A few years ago I wrote about marketing a YA novel and since then several things have changed for one, there are more marketing avenues as well as more pitfalls. When I wrote that post in 2013, mobile phone usage was on the rise worldwide and tablets were new. Fast forward 4 years and mobile phones are a necessity while tablets are now being used by cats and infants. I kid you not.
In this post I answer the questions where are the young people and what do they want? Also, I address some important trends that are revolutionizing the publishing industry. So let’s get started…
More Media, More Problems
In the past few years Facebook has reigned as the king of social media with over 1.79 billion users but it does have competition particularly, when it comes to reaching young people. Sites like Instagram, Snapchat, Kik and Periscope have a growing and active user base of 13-34 year olds which has the attention of marketers looking to reach Gen Y and Z.
Most of these sites have richer forms of content like video and gifs which is ideal for quick scrolling. You know they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and this is especially true for short videos which dominate the feeds of most teens. This means if you want to reach this demographic, you’ll have to use visuals like video and eye-catching images.
Short Is The New Long
The trends in publishing on both the adult and teen market is shorter, serialized books. In fact, many online retailers have launched programs like Kindle Shorts, Kobo Exclusive Shorts and Nook Snaps which all feature short books. Even bestselling author James Patterson has begun focusing on shorter and cheaper works. It seems those within the publishing industry have been watching indie authors closely.
Your Advertising Has To Be Different
As indie authors we’ve been told to build a strong brand which is good advice but most teens say they don’t feel connected to any particular brand. In fact, they say they feel most brands don’t understand them at all and sadly, they’re right. Gone are the days where you could just yell BOGO (Buy One Get One) and get someone’s attention. Today, the question is can you contribute to the conversation teens are having or are you just trying to take it over? The advice that most marketers give today is to make your ads look like native content which basically means that your ads shouldn’t look like ads at all. Your advertising has to add to the conversation —their conversation. So if your book can’t mesh with what teens are talking about, then it may not be as marketable as you think.
Young People Don’t Wish For Diversity, They Demand It
We live in a global world and this generation of children has grown accustomed to being exposed to different cultures and customs. Gone are the days of living in a homogenized bubble, young people want to explore and learn, if you can provide these things, you stand to make a splash. In 2014, the hashtag: #WeNeedMoreDiverseBooks became a movement when a Twitter discussion about the lack of diversity in the children’s genre went viral. Several major publishers finally heard the cry and began publishing books with diverse worlds and characters. Since then books like Listen, Slowly, by Thanhha Lai, and The Jumbies, by Tracey Baptiste, have rose to the top of the bestsellers list.
Social Media Influencers Are The New Celebs
Gone are the days where the radio or television executives chose the next big thing, today algorithms and SEO determine who gets an audience and who won’t. The party is online for teens and young adults, because the internet offers them a plethora of choices that old media just cannot. Many of these choices are DIY Youtube channels and Snaps where regular people entertain, post tutorials and review products. I talked about this in a previous article called: Booktube for Indie Authors which opened the eyes of a lot of authors who knew nothing about this subculture of book reviewers. To the shock of many marketers, teens consider Youtubers legitimate celebrities right along the lines of Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner. This means that to teens, Booktubers are seen in the same league as the New York Times reviewers.
Young People Aren’t Difficult, They’re Different!
This paragraph may anger a few people but I have to tell it like it is. Many older people fall into the same trap of previous generations who criticized or dismissed their youth and did so at their own peril. When the World War II Generation ignored the Baby Boomers (think Vietnam), they in turn were ignored and marginalized later on in politics, and pop culture. If you don’t try to understand this generation then everything they say and do will be foreign or scary. You miss out on modern culture and even risk losing an opportunity to make relationships which is the backbone of any marketing strategy. So don’t run from them, do your best to understand them, who knows they may take the time to listen to you as well?