ProTalk Discussion: Writing for Young Adults - 2/15/05

NOTE: Many thanks to Shirley Harazin for editing this transcript for us!


** Verla has set the topic on channel #KidLit to Writing Young Adult
Novels ProTalk Discussion IN PROGRESS
Verla: Is there anyone here tonight who hasn't participated in one
of these?
EricJ: (Me.) :/
Verla: The rules are very simple...
Jen_: I've never been to one of the pro talks...
Maripat: This is my first time here.
Verla: Stay on topic, and ask questions/give comments whenever you
feel there's something you want to say or know
Verla: No Hello's or Goodbye's until the hour is up... save the
greetings for afterwards
Verla: These are very informal, EricJ
Verla: that said... How many of you have ever written a YA novel
or tried to?   (Verla waves her hand in the air and yells, ME ME ME!)
Jen_: *waves hand in air*
WriterMel: Me!!
Verla: or want to?
ponytailmo: oh dear yes - me me me
mrsFields: trying
Maripat: Me...
EricJ: :)
joanclr: Me
joanclr: (in the process, that is)
ErinS: Hmmmm, I've started a few
LindaJoy: I have some YA's out
joanclr: some, Linda ;)
Verla: (in the process or starting some counts)
Verla: yeah, LindaJoy is our YA queen!
Verla: her newest YA books are.... AWESOME
LindaJoy: thanks, V (g)
Verla: which brings us to YA... what determines whether a book is
YA or Adult or Midgrade?
ponytailmo: age of protagonist?
Jen_: jen's tongue in cheek answer: the editor
ErinS: the age of the main character?
mrsFields: content
WriterMel: topic of the book.
ponytailmo: how edgy it is
EricJ: Level of optimism?
LindaJoy: age and tone and topic
WriterMel: I'd say all of the above.
joanclr: I was going to say the topics addressed, which age group
they'd pertain to
Verla: LOL jen....
LindaJoy: Sometimes it comes up to how the publisher wants to package
the book
Verla: all of those are good indicators...
Verla: next question for you to answer is this:  WHO determines
what age a book is for?
Verla: (it's not you!  LOL)
Jen_: those lovely people in marketing...
LindaJoy: Yup--some books are hard to peg as either mg or YA
Jen_: and the readers themselves
joanclr: sometimes it's the characters themselves ;)
Verla: yep, jen.... the publisher makes that decision. After all,
it's their money that's "on the line" so they get to "call the shots."
joanclr: But it would be interesting to have a general idea as to
how you would label it in a query letter, according to very general
joanclr: I guess in those cases "all of the above" applies
Verla: so it's sometimes not as important to decide if your story
is a YA or not, as it is to just write a super great story
mrsFields: But sometimes don't the choices YOU make as writer mean it
will definitely be a YA?
Verla: LindaJoy, didn't  you market one of your books as midgrade, and the
publisher decided it should be YA?
Verla: so you had to rewrite a little, "upping
Verla: the ages of the kids in the story?
Verla: seems like it was the first Regen?
LindaJoy: Originally Regeneration was aimed for midgrade, but Berkley
wanted it YA
Verla: sometimes, mrsFields... like if there's sex, etc. in it
LindaJoy: They wanted the ages upped
Verla: yep.  Thought I'd remembered that, Linda
Jen_: I had to change the ages of two of my three main characters
upon my editor's request
LindaJoy: But the tone isn't that much different than mg
Verla: Okay... let's hear some of the questions/concerns you all
have about YA's
EricJ: I had a similar problem with tone in current book: 
Characters were 14 (and had to be), but tone was more magical-realist
and sentimental, couldn't be "YA"
EricJ: I had to settle for calling it "Younger teen" or "Older MG"
EricJ: (Not "edgy" enough)
mrsFields: Some of Vivian Vande Velde's stuff is VERY middle grade in
voice but it's shelved in YA in bookstores and libraries
Verla: libraries and bookstores have their own opinions, too.  :-)
ponytailmo: that the current trend is for 'edgy'
LindaJoy: that's why authors really can't stress too much over
categories, most isn't in our control
Verla: right, LJ...
LindaJoy: of course if you're doing very edgy YA with sex and
swearing, it won't be mg
Jen_: I worry about writing for both MG and YA audiences...
