How Middle Grade Authors Can Use Social Media & Why Your Persona May Need an Overhaul

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There are gobs of Young Adult authors using social media to interact with their readers and fans, but what about Middle Grade readers? Is there a way to reach them with social media? Absolutely.

Because those readers are using social media too! Or at the very least, they’re using Google to research their favorite authors and reading their blogs. My kids even have their own blog (Kids Write Reviews) so they are involved in social media on their own.

The key is to tailor your social networking efforts to your audience. While YA authors can get away with talking about writing and craft on their blog, middle grade readers won’t be as interested. Instead, they want to see:

  • What you’re working on. Give clues to your next project, little snippets, maybe some inspiration.
  • Books you recommend. Middle grade readers race through books and are always looking for a recommendation! Who better to recommend than a favorite author?
  • Fun facts about yourself. Keep it real and PG, but your readers and fans will love to know about you and funny stories from your childhood.
  • Reviews of your books. Showcase interesting reviews of your book. Publicity is always good!
  • Multimedia elements: These fans are very into music, videos, and graphics – so include as many as you can! Book trailers, illustrations from your novel, playlists galore.

A couple great examples are Rick Riordan’s blog and Joan Holub’s blog.

While tweens can’t sign up for their own Facebook account, there are new social networks popping up (like Everloop) that cater to these social savvy kids – and you may want to explore setting up accounts or advertising there. You may even want to tailor your Twitter account to your readership, since they can easily see your account on Google.

And that leads to the second part of this post. Your persona may need an overhaul. Why? Because it’s very easy for your Middle Grade audience to find your personal blog or website and see what you’re up to. While you may not want to use social media to reach your readers, they may use it to find you! Case in point:

9-year-old Stacy finishes the new Diary of a Glamorous Girl and hops on Google to find out if the author has any more books. She types in the author’s name, Fiona Fancypants, and the very first link is the author’s blog. Score! Stacy clicks through to see what Fiona is saying. Now Fiona has been an aspiring author for years. She’s been writing about craft, talking about the process, and has built up quite the following. Her latest post talks about sexy literary characters and there’s a picture of Jacob Black and how she wouldn’t mind “licking those abs.” Stacy ponders this for a bit and wonders why anyone would want to lick somebody’s stomach. Gross. And then Stacy’s mom walks in the room and asks, “WHAT are you looking at?

Not a great first impression, huh? Or what if Fiona has done a book review for a YA novel that touches on rape? Probably not a recommendation that Stacy should be asking for in the library.

So I recommend caution. Google yourself. Try to see yourself through the eyes of a tween. Do you need to edit a few of your blog posts? Change up the design a little? Get rid of some saucy pics of you and the hubby?

Of course, you can always use a pen name!

If you’d like to set up a blog for your middle grade readers … I’m happy to help! Check out the social media consulting page for more details.

14 Comments

  1. Great post! I’ve kept my blog MG focused for some time, even though I write YA as well. It’s really targeted at the MG gatekeepers – parents, teachers, librarians – as well as MG and YA writers. But that has kept it clean. It’s tough, though. There have been times when making it “sexier” would have appealed to the YA crowd more. So for writers who do both, I think it’s a difficult line to walk.

    But the most important thing: be yourself. :)

    • Susan, I can imagine it’s tough – and definitely for those who write both, or even PB! I’m going to address tips for that in a future post.

  2. This is such great advice! I write across age levels, ranging from picture books to young adult. I try to keep everything I write appropriate for kids. While I do talk about the craft of writing, I’ve added my Monday Mishmash that let’s my reader get to know me. And I do some book reviews, so hopefully kids will be interested in those posts.

    Thanks for posting this topic. It’s definitely something we need to think about.

    • Kelly, sounds like you’re doing the right thing! I think the most important item is to always keep your audience in mind. Having different websites or links on your website is an option – but tech-savvy tweens will still find it :) There’s only so much you can do, and as long as you make it clear who your intended audience is, you’ll be fine.

  3. I completely agree, Nikki. But as you know, I write YA & MG…and then there’s the PBs I’m writing. Any advice there? I’m not yet ready for an actual website with links to my blog, but I know I’m heading that way. I did revamp my blog, making it more MG friendly, but it still must appeal to YAers.

    • Sheri – I totally understand and am going to speak more to that next week. You just have to be conscious of your audiences and very candid. My suggestion is ultimately to make your main website link out to different pages/blogs for each audience and make it VERY clear who it’s for! That way if a 9YO winds up on your YA site and the mom walks in the room, she won’t freak out :)

  4. Great post! I’ve been very conscious of this conundrum for awhile now. I write predominantly YA but also a lot of MG, so I’m even careful who I interview with and who is on sites I write for.

    • Rebecca – it definitely can be a little more difficult if you write for different age groups! Worth it, but difficult :)

  5. Great advice. It makes complete sense to keep things kid-friendly. I maintain two blogs. One professional, where I talk about the craft of writing and review books from a writer’s perspective, and one personal, where I tell funny stories about my kids. I intend to use the personal blog to talk about the characters in my published books (once they’re published), and keep the professional one targeted toward writers.

  6. Great tips. It’s funny, but last night I was thinking about redoing my blogs, putting everything on one instead of having a different one for each book. You’ve given me some things to consider. Thanks.

  7. I completely agree. Great advice.

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