I just hit the big 800 on Twitter–however transient it may be–so it’s time to celebrate. And the best way to celebrate? Giving away stuff!
Here’s the deal:
Tweet your fave book ever (not the book you want to win, we’ll work that out later!) @PetaAndersen by Friday at Midnight EST to go into a random draw to win a YA or MG novel off my shelves. Two books are on offer–choices are listed below. You can get an extra entry by:
- Re-tweeting this giveaway
- Blogging about this giveaway
- Sharing/liking it on facebook (scroll to the bottom for the “like” button)
- Becoming a fan of *ILBNH* on facebook (there’s a widget in the sidebar!)
- Leaving a comment below with one line about your favorite book
Folks, please post links to your blog post &c., or comment on how you shared to help me keep track of who’s done what. Thanks!
Tip: Make sure you’re following me so I can DM you details if you win. People not on Twitter can still enter by doing any one of the above (I <3 hearing why folks love the books they do, so 4. is a good way to go!), and leaving their email addy (e.g. janeisawesome[at]gmail.com) in the comments below.
Winners will be announced sometime on Monday or Tuesday, depending on how many extra entries I get.
Here are the 5 novels on offer, a mix of old and new:
- Luka and the Gods of Fire, Salman Rushdie
- The Incorrigbles, Book 1, The Mysterious Howling, Mary Rose Wood (I! loved! this! book!) If you’ve read Mysterious Howling, though, I love this book so much I’ll ship you a copy of book 2 as soon as it hits shelves, sometime this week of next week.
- In honor of Brian Jacques, a Redwall novel of your choice
- Queen of Babble, Meg Cabot–this isn’t YA but rather New Adult, aka YA flavor with slightly more adult content
- The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holly Black
And that’s all for now! I’ll be back, later again (yes, that’s 3 posts in one day! Almost a record for me!) with a post on award shortlists. Remember–tweet your fave book ever @PetaAndersen (aka me) to enter!
Update, 2:23 pm:edited to clarify detailsRead More
This Saturday past, I facilitated the Online Presence Special Interest Group at the New England Regional SCBWI (#nescbwi10) conference in Fitchburg, MA. The group was filled with marvelous people with great questions, and we talked about everything from Twitter lists through the difference between LiveJournal and WordPress. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing up articles based on the things discussed, but in the meantime, here’s a collection of links for folks still sorting out how to fit into the blagosphere.
My articles on blogging at Guide to Literary Agents:
- Useful writing chats with schedule
- Creating Lists
- Writers to follow
- Writer’s Guide to Twitter
My posts on Twitter & social networks:
- If teens aren’t tweeting, why are we?
- 3 ways Twitter can make you a better writer
- Your online presence–getting started with social networking and blogs
Anything I missed? Any other links or lists you’d like to see? Drop me a line!Read More
If you’re a YA or kidlit writer in New England, chances are you’ve heard of the regional NESCBWI conference. I’m going for the first time this year (excited!) and am in list overdrive, writing out things I need to collect for the conference (chocolate), work out before the conference (the calories from the chocolate), and generally do before the conference (buy more chocolate). Of course, since this is only my second conference, I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time on the interwebs collecting tips. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
Three tips from agent Sara Megibow @ Nelson Literary, via their marvelous e-newsletter:
1. Work the blurb. Make sure you can rattle off a 2 sentence pitch at any time.
2. Be prepared to submit. Have a sample (say 3 chapters or 30 pages) ready to email and easy to access/email. Have a full ready, too, both in MS word format and with all your contact details included.
3. Update your blog/site! It’s a fairly common practice to check people out online nowadays, so make sure your website puts your best (virtual) foot forward.
And a couple from Cynthea Liu’s Writing for Children’s and Teens (head over to Cynthea’s post for more great tips):
1. Work the room and meet people. If the highschool prom wallflower routine is your usual thing, it’s time to break out and try something new. Conferences are a great opportunity to meet people with similar interests–and people who take YA and kidlit seriously–and learn new things. You don’t have to engage in hours of dreaded small talk to get involved. Try asking about someone’s writing, or what they thought of last year’s Newbery/Printz/awesome award winners.
2. Think about your outfit. Don’t rock up to a conference in your PJs or baby-stained overalls. You don’t have to do the totally geared up business deal, but try to be neat and tidy. Worried you won’t be memorable without your hot pink fedora? Don’t worry. As long as you’re honest and involved, you’ll stand out to the people who matter.
