In 2006, posts about a new reading network starting popping up. Goodreads, a place where readers could go to catalog their reading habits, seemed like a fancy, web 2.0 version of a reading journal. And since I’ve never been good with recording my reads, I gave it a miss.
But Goodreads has stuck around–and flourished. I’m now a member, along with over 4,400,000 other people. That’s almost as many people as the entire country of Norway (4, 827,038), Ireland (4,450,446). True, it’s less than 1% of the Facebook users out there–.88% to be exact–but it’s still an impressive number. And in terms of book buyers, it’s way over NYT bestseller territory (100,000 copies or so).
So far, publishers haven’t really gone after Goodreads members. There are some small presses around, giving away copies of their books and getting active in group discussions, but the big houses haven’t so much missed the bandwagon as forgotten it exists. Here’s the breakdown of some of the bigger names on Goodreads:
- Scholastic – 32 friends, 33 books.
- HarperCollins – no presence I can find.
- Simon & Schuster – no presence I can find.
- Hachette – 1 person, no photo, 16 books. Most likely a personal profile.
- Macmillan – “Macmillan Publishers,” 0 friends, 0 books.
- Penguin – “Penguin Press,” 218 friends, 33 books.
- Random House – 0 friends, 0 books.
But Scholastic, the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books, seems to be paying attention to the masses of readers eager to get into social networking. Earlier this month, they launched You Are What You Read,
…a unique opportunity for readers all over the world to connect with each other through their shared “Bookprints,” as we celebrate the books that bind us together and make us who we are today.
And the publishing powerhouse is pulling out all the stops–Names You Know, a section of the site featuring, well, names you know, lists Bookprints for the big names, such as Oprah, Alice Walker, Hillary Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres, Daniel Radcliffe, and Kathryn Lasky. Sections for authors, librarians, and educators are also built into the system.Read More
Good morning, book people! The snow is back in Cambridge, and we’re holed up with hot coffee and a snuggly kidlet this Presidents’ Day. How about you?
So this is not really six links–I think it’s closer to ten. But that’s just because I give value for your blog buck, and also because I feel bad counting anything that doesn’t get it’s own separate paragraph. So, without further ado…
Over at SLJ’s A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy Liz explains how one of the YALSA awards, the Morris, works, and asks if the use of a shortlist [builds] excitement the way, say, that the Oscars build excitement?” Quick note: I am in favor of shortlists, and think they actually benefit the authors because booksellers can make sure books are in stock ahead of the awards. Without a shortlist, sleepers like this year’s Newbery, Clare Vanderpool’s Moon Over Manifest can take a while to get onto shelves, and that can translate into lost sales. More thoughts later this week.
Have you worked out your BookPrint yet? The folks at Scholastic are helping readers connect by asking them to “share the five books that most influenced you.” Although I’m signed up, I’m still trying to figure out what those books are! There are some great names in the system already–including Oprah, Alice Walker (!), and Marian Wright Edelman. There are also some fun polls to play with (Which classic romantic hero would you rather attend a ball with?). And over at OOM, bookseller Michael walks us through how he worked out his own BookPrint. More on this later in the week, too.
If you’ve ever felt belittled for writing genre fiction, you need to read this post by Harry Connolly over at Charlie’s Diary. Harry is writing specifically about the science fiction and fantasy divide (aka the SF/F snobfest, and I say that as someone with a science degree) but the post smack of familiarity for those of us in the YA trenches, too. Perhaps we should all send the link to Martin Amis.
The Guardian has a truly excellent piece on emulating great authors to learn how to write, or how to write better, complete with reading list!. This is how I learned to write; in high school, one of my teachers had us borrow voices for a whole semester. Without that grounding, I’m not sure I’d have developed my own voice properly, or love writing quite so much.
Also at The Guardian, John Dugdale tells us the most borrowed library books of 2010. No surprises in the kidlit list, but it’s nice to see Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton still making the grade.
And finally, back to Charlie’s Diary for an overview of how the publishing industry is structured. It’s wry, and worth reading. It’s also part of a series, which I’m still reading, but definitely recommend. Just follow the hyper-breadcrumbs.
Update: Fascinating read via @JasonAshlock. Is Borders Guilty as Charged? Phillip Downer, former CEO of Borders UK, walks us through Borders’ blunders, one by one.
I’ll be back later with the first post in a new series, Cover Notes.
What are you reading this morning?
Image Credit: brew books, via flickr.Read 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
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?
Everyone knows that having some kind of online presence is important. But with so many ways to interact online, it can be hard to know how to get the most out of your social networks and actually connect with people in your industry. In fact, some would even have you believe you need a virtual PA or intern to manage the varying social network services out there. But with just a little bit of homework, it’s actually quite simple to set up and maintain your online presence.
As a slew of recent media articles have reported, social networks like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are no longer the sole domain of twenty-somethings and teenagers. Companies are using them for branding and promotions, and parents are using them to keep in touch with said twenty-somethings and teenagers. So how do you fit your career interests into your Facebook page if your Aunt Ellen keeps posting LOLcat pictures to your wall?
First, think about the reason you joined a social network, and if it’s the best one for you. If you truly did join Facebook to keep in touch with faraway family (or you just really like LOLcat pictures) – fine. Just remember that many employers now conduct fairly in-depth online searches about prospective hires, so keep it clean.
Okay, now you’ve established the why of your joining a social network, think about the network itself. Facebook is great for more casual connections, but LinkedIn is the go to for many professionals (more below). Both these services, however, are not industry specific, so making worthwhile career connections can be a bit time consuming. Enter the targeted social network…[more]