55% of YA readers are adults

 

This grabbed my attention a few days ago.

Why? Because I had a feeling that a larger percentage of YA readers were adult – I think it was based on the fact that most of the blogs I read where there are reviews for YA books tend to be run by adults. This is not a bad thing, by the way. It probably means more word of mouth about your book – and really, once a group of bloggers falls in love with a book, they do a remarkable job of promoting it like crazy.

If the Bowker research is true, though, does this present a challenge to YA authors? That’s a tough one because it could be argued that an author is now writing for two different age groups and the question comes to mind as to how one can make both camps happy? It can be argued that a lot of adult YA readers are engaged in YA books because of something that’s missing from the current crop of adult titles, but I’m not ready to agree with that. My sense is that regardless of your age, if there’s a book that a reader connects with, they’re going to read it.

For me, when I’m writing YA – I’m not thinking about whether the story will be appealing for adults. I’m focused on writing for teens because that’s the world I’m trying to represent to the best of my ability. This means, though, that I need to connect with today’s youth – not so much on issues, which are massively important, but rather, I need to connect in a way that makes the story sound genuine. Perhaps this focus will allow my protagonist’s voice to sound like a typical teen from 2012.

If 55% of YA readers are adults, it could present with some more interesting books in the future. I think a lot of readers from both age groups are tired to death of the typical “nice girl meets bad boy” thing we see in a lot of books. My sense is that what matters most to everyone regardless of their age is the actual plot. Is it believable? Is it predictable? Are there twists that nobody saw coming? Does the main character resonate with readers?

Story matters – end of story. It doesn’t matter if the reader is 14 or 44. And what a crop of new stories are waiting to be written. Who knows what books are being written right now – the question to me is whether or not publishers and authors might be concerned about how to please both age groups. If I can offer this small bit of advice – don’t think about the two markets. Think about the book. Think about how to create a story with characters that are larger than life. Think about authenticity – how to represent your character’s lives in a way that will allow readers to connect with them.

With POLTERGEEKS about to be released next week, I think the one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t please everyone with your book. You just have to write something that is the very best that you can possibly offer and then you have to throw it out to the universe. Will my book sell? I hope so. Will readers feel connected to my characters? I want that more than anything because to me, that’s what’s going to get them to buy the next book in the series.

Writing books is a gamblers game. You simply don’t know if you’re going to hit paydirt or if your book is going to crash and burn. Me? I hope I hit paydirt. I hope that readers will fall in love with the characters and will want to pass my book along to their friends and family – it really doesn’t matter to me how old the reader is. The only thing that matters is whether the reader enjoyed the book that I wrote for them.

We authors write books for you – the best we can hope for is that you will want to keep on reading.

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A Note of Thanks

It’s kind of a grainy picture but I have a crummy web cam.

What I’m holding in my right hand is the culmination of nearly three years of hard work. I’m off to London on Sunday (WOO HOO!!) and I’m going to meet a bunch of people that I can’t wait to meet. I’ve already got three books under my belt, but this one … this one is special. POLTERGEEKS is the book that got me an agent. It’s the book that got me a book deal with Strange Chemistry Books. It’s the little book that could and to finally hold the finished product in my hot little hands is just damned special.

So I want to thank Amanda Rutter, my editor at Strange Chemistry. She really gave me a lot of insight into how to make this book shine – and I really think it does. I’m proud to say that POLTERGEEKS is the best thing that I’ve written to date. Amanda played a massive part in all of this. A keen eye for detail and more importantly, I think that Amanda helped me recognize some very important qualities in the story that made it sound, well, more teen if that makes any sense. Damned good editor for a damned good book. Period.

I want to thank my agent’s assistant Ella Kahn for putting up with me for the last year and a half. (I’m a bit neurotic. Okay a LOT neurotic, what can I say?)

And finally the biggest thanks goes out to my literary agent Jenny Savill.  She took a chance on a story written by a forty-something guy in the middle of the cold Canadian prairie. Jenny immediately spotted the potential in the query and sample chapters I sent to her. She invested a massive amount of time in an extremely detailed revision process. She too put up with my neurotic ways and she helped me identify the key parts of this book that needed work. She counselled patience where patience was needed. She cheered me on … like a lot.  She told me to crack out that pink highlighter and print off the entire manuscript with a goal of highlighting everything that looked like romance because it needed a ton of work. And she even got herself into cell phone range to offer me representation as she was on vacation at the time – that was a crazy day two Augusts ago.

Very simply, this book would not have happened without Jenny. She has helped me become a better writer. A smarter writer. A more patient writer.

So there you go. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It’s down to the wire now. By this time next week POLTERGEEKS will be on sale everywhere. I’m grateful to so many people for their support and encouragement as this book went from an idea in my head to the paperback with the killer cover art in  the picture above.

