Every launch for a new novel needs an exciting and buzzworthy marketing campaign. A targeted social media push is a must to reach your audience and, hopefully, spur sales; but reaching a young adult audience can be tricky. You can target parents, educators, and librarians who are perhaps the primary buyers. However, to create demand from the bottom up, you must reach young readers where they live which is, ironically, on YouTube.
When it comes to social media use, young adults are the largest subset of users. According to the Pew Research Center from their 2019 survey, some 88 percent of eighteen- to twenty-nine-year-olds use any form of social media, and of those young adults 94 percent use YouTube. To reach this audience and boost demand for your author and new novel, YouTube must be a part of your marketing plan. To start your campaign, focus on BookTube, a growing community on YouTube that features creative videos of people reviewing and discussing literature, particularly in the YA genre. One such BookTuber, Christine Riccio, has become a major influencer with more than 410,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel, PolandBananasBooks. Her videos display a goofy and contagious love of reading presented in a funny and engaging way. Of interest to publishers are Riccio’s “Book Talks,” “Stories I Ate This Month,” and “Binge Book Buying” videos where she talks about how and why she chooses books and gives quick reviews. A positive review from an influencer like Riccio can help drive demand directly from the target audience.
In today’s crowded social media spaces, YouTube has emerged as a reliable, easy-to-access platform for publishers and their authors to grow revenue and traffic. The YouTube channel Epic Reads, produced by HarperCollins Publishers, is a great example. It has more than 163,000 subscribers and funny, youthful videos like “Book Nerd Problems” and “Book Hauls.” HarperCollins has also struck a deal with another BookTube influencer, Jesse George, whose channel jessethereader is immensely popular. On Epic Reads he leads a series called Epic Adaptations in which he reports on all the YA book-to-movie and book-to-television adaptations that are in the works. This popular series helps stimulate demand for books that have been on the market for some time. And of course, publishers can use YouTube to connect authors directly to their audience by posting book trailers, events, and live readings of excerpts.
YouTube is also fertile ground for publishers looking to cash in on the popularity of young influencers. One of the most recent success stories is The Try Guys. Originally part of BuzzFeed but now independent, The Try Guys includes four filmmakers: Keith Habersberger, Ned Fulmer, Zach Kornfeld, and Eugene Lee Yang. With an audience of 7.29 million subscribers, they create original comedy videos that appeal to a young audience, like “Keith Eats Everything at Taco Bell” and “The Try Guys Switch Pets for a Day.” Publisher Dey Street Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, capitalized on the The Try Guys’ popularity by publishing their book The Hidden Power of F*cking Up. Part self-help book, part memoir, it reached number one on the New York Times Best Seller list the week after it was released in June 2019.
No one has been more successful at harnessing the power and reach of YouTube, however, than YA author John Green. His extraordinary success as an author is boosted by his extremely popular YouTube channel, the vlogbrothers, which he co-hosts with his brother Hank Green. Their videos run the gamut from jokes to history lessons to science experiments, but they also use the platform to promote their creative fiction. And with 3.3 million subscribers on YouTube, they have far greater reach than even the largest US publishers like Penguin Random House. Other authors can learn from his example by connecting directly with YA readers on YouTube. For publishers and authors alike, YouTube is a key component of any social media strategy targeting a young adult audience.