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 Post subject: Compare & Contrast "Harry Potter" vs "Young Wizards" series
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:23 pm 
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Diane Duane wrote the "Young Wizards" series where modern day kids can do powerful magic. Sort of like "Harry Potter" except her first book came out over a decade before Harry hit the halls of Hogwarts.

As a writer for the same age group I'd be interested in hearing opinions on why one series did okay and another made billions. I solemnly promise to financially help support HW if I start making billions. :dieshappy:

Thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: Compare & Contrast "Harry Potter" vs "Young Wizards" ser
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:18 pm 
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I've never even heard of the Young Wizards books but I went and read the description for the first YW book and I gotta say, it doesn't make me extremely interested. It seems to be a bigger concept - the "Lone Power" vs an evil wizard, two kids traveling the universe vs a boarding school setting.

I just read the Prologue for YW - it looks interesting but there's a lot of scientific exposition which may interest readers &/or geeks but I think HP was able to appeal to many readers and nonreaders because it was simpler, with the explanations woven throughout the action. YW feels more like if we had read the HP books through Hermione's perspective and sat down to read "Hogwarts: A History" right alongside her. My husband, daughter and niece would all get bored before even finishing the prologue. (And my niece is a heavy reader. Hubby & daughter have dyslexia so it has to really appeal for them to put in the effort to read or listen to an audio book - they love the HP books but I don't think they'd even listen to the audio book after it starts talking about entropy, conserving energy and so on. Not to mention the book waxes eloquent about how awesome readers are which isn't going to do much to make them relate to Nita.)

If what I'm seeing online is correct, there's alternate universes, sciencey stuff (entropy), silicone-based life forms - it's got all the earmarks to appeal to scifi/fantasy geeks but it may be too much for the nonreaders and people who don't normally lean toward scifi/fantasy. That's my hypothesis anyway...

Out of curiosity, where does the magic in YW come from? That could be another small factor, at least in the Christian set. Personally, I prefer fantasy where the magic is a natural ability vs something that comes externally from reading a book/chanting a spell/etc.

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 Post subject: Re: Compare & Contrast "Harry Potter" vs "Young Wizards" ser
PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 8:31 pm 
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In the YW series there is "The One" who is God-like and good, "The Powers" who seem angelish but are also reputedly historical 'gods' like Lugh, Diana, etc. "The Lone One" invented death and entropy and seeks to get all the alternate universes to buy into it. Wizardly power can run in families like HP. Wizards fight The Lone One and try to delay entropy.

There's a little romance between the fourteen year old girl and thirteen but mature boy, but nothing major. In book 4 she kissed some other guy and tried to figure out what to do with her nose. Even by book 10 or so they're still supposedly not doing any serious dating but I've only gotten through books 1-4.

From a Christian perspective there's some similarities but it's obiviously not a Christain book. Of course, neither is HP. I like that the YW parents aren't total dunderheads and yeah, it gets a bit sci-fi-ish for me.

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 Post subject: Re: Compare & Contrast "Harry Potter" vs "Young Wizards" ser
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 3:07 pm 
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Back when I was a little older than the "target audience," I discovered the "Young Wizards" series, and it really caught my imagination. My opinion of it gradually declined as I matured, because I came to realize the dubious quality of a series about "kids like you" performing magic, and especially as later volumes focused so much on the "YA"/teenage-angst/relationship side of the story at the expense of the worldbuilding and the nominal plot. But I still think that the more SF approach to fantasy (it's science fiction, with the allowed one speculation being this magic system, which is described in scientific terms).

The Harry Potter series stands in great contrast, by the way. While it is far more evocative to the population as a whole, my opinion of it fell at a far younger age and far faster, and because

  • it became increasingly obvious that she was at the eleventh hour deciding to ret-con an utterly implausible set of romantic pairings and insist that what seemed to me to have been telegraphed obviously from the first book on had actually never been there,
  • the tone of the series kept getting darker and darker without any hint of real eucatastrophe (in the end Harry literally comes back from the dead and we get status quo ante bellum, eugenics reduced back from official policy only as far as being the unspoken opinion of the still-dominant political faction), and
  • the holes, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the worldbuilding became egregiously obvious.

I now value Rowling's work highly as a base on which many fan authors have built work that is far better except for needing her original to make sense.

As far as similarities: Really, there's not much. They're both "YA fantasy," depicting teenagers doing (different sorts of) magic while (supposedly) growing up, but beyond that I really can't think of anything.

(Oh, and if anyone liked the Young Wizards universe at all, there's two very delightful non-YA side stories whose protagonists and POV characters are cats, The Book of Night With Moon and To Visit the Queen.

