I don’t mean self-help books.
The most reliable formula for successful YA series in the past decade or so is one that I don’t think we’ll see change in the next. Harry Potter may not have started it, but it is one of the most wildly successful, due to the fact that it was written by someone who could actually write. Most notable followers seem to be The Hunger Games and Divergent, whose quality varies.
It’s easy to see what made each of them succeed in common with the others, especially when you are also familiar with the success of Homestuck. Each of these franchises is a multi-episodic story that fosters fanfiction as almost a primary goal.
Fanfiction is wonderful, in its way. It’s free marketing. It’s a lovely form of validation for a writer, a clear illustration of how much people love your work. If I were ever to get a success that engendered fanfiction, I would encourage it gladly. If I were working on a series, I wouldn’t read any until the series was over, but even so.
The aforementioned series all work differently, and some have extra elements that contributed to success (Homestuck has music albums, Harry Potter has actually good movies), but the one thing that they all have in common are groups. Houses, Districts, Factions, and Homestuck has so many categories to choose from, it’s like playing D&D just reading it.
In the case of Harry Potter, the world is also so well-developed that it’s easy to find oneself a place in it (should one so desire). There are muggles, wizards, students, faculty, the option to invent a school in a different location, proprietors of shops, Death-Eaters, quidditch celebs, ministry employees, denizens of Knockturn Alley, etc.
But you’ll probably find that most fanfiction is set in Hogwarts, sometimes a different or invented school, and the main characters are students. The real draw are the Houses, and magic. People want to play with magic in real life (and why not) and which House they might be in gives them a sense of identity within the story world.
As in The Hunger Games, the draw is mostly the games and the Districts. People want to beat the Hunger Games, and the Districts give them blah blah. Divergent has factions, and as far as I can see, a completely implausible world people might wan t to beat up.
Seriously, this world is incredibly stupid. At least Girl in the Arena offered semi-believable history.
my keyboard is acting up and Owen is climbing all over me, so i guess i’ll stop here without gettingto analyse anything