Onward and upward!!!

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Random thoughts

I’d like to do more blog posts – I’d like to write one every day if I had something interesting to say. Of course my brain is going a mile a minute. Here’s what I’m thinking about:

1) The response to my forthcoming POLTERGEEKS has been amazing. I’m really blown away by the enthusiasm of bloggers – seriously, you guys are just awesome. All of you.

2) Do I go watch Queen’s Park Rangers vs West Ham United next Monday evening even though I will be jet-lagged like crazy?

3) I’ve pumped out a few chapters of a YA story that is decidedly NOT urban fantasy. I’m not entirely sure what it is – perhaps I’ll print them off for my agent when I meet her next week in London.

4) I’m 45 in less than two weeks. I’ve got crazy, old man eyebrow hair. This is very disconcerting.

5) Chuck Wendig and Chris F. Holm are my two new favorite authors. I tweet this fact a great deal of the time.

6) I am really quite bald up top now. I get a brush cut every two weeks. If I grow a beard will I look like a biker and thereby scare away young readers?

7) I’m very proud of my son, Shane. He’s 22 and he’s starting to set his compass bearing for his future. He’s a great young man.

8) Will my baggage get lost on the way to London? (Please God, no.)

9) How can I get Matt Smith to come to Waterstone’s Bluewater on October 7th to read a chapter from POLTERGEEKS … hmmmm ….

10) I feel like I’m standing on the precipice of … something. Not entirely sure what, though.

11) What the hell is going on with the shots at book bloggers these days?

12) Which ale should I order at a good English pub?

13) Will mushy peas go right through me at the worst possible time? (With my luck, yes.)

14) Will there be a war over a bacon shortage this winter?

15) Does anyone ever consider the sheer miracle associated with drawing a breath into their lungs?

16) Just how small will the bathroom be at the hotel in London?

17) Just how well will POLTERGEEKS do when it comes out next week?

18) I would like to see a World’s Finest movie. Batman and Superman together, kicking ass.

19) What’s the best British chocolate bar?

20) Is there decent coffee in London?

Yeah, my brain is full of stuff this morning. I’m off to London in four days. Poltergeeks hits bookstores next week. Lots going on, trying to catch my breath.

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Yet more sniping aimed at book bloggers

From today’s The Independent. Notably this:

The rise of blogging has proved particularly worrying, he says. “Eventually that will be to the detriment of literature. It will be bad for readers; as much as one would like to think that many bloggers opinions are as good as others. It just ain’t so. People will be encouraged to buy and read books that are no good, the good will be overwhelmed, and we’ll be worse off.

So basically, you have to wear a monocle, drink brandy from a snifter while you sit in an enormous wing back chair smoking a pipe with all your dusty first editions in the background.

Personally, I think this is more about a dying medium – the newspaper industry. That’s where *real* book reviewers post their reviews. At any rate, I’m not going to rant. I’m just going to encourage book bloggers everywhere to continue what they’re doing … oh, and maybe post this little graphic to your book blog to legitimize your capacity for independent thought and your ability to critique a book with the best of them.

 

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Bits and Pieces, this and that …

It’s Friday. POLTERGEEKS hits bookstores in North America in like …. twelve days. I’m flying to London in like nine days  … BOATLOADS of stuff going on!!

Are you in the UK and do you want to win a copy of POLTERGEEKS. Click here and you can get your hands on one!!

Hmmm … want to win all my books? Scroll down and you’ll see how to enter!

In other news – yesterday was my agent’s assistant’s birthday – so a bit HAPPY Bday to Ella Kahn!

Today is Cassandra Clarke’s birthday so HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Cassandra. (Seriously, her THE ASSASSIN’S CURSE is a super book and it comes out the same day as POLTERGEEKS! Why not buy both?)

An author I think everyone who loves YA should read is Keren David. We share the same agent and Keren is a brilliant, award winning author. Her books WHEN I WAS JOE and ALMOST TRUE are unbelievably damned good books and I highly recommend them. Last night she had her launch party for her next book ANOTHER LIFE. Huge congratulations, Keren!!!

We’ve been getting some lovely reviews, by the way.

Like this one from blogger Hanna Mariska

And this one from the good folks at The Founding Fields.

And this one from Finding Wonderland.

And finally, thanks to the blogs, Winged Reviews, I Smell Sheep, All Things Urban Fantasy, Serendipity Reviews, Sister Spooky, The Founding Fields, My Book Journey for taking part in the GET YOUR GEEK ON BLOG TOUR.

So there you have it. Lots going on. Unbelievably excited about the trip to London. Really looking forward to meeting my agent. my editor and all these cool bloggers who are excited about POLTERGEEKS!

Have a great weekend!!

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