Linda, do you ever worry that readers who like your MG or YA might read
the other and be disappointed?
Verla: Okay... what do you each think the most important thing is
in writing a good YA?
ponytailmo: story
Andrea: character
Jen_: credibility
LindaJoy: Jen--well I hadn't thought about it...but now I might that
you brought it up (g)
LindaJoy: actually, no -- the 2 series are quite different
Maripat: story, characters, plot
Verla: seems to me that today it's Characters... then story line
Verla: or maybe the other way around...
Andrea: What the characters have to say- what they learn or don't
Verla: teens today are looking for something entirely different
from teens when I was a child
WriterMel: Oh, great, Jen.  Thanks.  NO THINKING about that Linda!!
EricJ: Independence--MG heroes aren't as concerned with Identity,
just getting through school, etc.
Verla: today's kids are so much more sophisticated and worldly
than when I was a child (back in the cave-man days)
Verla: oh... identity crisis is a good point, eric
Jen_: Have any of you ever read a book that's clearly marketed as
YA, but that has a very MG tone?
Andrea: ditto for me, Verla, and I was a kid like yesterday
Jen_: I read one the other day and despised it
joanclr: like what, Jen?
Jen_: which may be why I currently think tone/voice is so
Maripat: Yeah, Eric I agree. More independence
Amishka: Skellig won the Printz but it's a mg in tone
Jen_: 'Bra's and Broomsticks" by Sarah M.
Verla: It felt way too young for young adults, Jen?  What was the
content in it?
Jen_: can't come CLOSE to spelling the last name... she's an
adult author
Jen_: it's a contemporary supernatural about a girl in high
school who's younger sister inherits their mother's magical powers
Jen_: but everything felt over-dramaticized to me
Verla: hmmm, even the story idea seems more geared to midgrade in
that story, jen
joanclr: writig down, maybe?
LindaJoy: Is this a new book?  It sounds interesting
Jen_: definitely
Jen_: i don't think it's out yet
Jen_: advanced copy
Jen_: movie rights have already sold
Verla: ah... sneak preview, jen
Maripat: The title sounds interesting...
LindaJoy: I would like to read that...
Jen_: been translated into ten languages, etc... author is a
famous chick lit author for adults
Jen_: but the tone was just SO middle grade... many of the events
actually followed a young mg I read previously almost exactly...
Verla: okay... what's the difference in plots in a YA (young
adult) compared to a MG (midgrade) novel?
joanclr: yikes
LindaJoy: YA plots are often about abuse, suicide, violence, health,
mental issues
WriterMel: YA plot is more complex, I'd say.
Verla: more adult in tone, then, LJ
LindaJoy: YA's often have open, figure-it-out ending, while mg's
usually end happily
Verla: I think so, too, mel. And the writing can also be more
Verla: ah ha! Another good point, LJ
EricJ: MG tend to have "stock" characters, while Teen (they don't
use "YA" anymore) tries to show off "realism"
Verla: Flashbacks are more appropriate for YA's too
Verla: you need to minimize the number of flashbacks in MG's
Jen_: I'm not sure how much I believe that to be true across the
board, about flashbacks... I'm skeptical
Verla: how many of you that have written a YA or are in the
process of it, made an outline of your story before you started?
Verla waves her hand... I did
Jen_: no outline
joanclr: I did
mrsFields: not I, said the Jan
LindaJoy: My publisher requests an outline
ErinS: only in my head
Maripat: I need to. I can't write without one
Andrea: No outline, just thoughts, scraps, sketches
Verla: LOL two to two
WriterMel: I do.
joanclr: I did it for an exercise in my crit group, hadn't done it
before and was surprised how much it helped
WriterMel: somewhat...
Verla: even steven!
WriterMel: vaguely....
Jaina: I have a borderline older MG... I always outline
ponytailmo: nope
dystar: I did . . . after I started writing it
Verla: okay... if you used an outline... did  you stick to it
EricJ: Don't use outlines--Just write fragment scenes, until I
have the "coming-attractions" preview of the story
Amishka: Verla, I never really outline
Amishka: I do have the thing up in my head sometimes
Verla: (I didn't!  But having it helped me a lot to get through
the middle)
LindaJoy: I don't stick to mine, but when I muddle in the middle,
it's like a light leading me out of the dark
joanclr: I found about halfway through I had to start my outline all
over again :)
Verla: yes, books can morph into much different things by the time
you are done writing them
Maripat: It varies a bit depending on what I come up with when I do
character sheets and such.
