I wonder sometimes if John Steinbeck sat around obsessing about whether or not F.Scott Fitzgerald had more twitter followers than he did. Or if more people added his book on goodreads. But I jest, because these weren’t the problems of authors even twenty years ago, much less fifty.
And they don’t have to be a consideration for authors today either, except that they kind of do. Children’s authors (YA included) have a huge social media network including twitter, tumblr, blogs, and probably a whole lot more I’m unaware of because I’m not young or techy enough. (Full disclosure; when my students use a noun as a verb or a verb as a noun, I generally keep quiet and assume they’re talking about something on the interwebz.) A social media presence is pretty much an expectation for authors trying to reach a younger audience.
And it’s not all bad. Being part of social networks as an author can be an incredible community builder and a great networking and promotional tool. It’s also a slippery slope for the green-eyed monster. You have instant access to everyone’s book deals, promotions, festival appearances, etc. And because you have that access you have the ability to compare yourself and your success to that of everyone else in the kidlitosphere. Not so helpful.
What I would like to share this evening is the best piece of feedback I’ve gotten since my book hit the shelves just a few weeks ago. It comes from a friend who sent me this email about her teenage son who was reading my book. And it reminded me of why writing and telling stories is so powerful and so important to me.
“I heard my son laughing to himself up in his room tonight on my way up to say good night and saw that he was reading your book. As I walked toward his bed he looked up from the book with a huge grin and said, “How did she write this? It’s like…she knows what boys think..how does she know what it’s like?”.”
And that my friends is big success – suck it F. Scott.