HarperCollins, MySpace book a place on teen readers' radar

HarperTeen, a HarperCollins Publishers unit, has teamed with MySpace to launch the interactive page MySpace/HarperTeen.

In the news
HarperTeen, a HarperCollins Publishers unit, has teamed with MySpace to launch the interactive page MySpace/HarperTeen. The page targets teen readers seeking to connect through message boards and forums, read author blogs, and take part in contests and online polls. Starting this month, users can interact with HarperTeen authors through featured author chats.

Through their profiles, teen writers can also send in their work to the "Create and Share" tool and get feedback from peers in the HarperTeen community. Other features include the "Weekend Read" bulletin, which provides information on new book releases. In addition, users are sent a book recommendation every Friday for discussion the following week.

HarperTeen and MySpace will work together to update the new site's profile with contests, video trailers, polls, and more.

Why does it matter?
Publishing companies have an opportunity to expand their brands and promote literacy by going where young readers congregate. As teens are always on the Web, having an online presence will help lure them to teen-targeted books and authors.

Peer to peer book reviews and recommendations are crucial components of social networking pages, says Diane Naughton, VP of marketing, HarperCollins' Children's Books. A friend recommending a particular book carries a lot of credibility. "It helps get the message and authors out there so that [we] can enjoy the viral nature of how the social networks work," she adds.

However, because many social networking users are typically known for being music and fashion fans, "we need to be creative in drawing them in," Naughton explains, adding that contests and promotions are a "sexy and exciting" way to build buzz.

The book industry is definitely not as well-known as the music industry on social networking sites, so things must be done differently to "grab the readers in a different way," she notes.

Five facts:
1. The "Create and Share" contest runs through today. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash prize and a phone call from his or her favorite HarperTeen author.

2. Current HarperTeen titles featured on the site include Ana's Story by Jenna Bush, The Luxe by Anna Godbersen, and the Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard.

3. The Young Adult Library Association, HarperTeen, and several other publishing companies are promoting this year's Teen Read Week, which runs October 12-18, 2008.

4. HarperTeen Teen Lit newsletters encourage readers to sign up on the MySpace page for blog posts from HarperTeen authors and writing tips from its editorial team.

5. TOTAL (Totally Outstanding Teen Advocates for the Library) program receives funds through Bank of America to promote literacy among teens in the Nashville area.

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