Advertising, Book Promotion, Indie Publishing, Marketing, Networking, Publishing, Social Media, writing

How To Market Your YA Book Part 2

Book Marketing
Image via Pixabay

A few years ago, I wrote about marketing a YA novel and since then lots of things have changed for one, there are more marketing avenues as well as many more pitfalls.  When I wrote that post in 2013, mobile phone usage was on the rise worldwide and tablets were new.  Fast forward 4 years and mobile phones are a necessity, while tablets are now being used by cats and infants.  I kid you not.

In this post I answer the questions, where are the young people and what do they want?  Also, I address some important trends that are revolutionizing the publishing industry.  So let’s get started…

More Media, More Problems

In the past few years, Facebook, has reigned as the undisputed king of social media with over two billion monthly users but it does have competition particularly, when it comes to reaching young people.  However Facebook tried to resolve that issue by purchasing two popular apps Instagram and What’s App.  Despite that, it’s still hard to find teens on Facebook itself, preferring; Instagram, Snapchat, Kik or Periscope, to the overpopulated, Facebook.  These newer platforms have a growing and active user base of 13-34 year olds, which has the attention of online marketers looking to reach Gen Y and Z.

Why do young people favor these sites you ask?  Because most of them have richer forms of content like video and gifs which are ideal for quick scrolling.  You know they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and this is especially true for short videos which dominate the feeds of most teens.  That means if you want to reach this demographic, you’ll have to use visuals like video and eye-catching images.

Short Is The New Long

The trends in publishing on both the adult and teen market is shorter, serialized books.   In fact, many online retailers have launched programs like; Kindle Singles, Kobo Exclusive Shorts and Nook Snaps which all feature short books.  Even bestselling author James Patterson, has begun focusing on shorter and cheaper works.  It seems those within the publishing industry have been watching indie authors closely.

Your Advertising Has To Be Different

Indie authors have been told to build a strong brand which is good advice but most teens say they don’t feel connected to any particular brand.  In fact, they say most brands don’t understand them at all and sadly, they’re right.  Gone are the days where you could just yell BOGO (Buy One Get One) and get someone’s attention.  Today, the question is can you contribute to the conversation teens are having or are you just trying to take it over?  The advice that most marketers give today is to make your ads look like native content which basically means that your ads shouldn’t look like ads at all.  Your advertising has to add to the conversation —their conversation.  So if your book can’t mesh with what teens are talking about, then it may not be as marketable as you think.

Young People Don’t Wish For Diversity, They Demand It

We live in a global society and this generation of children has grown accustomed to being exposed to different cultures and customs.  Gone are the days of living in a homogenized bubble, young people want to explore and learn, if you can provide these things, you stand to make a splash.  In 2014, the hashtag: #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks became a movement when a Twitter discussion about the lack of diversity in the children’s genre went viral.  Several major publishers finally heard the cry and began publishing books with diverse worlds and characters.  Since then books like Listen, Slowly, by Thanhha Lai, and The Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste, have rose to the top of the bestsellers list.

Social Media Influencers Are The New Celebs

Gone are the days where the radio or television executives chose the next big star today, algorithms and SEO determine who gets an audience and who won’t.  The party is online for teens and young adults, because the internet offers them a plethora of choices that traditional media just cannot.  Many of these choices are DIY Youtube channels and Snaps where regular people entertain, post tutorials and review products.  I talked about this in a previous article called: Booktube for Indie Authors which opened the eyes of a lot of authors who knew nothing about this subculture of book reviewers.  To the shock of many marketers, teens consider Youtubers legitimate celebrities right along the lines of Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner.  This means that to teens, Booktubers are seen in the same league as the New York Times reviewers.

Young People Aren’t Difficult, They’re Different!

This paragraph may anger a few people but I have to tell it like it is.  Many older people fall into the same trap of previous generations who criticized or dismissed their youth and did so at their own peril.  When the World War II Generation ignored the Baby Boomers (think Vietnam), they in turn were ignored and marginalized later on in politics, and pop culture.  If you don’t try to understand this generation then everything they say and do will be foreign or scary.  You will miss out on modern culture and even risk losing an opportunity to make relationships which is the backbone of any marketing strategy.  So don’t run from them, do your best to understand them, who knows maybe they will take the time to listen to you as well?

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Marketing, Social Media

How to Market Your YA Book

This article was written in 2013, for the updated version go to the Cereal Authors’ blog where I posted a part 2.