And a few of my own, based on my experience at the Utah-based Brigham Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers Workshop a couple of years ago (and some intense, freaked out brainstorming this week):
1.Take a pen and paper. Do not depend on your laptop/smart phone/teeny-weeny device for everything. Sometimes, it’s too hard to whip the thing out, other times, well–devices fail. Batteries fail. Don’t let your love of funky new gadgets leave you in the lurch.
2. Get some business cards. In Utah, I ended up scribbling my email address on lots of tiny slips of paper ahead of time, because people kept asking for my details and I wasn’t prepared enough. And yet, it wasn’t ‘til this past week that I learned my lesson (I’ve been asked for a card three times). Business cards are easy and inexpensive to make–there are a lot of online services around, or you can do it in person at your local Staples/print center. If you’re a social networking tech kind of person, make sure you include your website, twitter, Facebook details etc.
3. Take snacks. Conferences do have some food, but there are often queues, and there’s not guarantee there’ll be food around you like/can eat, especially if you have dietary restrictions (I’m a vegetarian who doesn’t eat dairy products). Throw some granola bars and fruit, or even sandwiches in your bag. And include a bottle of water. All that discussion is thirsty work!
4. Know your stuff. Make sure you know not just about your work, but about what’s going on in the industry. You don’t need to know the finer points of everything, but it’s a good idea to be familiar with the Big Things in publishing. Spend some time reading up on PW.com, or surfing agent and writer blogs for information.
5. Learn new stuff. Even if you know all there is to know about a topic, try taking a back seat and letting other people talk. Most people clam up in the face of a lot of knowledge, which means you could miss out on a new or useful viewpoint, or learning about a great new resource.
6. Ask questions. At the Utah conference, a lot of people were very shy about asking questions because they didn’t want to look stupid. But, as my good friend Chris once told me, “There are no stupid questions. Just stupid answers.” Whenever I’m balking at opening my mouth, I repeat that a couple of times, then stick up my hand. Still feeling shy? Remember that asking a question actually puts the spotlight on the person answering. It also, for good or ill, puts all the expectations on them rather than you.
7. Make a list of what you want to get out of the conference. I like lists for a reason–they help me visualize what I want, remember what I need to do, and generally make me more effective. While you mightn’t want to include nebulous goals like “find the perfect agent”, a few well-thought out items like “meet writers in my area” and “learn about trends in YA” could help keep you focused on what’s important to you, and getting the most out of the event.
8. Agents and editors are people, too. I’ve heard several horror stories about people pitching agents and editors in bathrooms and elevators, and a lot of reasons not to do it. And while I agree you shouldn’t stalk publishing professionals, I think it’s important to remember that they’re a lot like us–people who love books, reading, and possibly even chocolate. So if you’re lucky enough to end up chatting with a couple of agents or editors, don’t freak out or go all hero-worship on the poor folks. Just relax, and talk like you’d talk to anyone involved in your industry–calmly and professionally.
Do you have any handy conference tips? Have you been making lists in preparation, or are you a more easy-going attendee? Are you excited about the conference? Nervous? Blasè?Read More
Book reviewing is big business–at least, it used to be. Publishers clamored to get their authors reviewed in big name papers (New York Times, anyone? Chicago Tribune?). Authors crowed over a spot in the now defunct Kirkus. Yet new book review blogs pop every day, and several niche review sites, such as Bookslut and Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, have a large core of dedicated readers.
Book reviews have been around as long as, well, books. Back when Ancient Egyptians and Phoenicians were first scratching out letters, people talked about what they’d read recently:
“Did you read Ahmose’s scribing of the Pharoah’s proclamation?”
“Ugh, it’s so wordy! Mkhai’s is much better.”
Until recent years, reading–and therefore reviewing–was limited to the upper and religious classes. Amongst these folk, books were the order of the day, dissected and discussed in minute detail. By the time the literary salons of the 1600s rolled around, book reviews had grown much more formal. Authors, critics, patrons, and other literary figures debated context, allegory, intent, and more, forming the basis of modern literary criticism. Some even published pamphlets, arguably the earliest printed form of book reviews. Others wrote responses in magazines. Not all of it was pretty.
Two hundred years later, quarterly reviews appeared, heralding the arrival of the format we know and love. Until recently, many readers pored over a reviewer’s thoughts on the author’s voice, literary devices, even pronouns (yes, Cormac McCarthy, we know you think you’re a literary genius, but we’d be more inclined to agree if you actually gave your characters names). But for the average reader, many professional reviews are unaccessible. Jenny McSmallAnimalVet doesn’t want to know if the latest James Patterson is a new look at love, latkes, and the legal system. She just wants to know if it’s worth reading (five stars on Amazon, anyone?) She can learn all about love and latkes when she gets the book.
