So What Do You Do Exactly? Tween Lit Edition

Liz dressed up for Harry Potter, obviously

Liz dressed up for Harry Potter, obviously

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an entry in my jobs series, So What Do You Do Exactly?  but today I’ve got a neat one from my friend Liz. For anyone that ever loved the Alanna quarter, E.L. Konisberg, Animorphs, or Laurie Halse Anderson, she has the coolest gig ever as the content coordinator for two blogs about kid and teen literature.

What’s your actual title? Content Coordinator for and, two book review websites that are a part of The Book Report Network.

What would your title be if it actually described what you do? Editorial director of and Read: Queen of YA and children’s lit

Can you describe a typical day? Because I am the only person who works on these two websites (which host book reviews, editorial features, contests and a blog) I pretty much prioritize whatever I’d like to get done. Usually when I first get into the office, I’ll answer emails (these could be from reviewers looking for their books, the Teen Board, authors/publishers/publicists about interviews or blog posts or industry news from my boss or from newsletters to which I subscribe). I’ll schedule social media for the two websites for the day, hopefully I found something interesting from the emails to post on Facebook or Twitter.

Three of the four weeks in the month, I send out a newsletter (two for Teenreads and one for Kidsreads) so I’ll usually make the features to then write about them in the newsletter. However, I also could be writing interview questions, editing or writing reviews, editing or writing blog posts, creating review lists to send to reviewers, requesting books from publishers, raving about a book to a publisher or coming up with my own features and pitching those. I recently created a feature for Teenreads that is about to become a big monthly feature for the site — I’ve signed up three books and am looking for more.After work, I usually take some books home and read those to see which books I may want to feature or inquire after. There are also networking events to go to and book presentations by the publisher every few months or so where I get to buddy up to publicists, editors and librarians. I’m sort of all over the place. But I get to be enthusiastic about 93% of the time.

What’s the state of young adult and children’s literature these days? Oh man. Children’s lit is a little all over the place right now. It’s finally moving past vampires…but not really. The great thing about Young Adult is how everything is really crossover, meaning that the genre boundaries that are seen in adult lit don’t have the same bearing. Lines are always really blurred; you may think you are getting a story about a prep school girl who is finally realizing her life is privileged and isn’t the only thing out there…and then she’s talking to ghosts.

What is getting more popular right now is realistic fiction; this is the really aggressive, social issue-heavy, “life sucks but it’s okay” kind of book, which is actually my favorite. Think Perks of Being a Wallflower. You all definitely need to check out Crash and Burn by Michael Hassan. I did an interview with him a few months ago and he’s just amazing. Another book that was all the rage this year that you MUST read if you have not is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. John Green is a huge in children’s lit; he has an enormous online following who call themselves “nerdfighters.” So is David Levithan who is the author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (among many others) and was the editor of The Hunger Games.

What tween books should adults be reading that we’re probably missingWhat’s really becoming popular in the tween market are multi-platform books. This means that a book is accompanied by an online component, as well. There are two main series that I know of that work this angle, both from Scholastic. Check out The 39 Clues and Infinity Ring. What’s really cool about these is that they base a lot of the story on history so you get a little extra knowledge alongside action and adventure AND you have to read the books in order to play the game online. Tricky, right?
Has the e-book revolution really tapped into the young reader market? I’m actually working on analyzing a survey that we ran a few months ago that focuses a bit on this question. The answer is…not really. What’s incredibly interesting about Young Adult lit is how many adults actually read it. So while sales of certain novels may be heavy in e-books, it may be the adults who are buying them, which is convenient if these adults don’t want anyone to see that they’re reading books written for teens. A big problem with e-books and teens is that they don’t have the means (or the desire?) to spend their precious money on an e-reader. So unless their parents buy them one, hand one down or they are a lucky enough teen to have a smart phone/iPad etc, they don’t have a convenient device to read e-books on.
Where do you get your content from? Do you solicit from writers? Or borrow from blogs? I’d say we do a little of both. Right now, we’re working on our blog outreach so we post content from other blogs and websites through our social media accounts. But most of our content we either write ourselves, is written for us by reviewers or the Teen Board.
We also get some of our content from authors. If I think a book is compelling, then I’ll email the book’s publicist and inquire whether the author is available for interviews or if they’d write a blog post for us. One of my favorite blogs defends the love triangle trope and is by author Gennifer Albin (whose book Crewel you must check out if you like dystopian) and this came about because I could not put down her book and had to talk more about it since the rest of the office would not comply.
Having so much exposure to tween lit, are you terrified for the future of society? Or do you think they’re going to be awesome? Naw. I think they’ll be fine. Actually, I think they’ll be more than fine. It’s easy to focus on the negatives on the future generation (the first immersed in social media and made up of people who think Memoirs of a Geisha is a “classic”), but this is also the generation where YA lit is emphasized like it never has before.
I love children’s lit because of it’s complications: it’s an ever-changing demographic, there are gate-keepers that may prevent kids from getting the stories they need and there are so many melodramatic moments to their everyday life! The one thing that remains constant are the people who care enough to try to find these stories to help teens realize universal truths that they aren’t aware of yet. This may seem a little vocational, but that’s the sentiment you’ll find with many who are in this specific segment of the publishing industry. Plus, you get to read YA like it’s your job…because it is.
If you want more from Liz or her websites, follow her at @teenreads and @Kids_reads. Want to write for her or chat about YA? Email her at Liz AT  bookreporter DOT com.

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One response to “So What Do You Do Exactly? Tween Lit Edition

  1. Pingback: So What Do You Do Exactly? Hair Model Edition | rosiesaysblog

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