If you’re a children’s author or a YA novelist, you know how hard it is to market to a young crowd.  The most popular advice is: to find forums and talk to your audience there, which is absurd.  I mean could you imagine hanging out in a chat room with a bunch of kids without looking creepy?  Yeah, me neither.  We can’t promote our work directly because we’d end up on Dateline’s “To Catch a Predator.” or can we?

Having done some research, I’ve come to the conclusion that it may not be as difficult as we think.

Kiddults

Usually when someone says kiddult, it has negative connotations, but this is the one time where being a big kid is actually a good thing.  For example, did you know that most YA books are purchased by adults, and not teens?  In fact, the average age of a YA reader is between (30-44) years old.  Many of them like to call themselves nerds but in reality, they’re kids (at heart).

Also, most YA bloggers are adults who are either librarians, school teachers or authors themselves.  So it shouldn’t be that hard to get a review however, it doesn’t mean you get a free pass to avoid teens.

So Where are the Kids Hanging Out?

Tumblr, the micro blogging site created in 2007, is hands down the most popular choice by teens.  It’s easy to use and very to the point.  Unlike Facebook, they don’t insist on knowing everything about you and your dog.  Runner up is Twitter, another popular site, for teens to communicate with their friends.

Okay I Signed Up, Now What?

If you’re gonna make this work you have to understand how teens use social media.  Most teens (over 91%), share photos while others (84%), share things like their favorite music, books or movies.

This means what you post will have to be visual as well as entertaining.  My personal tip, create memes for your book.  A few months ago, I created a meme using a  meme generator for a friend whose romance novel had just been released.  Needless to say, she loved it and even added her own special touch to it.

Here are just a few sites that allow you to create and share funny memes:

Also, if you think your character looks or sounds like a certain celebrity go to that celeb’s website, and raid their media kit.  Many of them offer free photos for media purposes.

Flickr is my favorite as you may have noticed on this blog, they have many good pictures that are in the commons section but you have to tread lightly.  Many of those the owners  allow only shares and forbid their pics from being used for advertising purposes.  Same applies to Photobucket and stock.xchng.

So why go through all this trouble?  Because social media sites like Facebook and Google’s algorithms tend to favor pictures rather than just regular posts.  I’ve noticed that authors who are having issues reaching their followers can easily improve their reach just by adding a photo to their post.

Approaching YA Book Groups

First and foremost you NEED to read the rules, most groups post theirs  somewhere at the top of the main page, or they devote an entire thread to them.

I’d advise anyone to lurk for a while until you become familiar with the group.  Have a few conversations and don’t forget to have a little fun.

Goodreads has several groups devoted to YA books:

Facebook also has several groups and fan pages devote to YA novels.

Even Twitter has #YALitChat which is a conversation devoted to any and all things YA.

Interviews: Talking to the Cool Authors

Another way to get on the radar of a teen audience is to interview a popular YA author and post it on your blog.  If it doesn’t help the author, it’ll at least help you!  This will require careful pitching and patience.  There are a lot of authors who don’t answer their emails in a timely fashion or they just farm it all out to their agent.  Be prepared to pitch them like you would an editor or journalist.

It Won’t Sell Unless the Price is Right

This is an obvious point but many marketers ignore the fact that teens are not rich.  They can’t and won’t pay $24.00 for a hardcover book.  You have to price accordingly.  It’s your job to lure them to your book with discounts, and exclusives.

Contests

Many young people are talented and want to show off their abilities in a public way, so why not help them do that?  Run a contest and offer prizes like free books or giftcards.

Another tip: You can create quizzes on Goodreads and use them as part of your marketing.  I created one for my YA novel Hag last month.  I plan on using it in an upcoming blog tour.  They’re real easy to create and are fun for readers.

Charity

Many teens love a good cause to get involved especially a cause that’s relevant to them.  Remember the Kony 2012 campaign?  That campaign was fueled by young people who shared, commented and donated.

Why not donated a portion of your profits to a charity? Make it time sensitive, so there’s a sense of urgency.

Learn Their Language

This one is really more for YOU than them.  On the internet, you’ll eventually run into “text talk” (acronyms that are popular in text messages).  Remember many teens are viewing the internet via a cell phone, so don’t be surprised if you run into vegetable soup.

For example, if you don’t know what KMS means, you got some learning to do.  Don’t worry, there are slang dictionaries out there, here’s one to get you started called, noslang.com (Not affiliated).

The Takeaway

If you noticed, marketing to teens isn’t much different than marketing to adults.  It’s been proven, as long as you are fun and engaging, you shouldn’t have too much trouble marketing to any audience.