And then the blog came along. The power of blogs lies in their everyman-ness. Blogs are like critics-in-a-box: anyone with access to a computer can sign up with WordPress, Blogger, Livejournal, even Diaryland, write up their thoughts, and hey presto! instant critic. Instead of being forced to read half a dozen review pages in search of the perfect book, readers can now pick a genre (cozy mystery, pop science, YA) or demographic (stay-at-home mom, clock maker, dalek) and find reviews written with their interests in mind. But blogs are just the top book in the stack. The real threat to professional reviewing is a lot more insidious: time.
Blogged reviews, like professional, in-paper reviews, take time to read–and time away from reading. Sure, reading a review can prevent you from buying a bad book and save a few dollars. But scrolling through a 1000+ words of in-depth review eats, at best, four minutes’ worth of time. If the review leaves you undecided, it could be another four minutes before you find a second review, and another four minutes for you to read it, bringing the total up to twelve minutes. If we consider that most novels run 250 words to a page, then you could have read about 12 pages–a short chapter–in the time it took to decide if you want to read the book. But never fear–social media is here.
Social media may seem like the buzz word of the moment, but it’s here to stay. The obvious players–Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, &c.–are mostly about connecting with friends and family. But niche sites–sites devoted to reading and reviewing–are on the rise. Boasting nearly three million users, Goodreads “is the largest social network for readers in the world.” (Facebook reports around 400 million users worldwide.) Why do people use the site? According to CEO and Founder Otis Y. Chandler, it really does come down to finding what to read next. He writes,
When I want to know what books to read, I’d rather turn to a friend than any random person, bestseller list or algorithm. So I thought I’d build a website — a website where I could see my friends’ bookshelves and learn about what they thought of all their books.
Other readers agree. Twitter has #amreading and #fridayreads, hashtags that encourage users to share, criticize, and recommend in easily digested 140 character sound bites. And while the publishing industry has been somewhat slow to adapt, houses are now actively seeking out blog and social media reviews, aware that the right voice on the right blog could be just as effective–perhaps more effective–than a review by the once-and-now-dead king, Kirkus.
But old-fashioned book reviews are not dead yet. Well written reviews still have a lot to offer (and I’m not just saying that because I’m a reviewer). While they may not be the best source for a what-to-read-next list, they do perform a vital function: they make us think. Good reviews pick over issues, dissecting books, suggesting ideas and interpretations we mayn’t have thought of. They act as devil’s advocate, daring us to take a closer look at our likes and dislikes, encouraging us to use books as a way to learn not just about the author’s world, but ourselves.
Will professional book reviews disappear completely? I hope not.
Do you read book reviews? Do you prefer recommendations from friends? Would you miss professional reviews?
Photo Credit: nkzs
Authors should blog. Authors should get on Facebook and set up fan pages. Authors should tweet. And many YA authors do, setting up themed blogs, tweeting their favorite books, putting up book trailers and extra content. But just who is the content reaching?
According to a recent study from the Pew Internet and American Life Project, teen blogging and tweeting are down. Interestingly, the researchers list teens as 12 – 17 years old and young adults as the 18 – 29 set. Key facts from the report:
- Blogging is less popular among teens and young adults now than it was 4 years ago. Think kids are still reading and commenting? Maybe, maybe not – teen blog commenting stats have also dropped.
- 14% of online teens now say they blog, down from 28% in 2006.
- In December 2007, 24% of online 18-29 year olds reported blogging, compared with 7% of those thirty and older.
- By 2009, just 15% of internet users ages 18-29 maintain a blog–a nine percentage point drop in two years.
- 73% of wired American teens now use social networking websites, a significant increase from previous surveys. Just over half of online teens (55%) used social networking sites in November 2006 and 65% did so in February 2008.
- 72% of online 18-29 year olds use social networking websites, nearly identical to the rate among teens.
- The specific sites on which young adults maintain their profiles are different from those used by older adults: Young profile owners are much more likely to maintain a profile on MySpace (66% of young profile owners do so, compared with just 36% of those thirty and older) but less likely to have a profile on LinkedIn (7% vs. 19%).
- 8% of internet users ages 12-17 use Twitter. far less common than sending or receiving text messages as 66% of teens do, or going online for news and political information, done by 62% of online teens.
