Today I have for you all the wonderfully talented Julia Green, author of a handful of books including Bringing the Summer. I love her writing and am so excited to intoduce her to all of you! Hope you enjoy her amazing guest post!
Online Blogs and Marketing
Your question: How do you feel about all the online blogs and marketing?
…my reply, by YA author Julia Green
It’s extraordinary how quickly things have changed in the publishing world. My first YA novel, ‘Blue Moon’, was published by Puffin just ten years ago, and no one talked about blogs and Twitter and Facebook then! Puffin sent out review copies of the book to a number of key people who wrote professional reviews in newspapers and magazines. I did some events in London and elsewhere, at conferences… I went to schools and met my readers and potential readers that way. Some wrote me lovely letters, by hand, which my publisher sent on to me. I didn’t even have a website at that time.
This summer, for my latest YA novel, ‘This Northern Sky’, published by Bloomsbury, there were no physical, bound review copies: the text was available to blog reviewers online via netgalley.com. I updated my website, with extra notes about the book ( www.julia-green.co.uk), posted on my Facebook Author page, tweeted (@JGreenAuthor) – a new thing for me! I’d only just started doing this, although my lovely publicist Emma had been telling me what a good idea it would be, for ages – and I wrote some guest posts for blogs… lots of writing, in fact: responses to questions, and interviews, and posts about related topics … and I enjoyed it all, because it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to talk about something I am so passionate about. It feels like a very direct way of communicating with readers, even though it takes a lot of extra time. But so does travelling around, talking at festivals, in schools, in bookshops, and actually, it is lovely to talk to readers, and hear responses to my novels, and to engage with this extraordinary community of readers and writers, both online and in the physical real world.
I am aware that many of the people who blog or talk on social media are older than the ‘target’ audience for my books: in their twenties or older, often, rather than the teenagers I’m talking to in schools or at festivals, so that’s been an interesting discovery. I’m also aware of how well-read, how well- informed, those bloggers are. There is something very empowering for readers, I think, about having their voices heard – writing a review and having it read. It has made it a more ‘democratic’ process – anyone can say what they think, rather than a few ‘experts’. There are downsides to that, of course. Authors are human too, and a little kindness goes a long way. Most people thrive best in a supportive and constructive atmosphere: that’s what I believe, and practice, in my teaching of creative writing, and I think the same holds true for online communities of readers.
So, the idea of communities of readers, talking to each other online, seems to me to be a very good thing. And perhaps it also means that it’s easier to get at least some ‘attention’ for the sort of books that individuals readers love, but which might not get the big marketing spend that publishers lavish on those plot-driven, high- action, concept-heavy books which they know will sell in huge numbers. Perhaps the word- of- mouth recommendations that bloggers share with each other means that a bigger range of fiction gets read, including those ‘quieter’ novels which I think are just as important. I’m not sure about that: what do you think?
There are now so many blogs it can be hard to keep up. Sometimes, perhaps it’s better to listen, and watch, and not speak. If everyone is talking, no one is listening, and no one can be heard. As a writer, I need that silence – the room on my own, or the walk by the sea – to feed the internal processes of the imagination. The act of reading, too, takes place in quietness, and one of the many amazing things about reading is that it is an internal process: the ‘journeys’ we go on, the thoughts and emotions and ideas we experience, are all happening on the inside, invisible to anyone else. I like that.
So, there’s a time for talking, sharing, meeting people, discussing ideas, and that’s when twitter and Facebook and online blogs and festivals and meetings with real people are really helpful and enjoyable. But for me, there also need to be the quiet times. Without those, there would be no writing, no new novel.
See what I mean? What do you have to say in response to this? What do you think about the “quieter” novels? And the quiet time?
Julia Green is the author of more than 10 novels for children and teenagers. She is course director for the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. Her latest YA novel is THIS NORTHERN SKY, set in the Hebrides, about 15 year old Kate coming to terms with her parents’ separation, and mending her own broken heart.