Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Salon- Boston Book Tweetup


Well I didn't make it to BEA, but a group of Twitter folks from the Boston area got together and had our own little mini-BEA, complete with publishing industry pros and a book exchange. About seven or eight literary agents and authors (and me!) met at Porter Square Books, a local indie, for coffee and bookish conversation. The main topic was the outlook for young adult books- trends both recent and projected, and the state of the YA publishing industry in general.

I don't want to quote anyone too extensively, because it was a very informal gathering, though some interesting points were made about the continuing proliferation of the paranormal in YA fiction following on the success of Stephenie Meyer and J.K. Rowling, and a projected forthcoming trend in so-called "foodie lit" for young adults- fiction about cooking and food, coming off of the success of television shows like "Top Chef".

Another topic of interest was the difficulties associated with promoting young adult literature; as a blogger, albeit one who does not specialize in YA, I was interested in their perceptions of the role of blogs in promoting books. The consensus seemed to be that blogs are important in aggregate, on the macro level rather than the micro. Which is to say, getting attention from a wide spectrum of blogs helps drive buzz more than, say, any one blog in particular. This idea gels with what I believe about the influence of blogs, and I'll certainly be very interested to read what people have to say coming off of BEA on this topic. Please feel free to comment, of course, if you have an opinion because I know what a hot topic it continues to be in the blogging community.

And there was a book exchange! I forgot to bring a book, but I came home with participant and author Mitali Perkins' Rickshaw Girl, a book for young adults, and Adam Gopnik's Paris to the Moon, which looks like a good Francophilic read. Mitali also brought a camera, which I did not, and thus I don't have a photo to share. But it was a terrific gathering and I certainly hope, only the beginning of a some great conversations.

Read more Sunday Salon posts here.

22 comments:

Meghan said...

How awesome! That is some fantastic initiative on the part of you all. I definitely agree that the impact of blogs is in the many, not necessarily in the one. If a whole bunch of bloggers review a book and like it, the buzz builds. There are some bigger blogs that probably are better at this, but if the goal is to get bookish people talking and promoting, IMO it's best to send to a good number of bloggers.

- Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

stacybuckeye said...

What a great idea to get together! And it sounds like you had great discusiion. Thank you for sharing so much of what you heard. I now feel like I'm in the know!

Holloway McCandless said...

Marie--Thanks for the Boston Tweetup report! I wanted to attend, but couldn't make it. Maybe next time...

Audrey said...

I liked Paris to the Moon...and his second book about coming home to New York. A very lyrical and thoughtful writer!

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

How fun that you had a mini-BEA! Sounds like a good time was had by all.

classicvasilly said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed yourself. The event sounds like it was a lot of fun.Have a great week.

J. L. Bell said...

My favorite essay in Paris to the Moon is "The Rookie." A beautiful article about storytelling, childhood, and the American pastime seen from a great distance.

Ali said...

Glad to hear the Boston event went well, it sounds like fun!

Alyce said...

That sounds like a wonderful mini-event! How cool that you were able to participate!

Dave said...

The Tweetup was a great idea. I really enjoyed the Gopnik book, though, as one Francophile to another, I sometimes get tired of Americans writing about how inefficient and quirky Paris/Rome/Provence/etc. is.

An Anonymous Child said...

It's always strange to encounter adults trying to figure out the young adult market. The mere existence of such a market is strange, but adults deciding what's "young" and what isn't seems so bizarre to me.

Marie said...

Anonymous, well, adults were young adults once, so they have the right experience!

Heather said...

Wow, what a cool event... thanks for sharing.

I wonder if blogging is more essential in certain genres (I could think YA would be really well positioned in the market for this because of their readership being so internet-savvy).

Marie said...

Heather, I think you make an excellent point. There's a lot of potential not just for blogging but for social media in general to reach out to the YA demographic. Us old fogies are catching on too, but we weren't raised with it the way Gen-Y'ers were.

Ali said...

Anonymous child, Is it any more bizarre than toymakers researching what kids like to play with? It's not like teens (most of them) have the time and resources to write their own books/movies/etc.

bermudaonion said...

Sounds like a fun evening. I think they're probably right about blogs. Unless a blog has a huge readership, one blog won't make that much impact.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

How fun! I did have a great time at BEA, but I wish I could have cloned myself and met with Boston-area bloggers/authors, etc!

I like reading YA, but struggle with reviewing it; don't know why that is (?)

I just started following Mitali Perkins on Twitter, maybe I should stretch myself (comfort reviewing YA) with one of her books

Agreed, buzz isn't one (or a handful) of bigger blogs talking about a particular book, it's the many individual voices that create the roar of the crowd.

An Anonymous Child said...

Ali, there is a difference. The book industry (publishers, that is) often believe they know what readers want best. For instance, did you know that Americans don't want to read translated fiction? Or that all teenage girls would like to read books with vampires?

The definition of young adult literature is so unclear and the way it is often regarded is equally strange. Some books are geared more towards a certain age group yes, but the fact is that many excellent "teen" books are overlooked by adults simply because of the label. And also many books are marketed as "teen" only based on the age of the main character or the type of author! What's troublesome with publishers is that they don't actually know. Publishers have an immense amount of power and if all they push for is teen vamp love stories, then that's all teens will get. Whether or not that's what the majority of teen readers want. I'm not sure how it happens, but adults often forget what it's like to be a kid ten seconds once they're past it.

I'm not saying teens should write their own books, though the good ones shouldn't be stopped simply because of their age. I'm saying that according to this post, that asks how to promote young adult literature, the situation seems strange. First define the genre (if it even exists). Then perhaps gain proper information from teen readers (a wide variety, not a small sample based only on the biggest hits) and accept their advice. Teens are not children and can certainly participate in determining the types of books that will be directed towards them, no different than an adult who might do the same. It is an underrepresented group and while that's somewhat understandable, it doesn't mean it should be ignored. Apologies for the length.

Marie said...

Anonymous, I agree that oftentimes the distinction between young adult and adult literature is confusing, especially when you have adult content (sex and violence) in books marketed to teens, and when authors are marketed to one group or other depending on the book or the place- Markus Zuzak is an adult author in his native Australia, and a YA author in the US, for example. As far as the vampire books, publishers want to offer what they think will sell, and since books like Twilight and Harry Potter are so phenomenally successful, there will be more of the same in hopes that those successes will breed more successes. The only solution I can think of is to vote with your dollar for the kinds of books you'd like to see published and eventually the market will respond. In a capitalist society that may be your best option.

Bonnie said...

That is so cool that you guys arranged a tweetup in your area!
I hope that you continue to do this and a great idea for other cities to follow. I like foodie lit and find it interesting that a trend is projected towards young adults.

Serena said...

wonderful that you had a tweetup in your area and that you discussed the role of book bloggers...

I tend to agree that buzz builds when its seen on more than one sight, rather than on just one!

Ali said...

Anonymous Child, thanks for your thoughtful response. We're in complete agreement, actually--I just misunderstood what you meant.