Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Talking Internet & YA

My sixteen year old daughter and I were sitting and talking after dinner tonight, and (as I sometimes do) I asked her what she was doing on the internet.

Her answers:

1. She was working on her history homework before she got online (she even unplugged the laptop and put it on her bed so she wouldn't be tempted.) She did turn on her desktop to listen to some music, got bored with homework, and went on Facebook.

2. She posted her status as lurking on Facebook = looking at other people's dramas and then laughing because she has none of her own.

3. A guy on Facebook asked her to go to his church.

4. Her brother came on Facebook and commented in reference to her status, "I know you're lying."

At least the kid is honest. I decided to start taking notes on our conversation, which evolved into this:

Kat: I want to send you some songs.

Me: About what?

Kat: Have you ever hear about this person who writes free music, I think the name is MindThings, he writes a bunch of instrumental songs that are really pretty. They're like ambient sounds that are like New Age music, no lyrics. I can't listen to songs with lyrics when I'm doing homework.

Me: Send them to me. What's the most surprising thing you saw on the internet this week?

Kat: I found the (Facebook) page for one of the most popular senior guy at my school. He suddenly posted that he's single and not going to Prom. Shocker! Got dumped right before Prom. Everyone feels so bad for him. I finally found out how to make a server for [her favorite online video game.] I went on Skype with [friend of a friend] and he talked me through how to do it.

Me: Did you see anything this week about books on the internet?

Kat: No advertisements. I saw some Amazon.com ads but I ran away from them. No, saw one ad circulating around for some kind of Twilight rip-off. Not interested.

Me: Do you know who Amanda Hocking is?

Kat: Who?

Me: Do you know which big chain bookseller declared bankruptcy?

Kat: Nope.

Me: What book are you reading right now, and what book do you want to read next?

Kat: Reading DotHacker now and I want to read Aion next (both are manga).

Me: Other than manga, what books do your friends talk about?

Kat: Most people in my grade don't talk about books. We're all about video games. Right now everyone is talking about 3DS -- it's the DS in 3-D. This sounds cool. Can you get me some 3-D glasses so I can use the 3-D option on [her favorite online video game]?

Me: Sure. Since you've been reading so much manga, what's your favorite?

Kat: Blood+ is my favorite manga of all time. It's so awesome because I can reread it and see new things each time. It's pretty gory, not like the nice manga I usually read.

Me: Tell me about the story.

Kat: This girl is the last descendant of a vampire, and she has to slay vampire-like monsters developed by the military, which escaped to Japan where she goes around slaying them. Her twin sister, who is like the opposite of her, is working with the monsters, so she knows she's going to have to kill her sister. The storyline is unique, this girl is fighting for her life and trying to stop the monsters and save the world.

Me: You know that's not really a unique storyline.

Kat: (makes a face at me.)

Me: What book would you want me to take you to the book store right now to buy -- any author, any book.

Kat: Chris D'Lacey. I'd go to the bookstore to get a new dragon book by him.

Me: Do you ever hear any other kids in school talking about books?

Kat: Some guys in my history class are always talking about that book you asked me about the last time we were at BAM.

Me: The Hunger Games.

Kat: Yeah, that one. (makes another face.) It doesn't sound like a girl book so I don't want to read it. Why are you writing all those notes?

Me: So I can make this into a blog post for other writers to read. Do you want to tell them what you want to read -- what sort of book?

Kat: No more Twilight ripoffs. So over Twilight. Anything with unique storylines, big plot twists, surprises but not too many because you get jerked around too much.

Me: What do you think will be the next big thing in books for kids your age?

Kat: Nobody at my school has heard of steampunk yet but I think all the gears and stuff are cool. That could be the next big thing.

Me: Any advice you want to give to YA authors?

Kat: Write a good book first. You can have a million ads and stuff on the internet but if your book is crap we won't read it. Write something really great and then kids will talk about it.


  1. "Write a good book first."

    Wise words. You have a smart kid.

