Author Spotlight

KIDS DON’T READ LIKE THEY USED TO…AND THAT’S A GOOD THING!

When I was a teen, you read a book, you reached the end. You put it down and started the next. The experience ended at “The End.” But for today’s teens, “The End” is just the beginning. The DVD extras generation is looking for an entire multimedia experience when he or she delves into a book. They want the world the author created to live and breathe and they want to become a part of it.

What are they looking for? Cool downloads such as wallpapers, IM icons, and badges. Fan sites with forums where they can talk with fellow readers. YouTube videos created by the author, Facebook pages they can fan, and any cool, secret, inside information they can get their hands on about what’s coming up next. In short, they’re looking to become a part of the world in any way they can. Authors who provide that enhanced experience can build an incredibly loyal fan base and can keep fans occupied and entertained between books.

But hold on–that’s just the beginning of the experience readers want. They don’t want to just live in the author’s world. They want to become citizens. They want to help build it and expand it. They want to know that this fictional world (that to them may seem very real) is alive and thriving partially because of their contribution to it.

And this is where authors, teachers and librarians can come in, guiding eager (and even reluctant) readers into projects that can enrich their beloved world. They can create book trailers or video book reports and post them on YouTube. They can do drawings and display them on DeviantArt. They can write fan fiction or even set up role playing accounts on Facebook–where they act out characters in the book with other readers.

And don’t forget to involve the author. Most authors would be thrilled to receive word of fan projects posted online. And many will repost the projects or link to them from their own blog, website, Twitter, or Facebook. Imagine how exciting it would be for students to see their project featured on their favorite author’s page!

At the end of the day, it’s not what medium these “DVD extras” comes in. Video, podcast, website, downloads, role-playing, whatever. It’s how those extras make readers feel about the world they’ve read about. They want to be drawn in, made to feel a part of things, and feel like the author values their contributions. They want to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the literary world they love wouldn’t exist exactly like it is, if they hadn’t become a part of it.

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Our guest blogger today is Mari Mancusi. Mari used to wish she could become a vampire back in high school. But she ended up in another blood sucking profession –journalism — instead. Today she works as a freelance TV producer and author of books for teens, including The Blood Coven Vampire series. When not writing about creatures of the night, Mari enjoys traveling, cooking, goth clubbing, watching horror movies, and her favorite guilty pleasure–videogames. A graduate of Boston University and a two time Emmy Award winner, she lives in Austin, Texas with her husband Jacob and their daughter Avalon. You can find Mari online at www.bloodcovenvampires.com.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.

One comment

  1. Jeanette Larson

    Interesting insights. Connecting readers with the writers is a good way to get kids reading more.

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