Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Adult?

Have you heard about this new category in fiction called “New Adult”? Apparently it’s not exactly new: St. Martin’s tried to create it in 2009 through a contest, but from what I’ve read it never launched a specific line. There’s been discussion and interest even since, though. The books are supposed to be aimed at a slightly older audience than for YA (the broadest range I’ve seen is 14-35) and show the main character making the transition from child to adult, usually with an emphasis on relationships. Some other articles, should you wish to explore this phenomenon a bit more, are here. To give you an idea of what we're talking about Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster is often touted as New Adult, as is Slammed by Colleen Hoover.

It came to my attention recently when I saw fans in various forums saying The Taker was New Adult. At the time I was confused because I considered my books to be adult, end of discussion. Since then, a few things have happened to make me reconsider my position. First, I was at a book festival earlier this year that had a separate teen day and the festival bookseller told me that The Taker sold well with the YA audience. Secondly, friends have told me that they’ve seen the book shelved in the YA section in bookshelves. And thirdly, the book is being marketed to YA audiences in Brazil and is doing well. All this is making me wonder if I should reconsider, if there’s an audience out there that I’m not reaching. Though to be clear, I don’t think my books are suitable for younger teens.

On the other hand, I’m not sure this New Adult genre is a perfect fit for my books. And it isn’t without controversy: some folks point out that a lot of the books that fall into this category seem to glamorize abusive relationships. I should stress here that I haven’t read any of these books and am just going on hearsay, but from what I’m told they’re often about young women who get involved with a man with great force of will (the kind of personality some people might call “controlling”).  I also want to point out what I think is a key point difference between these books and The Taker: the controlling behavior leads to tragic consequences in The Taker. The main character suffers for the bad choices she makes. Her punishment is to wander the earth for 200 years without Jonathan, and then to completely relinquish any hope of reuniting with him by releasing him from this mortal coil.

Another, perhaps less important reason that I question the fit is because it seems New Adult is almost exclusively contemporary. No fantasies or historicals. Or am I wrong?

What do you think? Do you think The Taker and The Reckoning are appropriate for YA audiences? Would you consider it New Adult?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Goodreads Semifinalist!

I'm having a Sally Fields moment. Funny how you tell yourself that these silly awards don't mean anything . . . they're just popularity contests . . . until you're nominated for one, and then you realize with a little pang in your heart that you really would like to win.

The Reckoning has been nominated for a Goodreads Readers Choice award in the Paranormal Fantasy category, which has come as a tremendous surprise to me. I mean, look at the other nominees. Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Deborah Harkness, to name a few. This really is one of those instances where you're flattered just to be nominated. (And interestingly, this is the second "best paranormal fantasy" nomination for the book, which is also a finalist in Reviewer's Choice over at RT Magazine.)

So--even though we're definitely the dark horse--if you would like to defy convention and vote for my little book, I would be ever so grateful. You can do so here. Voting in this round runs through November 18th.

And to make this a bit more interesting, if The Reckoning makes it to the Final Round, I'll put up a new Taker short story on the website as a thank you to readers. Deal?

Monday, November 5, 2012

Promotion basics: Building A Mailing List

In an earlier blog post, I wrote about the importance for authors of building a mailing list. Yes, even in the age of social media you need a mailing list because with social media, you have no guarantee that all your Twitter followers or Facebook friends will see your messages. That’s determined by an algorithm (in the case of Facebook) and vagrancies of the platform (Twitter).  There’s no guarantee that everyone who receives your newsletter will open it either, but you’ll probably see higher positive returns.

Building a mailing list seems to make some people nervous, perhaps because it’s about accumulating numbers, a lot like acquiring Facebook friends or Twitter followers. All I can say is that it helps to have a zen-like attitude about it. Expect it to be slow and steady. You may have the occasional windfall but expect to build a mailing list the way you build your reading your audience: one person at a time.

Of course, there is a shortcut to building a mailing list: namely, you can buy mailing lists from commercial companies. I don’t know any author who has done this (or would fess up to doing this) but the consensus seems to be that it’s not worth the cost, since most people on a bought list would probably have no interest in your books and would just unsubscribe immediately.

So, what other ways are there to build your list?

In my experience, contests seem to work best.  For a while, it seemed really popular to give the hot gadget of the day, whether it was the latest Kindle or even an iPad. That fad seems to have waned, perhaps because it is hard to get enough entries to make it worth your while. I gave away a NOOK tablet in conjunction with the release of my second book, THE RECKONING, and it did well for me but primarily because a couple Facebook-based reading groups ran posts on the contests and sent over a lot of entries.

Whether the prize is big or small, don’t forget to state in the rules and wherever you advertise it that by entering the drawing, entrants are giving permission to be put on your mailing list.

Some book websites and conferences offer promotions to help build your mailing list. You can run a contest on Fresh Fiction, for example, and you’ll get email addresses of everyone who entered. I recently ran my first contest on Fresh Fiction and found it worth the money, but bear in mind that my type of book was probably a good fit for this site’s audience.

Use every opportunity to add names to your mailing list. Doing a talk at the library? Put out a sign-up sheet. Presenting at a bookstore? Have a drawing for a small prize—a store gift card, or an item bought from the store—and ask participants to write their email address on the entry slip (and don’t forget to tell them that by entering, they consent to be added to the mailing list. Give them the chance to opt out.)

Have a sign-up form featured prominently on your website. I have them on multiple pages. (See an example here.)

Consider asking author friends to mention your website and mailing list in their newsletters. And, of course, you’ll do the same for them in return.

Mention your mailing list on your promotional materials (bookmarks, postcards, even your business cards.)

Next: now that you’ve got a mailing list, we’ll talk about what to send out.

You may be interested in: Mailing List Basics