It is no secret that young adult literature has exploded in the last couple of years. The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Twilight series have elevated the status of the genre. And as more and more adults reach for young adult books on the shelf, how do publishing houses market these books? Some publishing professionals say that it is important to “give authors ‘social media’ training [and] make sure they become invested and actively involved with maintaining their social media pages” (Yin 2012). Having an active social media presence, it seems, is crucial to having a successful book because that is where the teens are—online. Everyone has a social media page of some sort, so it is imperative that an author connects with these people online because “teenagers are reading! They want access to the writer, and one only needs to look as far as John Green and his website, Nerdfighteria.com, to see what an authentic voice can do for building a community of loyal followers and readers” (Publishing Perspectives 2015).
Something that I had never considered up until now, embarrassingly enough, is that publishing professionals also like to utilize word of mouth. Along with a strong online presence, word of mouth is just as important because people get together and talk. (Shocking, I know, but people do communicate.) Book lovers, such as myself, like to talk about books. And having people talk about your book can only be a good thing. Spreading awareness of a book in any way possible—whether it is online or in person—is what needs to happen for a book to be successful. Both the book and the author need a following.
Prepublication buzz also needs to happen to make a book sell; and in order to increase the odds of generating buzz, an author needs to have a solid online presence, people need to be talking about the book, and promotions need to be going on before the book launches. Additionally, sending gallies out to bookstores and noteworthy individuals for blurbs will help generate word of mouth—that buzz that people start.
A concern in the literary community is that because more adults are reading YA, the publishing companies will begin to market more toward them, rather than teens. Having more mature content in YA is a trend, and it can be worrisome for parents who do not want their kids reading more adult-like content. Therefore, it is important for publishing companies to continue engaging with teenage readers as they begin to expand their audience. Authors having an online presence and energizing the conversations that surround their book are marketing. While marketing to teenage readers via social media may feel like an unconventional approach, it is ultimately creating that authentic connection younger audiences are craving. When it is all said and done, marketing books to teens happens through the unique relationships that are formed on social media.