April 25, 2012

Guest Post: Davy DeGreeff - How J.K. Rowling is Tiger Woods :)

A very long while back (loooooooong while! Sorry Davy!) Davy DeGreeff contacted me simply because he realized we were kinda neighbors.  
I love when writers and bloggers reach out to each other like that!  It's such a sign of support and respect.  
I checked out what Davy had written and offered to highlight his books.  In return he wrote this awesome guest post!

First tho you need to hear about his writing!

He wrote these super fun looking series of books Tommy Bomani: Teen Warrior about the adventures of a twelve-year-old boy who discovers he can turn into a cat and is involved in a war dating back to ancient Egypt.  
Just because his last name means "Warrior" in Egyptian doesn't mean 12-year-old Tommy Bomani has had it easy. He's small, unpopular, and constantly being picked on by the school's two angriest bullies. When he finally fights back, Tommy unleashes incredible powers within himself. These powers lead him to finish the fight begun by his warrior ancestors. But will Tommy be warrior enough to save the world from evil? A action-packed series filled with a battle that will grab the attention of your young reader!
Now hear how J.K. Rowling is Tiger Woods
Welcome Davy!


Attempting to carve out a career as a children’s writer can be extremely challenging, and it often becomes easy to forget that, in this current tumultuous era of the publishing industry, those who write for kids and teenagers actually often have a better chance to succeed than those writing books for other demographics.  That statement may not eliminate the occasional feelings of helplessness felt by those of us not comfortably perched atop the best-seller lists, but I think it’s important to remember that children’s writers as a whole are more fortunate than others, and I think it’s equally interesting to realize that a good deal of that opportunity is thanks to JK Rowling doing her best Tiger Woods impression.

You don’t have to push me, I’ll be the first to admit it – there are a couple of differences between JK Rowling and Tiger Woods. Maybe even three or four. But the two are very similar, and very important, in one very impressive manner – they both revolutionized what it means to be successful in their respectful professional fields, and by doing so, made wider the doorway to success for others who have dared to try occupying their arenas.

Tiger Woods joined the PGA Tour in 1996. Ten years previous to that, the leading money maker on tour was Greg Norman, who won just over $650,000 in the 1986 season. By the time Tiger joined, the money leader was Tom Lehman with $1.78 million, which is altogether a healthy, natural growth rate. But when Tiger, an athletic, charismatic young black man, began winning tournaments, everything changed – suddenly golf wasn’t just the game of the crusty elite, and the sport was introduced to an entirely new section of the population. Golf went mainstream, and the transition was displayed with dollar signs – ten years after he’d joined the tour, Tiger became the money leader for the sixth time, this time making $10.6 million in a single season.

Because of the sudden popularity explosion, Tiger Woods wasn’t the only beneficiary of golf’s growth. The same 2005 season that Tiger led with $10.6 million, a golfer named Michael Allen finished in 130th place for the season and earned over $590,000, or just a little behind what Greg Norman made as the tour leader twenty years earlier. In 1989, Curtis Strange became the first golfer to make over $1 million in a season. When Tiger joined in 1996, the number of millionaire golfers had grown to nine. By 2005, 78 different golfers on the PGA Tour had season earnings in excess of $1 million. Tiger Woods brought golf to a level of popularity and respect it had never seen in the professional sports world, and because of his success, hundreds, if not thousands of other professional golfers around the world have been able to make their dreams come true in a way they would never have imagined if not for Tiger’s accomplishments.

As Tiger Woods is to golf, JK Rowling is to middle-grade and young adult literature.

The classic young adult book, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret”, published in 1970, is the 20th best-selling children’s book of all time, with sales of around 6.4 million copies. The 8th best-selling children’s book is “The Poky Little Puppy”, an original Golden Book that sold 14.8 million copies. The rest of the top of the list belongs to the Harry Potter series. At last count, the worst seller in the series is “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, with sales of 44 million copies, or roughly three times the amount of copies sold of the best-selling non-Harry Potter book. At the top of the list is “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, the first book of the series, published in 1997, with 107 million copies sold. Rowling’s books have sold a combined 450 million copies and counting, which is a number most people previous to 1997 would have said was impossible to reach for a series of fantasy books written for the market of children and pre-teens.

Because of their quality and universal enjoyability, Rowling’s books were able to expand beyond the realm of middle-grade and young adult’s usual readers to help people realize that legitimate literature was being produced in areas they had previously overlooked, and just like Tiger Woods brought a spotlight to golf, JK Rowling brought a new level of attention to children’s books that was easily proven in the sales figures, and more importantly, in the new wave of reading excitement in children and teenagers. “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret” is a wonderful book and has sold 6.4 million copies over the last forty years, but compare that to Jeff Kinney’s “Cabin Fever”, the fourth book in the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, which sold 4 million copies in 2011 alone. Nearly every Dr. Suess book is a classic, but can you remember people of all ages lining up at book stores for midnight release parties? Neither can I, but I can remember things in that vein happening all over the US each time a new “Series of Unfortunate Events” book was released. And anyone who believes the “Twilight” books would have attained their success without Rowling turning most of those readers on to books in the first place is foolish at the very least.

JK Rowling has made it possible for writers of middle-grade and young adult books to find success in ways that had previously never existed, and the literary world is better for it. With the aid of my agent, I’m currently pitching a middle-grade novel about a twelve-year-old sleuth/mustache-growing prodigy, and I know that if I manage to find any success on the bookshelves, it will have more than a little to do with a British book about a boy wizard, one that demonstrated to people of all ages that just because a children’s book might seem a little fantastic, that doesn’t mean it isn’t well-written and entirely worth reading. JK Rowling is the premiere face on the Mount Rushmore of modern children’s literature, and each time I sit down at the keyboard, I do my best to remember that, and to be thankful – because without her, far more of those who dream of someday writing books for children as a living would be stuck doing nothing but dreaming. Sometimes it’s important to simply remember things like this, and to be thankful. Writing professionally can be a long, lonely road, but I think it’s comforting to know there are people like Rowling making sure there is at least a road to follow.

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. As a sixth grade English teacher and a writer of both middle grade and YA lit, I have to agree that I owe much to Ms. Rowling.

    Unlike our blog hostess here, I don't have much difficulty getting my middle school students to read. Most of them love it! Why? Because of the wonderful explosion of great children's literature caused by the Harry Potter series.

    As a writer, I owe much to Ms. Rowling because she's been such an inspiration. Shortly after becoming a teacher, I put my writing dreams on hold because I lost faith in myself. Hearing Ms. Rowling's story of success--you know the one about being a former teacher who became a writer :)--gave me the courage to try again.

    Compare her to Tiger Woods or Michael Jordan or whomever you like, but when it comes to children's literature, Ms. Rowling stands in a class by herself.