Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Promoting the Young Adult Novel

Copyright © Joleen James
Originally published at 1st Turning Point

I’m the first to admit, I’m just getting my feet wet when it comes to self-promotion.  I understand what it takes to promote my contemporary and historical books. I know the markets and the target audiences. Then last summer I goofed up everything, including my author brand, when I wrote a young adult book. 
Why did I write the book? The idea simply burned a hole in my brain until I put the words on paper. It took me six weeks to write the book, and today the manuscript lives only inside my computer. The book stopped me cold. Young adult fiction is a different breed. What do I do with it? How do I promote it? What does this do to my author brand? Do I have two brands now? How do I run a website that features both my contemporary and young adult work? After much soul-searching, here’s what I’ve come up with:
  • I need a website that features both my contemporary and young adult books. I hired a web designer. Together we are working on an idea that will separate the website, making it easy for the young adult readers to find me.
  • Each genre will have its own author brand. This stumped me for a long time. I could not figure out how to meld them together, and I still can’t. They are two different animals.
  • I need readers—teen readers who can help me spread the word, even before the book is published. I have two nieces, ages 12 and 14. These girls are never more than an inch away from their cell phones or computers. The girls are critical networkers for me. Their cyber ties extend all over the United States and as far away as Sweden. Amazing! 
Before I signed them on to help and advise me, I sent them the following survey:
I need your help and I’m willing to offer you both a $15 iTunes gift card if you take the time to reply to my survey. (Yes, I bribed them!)
I’m getting ready to promote my latest book, Wanted: A Boyfriend For One Month. It’s a young adult romance for teen readers. Here are my questions for you:
  1. Where do you look for information on the internet when you are looking for books? Do you have websites you go to? Or do you go to the bookstore and look for books with great covers?
  2. Do you ever talk about books with your friends?
  3. Have you ever used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest to talk with your friends about books?
  4. If I had games on my website, or if I ran a contest, (for example: name the hero in my next book, or nominate your best friend), and the prize is a gift card to iTunes, would you enter the contest? Would your friends enter? Is an iTunes gift card a good prize? If not, what would be?
  5. What makes you look at an author’s website?
  6. What would make you go back to the website over and over again? For example: free giveaways, book reviews, author interviews, etc.
  7. I’m thinking about the idea of having teen readers review the books they are reading. Would either of you be interested in doing that?
Their answers to my questions were amazing, helping me narrow down my focus, leading me to the conclusion that I’ll need:
  • A website that is bright, fun, and easy to read and navigate.
  • Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram interaction for teen readers.
  • Something fun and interactive to bring the teen readers to my website.
  • If I run a contest, I need a bigger prize-one that will really pull the kids in.
  • A way to get my book into the library system and school libraries.
Content on the young adult half of my website will need to be fresh, and will change often. The world moves quickly for teen readers. I hope I can keep up!
The number one piece of information I got from my survey: Word of mouth is key.  It is the main way both girls choose their books, and it’s the number one way their friends select books. Writing a good book is critical if you want the word to spread, and no one can spread the word faster than a teenager!
Young adult romance brings many challenges, and I’m ready for them. There’s something so wonderful about your first love, and no matter your age, young or old, there’s a magic in remembering the first time you fell in love. It’s why young adult romance is so appealing, why the books cross the generations. We all remember the bloom of first love, the exhilaration, and sometimes even the anguish.
Haven’t read young adult fiction, or young adult romance? Try one. You’ll be surprised, and maybe you’ll fall in love with them like I did!
I welcome your comments, especially YA authors. What do you do to attract young readers to your website? What do you do to keep up with current market trends?
Since writing this article in 2010, Joleen James has gone on to publish four small town contemporary romance novels. Her fifth novel Cowboy, I'm Yours will be available in February 2014. Sadly, the young adult romance still lives on only in her computer.

I love hearing from you! Have you been successful or unsuccessful with getting blurbs? Leave a comment and let me know. And don't forget to check out our new book promo specials for December at www.Castelane.com.

Award-winning author Joleen James became an Indie author with the launch of her short story Hostage Heart. Since then she has released four small town contemporary romance novels: Falling For Nick, Under A Harvest Moon, Hometown Star, and Loving Glory.
When she's not busy writing, Joleen enjoys spending time with her family at her lakeside home in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. You can find Joleen James at www.joleenjames.com and on Facebook and Twitter. Visit Joleen’s page at Amazon Author Central.

Falling For Nick by Joleen James
It’s taken Clea Rose ten years to get over the one night she spent with bad boy Nick Lombard—a night of teenage passion that produced her son, and sent Nick to prison for murder. Now, with her life finally back on track, Clea’s about to marry a wonderful man and leave town for a promising career in New York. The last thing she expects is Nick’s return and the intense feelings he stirs within her.

Sent to prison for a murder he didn’t commit, Nick Lombard comes home to the tiny town of Port Bliss to attend his mother’s funeral, but he doesn’t count on running into Clea. Seeing her reminds him of everything he’s tried to forget, and everything he longs to remember. When Nick learns Clea is about to marry the man who sent Nick to prison, he knows he must stay and fight for the family he was forced to leave behind.

Against all odds, Nick and Clea must find their way back to the summer they were young lovers on the beach in Port Bliss, realizing that together their love is strong, strong enough to survive anything, even the web of lies that separated them ten years ago.

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