You have a successful book. It turns into a series and then that series gets a spinoff, or maybe two spinoffs, a graphic novel, a movie, toys, games, and wow you’re Stephenie freaking Meyer.
All kidding aside, there are lots of books in YA that have gone this route. Most of them haven’t been exactly as successful as the Twilight Saga, but they have managed to squeeze every inch of decency out of their respective series. Today, I’m going to examine some of these cash cows. And whether or not they’re really worth milking.
1. The Twilight Saga:
2. The Mortal Instruments:
3. Blue Bloods:
This is the series that actually inspired this blog entry. I love these books, but enough is enough. There’s not only one, or two, but now three spin off series to the original. And then there’s the graphic novel and a potential television show as well. Honestly, I wouldn’t have a problem with a lot of these spinoffs if they were as well written and thought out as the original series of book (oh, and didn’t force you to read them in order to understand the latest editions of Blue Bloods as well). Seriously, I’ve talked to more than one person who got a little confused about things because they didn’t read Wolf Pact.
And speaking of Wolf Pact, I hated the way it was released. I get that they released it as an ebook in the US because of scheduling conflicts and delays, but it was beyond ridiculous charging people $3 to read just sixty pages. You can sometimes buy paperbacks for three dollars (when they’re on sale), but the point is sixty pages isn’t worth three bucks. Especially when you can buy the whole book for $9 if you get it from the UK.
Anyway, my main annoyance with the Blue Bloods franchise (as I’m now calling it), isn’t the series so much. I do think it could’ve continued, I just felt the spinoffs were unnecessary and an easy way to get a buck. Plus, honestly, Bliss’s story could’ve filled in the much needed gaps in Misguided Angel and Lost in Time.
4. Hush Hush
The Hush Hush Saga (yes, it’s called a saga) was originally suppose to be a series of three books. However, Becca Fitzpatrick decided to
torment delight us with a fourth book that was just an absolute delight to read let me tell you. In addition to that absolutely wonderful and needed fourth book, Fitzpatrick has also decided to release a graphic novel based off of Hush Hush. Which I would have no problem with, if it even remained remotely true to the source material. And oh yes, film rights have been sold.
I think my biggest problem with this series is besides the un-needed fourth book, it just wasn’t needed. It just seems like it was added to get an extra buck just lack the lackluster graphic novel.
5. House of Night:
Oh, the House of Night…. What book are we on now thirteen, fourteen, twenty, one hundred and twenty. Okay, actually they’re only on book ten right now. But several short novellas, guides, graphic novels, oracle cards, apparel, comics, and a potential movie. Honestly, I can’t keep up with all the various spinoffs they have and maybe that’s why I quit reading the books besides the blatant slut slamming.
From what I can remember the books themselves weren’t that great. Sure, they followed the typical YA trends (vampires, love triangles X infinity, bitchy mean girls that the super special snowflake manages to take down, super special snowflake has super special legacy and do I need to continue…)
While there aren’t as many spinoffs with this series as there are with Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments, I think this series trumps her in the merchandising (seriously, House of Night t-shirts).
6. Packaged Books:
Packaged books are a particular thorn in my side. Mainly because I view them as being sort of unethical (but that’s another story for another day). Many of these books though have been a success. Most notably The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Anne Brashares, Fallen by Lauren Kate, and The Pretty Little Liars series by Sarah Shepard.
Part of the problem with packaged books is that they were merely produced to make a profit. The idea isn’t the author’s own and they’re contracted to fulfill the specific needs of a book packager. The good/bad thing about book packagers is that usually these books are more prone to getting other media deals. For example, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants got two movies produced while Pretty Liars has gotten a TV show. Perhaps, that’s one of the reasons why these series never end. Take Pretty Little Liars. The series is still going on after thirteen books and A’s identity still isn’t known.
7. Every Ghost Written Book on the Planet:
There are some books that are obviously ghost written (a.k.a. Nancy Drew) and there are some that are not (a.k.a. Gossip Girl) for the books that are obviously ghost written you can sort of understand their continually better. Nancy Drew, for example, the series is clearly written to appeal to the young mystery lover. The books aren’t that great (personally, I think the computer games are better save for those 1980’s/1990’s ones with the Hardy Boys), but you know what you’re getting into. Ghostwritten series like Gossip Girl and The Lorien Legacy try to fool the reader and often that ends up with some backlash. Though in the case of Gossip Girl, you could argue that that series is doing pretty well since it has had several spinoffs and a very successful TV show.
8. Honorable Mentions:
- Stephanie Plum by Janet Evonovich: Though not YA this series has been going on for about twenty books and has a movie. And the series, it seems has stalled though I have heard the latest book has been a slight improvement.
- Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor: This series has been going on for what seems forever (okay, since 1985, but that’s longer than I’ve been alive). I remember reading these when I was eleven thinking they were cool and then some really weird shit happened to some of the characters. And yet it’s still continuing to this day, though I think the final book is suppose to be released
Verdict: I get why there are cash cows (capitalist society, baby), but honestly cashing out is a lot like whoring yourself out. And okay, everyone who has a semi successful series does it (honestly, I would probably do it too thanks to law school loans and the cost of living in general), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t annoying. Or that it even works. Case in point, Tokyo Pop made a deal with Harper Collins a few years ago to produce collaborative products between its artists and Harper Collins author (most notably Meg Cabot). However, the deal eventually went bust with Tokyo Pop breaking up with Harper Collins and Cabot’s Jinx manga was scraped. I think if anything this shows how dispensable some of these projects are. The various spinoffs and other media versions of the original series are merely filling for die hard fans. Whether the fan purchases the goods or not depends on them, quantity of sales not quality for the work matters for these goods. Once again, to the Tokyo Pop example. I remember reading Meg Cabot’s Avalon High manga thinking it was an okay addition, but it felt disjointed from the original source material. I think the fact that the Jinx manga was scrapped entirely illustrates this point.
Anyway, I’m interested in what you think about cash cows. Any series that you think should’ve ended a long time ago?