Verla: personally, I found the synopsis to be the hardest part of
writing a novel!
WriterMel: I think the morphing is more with TEEN than MG, don't you?
dystar: I find character sketches very useful
Maripat: Sometimes when I write a scene I realize I can tie it in
with something else.
Andrea: I work on the synopsis as I write the book.
Verla: I have a very comprehensive character sketch outline that I
made up for my novel
Verla: (it's on my website now... let me find it...)
joanclr: The character sketches help me a lot too, Verla
joanclr: Helps me find layers and shades in my rewrites
Jen_: does anyone else start with nothing?  no character
sketches, no notes, no outline?
LindaJoy: I need to do better characters sketches -- with series I'm
forgetting things that happened
Jaina: That's too scary, Jen. ;)  Maybe someday.
ponytailmo: me jen - but then I've never completed any of my yas :)
mrsFields: I don't usually, Jen, usually I outline but I didn't this
dystar: I did once, jen
tgseale: I started with nothing both times, Jen
dystar: all I had was the first sentence
dystar: and I changed it
joanclr: lol dystar
Verla: Here's the URL for my character chart.  It's on the Getting
Started page under one of the Basics sections - in the middle of books
I recommend.
Jen_: I've written several YA's and several MG's, and all I start
with is generally a supernatural concept...
Andrea: I just write whatever comes to me- take a break when I come
to a brick wall- come back to it when I'm inspired again
tgseale: verla, I've used your character sketch before.  Very
Verla: you need both an event and a character "bible" for your
series, lyra
dystar: the character charts keep you on track
LindaJoy: I need to do lots of things...for now I just have scribbled
Andrea: Do you all have birthdays and favorite colors and stuff
like that for your character even if it's not going to be in your book?
dystar: yep
joanclr: I haven't gotten that far in depth
WriterMel: I don't...
dystar: they add depth
Verla: mine helped me to not make mistakes when I was writing
about my characters.  Didn't have someone being nervous and shy in one
part of the book, and bold and brazen in another (unless there was a
reason for the change in personality.  LOL)
WriterMel: I think the colors are important, though...
Maripat: I do. Plus significant memories.
Verla: I do.. but only for the MAIN characters, andrea. 
"secondary characters" aren't as important, so I do a lot less for
joanclr: Significant memories - interesting
WriterMel: significant memories?
Andrea: I just realized my MC doesn't have a birthday, LOL!
tgseale: I've pinpointed birthdays, and used an astrology book to
find character traits that fit
WriterMel: can you elaborate a bit, Maripat?
joanclr: In the list I made, I tried to see the story from each
character's perspective, and what their character growth is throughout
the story
joanclr: Interesting tgseale
Verla: in mine, I kind of did a biography of each of the main
characters.  Telling what important events happened in their lives
before the book started, so I'd know "what made them tick" and what
made them respond to events the way they did
tgseale: There's a really comprehensive book called THe Secret
Language of Birthdays that has personality traits for every day of the
LindaJoy: I should do that...
tgseale: strengths, weaknesses, etc.
Verla: oh, cool, TG.
dystar: astrology can help, too
WriterMel: What do they base it on, TG?
Verla: that's fun!
Maripat: Hmm--like one of my characters remembers the last time he
saw his dad.
Jaina: I have that book right here.
LindaJoy: I usually just give my characters birthdays of people I
know (like one of the REGEN characters had Verla's birthday)
Verla: WELL, Jaina.  Send it right over here to my house. I want
to see it.  LOL
LindaJoy: Although I did make my psychic heroine a Gemini because she
has double-personality conflict
Andrea: Good idea, LJ- there's just too many choices for birthdays
dystar: I like to use significant names
WriterMel: How do they base these character analysis, TG?  On what?
WriterMel: stars?
WriterMel: moon?
Verla: sun?
tgseale: Mel, I'm not sure.  I'm not huge into astrology, but (hold
on, I'm looking)
WriterMel: I'm really curious...
