On August 30, my debut young-adult novel, Fury, was published by Simon Pulse, the edgy YA imprint of Simon & Schuster. I'm a journalist by trade, and I knew next-to-nothing about book publishing until about a year ago.
Of all the things I've learned — about the craft, about the market, about the process — what has struck me the most is the dedication of a large (and ever-growing) community of book bloggers. Of course, I'd been reading book blogs for years, but my dabbling in the literary blogosphere was primarily limited to well-established sites (and often those were an offshoot of other on- or off-line publications) that talked about adult fiction.
Prior to this winter, when Fury book-buzz first began, I had no idea about the depth of this YA web universe. Now, going on a year later, I know that this important cog in the publishing machine comprises hundreds of blogs run by aficionados who range in age from teenagers themselves to, as the ladies from Forever Young Adult put it, "readers who are a little less Y and a little more A." It doesn't matter how old they are (as Harry Potter, etc., proved). They loooooove YA fiction.
"I've always loved the books written for young adults," says Jen Watson, a 34-year-old who writes at the Canadian blog lil-library.blogspot.com. "[T]hey are often plot driven . . . I'm not drawn to books that take 10-20 pages to describe a garden, or someone's outfit . . . I find that most YA books cut through those lengthy descriptions and offer me an opportunity to connect with the story and the characters almost immediately. I generally love YA the most, read it the most often and so it made sense to share my love of it with others."
Many of these bloggers, who post reviews, participate in weekly memes, and conduct interviews and online chats with authors, have hundreds of followers; several have thousands. Their presence on Twitter is formidable. A book starts making its blog rounds months before its official release day. My book cover was kept secret until it was revealed, to fanfare, on a popular book blog in early April (five months pre-pub). Whether or not they realize it (and regardless of the fact that they don't get paid to do it) YA book bloggers wield considerable influence.
It makes sense. How better to reach target readers, who grew up in the age of the Internet, than through the web? While some fret that the Internet will be the death of books and reading, here is one example of a wonderful symbiosis between those entities. Think about it: you've got excited readers using the Internet to interact with authors and discuss books in a public forum, and publishers reaching out to these engaged readers as a marketing technique. There are worse scenarios, and for an author, its incredibly gratifying.