One of the basic tenets of marketing is to go to where your customers are. And when the customers are YA readers, these days they can likely be found using social media. But though authors, publishers, booksellers, and librarians know that the digital space is an important destination, they may need some help finding the best way to get there and reach their intended audience. Today’s panel “A Conversation on Digital Strategies for Tapping the YA Market,” in Room 1E07, 3:30–4:20 p.m., aims to provide a road map.
A lineup of industry experts will share their insights on the effectiveness of various digital strategies as well as provide examples of successful online campaigns. The growth of online communities and how they influence publishers and readers will also be discussed. Participants include authors Alaya Dawn Johnson and Carolyn Mackler; Arthur A. Levine, v-p and publisher of Scholastic’s Arthur A. Levine Books; Cheryl B. Klein, executive editor at Arthur A. Levine Books; Jeffrey Yamaguchi, director of digital marketing at Abrams Books; and Jennifer Hubert Swan, middle school librarian and library department chair at the Little Red School House and Elizabeth Irwin High School in Manhattan. Manuela Soares, lecturer and director of the graduate seminar in publishing at Pace University, will moderate the panel.
“We’re facing the first generation that has grown up online,” says Klein. “As a result, we’ve had to adapt and change our entire way of marketing.” As director of digital marketing, Yamaguchi is enthusiastic about embracing this new world. He describes the digital space as “an amazingly alive and creative place” and notes that there is a lot happening with both creators and readers of books. “Lots of authors are pretty savvy about social media,” he says. “Readers are owning social media right now. They determine how we talk there, what we talk about. They determine trends, and there’s incredible energy and excitement around that.”
One of Yamaguchi’s key points for authors: “stay focused and not get overwhelmed” when trying to optimize their online impact. “The platforms are endless and always changing. You could spend all your time trying to manage that,” he says. “But I tell authors to find one they like. If you like it, you’ll be authentic. If it’s forced, you’re not going to connect with your readers.”
As an example, Klein points to author Trent Reedy’s Tumblr, created for his speculative novel Divided We Fall (Scholastic/Levine, Jan.), which features some military elements. “It’s been a great venue for him to talk about his service in Afghanistan,” says Klein. Reedy has also used his Facebook page to forge connections with military buddies and other writers. “He’s been really crafting an online space for himself,” she says. Additionally, Klein will highlight the This Is Teen (www.thisisteen.com) online community of readers and its I Read YA campaign running from May 19 to July 4: “It taps into the way the YA category has blown up, and the pride that YA readers feel.”
During today’s discussion, he will cite other success stories as well, but Yamaguchi says that no matter the author or book, “What will make a campaign fly is the creativity that goes into it. You want it to resonate and make a little bit of noise. And you should feel a little uncomfortable. You want to be a little nervous about it because you’re trying something new and you’re not sure it will work.” The bottom line, he notes, “If you’re not trying something new, you’re not getting attention.”