Jaina: It's pretty heavy, Verla.  I don't mean 'deep' heavy, I
mean HEAVY heavy!
Verla: somewhere in storage, I have a really comprehensive
astrology book that's great
Andrea: I always google to see if there's anyone with my
character's name:)
WriterMel: oh, wow, great idea Andrea.
EricJ: Not being into astrology, I honestly can't see what
birthdays would have to do with ANYTHING...
Verla sends over a fork lift so jaina can loan her that
heavy book
Jaina: It's just for fun.  I don't consult this book on a daily
Jen_: on the subject of names, has anyone else seen a trend
towards more unusual names in YA books?
Jen_: than in MG?
EricJ: Unless one of the other characters is a astrol-nut and kids
MC about it...
WriterMel: I agree, Eric, but I"m fascinated by someone thinking that
your birthday defines your personality.
Verla: it's another way of giving your character a "built-in"
personality that some people will identify with, eric
tgseale: It's broken down by "the grand cycle of life" with the four
seasons, the twelve signs, the forty eight periods, and then by day
EricJ: Yes, but getting back to subject:  "On-paper" data's no
substitute for "playing" your character firsthand--
WriterMel: ah... Zodiac complicated.
Verla: true, eric!
ErinS:   wow...and here i was thinking of picking at random//
WriterMel: "playing"?  as in?
Jaina: Jen, I'm not crazy about totally unusual names for
characters, because it seems so ... contrived.
WriterMel: LOL, Erin... I did... shame on me!
mrsFields: Jen, I've seen some very strange names in YA...especially
in girls.
EricJ: As "frustrated actor"...Only true way to know personal
Andrea: I need the name to fit the character- don't know what that
means- I just know it when I see it
ponytailmo: I bought a book on Fantasy and mythological names.
tgseale: Eric, even if you don't believe in it, it can give you
ideas.  For example, (someone throw a date at me)
mrsFields: But I have a terrible time picking the right name for
WriterMel: 11-9\
Cana: you 'act out' you characters Eric?
dystar: Feb 13
Jen_: the name is the first thing I know
Verla: I do that with all my books, Andrea... try to fit the
character name to the book
ErinS: has anyone been to utah?? we have SOME very unusual names
Jen_: and then it defines the character
Jaina: Tanya, I agree.  I have the book because it's fun to read
and think about.
tgseale: Ok, 11-9.  I'm on it.  just a sec
WriterMel: It sounds very interesting.....
EricJ: Not ACTUALLY...Just saying, imagine they were making a
movie, and wanted you to make a cameo--Which part would you pick?
Andrea: Like Heber, Erin;)
Verla: when I've done historical stories, I have looked up "the
most popular names" for a historical period to make sure at least most
of my characters' names "fit"
EricJ: If there's any character you WOULDN'T want to
joanclr: As far as names, I've read it's best not to have too many
"odd" names all together - have one or two that are unusual, but others
that are more ordinary, so the readers don't get overwhelmed
ErinS: he he Andrea!  good point!
Verla: sometimes my names have to do with the story itself
Cana: Interesting concept Eric
dystar: I love the names JK Rowling picks
mrsFields: My main male character still doesn't have a name and I'm
30,000 words into the story
Verla: Another thing to avoid is names that start with the same
letter or sound a lot alike.  Readers can get very confused and forget
who is who
WriterMel: Eric, how neat!  Because that's what I do... I AM the
character when I write.
tgseale: Those born on 11-9 face a tremendous temptation to give
themselves completely to the here and now, to earthy pleasures of all
types, and to submerge themselves in an unremitting search for
experiential heights.
Andrea: I often call my MC "MC" in the ms until I can find the
right name
joanclr: how about Jan 9 tgseale
Andrea: It's like with my own children, ha!
WriterMel: LOL!  LOL!  LOL!
WriterMel: Does that sound like me, Verla, Linda?
LindaJoy: I can't start a book till I know the name and what the
character wants
Jaina: Unless a character has renamed herself something very
original, I just find it too perfect of a coincidence that a character
has a truly unusual cool name.  Like... Asterisk  or something.
tgseale: Whether you subscribe to it or not, you can certainly
picture that kind of person, right?  And now can probably write a
paragraph about them???
