How can authors writing MG or YA reach readers in this budding electronic age?
|Out for a bike ride with my sons in NYC. Notice the electronic device .... SMH|
I’ve read that for many teen girls reading is still a favorite pastime. Boys are reading, too, but many are more likely reading game manuals on how to get to the next level. That’s what my teen boys read. One son has struggled with reading all his life. Though, like many boys, he enjoyed reading non-fiction because of his immense interest in the natural world. My younger son prefers one type of genre: high fantasy and will read through a whole series if it interests him and more.
So how do we reach our readers? Most middle-grade books have gatekeepers: parents, teachers, and librarians. They do a great job. Just make sure your book is PG if you want their approval. But as our children grow, stretching their boundaries what are their eyes glued to? Snapchat? How many of you are posting 24-hour stories for the YA demographic on there?
Are you on YouTube?
What are kids most interested in watching, that relates to the product you're selling? – And it won't be me playing a video game. My fourteen-year-old did this for a while (and probably still does) I couldn’t believe he was entertained enough watching someone else play a beloved video game. It’s a new world, people. An up close and personal world. Microscopic.
Know your audience.
Are they the 11-14-year-old readers, 15-19 year-olds? Where do they hang out?
Is your blog devoted to readers or writers?
What talents aside from writing are under your belt? How can you share this to help create a band of followers? This is something I need to explore. Here's an example of what I planned for my first novel that never sold.
For this middle-grade about a 12-year-old healer and herbalist, I’d planned to attend crafts fairs and/or give instructions on how to make your own medicines from plants growing wild, called weeds to some. Another plan was to show kids how to use the Tarot cards (which are woven into the narrative). I’ve studied the Tarot for over 20 years. *Bonus, they’re great device to help craft a story if you’re ever stuck. Every Tarot reader reads the cards differently. Depends on how they see the cards. Another way I thought to reach readers was with a blog where the 12-year-old MC reads from her diary. (somewhat cliche there, I know) Alas, this project is on hold in a very deep drawer.
How do you find your mailing lists if your fans are under the age of 18? Some states have laws for marketing to the underage. Like this: Maine Makes Marketing To Minors “Predatory”
We could reach them with the Theater. My older, dyslexic son, is reading now that he’s a budding thespian and must memorize scripts. (Yes!)
Think about what you loved doing or creating when you were a young reader.
Maybe you loved the theater, directed everyone, and used the GREASE photonovel as a script ....? Yes, I did.
What themes are in your book? Maybe sites specific to those themes, or perhaps you could Snapchat yourself doing whatever that is?
In my ms #1 the MC learns to ride a dirt bike (a green witch biker, yeah!) -- BMX resources, anyone? Guess I’d have to seek out sources and fans of the BMX biking world.
Next Spring my contemporary, suspense novella The Unmoving Sky, launches with Leap Book. An ebook that will also be available in print. It has a male POV with hunting as the backdrop (not the focus). I certainly won’t be hanging around any gun shows for an audience. But something along those lines might get a tug of interest. The story takes place in the woods during a deluge. So I might find some common ground with my knowledge of healing plants in the wild. Maybe? I’ve started a Pinterest board and I intend to post a playlist with music relating to the book.
I’m just beginning this journey. Is there anything you'd like to share about how you found your teen readers? What was your experience using: Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat? (deep breath) Before I finish this post there could be several more social media outlets. It’s quite mind-boggling and with their endless possibilities, exciting. The media sites can be a lot of fun. Engage with readers? I cannot wait. I love to engage, online and in any line, wherever I have to wait.
As a last note: Alison Presley, online marketing manager at Chronicle Books says, “At one point, social media was seen as a ‘nice to have’ by authors. It’s not a ‘nice to have’ anymore. Fans really expect to have that direct connection to authors.”
From this Publishers Weekly article: Teenage Tweetland
Realistic Ideas to Get Teens Reading: From Scholastic
Teen Space: A resource for junior high and high school students.Though the site is permanently closed, there's still a wealth of resources available for readers.
Teen writer’s workshops are great! Let’s act out the plays/skits our teens write. Nothing could be more powerful that to see others acting out your plots, ideas, and characters.