Friday, September 28, 2012

When to Tweet and Post

Do you use scheduling software to manage your professional social media? You should! My favorite is the exceedingly user friendly Hootsuite. It's free and takes a lot of the burden off of you to get to your Twitter account three times a day.

With Hootsuite and its ilk (another is the notoriously buggy TweetDeck), you can schedule Twitter and Facebook (and even blog, if you have Wordpress) posts out into the future. So you can maintain a presence without interrupting a busy work day every 3 hours.

But when should you schedule? You want to find that sweet spot where your audience's eyeballs are actually on their own social media--otherwise you'll just end up too far down the Timeline. Hootsuite has an auto schedule feature that claims to monitor when you get the most interaction and help schedule posts at those times.

I'm skeptical of automating to that extent. The goal isn't to completely check out from your audience, just to take some of the pressure off. You should know when your audience is active because you're evaluating what gets a response and when. Still, it's something to try out.

Also look at this cool infographic, about when social media as a whole tends to be most active. I was very surprised...anything surprise you?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Friday, September 21, 2012

Twitter Followers!

Everyone wants that magic bullet. The right Things To Do to make people click the "Follow" button on Twitter. And lots of people have advice, me included. But there's nothing like show and tell.

Here are some people who are doing it right!

Sean Ferrell (author of NUMB and MAN IN THE EMPTY SUIT, which is out next year!)

Emma Straub (author of Laura Lamont's Life In Pictures)

Maureen Johnson (author of many books for young adults)

Lydia Netzer (author of Shine Shine Shine)

And more over at Bookriot.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Adult

I was having this very lively discussion about the category (which refers to demographic, as opposed to genre, which refers to content) of "New Adult."

New Adult is supposedly (more on why that qualifier in a sec) a category that would cater to the 19 - 30 category (ish). So filling a gap between the experiences of the mostly high school characters of YA and the largely 30+ protags of "Adult" fiction. Sort of like the Chick Lit of the 90s did--these books would be about "finding one's way" or whatever. But with some other stuff thrown in with the stilettos.

That's not to say that there isn't or wouldn't be a lot of crossover between all of those categories, or that 19 - 30 year old people aren't "adults." It's just an acknowledgement that most people in those age groups have different concerns and life stuff than most 30+. That's what I think, at least.

Now, for that "supposedly," above. New Adult didn't exist as a term until about 5 years ago, when someone in the Biz literally made it up. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Every other category had to be made up at some point. But this is a new one, and it's had a hard time getting any traction.


Well, the biggest reason is that the categories used by agents and editors to describe something correspond directly to the categories in bookstores and libraries (yes, those are standardized!). This is because the hundreds of bookstores and libraries across the country (and digital retailers, too) order books based on codes called BISACs. They look like this:

FIC009050FICTION / Fantasy / Paranormal  


FIC043000FICTION / Coming of Age   

There are a lot of those. But there can't be too many, because if every subgenre and every potential age group delineation was coded, the codes would stop being useful. If everything got its own unique code...well, that's called an ISBN. And it's unique to each title. And there are millions of individual titles published each year. The whole point of grouping them is to make that number more manageable.

Adding a new category means that this entire system has to change--from how the bookstores arrange their shelves to how the publisher registers copyright. That, my friends, is not simple.

So the term "New Adult" hasn't really captured the hearts and minds of agents and editors because it doesn't exist in the Real World. Definitely the wholesalers and retailers don't use it. Readers don't know what it is, for the most part. Many view it as a cumbersome addition, fraught with the implication that 20-somethings "can't" read adult fiction for some reason (there's a reason Chick Lit is dead--it was boring and condescending after a while. Not all 20-something ladies are Carrie Bradshaw).

So, for now at least, calling a submission "New Adult" to an editor would be like calling it...Elephant In The Corner Fiction (it's, like, suspenseful, but for people who don't like surprises!). It means something, but it doesn't mean anything, really. It can't be sold in to retailers as what you're calling it. And that is a no-no!