WriterMel rolls ont he floor with laughter....
Jen_: verla, my three MC's in my YA all have "L" names...
joanclr: purposely, Jen?
WriterMel: oh, very true, TG.  I think it's a great tool for that.
Jen_: yup
tgseale: It goes on and on for two pages, but that's just the first
little blurb
dystar: useful tool
joanclr: Tgseale, where do you get those personality blurbs from?
ErinS: link to funny utah names
tgseale: Jan 9--The tough, hard-driging individuals born on 1-9 are
highly ambitious people, not only for themselves but for their family
members as well
Verla: okay... what's the main difference between a YA and an
adult novel?
dystar: the age of the mc?
Andrea: Shorter
ErinS: more sex?  :)
Verla: (two things that immediately come to my mind are length of
story and age of the Main Characters in them)
ponytailmo: fewer sub plots?
WriterMel: I'd say more intense... less genre oriented.
EricJ: Adult novels are WAYYYY too smug and self-absorbed.
Jaina: more angst?
WriterMel: LOL!  That too, Erin!
Maripat: Coming of age. and finding their independence
LindaJoy: YA novels tend to be tighter and usually end with hope
tgseale: The book is called THE SECRET LANGUAGE OF BIRTHDAYS:
PERSONALITY PROFILES FOR EACH DAY OF THE YEAR by Gary Godlschneider and Joost Elffers (Penguin)
Andrea: Adult lit wanders
dystar: ya's understand adult concepts -- they're just not that
interested in them
joanclr: cool tx :) tg
Cana: Adult lit is more wordy
ponytailmo: and gives so much description you forget the plot :)
WriterMel: heh - good one, PTM.
EricJ: Could you see James Patterson or John Grisham lasting five
minutes on a YA shelf?
Andrea: I skip pages in adult- I'm glued to the book in YA
Cana: sometimes more complex plots
WriterMel: Maybe Grisham.
WriterMel: but definitely not Patterson.
Verla: I find most adult novels are a lot less "tight" than YA's
too... they ramble around a lot more than YA's do
EricJ: Adult authors seem to be too caught up in A) self-fantasy
or B) hoping for a corny movie deal
Verla: in their story.... slower paced (for the most part)
joanclr: LOL
ponytailmo: but harry potter has lots of description that nobody seems
to mind.
Jaina: Eric, that's how I feel about YA, often.
Andrea: LOL, Eric
Andrea: Adult books=zzzzzzzzzz
WriterMel: I agree, Jaina...
dystar: and Lois McMaster Bujold writes very tightly
WriterMel: Oh, I dunno... some are very good!
Verla: Ah... but the HP books are the exception that proves the
rule for MG's
Cana: What's a 'teen novel'? Same as a YA?
Jen_: I'm sure we could all think of several adult books that
could have done decently as YA, and vice versa
Verla: yep, cana
ponytailmo: my teen loves humour - Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, Robert
dystar: I appreciate good writing in any genre
EricJ: Mentioned it at last SCBWI:  No teen wants to be called a
"Young Adult", and everyone groans at the reputation of the books from
the name...
dystar: words for the sake of making the book thick doesn't thrill
EricJ: So, now "Teen novels" conjure up those edgy, art-covered
Cana: teens don't want to be called young adults?
Andrea: Do they want to be called teens?
EricJ: Sounds like "Young Republicans"... ;)
dystar: was a time they didn't want to be called teens
Jen_: "young adult" = too close to "young lady"
Jen_: *shudders*
joanclr: lol
Andrea: Riot Grrrls?
Jaina: Now they just don't want to be called.
Cana: what do they want TO BE called?
dystar: pre-adults?
Verla: probably by their names, cana.  LOL!
tgseale: I'll take "young lady" over "MA'AM" any day. lolololol
*cough cough*
ErinS: little adults?
Cana: lol
ErinS: mimi me's
Andrea: Youth?
ErinS: mini
Andrea: Mall rats
tgseale: lol
Verla: I wouldn't worry about what to call them.  Just write a
dang good book for them!
WriterMel: I think they dislike "Youth"
Jaina: I find it effective to call them all "homey"
ErinS: good point
tgseale: sk8rbois
Cana: LOL Jaina
dystar: it's a label. everyone hates labels.