- Older teens are more likely to use Twitter than their younger counterparts; 10% of online teens ages 14-17 do so, compared with 5% of those ages 12-13.
- High school age girls are particularly likely to use Twitter. Thirteen percent of online girls ages 14-17 use Twitter, compared with 7% of boys that age.
- Young adults lead the way when it comes to using Twitter or status updating. One-third of online 18-29 year olds post or read status updates.
While the report is good news for authors with older adult audiences (blogging, social networking, and twitter usage are up for internet users 30+ ) it poses an interesting question for YA authors – if teens aren’t using the same services as their favorite authors, how can we connect with them?
Last year, Matthew Robson, a 15 year old intern at Morgan Stanley, wrote a report about trending technology and teens. While the report is largely based on Robson’s own observations and anecdotal evidence, it provides some insight into teenage tech habits. According to Robson, Facebook beats Twitter in the teen market because,
Facebook is about connecting people, and sharing information with each other. The way my friends and I see it, Facebook is a closed network. It’s a network of people and friends that you trust to be connected to, and to share information like your email address, AIM screen name, and phone number. You know who’s getting your status messages, because you either approved or added each person to your network.
Twitter, he points out, is the opposite,
It’s a completely open network that makes teenagers feel “unsafe” about posting their content there, because who knows who will read it. Sure, you get emails notifying you when you have new followers, but that doesn’t compare to the level of detail you get when someone on Facebook adds you, and you get their information.
Robson makes a valid point – our kids are clever, web-savvy individuals. In recent years, teens have been inundated with warnings about online friendships and web-stalking and it’s great to see they’ve taken it on board. But what if the teen resistance to Twitter is more basic than that? Adolescence is all about belonging, finding a niche, expressing individuality, and forming friendships–key components to the Facebook experience. Twitter, on the other hand, makes it hard to form meaningful connections, especially as a large percentage of tweeple are out solely to promote their own content (Get your free credit report now! Learn how I made millions with this simple tool developed by a stay at home mom in just 93 days!). Finding followers can also be difficult–and why post regular updates if no one is following you? While it’s possible some teens still use Twitter as a way to keep with their favorite actors, musicians (and hopefully authors) it’s unlikely. There are easier ways–gossip magazines, tabloids, online news services, and personal/professional sites–which don’t require attention 24/7.
Why spend so much time thinking about why teens prefer Facebook over Twitter? (And if teens don’t tweet, then who’s following Ashton Kutcher?) Teen reactions to both services provide insight into what teens do want, even crave – connection and community. This seems like a big ask – what’s a YA author to do? (Aside from writing excellent, readable, relevant books, that is.)
Start by seeing what’s out there. Google the popular stuff and see what fans are producing themselves. Harry Potter and Twilight spawned huge online forums and communities–and while you mightn’t have such a big fan base you can still learn from their sites. Google yourself, too–you may be surprised by what’s out there.
If you’re web-savvy (or have a friend/spouse/liger who is) encourage readers to talk about your books by adding a forum to your website–check out the forum on Princess Diaries author Meg Cabot’s site for a few ideas. Answer questions and take time to respond to your readers. Ask questions, too – it’ll help you reach readers and give you some insight into the 2010 teen experience. Love the ‘net but hate the code? Consider signing up for LiveJournal. LJ users are like an out-of-the-box community – give them a little love and they’ll respond in kind.
Make it easy for readers to contact you – make sure blog comments are enabled and set up a site email (you could use your domain name or just set up a free Gmail account) and check it regularly. Respond to everything you get, even if it takes you a few months–after all, someone loved your book enough to write to you about it, or to ask for advice. What if it’s difficult to think of something to say? You’re a writer – you’ll work it out! Don’t forget about more conventional methods of connecting with readers either. Make school visits. Talk to kids at the library and local bookstores. Remember why you’re a YA author (not for money or fame – who are we kidding?) and put yourself out there.
If teens aren’t using Twitter, should YA authors just delete their accounts? Yes. No. Maybe. Twitter is what you make it – everything comes down to the reason you tweet. If your sole objective is to connect with teens, Twitter might not be your best option. But if you want to connect with crossover and new adult readers, go for it–one third of 18 – 29 year olds read or post status updates. Twitter is also an excellent way to connect with other writers, learn from writers, agents, and editors, and establish a web presence (a useful tool in finding an agent and/or editor).
Do you have a Twitter account? Why do you tweet? How do you connect with your readers?