!

  2. Personally, things like this don't interest me, but I know there is room for many tastes/styles out there (just look at our Mayhem authors, for instance!). I'm sure there's a market, too.

    I'm not looking for any more screen time for my kids, but I know how successful tie ins like Pop-tropica have been for The Wimpy Kid and Big Nate books.

  3. Personally, I can't imagine myself getting into something like this. I just don't know that I could suspend my disbelief to allow for multiple authors writing the same characters. That being said, I probably would have really been into something like this as a kid, so I'm sure it will do well.

  4. I think it's a neat concept. I wonder if the authors collaborate on the writing style of the series or if everyone does their own thing. I would love to collaborate on an author in a multi-author animal fantasy series! That would be a blast!

  5. Heeheehee, thanks for the Boxing Day shout-out! :) Now back on topic...

    Like Dee, I have mixed feeligs about this. I actually barely made it through Rick Riordan's opening book for The 39 Clues; I definitely got the feeling that the story would get flattened by all the discrepancies in style. Personally, I don't think those heavyweight authors really will exert much influence over MGers, anyways; it's more adult and writers who will take notice.

    Re: the web part -- I feel like what they're trying to do is cull an audience that ranges from the geeks to the bibliophiles. It just remains to be seen how effectively it turns out, I guess. I'd say I wouldn't be interested in this, if I were their target age group.

  6. I did see this, and at first I read it to mean Dashner was authoring the entire series, but then read it again and saw that he was writing the first and last (and created the arc for the series). I know that Riordan did the same for the 39 CLUES series, which I found intriguing. But like many of you, I feel it gimmicky and forced that multiple authors are writing books in the series. It makes for inconsistencies. As for the interactive function, I love it! I'm one of those authors who feels we NEED to make our stories more interactive for the sake of the new type of readers out there.

  7. They've been doing this for years, specifically with Expanded Universe Lore with such series as Doctor Who, Star Wars, and Warhammer 40k. Honestly, it's nothing new, although for the masses who don't have niche reading preferences, specifically YA, it's a genius move.

    I'm not really impressed to say the least. Nothing new on my end, but that doesn't mean that I hope it doesn't do well. If it changes childrens lives, then I'm all for it!

  8. I think it's a really neat concept and I'm for anything that might get reluctant kids reading.

  9. I haven't read the 39 clues yet, but it sounds like a good concept. I loved getting immersed into the world of the books I was reading (still do!), so I could see how this would really appeal to kids.

  10. Monica Dawboski12/27/11, 12:49 PM

    I wonder if the kids really mind that much who wrote each book in a series. Sometimes I think we're more interested in this than they are! If you asked my son who wrote Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Guardians of Ga'hoole, both of which he reads, he would not know!! :)

    Interesting post!

  11. LOVE this post, Michael! I know my son will read ANYTHING that has Rick Riordan's name on it, just because it's Riordan. And I will read anything with Dashner's name on it! LOL. :-)


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!