Cake definitely makes a difference. But it is only one of the ingredients that is drawing booksellers and teens to Scholastic’s “this is teen,” a summer-long online and in-person sales initiative to promote a trio of YA books and authors — Libba Bray (Beauty Queens, May), Meg Cabot (Abandon, April), and Maggie Stiefvater (Forever, July).
Since the launch of the authors’ joint five-city tour at Barnes & Noble in Carle Place, N.Y., on May 24, the “this is teen” Facebook page has attracted more than 33,500 fans—and counting. And events have been packed. If there were any doubt that teens—and in a few cases grandmothers with dog-eared copies of Cabot’s previous books—are following the threesome through social media like Twitter, an idle post by Cabot wishing for some M&M’s netted quite a haul, along with tweets asking her to be more specific, so they could bring the right kind. From conversations with audiences at events in New York, San Francisco, and Naperville, Stiefvater estimates that roughly 90% of the attendees found out about the tour on Twitter and Facebook, many through the bookstores’ own accounts.
Probably the word that most typifies the promotion, which includes giveaways like a “this is teen” thumb drive with videos of the authors talking about key incidents in their lives and the location-based mobile app SCVNGR with book-related challenges, is “fun.” Deb Sundin, manager of Wellesley Books in Wellesley, Mass., which hosted the most recent “this is teen” reading on June 16 at Wellesley Middle School, describes their evening as “a lot of fun. The audience really liked it. We had people who came from New Hampshire and Connecticut, because this was the only stop in New England.” Is it selling books? “Absolutely,” says Sundin. “A lot of people came in for one particular author and after the authors spoke, they went and bought the other books.”
Bray says that touring together “is the only abs exercise we’ve had: laughing so hard.” On the more serious side, she notes that the tour’s success has been due to the fact that “it speaks to what so many of us in the YA community have maintained: story is story.” Despite the fact that each author has a very different style, the books appeal across fan bases. Stiefvater terms the tour a “cross-pollination” of ideas, book audiences, and sales. Many of the teens who attend want to be writers and are interested in learning about the process. For example, the original name for Cabot’s Abandon was Date with Death; Stiefvater’s working title for Shiver was Still Wolf Watching.
The last of the six “this is teen” live events will take place at the end of July at Books & Books in Miami. In between, at least two of the three writers will be on the road solo to promote their July releases: Stiefvater’s Forever and Cabot’s adult title, Overbite (William Morrow).
Read on for photos from the "this is teen"events."