Young Adult Author Rendezvous
by Patrick Hodges
As the old saying goes, “If you want something done, you’ve gotta do it yourself.”
Trite? Possibly. Cryptic? Definitely. So let me ‘splain the incredible, amazing thing that has happened along my author journey in the last six months.
In my quest to get reviews for Joshua’s Island, I found myself joining a “review group” on Facebook. The rules were pretty simple: anyone in the group could read and review anyone else in the group, if the book interested them. Reciprocation of said reviews were not compulsory, but they were encouraged.
After a few months, I had read quite a few books in various genres outside the one I write in (which is Young Adult), including action, sci-fi, romance, and dark fantasy. And while it did feel good to step outside my comfort zone, I didn’t really feel comfortable in the group. For one thing, it was a very large group, and quite often the discussions within the group veered a little too far to the left or to the right for my liking. Plus, you ran the risk of exchanging reviews with an author who, you discovered after posting your review, had the thinnest skin in the Northern hemisphere.
The authors with whom I got along best were other Young Adult authors. This is not all that surprising, given that we all share a passion for stories that appeal to young readers, as well as to adults. And it got me to thinking … what if there were a Facebook group where authors of books for kids and teens could congregate, swap reviews within their own genre, and just generally trade notes on every conceivable topic, from writing to publishing to advertising to marketing to how to get coffee stains out of your favorite mouse pad. I looked all over Facebook for such a group, but found none.
Please refer to my opening line if you haven’t yet figured out where I’m going with this.
So I created my own group and named it Young Adult Author Rendezvous (YAAR). I invited every indie author of Young Adult, middle grade, and kids’ books with whom I was on good terms to join, and nearly all of them did. I created the group in late May, and within two weeks, we had 15 members. Over time, and on recommendations from my fellow authors, as well as doing my own research on other indie YA authors who were just starting out, that number grew. And grew.
And then something unexpected – and wonderful – happened.
When our membership reached 50-plus members, we realized that our group had the potential to be so much more than JUST a Facebook group. We realized that there were people within the group who were experienced in things like design, web design, blogging, social media, etc. It was obvious that YAAR had the potential to do big things as a collective unit, and possibly achieve far greater results as a group than any of us could do individually.
One of our authors designed a really cool logo (which you see above), and we came up with a slogan to go with it: “Creativity Unleashed: Books for the Young and the Young at Heart.” Several others combined their skills to build us a WordPress site which now contains the profiles and book-links for dozens of our members. We have our own blog, with different authors contributing an entry every other day (much like this one!), and we have our own Twitter account which, as of this week, now has more than 1,000 followers!
Not only that, but nearly 30 of our members pitched in so that we could rent a booth, under the YAAR name, at the 2016 Tucson Festival of Books. I’m hoping 10 or so of our authors will be there in person, and everyone who is not attending will still send in their books for us to showcase … which will mean more than 60 different titles in pretty much every single category of the YA genre you can imagine.
It’s been an amazing journey in such a short time. I’ve gotten to know so many of these wonderful authors, and I call many of them friends despite the fact that many of us are scattered to the four corners of the globe. I cannot even put into words how much I’ve grown as an author and as a person because of this group, and I look to the future with a gleam in my eye and a bounce in my step. The level of support and camaraderie within the group has been nothing short of phenomenal.
In only six months, we’ve gone from 10 members to 77. We’re doing launch parties, author signings, and public appearances. Our brand is growing. Thinking about where we might be a year from now almost makes me giddy. Okay, I’ll admit it, it does.
Patrick Hodges lives in Arizona with his wife of 15 years, Vaneza. After doing weekly columns for entertainment-related websites, he has turned his attention to writing fiction. He is passionate about sending positive messages to young people. Joshua’s Island is his first novel. A sequel is in the works. You may reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or “like” him on Facebook.