  2. Excellent post - I really enjoyed the discussion between you and your daughter (and might I add - it sounds like the two of you have a great relationship).

    And she's got a point. Write a good book. Will try to keep that in mind ;)

  3. I have two nieces (14 both of them, though 1 will be turning 15 in July). I buy their books in ebook format and upload to Skydrive, to which they have access to using my PW and logon. My eldest niece pretty much hijacked the Kobo that I gave her mom as b-day present in February :>

    Anyway, when I last asked them what books did they want they told me that whatever I thought they would like ... because they had liked EVERYTHING I had sent them that I thought would interest them. *sigh* I don't have to say that did NOT help at all. Now I am running 4 wish lists to keep track of the authors they've liked, along with the wishlist I keep for the husband and my own.

    Thanks for posting this. I did think that steampunk may be something that they would like to try. They both are currently at the angels and mythology phase (they are over the vampire phase unless it's Melissa de la Cruz or the Cast sisters series, both still ongoing). Eldest niece asked for The Hunger Games.

    My youngest niece is on FB and when she has reading assignments, I see her comments and those of some of her schoolmates. She liked a YA book from Isabel Allende quite a lot. Allende has several YA books that have been translated into English.

  4. Oh, sure, the hard part; write a good book. Kat is awesome.

  5. Please tell your daughter thanks from us!

    Write a good book, first. I love it! Steampunk is one of my favorite subgenres.

  6. Wow, smart girl. I think I agree with her, except for the part about ads and books. If you have so many ads out there that it disturbs my internet experience, I won't read your book even if it isn't crap.

  7. *psst* Mireya

    The Cast duo is actually a mother-daughter set. Mom (P.C.) has lots of other books out, and she was trying to write a YA. She tested it out on her teen daughter (Kristen), who immediately said something to the effect of "These aren't real teens!" So they ended up a writing duo.

    And yes, Lynn, you have a very wise daughter.

  8. Oh, I'm sooo glad they're getting over Twilight! And I like how she asked why you were taking notes...very observant! My kid would have thought I was just making a grocery list or something, haha!

  9. Ah, teens. So very savvy. It's amazing that, despite all the blogs & postings & everything that we can't seem to actually reach our target audience the way we should. How do YA authors really penetrate that market?

    Great post -- smart kid you've got there!

  10. Keita Haruka11:19 AM

    Word of mouth: still the greatest advertising medium around. You can bet if kids like something, they'll talk about it on facebook and twitter, and the word is out. :p

  11. Can I rent her?lol

    I have boys and they don't talk much at all. They just eat.

  12. Write a good book first.

    On a sticky posted to the corner of my laptop screen.

    Wise woman there.

    Then again, the nut doesn't fall far, does it? ;)

  13. Just wanted to say I love your blog....this latest one is a great laugh.....It reminds me of my mom and me....she walks in my room and always ask "so what book are you reading now" and once I tell her she gets this glazed look in her eyes. You see I’m the black sheep in my family since I’m the only one who reads...but that fine by me since I have friends and a few cousins who I can talk books too.

    So thanks for these awesome blogs and I can’t wait for Dark of Heart....When can we expect that to come out?

  14. Sage, little one. :) That is the best piece of advice I have gotten in the last month. Tell Kat thank you (times a hundred!).

    It's so great that you and your daughter can have awesome conversations like this!



  15. Steampunk is coming back? YAY!! Twilight is over?? Woohoo!!

    Not steampunk, exactly, but this is fun:
    (Although maybe read a bit first before passing the link along. Not sure how kid-safe it is.)

  16. It's been waaaay too long since I've lurked on your blog. I miss reading posts like this one. You're back on my bookmark list, now. (*laugh* I'm sure that's a big thrill for you. ;)

    Anyway, thanks for doing what you do.

    ~ a loyal -if wayward- fan

  17. This is SO enlightening! It confirms what my students (first-year university, English class no less!) tell me: YA marketing doesn't really talk to the YA market all that well. They're not listening to advertisers and book-industry types; they're listening to their friends.
    Thanks for the great post!


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