Catherine Stine's IDEA CITY

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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Advice on social media, trends in YA & New Website!

At long last, I have a newsletter subscription form. Yay! I'd love for you to subscribe to my free newsletter, which will have news of my sequel release, new fiction releases, classes, events, giveaways and swag. Click here to subscribe.

Take a look at my brand new website! Don't worry, I blog here (blogger love), and this blog will also feed into the site. On the page for teachers and book clubs, I've designed free, downloadable guides, and there's a special page for writers, which includes my guest posts on writing, other amazing posts, including two from our own Susan Kaye Quinn, and inspirational writing quotes. If you visit my bio page, let me know what you think of my weird great, great uncle Charles.

Left to right: Me, Nancy, Beth, Alison
Finally, I want to give you guys something too, so I'm posting my handout from the Push to Publish conference panel below. On the Writing for Kids and Teens panel with me was Alison DeLuca, an indie author who has a great blog called Fresh Pot of Tea. I will be featuring her new Crown Phoenix steampunk series very soon! Nancy Viau who writes picture books and middle grade fiction was another panelist. The moderator, Beth Kephart, is an award-winning author of books for teens. Visit Beth's blog here. And now, for my takeaway:

1. How important is social media to your promo plan? When should you implement it?

The best advice I got from an early mentor was to start a blog way before my next big book came out, not when it came out. I started Catherine Stine’s Idea City about two years before my latest novel was published, and by that time I had over 340 followers, who helped with my book blog tour, and other promo posts such as interviews, features and giveaways, as well as me guest posting on their blogs. I had no idea that the blogosphere would be so friendly and eager to help. Part of the fun is that it’s a mixed age-community, with everyone from savvy book reviewers, still in high school, to seasoned authors in their sixties. The key is to care about what others are posting! If you want good comments on your posts, you must return the favor. I’ve learned so much about publishing and writing from this vibrant community, and from indie authors as well as ones who are published with the Big Six. Other important social media to develop: a Goodreads author page, a Facebook author or book page, a Pinterest page and a twitter account. There are others, but this is a great place to start!
Topical online reads:
1. Publishers’ Weekly article on YA Marketing-Digital versus Physical here.
2. Basic Marketing Tips from YA author, Elana Johnson here.
3. What the heck is Pinterest, you ask? Check out a sampling of YA books for OCT on Pinterest!

2. What are the big differences between indie and traditionally published books/authors? Between ebooks and paper copies? How do you see these trending in the future?

I see a blending in the future of who's published traditionally to who's publishing on their own, or with small houses. It will be more about the quality of the fiction and the authors’ growing readership than how authors publish. I’ve published with big houses such as Random House and American Girl, and I’ve also published through my own Konjur Road Press. Many traditionally published authors are now publishing their own out-of-print-books and novels that their agents haven’t placed. As publishing houses become more gun-shy and picky (because of less physical bookstores to sell to!) and authors learn how much they can potentially earn on their own the quality of indie fiction will grow ever higher! There is also a trend toward POD printing—that means print on demand. For instance, if someone orders your POD book through Amazon, or B&N, their publishing arm will print as many paperback copies as are ordered and no more. This has an upside for a beleaguered industry: publishers will no longer have to deal with huge store returns, which lose money for the houses when they must refund that revenue. On the other hand, it means less variety on the physical bookshelves. As more and more readers get comfy with ereading devices, more ebooks will sell. In the Catskills, where I go on the weekends, I feel the burn of bookstore closings. There are no more within 40 or 50 miles! People won’t stop reading, they will always want stories; they'll simply buy more ebooks. A related online article:
1. A post by indie fantasy author, Lindsay Buroker here.

3. Trends in YA? Write to trends or to what I love?

It’s always a gamble to predict specific trends because they change from year to year. One should never write specifically to the trends. You should write that amazing novel only you can write! I tell my students to focus on a subject or theme that they are totally inspired by, because maintaining fuel for those entire 250 to 350 pages is something only fierce interest and passion can drive. That said, there do seem to be trends for 2013/14: realistic YA is making a comeback, after a paranormal and fantasy-saturated market. Vamps are trending out, but there will probably always be room for that unique, geeky or charismatic vamp! Historical fantasy is in with novels such as Revolution by J. Donnelly. Magical realism is growing, as is confidence in YA sci-fi like Black Hole Sun by Gill and space opera, such as A. Ryan’s Glow. Horror and unusual blends are growing in popularity as seen in novels like Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by R. Riggs. There is also a trend toward sci-fi romance, as in novels like V. Rossi’s Under the Never Sky. And then, there are the trendbusters whose mind-bending novels start entirely new trends! Will you write one of these?