All valid points, although I tend to think New Adult could be a real thing...BUT not without a huge shift in a huge system. It might seem like an update in a computer system, but it actually affects every link of the chain.

Questions? Comments?

Friday, September 14, 2012


Soho Teen is now running the #FridayWrites hashtag, an unofficial counterpart to the awesome #FridayReads. Every Friday, we'll post a visual, auditory, or written writing prompt for you!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

If you haven't already...

OK, so there's only one thing that could make me take a hiatus from le blog, which I le love. And that's something 1. I'm really, really excited about and 2. I've been working HARD on!

That something is Soho Teen, a brand new young adult imprint coming January 2013 from Soho Press. Find out more about Soho Teen here and go like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

It would make me so glad. If you like and follow us, email me at mbarnes {at} (yes, you just got my real life work email) and I'll send you a surprise. :)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Workers Are Really For

Yesterday, I was reading "What Work Is Really For," in my beloved New York Times. I love articles on this topic, and there have been a few lately. They always seem to say something along the lines of "We should work less!" or at least that we should feel less guilty about not working.

Or something like that.

This one takes the "Work is a means to an end, there to give you time to smell the roses" conceit somewhere else though. The premise of "What Work Is Really For" is that we are controlled by the market, as opposed to the other way around (which Capitalims would have us believe). So it is hard for us to tell what would be life-improving for us; we just buy crap because it's there and we can (Snuggie!).

The author concludes by turning his attention to Education, which he says must "aim to produce self-determining agents who can see through the blandishments of the market and insist that the market provide what they themselves have decided they need to lead fulfilling lives."

This assumes that consumers would buy only what they "need to lead fulfilling lives." But whose life are we fulfilling? You might be fulfilled by the purchase of a Snuggie, while I would choose, say, chocolate. Improvement in subjective in all (debatable?) cases.

This is interesting in light of the recent discussion of genre vs Lit-rature. To be sure, there is a "market" for books. And many, many good-ish things don't get published because the market says they shouldn't (with editors and agents being the interpreters of the market which, swallow the bile! they are qualified to do).

But isn't it great that such a wide breadth of fiction gets published? it's not perfect, but the mix of what's available is astonishing. With the rise of indies and self-publishing, that mix only stands to get richer and more complex.

Who says there's any standard (or teachable) way to "lead a fulfilling life," no matter what good or service we're talking about (ChatRoulette!). I say put it out there and let the market decide (you just might not have a publicist).

Monday, September 10, 2012

Write and WIN $1,000, a critique, and more!

Soho Teen is getting so close to launch I can TASTE it (and, to tell you the truth, it's not all donuts and honey--but after all this is a mystery and thriller imprint and well...sometimes that don't taste good. But I digress).

To celebrate Soho Teen as well as our many great friends, we've launched a contest with Figment (a great writer/reader community, if you don't know!) linked to our February 2013 title, WHO DONE IT, an anthology featuring John Green, David Levithan, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson...everyone! And edited by the wonderful Jon Scieszka (author of The Stinky Cheese Man!).

In the anthology, authors are suspected of killing the odious editor Herman Mildew and they must provide (hilarious) alibis absolving themselves to our editor/investigator Mr. Scieszka. To enter the contest, you have to do the same!

Here are the deets:

In 500 to 1,000 words, following the guidelines on Figment's site, write your alibi in Herman Mildew’s murder. You must be between 13 and 18 years old to enter.

And HERE are the amazing prizes!
  • $1,000
  • A one-page editorial letter from literary agent Suzie Townsend (New Leaf Literary Agency) who will read up to 8,000 words of your original work. Any form of writing will be accepted: short stories, excerpt from a novel, poems, essays, etc. Both published and unpublished work will be accepted for review.
  • An invitation for the winner and a parent or guardian to the SohoTeen launch party in New York City on November 29, 2012, where the winner will get a personal half-hour chat with Jon Scieszka. (If the winner cannot attend, he or she will win a half-hour phone conversation with Jon.)
  • Eight runners-up will each receive a copy of Who Done It?.