I don't know why Harry Potter was so much more commercially successful and widely popular than the Young Wizards series; I suspect that there was some factor of "right place at the right time," but I'm convinced that part of it was that the publisher(s) decided that Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was going to be a hit and spent a lot of money on a marketing campaign to make that happen. And the Harry Potter series was published by Scholastic in the U.S., which has one significant advantage that few other publishers in the country have: it sells directly to schoolchildren via school book sales (some small part of the profits of which are shared with the library of the school hosting them, adding an incentive for parents to sponsor children's purchases) and "book club" catalogs distributed by elementary-school teachers.

Part of it may also be that while Harry Potter is in a "magic school," for the most part that's just the backdrop of the story, and his success doesn't depend principally upon whether he learned what he was supposed to well enough; he just forces enough power through, or survives by luck, or obtains some magical MacGuffin; for children who had previously apparently despised reading, let alone any other sort of academic effort, that's more of a "wish fulfillment fantasy" than having to learn to speak a whole new language in one's free time, memorize a long saga while transformed into a whale, or whatever else Kit and Nita had to do.

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My blog includes the following "departments":
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  • Strategic Primer, a strategy game I'm developing, played by email, assisted by programs I'm developing. The current campaign (moving slowly, less than one turn a month) always needs more players.
  • My poetry.
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 Post subject: Re: Compare & Contrast "Harry Potter" vs "Young Wizards" ser
PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:54 pm 
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This is an excellent topic and definitely the kind of thing we should be studying and exploring here on HW, because this is useful information for writing and marketing. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Compare & Contrast "Harry Potter" vs "Young Wizards" ser
PostPosted: Wed Aug 16, 2017 2:27 pm 
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I just stumbled on this post and I think it explains a lot about why Harry Potter did so well. Exactly as Kingjon said, Scholastic threw everything they had at promoting it because they asked David Farland to pick a book out of a pile that he thought had the potential to go far. You'll notice their first instinct was not to go with Harry Potter. So I'm thinking it's likely that back when the Young Wizards were coming out, they didn't get quite the promotional support. (Though even if it had, it may have been a wasted effort if the books don't have the ability to appeal to a wider-range audience in the same way the HP books do.)

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 Post subject: Re: Compare & Contrast "Harry Potter" vs "Young Wizards" ser
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:30 am 
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Lady Sparks wrote:
I just stumbled on this post and I think it explains a lot about why Harry Potter did so well.

Fascinating! My evidence was purely from my perspective as a consumer, so to see something from inside a publisher back it up.

My main point, however, was less that Harry Potter's publisher bet big on it (that's a big part of its success, of course, but it's the obvious part :)), and more that the publisher that picked it up (here in America, anyway) was Scholastic, which has a huge advantage in the first step of actually getting its books' titles and (essentially) loglines in front of their intended target audience. Scholastic runs mail-order "book clubs" (some other publishers may as well, but I think that the two "brands" of school-age "book clubs" are actually both Scholastic-owned imprints), offering a limited (and presumably carefully-chosen) selection of books each month, and runs school book fairs, which are heavily promoted by the schools' teachers and librarians because a portion of the revenue goes to the school. (The "book club" mail-order things may also have a revenue-sharing component, but they aren't advertised as such, while book fairs are promoted as "come help support your school by buying books!")

It's possible that other children's-book publishers have similar programs in different parts of the country, but based on my limited experience having Scholastic decide to actively promote your book would be the children's-literature equivalent of the proverbial "Oprah effect". (If not quite to the same degree.)

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Originally inspired to write by reading C.S. Lewis, but can be as perfectionist as Tolkien or as obscure as Charles Williams.

Author of A Year in Verse, a self-published illustrated collection of poetry: available in paperback and on Kindle.

My blog includes the following "departments":
  • Background on the Shine Cycle, my planned fantasy series, spanning over two centuries of an imagined world's history, several universes (including various alternate histories and our own future), and the stories of dozens of characters (many from our world).
  • Strategic Primer, a strategy game I'm developing, played by email, assisted by programs I'm developing. The current campaign (moving slowly, less than one turn a month) always needs more players.
  • My poetry.
  • Miscellaneous essays.


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 Post subject: Re: Compare & Contrast "Harry Potter" vs "Young Wizards" ser
PostPosted: Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:07 pm 
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kingjon wrote:
It's possible that other children's-book publishers have similar programs in different parts of the country, but based on my limited experience having Scholastic decide to actively promote your book would be the children's-literature equivalent of the proverbial "Oprah effect". (If not quite to the same degree.)


My daughter's attended school in both South Dakota and Florida and the Scholastic book fair has been a huge biannual event at both places. Students usually prepare a wish list to present to their parents ahead of time. And many schools plan events around the book fair to encourage families to come not to mention the "bookstore" usually being open during lunch and after school for the entire week of the fair. The pressure is real! :book:

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