Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Goodreads, Instagram, Figment, Vine, Wattpad…There are a ton of places in the online world in which authors can join and take part in order to build readership and interact with fans. It can all become very overwhelming and time-consuming. When you write for the Young Adult market, you have an added pressure of being where the teens are and staying on top of the trends. So which spots are hot and which spots aren’t? That’s a tough question to answer. Teens today are everywhere online. Information is right at their fingertips at a moment’s notice, and they like being able to get that information right now. Authors have to spend time fighting for a chance to be heard in a crowded marketplace and work at staying real and genuine.
I can hear you thinking, “Just tell me where the young adults are and I’ll go there. I’ll do whatever you say.” The realistic answer to that question is: they are everywhere. Don’t let that discourage you. Will you reach more people the more places you are? Of course you will. But if you aren’t comfortable making 6 second videos and posting them up on Vine, then you should not do it. Love Pinterest but get easily distracted by the shiny (or the crafty) there like I do? Decide if that is the best place for you to spend your time. You don’t have to do it all at one time. Take it one at a time and build with what you are comfortable with.
Here are the basic things I believe you must do in order to have some sort of relevance in the teen market.
- You must have an email. I know that seems crazy that I even have to say it, but I do. I would tell you to have a personal email address and an author email address so that work can be work and personal can be personal.
- You must have a website and blog-preferably connected to each other. Again, many of you think this is basic knowledge, but you’d be surprised how many do not have it. Teens expect to be able to look up the name of a celebrity, or an author they love, and find their webpage easily. Therefore, it’s an expectation that you have one now. And, really, why wouldn’t you? This is the one page you can honestly pimp yourself and your books and toot your own horn without being considered obnoxious or becoming white noise. Get a blog going and update 2-3 times a week.
- You must have an author Facebook page. This is no longer one of those luxury items. Teens have Facebook pages just like they do email addresses and cell phones now. It’s a basic thing for them. Even now, my eleven year old is asking when having a Facebook account will be okay for him. It has become the “but all my friends have one” thing in my own household. If it’s that way for them, it’s that way for you as an author in order to reach them. Get your Facebook page made and update on a regular basis.
- You must have a Twitter account. Teens follow the people they love and want to hear from on a regular basis. They can only follow you if you are there. Twitter can seem like a time suck, just like all of the others can honestly, but it can also be hugely beneficial. Not only are you able to give glimpses into who you are off the written page to your fans, you are also able to build a community around you that includes fans, peers, agents, editors, etc. Twitter is awesome at helping you not feel quite so alone in what often times can feel like a lonely career.
If you look at the above, you’ll notice all of it points to accessibility. Teens want to be able to interact and learn more. Whether that’s about you, your stories, or your characters, it’s a big part of reaching them. I look at it as creating real life story worlds for them. Each place you build a presence in allows you the opportunity to give them more of the story in a new and creative way. I think the authors who are connecting most with the teen market are thinking out of the box and using each platform to build more storyline as well as readership. Characters have their own Twitter accounts and Facebook pages, their own spotify playlists, etc. Teen readers love information and having the inside scoop. They do that by being everywhere. And I do mean everywhere. They also want truly genuine interaction. Be real with them. They can smell a fake a mile away.
I truly think if you are a young adult author then you need to have a Tumblr and Instagram account to go along with the above. My oldest child makes new friends and the first thing they ask is, “Are you on Instagram? What’s your name on there?” Then they look each other up and follow away. They also follow all of the celebrities they care about. A quick note here-If you have someone reading your book, besides your mom or grandma, you are someone’s celebrity. You’ve done the awe-worthy task of completing a book and putting it out into the world for all to see. While you look in the mirror and see the extremely tired mom of three or dad with a 50 hour a week day job who stayed up way too late fighting with the voices in their head, the person turning the pages of that book sees you as a rock star.
Finally, consistency is key when it comes to each new site you decide to tackle. You can’t start it and then stop in two weeks because it’s slow going. You must push through with creating these places of genuine interaction the same way you push through when writing a new book. Or am I the only one with many word documents that stop in the third chapter?? That’s another post I think.
Kelly P. Simmon (KP) is a former opera singer, former teacher, and former corporate marketing director. She is a current wife, mom of three, picture book author and owner of InkSlinger PR. KP is all about helping authors and publishers get the word out about their latest literary projects. Specializing in Young Adult, New Adult and some Adult fiction, she is passionate about assisting authors to build their platform and create a brand that will carry them into the future.