Friday, 11 February 2011

The Kids Are Alright

I just wanted to highlight, and give exposure, to a groundswell of new initiatives by various publishers to keep children and young adults interested in reading. Obviously it is in their best interests to do so, but, honestly, I think children's publishing is an innovative arena right now where new ideas are being trialled all the time.

Here are some of the things that publishers are doing:

Walker Books

Undercover Reads

Walker Books are doing something new this year to shout about their YA fiction. Here's some information from Sean Moss, their Digital Marketing Officer:

We’ve decided to run a single, unified campaign, called Undercover. Each month we’re publishing a new YA book, and even though they’re often in different genres, the books are all page turning and utterly engaging. Some authors you might have heard of before, and others are debut authors, like Peter Cocks. The idea is to put all sorts of things up on the Undercover blog, including trailers, guest posts, character playlists, etc.

As a new initiative, content so far is limited on the Undercover blog, but they have been working with Long Reach author Peter Cocks to provide the playlist that inspired his debut novel. This additional interactive information about authors and their novels is bound to interest teens and get them involved.

Atom Books

Not long ago, Atom Books announced the introduction of the Atomics.

The sign up page is here.

In their own words:

We’re looking for anybody who lives in the UK, is aged twelve to eighteen and who loves reading to join The Atomics for the chance to get FREE copies of our books BEFORE they’re published…the catch? We’d like you to review them!

If you sign up to become one of The Atomics, you will receive email updates with all the new titles we’ll be sending out for review. If you like the sound of any of them, you’ll need to email back and we’ll do our best to make sure you get a copy. Then, you’ll have a month to read the book and send us a review. Because we don’t have an endless stash of cash (oh how we wish we did…) there will be a limited number of books available each month, but we PROMISE to try and make sure everyone who wants to try their hand at reviewing does get the chance to.

We’ll post the reviews each month in a special blog post, and then anyone and everyone will be able to join in the conversation by commenting. We might give you a helping hand with the spelling, and we will we’ll leave all of your opinions in one piece, provided they comply with our terms and conditions.

And if you think Atom is only about paranormal (and, dare we say, a little bit girly) fiction – think again! We’re trying our darndest to expand our list to include a really wide range of the best in young adult fiction including mystery, adventure and humour alongside our favourite paranormal authors.

For me, this is just brilliant - the opportunity to receive books ahead of publication, and probably initiate the next generation of bloggers/readers into learning to love the genre and the many talented authors writing within it.

HarperCollins Children's Books

Spill the Ink

Harper Collins Children's Books have gone a similar route to Walker, in terms of producing a blog that brings extra news and articles to the children and teens reading their books.

In addition to this, Spill the Ink go on tour annually - see the promo for this year below - and schools/libraries/book clubs are able to ask for the tour to stop off with them, which provides an excellent opportunity to get kids reading before actually meeting the authors.

Simon and Schuster

Pulse It!

Here, again, teens are provided with the opportunity to read and review novels, to help trend-set and become involved with discussions about the novels released by Pulse, Simon and Schuster's teen imprint. There is a blog, messageboards, a members-only area, videos, targets on future releases, and reviews by the teens for the teens.

For both teens and younger readers, there is also a iTunes Video Podcast channel, which includes author interviews, book trailers and more - this sort of multi-media technique to bring a love of reading to children is definitely the way to go.

Mira Ink

Mira Ink is a little newer than some of those above, and has a small stable of authors, but is offering blog tours, free reads online and various competitions to encourage extra participation from the readers of their books.

Mira Books are using a Youtube channel to support their book trailers, which include the following:

Random House

Random House have an awesome kid's website - a really great example of an interactive experience for children. Check it out here. As well as advertising their books in a lively manner, they have a Fun Stuff section that does exactly what it says on the tin, providing similar content as those publishers above - interviews with authors, games and competitions.


Fierce Fiction

This is an initiative hosted mainly through Facebook, and they have just announced a brand new reading club - details below:

Fierce Fiction is proud to announce our new online book club and review programme! Once a month we will host one of our titles – new, old but always fierce and offer a dedicated comment space for you all to discuss your thoughts with the rest of the FF family! We will also be planning to offer exclusive content, swag and even the odd author involvement throughout the month.

But that’s not all! As a special opt in you can also send us your reviews, which can be as short or long as you like, of the chosen book within one month to be automatically entered into a giveaway to receive the following book club choice! Cool huh?

If you are 14 years or older then get ready to join the revolution. After all Fierce Fiction would be nothing without its Fierce Fiction fans!

It is clear to me that kids and teens have it real good right now. Publishers are thinking carefully about how best to position themselves to take advantage of new channels of communication, different forms of multimedia and ways to highlight their particular authors. They are embracing the blogosphere as a resource and using them to create buzz about specific titles - look no further than the work being done to bring Department 19 to the masses with a bang!

I firmly believe that kids/teen imprints are at the forefront of the digital campaign for books, unrivalled by many adult publishers (except perhaps the more quirky types like Angry Robot Books).

Please let me know what you think about how kids publishers are operating today. Are you a fan? Did I miss your favourite publisher? Is there a particular campaign that I have missed which you thought was brilliant?

Talk to me!


  1. Kids have it WAY better these days than we did...especially for genre fiction. The kids/YA section at Chapter/Indigo in Canada is bloody HUGE and is overstuffed with great reads. I think the amount of authors who realized this is a VERY viable market after Harry Potter have doubled if not tripled or quadrupled this past decade. To be honest I think we are all the better for it.

    I also think that these current YA authors are no longer talking down to young readers the way they seemed to when I was young. Look at Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS series as an example...I mean, in the third book is a loose description and explanation of quantum entanglement! That's bleeding advanced physics! LOL. I like that my kids are bound (because of this era) to have a much more fertile literary ground in which to play and enjoy fiction.

    Great post Amanda!

  2. I love all these initiatives and approaches to reaching kids and teen readers. I know that in our day there wasn't this kind of engagement of the readers. I must admit, I'm a little jealous ;-) As far as I'm aware Dutch publishers are nowhere near as actively engaging their public! I hope they are by the time Emma is old enough for these kinds of things!