by Risa Green
My new book, The Secret Society of the Pink Crystal Ball , comes out this week (yay!), and I’ve been spending every free second I have (which has totaled about seven over the course of the last month) trying to promote it. But it’s a tricky thing, trying to promote a book that’s aimed at twelve and thirteen year-old girls. So, early in the summer, I sat down with a few of them and tried to pick their mysterious tween brains to figure out how best to market it. I asked them, so how do you find out about books? School, they said. School how, I asked. Teachers. Friends. Hmmm, I thought. That’s so very helpful. (Not). What about Facebook? I wanted to know. Not on it, they told me. What about websites? I asked. Not so much, they explained. What about bookstores? Sometimes, they offered. But then one of them broke the ‘I’m sworn to giving one-word answers’ oath that the tween fairy must make them all take the day that they turn eleven. (Repeat after me: I do hereby swear that from this point forward, if anyone over the age of twenty-five should ask me a question, I will endeavor to answer with the fewest number of syllables available to me. If possible, I will do my best to answer every question asked of me with the words ‘fine,’ ‘nothing,’ or ‘whatever,’ so help me God.) She said, actually, my mom buys most of my books for me. The other girls nodded in agreement. Interesting…
And so it occurred to me right then that I am not, in fact, marketing my book to the twelve and thirteen year-old girls it is intended for. Instead, I’m marketing my book to their mothers to buy for them. Which is actually awesome, because I’m a mommy blogger! Mothers know me! Mothers like me! And the funny thing is, I actually set out to write my book in the first place because, as a mother, I was mortified by what’s out there right now for twelve year-old girls. Hello? Can anyone say, “hyper-sexualized, totally inappropriate, mean-girl crap?” I mean, I’m no prude, and I’m not looking to become the Tipper Gore of the tween book world. But it would be nice to be able to go to the bookstore and find something for my kid that isn’t all high-schoolers lusting after vampires or girls giving blowjobs in the school bathroom and then having their best friends tweet about it. Even if that is (gasp) the reality of middle school today (okay, maybe not the vampire part), hasn’t anyone ever heard of a little thing called escapism? I mean, what ever happened to books about girls who actually like and support each other? What ever happened to books about crushes and first kisses? What ever happened to books about warm-blooded human beings who just want to go out with other non-undead teenagers like themselves?
When I was thinking about writing a teen/tween novel, I spent a lot of time reading the stuff that’s already out there in the market, and the thought that kept coming back to me over and over again was over my dead body will my daughter read stuff like this when she is eleven. So either some pasty vampire boy was going to have to come over and make my body dead, or else, I figured, I’m just going to have to fill the void myself. My criteria were this: 1) no sex or discussion of sex. 2) no swearing. 3) no “friends” stabbing each other in the back. 4) no vampires. Now, like I said, I’m no Puritan. The book still has lots of talk about boys, and wanting to go out with boys, and thinking about kissing boys, and wondering what certain boys look like when they take their shirts off. And the book still has a mean girl and a creepy guy who could probably pass for a vampire because he doesn’t go outside much. But, mainly, it’s about three girls who are best friends and who actually care about each other. Which, I think, you don’t hear a lot about these days. Basically, it’s something that, as a mom, I would want my eleven or twelve or even thirteen year-old daughter to read. So if you happen to have a daughter that age, you should get it for her. She’ll probably say something like ‘cool,’ or ‘thanks,’ or, more likely, ‘whatever.’
Check out MommyTracked's Anti-Princess Reading List  for girls who love more than just tutus and tiaras.