  1. Catherine, you're new website is beautiful!!! Love it!

  2. Great post! I love blogging! But I don't love fb& twitter. I wish I did though. I wish I was better at the whole social media thing.

  3. Your new website looks great, Catherine!

  4. I think your new website looks awesome, Catherine. Once again I want to commend you on your incredible art skills. It shows in everything that you do.

  5. I blog and twitter, as well as have a personal FB page, but I have yet to do Pinterest or a Goodreads or FB author page. Good suggestions!

    Btw, your website is beautiful.

  6. It will be more about the quality of the fiction and the authors’ growing readership than how authors publish.

    Love this! And thanks for the link love. :)

    1. p.s. I'm going for the mind-bending trend-busters. :) LOL Actually, I think of my work as "neuropunk" and I think there's more of it out there than you might suspect.

  7. Love the website. And subscribing to the newsletter. I also didn't realize you wrote A Girl's Best Friend. My daughter has a copy. (I think. She's heavy into AG, and I'm pretty sure I've seen that around here.)

    I also have a question. Do you think authors should have the website and blog separate, or have one landing spot. This is something I struggle with myself.

  8. your new website looks awesome & I love what you created for teachers and book clubs. very inspirational.

  9. Is the Dystopian YA trend over, or does my novel "Discarded Faces" still have a chance in the wake of the success of Hunger Games?

    More info here:

  10. Betty, oh, good dystopian is still big! As long as it's original and not a mirror of Hunger Games or something. We'll see a huge wave of dystopian films next! Susan, hey love the term neuropunk! Wm Gibson has nothing on us... Jessie, thanks for the kudos regarding the study guides. I believe in helping readers enjoy and interpret my fiction. Tracey, I struggle with this too. I love blogger and WP is good for other reasons. For now, I'm doing both. Perhaps by having a presence on both platforms, it enhances the search optimization?? Michael, thanks for the kudos re. my art. And everyone for the compliments on my new website. It's fascinating to hear which platforms different authors are partial to. It's all good, right?

  11. Love the new website. I've learned so much from blogging, and Lindsay Buroker has been a great mentor as I delve head first into my career.

    I found out my next book fits the New Adult trend. Nice. But I didn't know that when I wrote it.

    A FB page is necessary. Several fans have contacted me thru it. It's about giving the readers access to us in their preferred media... so I've discovered.

  12. I agree with your comments regarding the trends of the future. And I always write what I feel at the moment.

  13. Oh there's so much good information here I'll have to come back tomorrow to absorb it all.

  14. It's more about the quality of the fiction and the readership than how authors publish ~ I LOVE that. Congrats on the new website and the wonderful collaborations! It's a lot of information and I'll come back to read some every day.

  15. Yes, M, Facebook is important. Claudine, Suresh and Bev, I don't usually post this long a piece, so I'm glad you feel it's extra helpful!

  16. I use Facebook, Goodreads, and WordPress.

    Betty Cross

  17. Looks like a great group for Push to Publish. I was asked to fill in on the ebook panel at the last minute, and I would have loved to do it, but was at Cape Cod (oh, poor me!!)

    You ask great questions. As a professional book reviewer, I'm aware of one issue w/indie books that will probably sort itself out over time: established reviewing outlets generally won't touch them. Ebooks don't have the vetting standards of traditionally published books--which weeds out a lot of crap, but it also means that some wonderful, off-the-grid stuff doesn't get the exposure it could.

  18. Congrats on the new website! And thanks for sharing all that awesome info.

  19. Helen, yes, I hope and trust the ebook vetting will work itself out in time. Stuck up at the Cape, oh, poor you, indeed! The answer is lots of steamy New England clam chowder to warm those shivery limbs. Adrianne, I look forward to cheering each other on at nano. Any other authors doing nano? My "handle" is CatherineStine". Friend me over there, or I should say Writing Bud me over there.

  20. Wonderful blog, and I like the look of your website. I've got to admit I need to use Goodreads author page and twitter more effectively. And I'd never even thought about Pinterest!

  21. Great post -- thanks for all of the links. The Publisher's Weekly article is a gem.

  22. Your website looks fabulous! And yes, your uncle bears an uncanny resemblance to AL. :) You've done a great job with marketing and social media, Catherine. Way to go!!

  23. Great info, Catherine! Congrats on the website.
    I never write to trends, but oddly enough I always seem to be in one when I finish a story. Guess I'm subconsciously influenced. :S

  24. I agree with you, Catherine, about the quality determining the success of an author, rather than how s/he's published. It's a very exciting time for writers and how wonderful to be a part of such a powerful revolution in the publishing industry.

    I'll have to pop over and see your great new site. Off to do that now.