ErinS: how about "peeps"?
Andrea: Bro? Girl?
joanclr: lol Jaina
dystar: hey, you
tgseale: duuuuuude
LindaJoy: They prefer teens according to the YA lists I'm on
mrsFields: hoodlum in the baggy pants
Andrea: Hello? People?
dystar: I just call 'em kids
LindaJoy: And there's even some cover preference for the edgy covers,
not showing faces
Verla: LOL... okay... they are teens
Cana: My 8th graders don't know if they are reading a 'mg' or a
Cana: but they know if they are reading an 'adult'
Andrea: I find it annoying when the face on the cover doesn't match
what's in my head
Jen_: I love covers that just show parts of the body or face
ErinS: i agree andrea
Jen_: a la Gossip Girl, A-list, etc
Jen_: A Great and Terrible Beauty was gorgeous as well
WriterMel: What I find annoying is covers with blond MC's when the MC
is brunette...
Verla: okay... if you had to give one bit of advice about writing
a YA (something you have learned while trying to write your own YA
possibly) what would it be?
tgseale: yes!  and how does that happen so frequently?!?
LindaJoy: A lot of the upcoming YA's show just legs, backsides or
dystar: don't worry about it: just tell the story
ErinS: start with action
Jen_: don't try to write for teens... think like a teen and then
write it
LindaJoy: I'm glad my covers are more artsy with dragonfly & ring
WriterMel: Write, then rewrite, and rewrite... and rewrite some more.
EricJ: Remember, you WERE a teen, but you're not now...Let both
versions of yourself write it.
Andrea: Read a book
dystar: Art Slade said: write for yourself at 13
ErinS: and another book
ponytailmo: my teen son just came in and checked out our conversation.
He said teens that actually read don't care what genre you call it teen
or ya, and actually mostly read adult books anyway.
Andrea: and then a few more
joanclr: good point pony
Cana: Talk to teens and watch teens, listen to them
Andrea: Oh great.
tgseale: right.  I have to give myself permission to stop self
censoring and just go there.  It can be edited out later if it doesn't
dystar: yeah, it's the mg's who read ya
Andrea: So who's going to read my book then? Other YA writers?
Verla: Mine would be to listen to your heart and trust your
instincts about what is right for your story!  I didn't do that.  I was
told when I started writing my book that it was "too adult" of subject
matter and that it would NEVER sell. (It was about Aids back in the
late 80's when it was just becoming common knowledge.)  Had I listened
to myself and written that book then, it would have been cutting edge
and at the start of the "edgy" teen books revolution
Cana: The mg's read it all, but they don't know what genre they
are reading
Jen_: I know plenty of college aged people who read YA
Verla: now it's historical fiction and "old hat!"
EricJ: Most teens don't read YA unless it's on their assigned
list.  THEN they like it.
ponytailmo: that's what he says - and seeing what my mg reader is
reading that's true so that begs the concern about topic. Are edgy ya's
really hitting the audience they are supposed to be?
LindaJoy: My readers are usually 13 -- or adults
Andrea: old hat?
tgseale: I'm always standing beside a teen in the ya section.  Most
times it's a girl--about 15ish
mrsFields: I dunno, I hang out in the teen section of the library and
the teen girls seem to actually be interested in the books.
Jen_: come to think of it, I didn't read YA at all while I was an
actual teen...once I hit college, I became addicted to them
mrsFields: And I've seen some of the boys with the graphic novels
dystar: no, I read all adult books when I was a teen
ponytailmo: me too
WriterMel: NO ONE is ever in the YA section at BooksAMillion
joanclr: me too
ErinS: I read adult when I was a teen, too
Andrea: The teen section at our library is always empty
dystar: mainly because that's the only things that were available
in sf
ponytailmo: I'm the only one in the teen section at Chapters :)
EricJ: Teens have enough reading they "have" to do in school, so
when they do their own book-shopping, it's escapist:  Teen gossip,
fantasy, historical
Jaina: So why is there such a market for YA?
Jen_: a lot of teen books now seem to be 'writing up' a bit,
crossing over to have more appeal with the younger chick lit audience
ErinS: probably so we can buy it Jaina!
EricJ: Because editors think there is
Jen_: at least among girly YA's
ponytailmo: editors? school? adults?
