Now that you’ve written the next great young adult novel, it’s time to market it, but how?
The good news is that you’ve picked the right genre. The YA market is voracious for new material.
Despite its rather limiting designation, the YA audience isn’t limited to young adults. It’s estimated that 70% of YA books are purchased by adults between the ages of 18 to 64. While some of the percentage includes parents who purchase books for their kids, that’s not the whole story. Keep in mind that many young adults earn allowances or work part-time jobs and can purchase literature without asking mommy and daddy. Therefore, this staggering statistic indicates that YA is genuinely popular across multiple age groups.
This knowledge will affect how you market your YA novel. You’re not just targeting kids, and you’re not just targeting their parents, you’re also targeting a relatively large group of people who appreciate literature written from a youthful perspective.
So now that you know who you’re marketing to, let’s talk about how to market.
Just remember that whether your book was published by a traditional publisher or you’ve decided to self-publish, this much is true: you have to hustle to get the word out. It’s not enough to create a fantastic YA novel if nobody ever hears about it. Let’s get started.
1. Create a Website
The first step to market domination is a small but important one: Create a website.
Your website doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be a simple one-page website with a brief bio, a link to your novel(s) on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and information on how to contact you via email or social media.
However, if you’re up for the challenge, consider turning your website into a central hub for your author persona online. Make it a place for your readers to learn more about you. Think of it as a digital dust jacket.
I may be a weirdo but I’ve always been drawn to dust jackets. I love learning more about the author, seeing what they look like, and finding out where they live (it’s usually Maine, am I right?). You don’t have to be a mysterious entity. Give your readers something with which to connect. There’s something so satisfying about knowing who’s behind the curtain.
Here are a few components to include on your website:
As mentioned above, readers like to learn more about authors. Your bio can be a brief five-paragraph write-up about who you are and why you like to write. You don’t have to go into your pain and anguish (save that for your memoir).
Of course a blog is optional, but it’s also a fun and meaningful way to connect with your audience. Use your blog as an outline for documenting your journey as a writer. Discuss your process or simply talk about what’s happening in your life.
From a marketing perspective, it can also bring in new readers who’ve never heard of your book(s) before. Blogs are great for organic search engine marketing. You can capture new readers who’ve wandered onto your blog via a search. For example, a quick google search “how to write a YA romance story” pulls up a fun blog post by novelist Angela Misri. Sure, she’s writing to writers, but writers are readers, too. (Say that three times fast.)
Include a Review Section
Do you have any reviews for your novel(s)? If so (and especially if the reviews are positive), dedicate a page or a section of your website to these reviews.
An Events Page
Are you speaking somewhere? Share details of upcoming conferences and book signings.
2. Start Up a Newsletter
Also on your website, include a way to sign up for your email newsletter. This is what’s known as email marketing. What’s so great about email marketing is that it’s permission-based. You’re marketing to a group of people who’ve actually signed up just so they can hear from you.
Start your email list (and your website) now even if you haven’t finished writing your book. This way, once you publish your book, you’ll already have a list of people to whom you can market your book.
Remember that you’re an author and hopefully not a one-time author, either. Chances are, you’d like to create a huge library of books. By creating an email list, you’ll not only focus on marketing your current book but also your future books.
Not sure what to do with your newsletter? Here are a few ideas that allow you to stay in touch with your fans at least once a month:
- Provide updates about your upcoming book
- Offer a preview of what you’re working on for the future
- Show a behind-the-scenes look at your desk
- Host a special giveaway
- Conduct a Q&A
A Word About Social Media
While social media is important (check out our list of how to market your YA novel via social media at the end of this post), don’t rely on it exclusively. You need a website, too. Social media is great for connecting with fans, but ultimately, it’s “rented” space. You don’t “own” your list of fans on social media. If that particular social media platform fizzles out (hello MySpace), you’re out of luck and opportunity to reach your fans. This is why you need your own list of subscribers via an email newsletter.
3. Court Local Press
Befriend local news in your town, including news journalists, regional magazine writers, or local bloggers in your area.
If you catch the attention of the local press, it may catapult you to an even larger, national audience.
Local reporters are often excited to interview local authors. Make sure that you approach local press with a unique angle about you and your book. For example, perhaps your book was written about a specific historical event that took place in the town, or maybe you’ve moved back to your hometown just so that you could write the book.
By the way, create a press kit and make it available as a downloadable from your website. This press kit should share a bit about you and your book and may also include an excerpt from your book, a professional headshot of you, reviews about your books, and a list of other books you’ve written.
4. Snuggle Up to Librarians
Speaking of librarians, they are your new best friend. You want them to know you by name.
Meet with your local librarian and give them a copy of your book. Offer to do a book reading or some other special event at their library, such as a “Meet the Author” night.
Librarians are powerful referrers and can help build exposure for your book. I’ve come across many new authors by simply looking at the fancy book displays in the library.
Bonus points for returning to your childhood middle or high school and getting an audience with the librarian there. Your school librarian will love to promote a book written by one of their former students. It may be a small start, but leave no stone untouched. You’d be surprised at how much momentum you can build simply by starting on the local level.
5. Appeal to the Binge Reader
Most readers are binge readers. This means that they find an author that they love and then end up reading that author’s entire catalog of work. Think about it: Haven’t you read more than one book by the same author before?
You can build off of that same strategy with your readership. Creating a series of books is like built-in marketing. Fortunately, the YA genre lends itself to series quite easily. You can take a beloved character and follow him/her/it through various misadventures. You’ll create addicted fans who crave your next book. (Harry Potter, anyone?)
Each subsequent book gives you increased exposure. By the way, you can advertise your previous books on dust jackets of your latest book. This is one way to introduce new readers to the previous books in your ever-expanding library.
Remember that marketing and promotion is not a “one and done” event. It requires a well-planned strategy and constant work to get your book out there and seen by the masses.
Before you go, check out these related posts:
- How to Write for Young Adults Even If You Aren’t One
- How to Plan a Book Series
- 11 Top Writing Communities You Should Join and Why