Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Indie Tuesday—Reaching YA or NA Readers Online

by Charity Tinnin @CharityTinnin

What if your readers don't read traditional blogs? This is a question both Jessica and I have wrestled with as young adult/new adult authors. Most 30 and under readers don't follow traditional blogs, and a growing number of teens use Facebook less now that their parents and grandparents have accounts. So how does an author reach YA or NA readers online?

First, start with Twitter. Teens and new adults are used to text-length conversations and aren't hampered by that 140-character limit. Twitter is edging out Facebook because teens can interact with celebrities (including authors), live-tweet with other fans, get up-to-the-minute news, post their Vine, Instagram, or Tumblr content, and share their thoughts.

Second, don't write off Facebook. Despite the leveling off of Facebook users in the 18-29 demographic, the social network remains number two. For these users, Facebook remains a place to keep up with their friends and can serve as a hub for all their social media (They often link all their accounts—Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, etc.—here.)

Third, once you've mastered the above, consider one of the visually driven networks. Young/new adults gravitate toward visual images, easily-digestible information, and content that can be shared with a click of a button. And they like to spread their attention around. For example, the thirteen-thirty year olds I know use four-seven social networks each. So, pick a visually driven network you feel drawn to, work on doing it well, then consider whether you're crazy (read: ambitious) enough to add more.

Excluding messenger apps like Snapchat and Kik, the following are networks teens and new adults use daily: 
  • Instagram: For users who want to post pictures (with or without custom filters) and 15-second videos with hashtags. Teens follow friends, celebrities, and certain hashtags (like #Coverlove, #Bookstagram, or #CurrentlyReading). 
  • Pinterest: Create virtual bulletin boards your readers can use to connect visually with your story or series. Pin or repin pictures on character or story-world boards. (Consider copyright before choosing to repin).
  • Tumblr: Many YA authors, including John Green and Kiera Cass, have Tumblr pages. These authors use their pages to blog short thoughts and reblog fan-created memes, GIFs, fan-art, fan-fiction, etc. Followers are harder to come by here than on Instagram or Pinterest, but teens that use Tumblr spend hours reblogging posts that interest them. Tumblr posts can be shared on Twitter and Facebook as well.
  • YouTube: Set up a YouTube account to upload book reviews, book trailers (60 seconds or less), character interviews, or how-to videos specific to your brand.

You don't have to master every single network. Try one, and see if it fits. For example, Jess and I co-host a Tumblr site entitled FictionCrush, and I have just started dipping my toe into the world of Instagram. We've both had some success. If these networks can connect us with our readers, I'm sure we'll continue. If not, both of us are free to drop back and try something else. 

What about you? What social networks do you use? Which one seems to connect you best with your readers?

Which social networks should YA/NA authors focus on? @CharityTinnin offers suggestions. #IndieTuesday via @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

.@CharityTinnin offers suggestions for finding YA and NA readers online through social networking apps. #IndieTuesday (Click to Tweet)

Charity Tinnin’s fascination with dystopian lit began in high school, so it's no surprise that her debut novel, Haunted, would be a YA dystopian. Now, she mentors high school students at her church, works as a freelance editor, and lives in the foothills of North Carolina. When she’s not editing for a client or working on the State v. Seforé series, she spends her time reading YA and discussing the merits of fictional heroes online. Speaking of the Internet, Charity loves to talk about YA lit, TV, and State v. Seforé. Find her on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, or her website to continue the conversation.


  1. C I think you've convinced me to check out Instagram - because while I adore Tumblr, you're right, followers are hard to come by. That shouldn't make people look over Tumblr though, because many of your posts will be reblogged because of your tags. I've gotten 200+ shares of certain posts and don't have that many followers. But yes, Instagram...I need to put that smart phone to work.

    1. With Tumblr, I would definitely encourage people to track likes and reblogs not followers. Unlike Facebook or even Twitter, most Tumblr users are liking and reblogging trending topics not the people they're following.

      A couple reassuring things about joining Instagram are that it's quick to set up and you can post a picture with hashtags in less than two minutes. A new adult I interviewed reminded me that photos don't have to be gorgeously professional. Stick with everyday photos of yourself, your activities, and what you're reading but make sure you use those hashtags well.

  2. I'm a facebook junkie and a twitter tolerator. I am planning on using YouTube more once I've gotten a book out. I see John Green uses it and posts his short videos on his blog. I think the YA readers prefer that. It feels more personal. I do struggle though, as I take the plunge into YA, how to reach a group that prefers to hang out where adults don't tread. It's always the challenge for those of us who still want to connect with our adult friends, but reach out to the younger crowds.

    1. John Green and his brother Hank are genuine YouTube stars (and yes, there is such a thing). Those two managed to capture lightning in a bottle for sure. If you're considering YouTube, I would watch a lot of their videos and read the comments on them.

      As for courting both adults and teens? Because teens want a space that's all their own, you might consider using one social media app for one group and another for the other. For example, my Twitter account is primarily for YA readers. I post YA book thoughts, live-tweet TV shows, and fangirl over fictional characters. My Facebook account is the place I'm interacting with friends, family, and other writers. This doesn't mean they don't overlap from time to time or that if you're an adult, you can't interact with me on Twitter. But I'm providing content on Twitter that lets YA readers know I'm one of them. Maybe you'll be able to do something like that.

  3. I just love when the universe aligns. Want more information on Tumblr (as a writer or reader)? Coincidentally, Jessica Keller's guest posting about Tumblr on Kim Vandel's blog today: http://kimvandel.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/top-10-ways-to-show-tumblr-love-to-authors/

  4. As a 22 year old, and Charity's sister, I completely agree with this blog post when it comes to what people my age are into. Instagram is becoming very popular and a good bit of my friends post on there daily. :)

  5. I highly recommend Tumblr, since people there are receptive to posts of any length.

    1. I agree, Jace. Tumblr's like Twitter without the character limit, so you can post a short and sweet blog or photo or video but you aren't required to!

  6. While I haven't ventured into Instagram yet, I've been thinking YouTube is a good place to reach out in.