Jaina: I don't buy it, so I'm out.
EricJ: It's "new"!  It's "edgy"!  It won the Printz!  ;)
Andrea: I think younger kids read YA than new writers are targeting
EricJ: The author was a 15-yo. discovery!  (And the book reads
like one...)  ;)
Verla: I think you are right, Andrea
LindaJoy: I heard that demographically there are more teens with
buying power now
dystar: do they buy books?
tgseale: sure there are, lj.  I totally agree with that
Jaina: If you could make it so your book plays MP3s...
Andrea: I think if you win awards, schools add it to their
ErinS: But are they buying books? or just jewelry and cell phone
LindaJoy: so in a few years, picture books will be back in and Verla
can sell more
WriterMel: LOL Eric! -- thinking of Eragon?
ErinS: Ooh, I hope so Linda!
Cana: I think teens buy books...not as much as we would like
thought, I'm sure
ErinS: I have a few I'd like to sell!
Verla: oh, wow... we only have five minutes left! Does anyone have
anything they want to say - or ask - about YA's before we close?
LindaJoy: I think they're buying everything and the small % that goes
to books makes a difference
EricJ: (ACK!!  No, "Prophecy of the Stones", but you read "Eragon"
too, huh?)
LindaJoy: Hey, I'm reading Eragon now
ErinS: I just read Mira, Mirror...dark but good
dystar: my son buys nothing but Brian Jacques and wargame manuals
Andrea: I think alot of adults read YA (like me- aside from being a
tgseale: books aren't very expensive either, compared to other forms
of entertainment.  One friend buys it and passes it on to her friends
WriterMel: Yes, Eric, I did!
Cana: They do pass them on
ErinS: Has anyone else read Mira, Mirror?
dystar: no
ponytailmo: I buy my kids books. its the one thing they know they can
get me to buy without an argument (all boys by the way)
kimmar: I also think parents are willing to buy books for teens,
it's a way of connecting, imho
Andrea: Word of mouth is the best marketing
Cana: Three girlfriends each bought one of the Traveling Pants
books and are sharing
Andrea: It wouldn't be your book anymore, Kimmar.
Jen_: what are some good ways that you as an author can market a
YA book?
dystar: I buy them for me, then let my kids read them
kimmar: lol ptm, we posted at the same time and you said exactly
what I meant
Jaina: Insert terrible language, Jen?
LindaJoy: A website is a good start, also a blog -- I just posted
again to my blog today about a screen saver of my cover
dystar: read in schools
Jaina: so it'll be banned?
Amishka: me too dy
kimmar: I'm a blog junkie
Andrea: Yes, get it banned- LOL
LindaJoy: It's harder to get school talks for YA books until you
establish as a big name
Verla: Linda Joy throws bookmarks at people everywhere she goes,
EricJ: "Banned" is the only way most readers hear of a good
Andrea: Win awards
dystar: that's my goal in life: to write a banned book
Andrea: Get seventeen to review it
joanclr: lol dy
ErinS: start an e-mail that gets forwarded...something about
bringing good luck to the next 10 people that buy your book
tgseale: It could be kind of fun having a banned book, yes? :)
dystar: you make the big time then
Andrea: appear on an MTV reality show?
Amishka: I'm getting pretty close to that edge with my books dy
dystar: good
Jen_: hmmmmm... the reality show angle is tempting...
Verla: didn't you join a library list or something like that to
get your books noticed more this time, LJ?
Jaina: Go to every popular teen spot on the net and pretend to be
a teen and talk incessantly about the book in incoherent language?
LindaJoy: I sometimes tease I want a banned book...but in truth I
think it would hurt my feelings
ponytailmo: get on msn and tell all your 'friends' about it.
dystar: lol jaina
tgseale: lol jaina!
Andrea: Good idea, Jaina!
ErinS: ooh, good one Jaina!
Andrea: Aw, LJ!
LindaJoy: Verla, I'm on the YALSA list, but terrified to post much in
fear of being pushy
Maripat: Grin, LJ.
LindaJoy: Actually I've been considering hiring a teen, like free
books in trade for some online buzz
Amishka: lj you're books will probably be banned by some church
because there is someone who can predict the future
EricJ: Nahh, LJ--They only ban the popular ones they haven't heard
of...  ;)
Andrea: Get librarians and booksellers to read it
Jen_: I'm involved in a LOT of teen online communities
Jen_: that I've been on for FOREVER
EricJ: As soon as "Speak" becomes as popular as Harry Potter,
it'll be bannable.  ;)
Jaina: Does anyone ever do that, Jen?
Verla: heh heh... I was at three school last week giving author
talks, and at every one I talked about your books to the teachers
during my lunch hour, Linda Joy
Jaina: Or do you get the feeling there are people faking it?
Jen_: most of the time, people don't rec books
Verla: several of them wrote down the titles and said they wanted
to get them for the kids
LindaJoy: do I owe you, Verla?
Jen_: I sometimes start "what good books have you read lately"
Jaina: Awww...
Verla: yep.  A bed at Asilomar, lyra.
Jen_: and then post once a bunch of other people do
tgseale: Jen, I've hung out in teen chat rooms. ack
LindaJoy: deal, V!
Jen_: I do message boards
Jen_: not chatrooms
Jen_: and they're all pretty decent...
LindaJoy: I've never gone to teen chat rooms -- can't lie that easily
and would be embarrassed to admit my age
Verla: ah, that makes more sense, jen. I would NEVER want to go
into teen chat rooms!
tgseale: well, i don't talk.  I just listen
LindaJoy: hmmm...message boards for that could work
Jen_: I was on these boards when I actually WAS a teen
WriterMel: that's interesting... going to a teen chat room.
ponytailmo: I think the most 'into teens' thing I've done is play D&D
with a bunch of teen boys.
Jen_: so I don't feel too sketchy
ponytailmo: Wow what insight I gained.
tgseale: I think my cover would be blown if I tried to "speak"
Maripat: Idon't think I'd understand the new chat abbreviations
Andrea: I always feel like I'm treading on forbidden territory now
that I'm so old, LOL
LindaJoy: I sat in a college lounge and got 2 pages of notes
Jen_: so that was *you*
Andrea: I listen in the mall- talk to my own young friends
Verla: a lot of those abbreviations are on my website on the
Getting Started page, Maripat
Jaina: so hire an actual teen to promote you there
ponytailmo: I read over my son's shoulder while he's on msn :)
tgseale: I have an online tutorial, maripat! heh
ponytailmo: although he usually asks me to leave with a pos.
LindaJoy: If I run into a really computer savvy teen who generally
loves my books, I could work out a book-trade
Maripat: ahh, thanks Verla.
Verla: cool, tg!
Jen_: I'd hesitate to promote my own books in any of these forums
Jen_: mostly because I don't want them to connect book-me to
Jen_: but, hey, I can probably drop notes about all of your
books, LJ...
Jen_: in fact, one of the girls on one of my lists mentioned
loving regeneration...
Jaina: LJ, my husband sometimes shows me notes he found on his
classroom floor.
LindaJoy: Jen, you have a unique situation of being a young writer --
anything you want to share about that experience?
Verla: Oh... one last thing.  Whatever you do, when writing a book
for Teens, do NOT put in language/dialogue that sounds A) too  young 
or B) too old.  And try not to use today’s slang words.  It will "date"
your book and it will be outdated for teens in two years!
Verla: (or less)
LindaJoy: Jen (nice about REGEN comment!)
Jaina: Always written by girls, and almost always about a
relationship--too funny.
joanclr: which is about print time Verla, lol
Verla: very true, joan
Jen_: hmmmm... I think young writers very much so have a bad
rap... it's kind of 'fashionable' to be one right now
Verla: okay folks... our time is UP...
Andrea: LOL, Jaina
Deetie: bad rep?
kimmar: my ya is now in freeverse, and some of the poetic style is
a bit, well, poetic. But I did used to write like that in high school
Verla: I think this was a GREAT discussion and would like to thank
every one of  you for participating so fully!  Thanks!!!!!
joanclr: Thanks for hosting Verla, this was awesome
Jen_: so now that official chat is over, do we regular chat?
LindaJoy: Jen, personally I can't wait to read your book (g)
ErinS: Yup.  Great job Verla!   

Verla Kay
Copyright © 2005
All Rights Reserved