Thoughts on UKYA and the Blogging Community from Alexia Casale

The UKYA community is All Good Things. The people are lovely: kind, generous, open-minded, clever, interesting and appreciative. Everyone is welcome.

The attitude to ambition says it all: people work hard to achieve things, but have no time for doing others down or climbing over them. UKYA is about achieving by trying your best and being rewarded for it. It’s about competitiveness that is turned inwards to effort, to developing skills, to being as good as possible. And there’s an understanding that you can be generous and kind to others without diminishing your own fortunes. UKYA is about the fact that if we support each other in doing our best, not only can we all achieve a lot, but we can be happy doing it: we can be surrounded by lovely people and we can be lovely back. Coming from a background in the theatre and academia, it is such a breath of fresh air. Decency and niceness, rather than slyness, is what gets rewarded.

What makes UKYA so different? I think it’s the fact that bloggers have crafted the community, then invited everyone else in. They set up the ‘rules’ and created a space in which these rules are self-reinforcing. We don’t generally need to police each other. We can all see that to belong – to deserve to belong – we’ve got to behave in kind. Kind being the operative word.

Bloggers do what they do out of love and passion. Money isn’t a factor (in fact, blogging tends to be quite an expensive business). Recognition is nice and very much appreciated, but mostly what’s desired is enough recognition to be invited to participate in extra book-world activities. It’s about doing bookish things, not be lauded for them per se.

The fact that blogs are based online helps to reinforce the fact that what you look like and where you come from doesn’t matter. It’s all about who you are as a complicated, unique person: what you produce and offer to others, and how you treat people. The fact that it all spills over into offline activities says everything else that could be said: the bloggers who are the foundation of UKYA are as lovely offline as they are online. It’s not show or pretend or only possible from a position of anonymity.

These are the principles that everyone operates by in UKYA. There’s an integrity to do people treat each other: integrity in understanding how to be kind and passionate at the same time; how to be welcoming and inclusive, while still being competitive and ambitious in positive ways.

And I love being a part of that. I am so grateful that the bloggers who have create UKYA aren’t just welcoming and open-minded about other bloggers, but everyone: authors, publicists, editors, illustrators and anyone who wants to be part of this community. It really is an ‘everyone welcome’ world. The only qualifications needed are a commitment to being good to others and a love of books (though an equal passion for caffeine, chocolate and cake are much appreciated).

So thank you. Thank you for creating this world and inviting me in. Thank you for buying my books and reviewing them and talking about them… but equally, thank you for letting me talk to you about other people’s books, for debating what literature is and what it can be, for discussing politics and history and all sorts of social issues, for talking cosplay and film and anime and storytelling in all forms. Thank you for making UKYA a community I feel proud and honoured to be part of: where I can count on people to be kind to me and others. Where I don’t have to play games or politics (or, rather, fail to fit in because I can’t, won’t and don’t do this).

From YALC and other festivals to book launches, and from #ukyachat and #ukyaquiz to quizzes and polls and posts, there’s something for everyone. There is so much knowledge and excitement and wonder in our world because of what our bloggers have created. Thank you for letting the rest of us play in the sandpit.

Thank you for being a huge support in our careers, not just in terms of publicising our books but giving us a support system through the ups and downs and loneliness of writing.

Thank you for all the work and time and passion you put in to create this amazing community across both the web and ‘real space’.

But most of all, thank you for the principles and integrity that you brought to founding UKYA so that it’s a truly good place to be. Above all, I love that fact that the community you built values kindness even above books.

Alexia Casale


The Importance of UKYA Bloggers by Malorie Blackman

“We are very lucky in the UK Young Adult book world to have so many committed and enthusiastic readers of YA books, who are willing to share their passion and opinions of the books they read in their various blogs. Blogging has firmly established itself as a vital tool in spreading the word about the wealth of YA books available to our teens and older readers. How fantastic that the YA bloggers dedication and commitment is now being formally recognised.”

Malorie Blackman

Bloggers and the Book Industry by Giancarlo Gemin

“I read a review by LH Johnson pretty early on after my book was released – it nailed the sentiments I had hoped people would experience.
Her review, on its own, made the struggle to get it published worthwhile. Bloggers make such unselfish use of their spare time, and in doing so they prop up the book industry.”

Giancarlo Gemin is the author of Cowgirl, nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the Waterstones Childrens Book Prize.

6 Reasons why I think UKYA Bloggers are BLOODY AWESOME by Natasha Desborough

  1. Their passion is extraordinary. And this is the main reason that I adore them as much as I do. They don’t read just for love, they live and breathe Young Adult fiction. They’ve made me seek out novels that I would never have even thought of reading. When I see a blogger’s quote on the cover of a YA novel, I know it’s from the heart. In my eyes a short soundbite from a blogger is worth a thousand times more than any line from a newspaper review or ‘matey’ celebrity quote.
  2. Their blogs aren’t edited or commissioned. There are no politics in their reviews. They speak the truth, regardless of whether they’ll piss off an editor or an author (authors should learn to accept criticism the very moment they decide to send out a manuscript). Bloggers are not literary snobs and don’t just focus on the big name authors from the biggest publishing houses. For them it’s not about money. It’s fair game for all. There’s no hidden agenda and for this they should be applauded and cherished.
  3. When they get behind a book they ‘REALLY’ get behind a book. They’ll shout about it from the roof tops, bang against the railings and streak naked through the streets *VOM*. UKYA bloggers are those ‘all or nothing’ kind of people. If they think a book is rubbish then ‘meh’. But if they love it then ‘WHEEEEEEEEEEEEE’!
  4. They bloody know what they’re talking about. They know far more about YA fiction than me (and probably most other authors). If I want to read a YA book – I look to them for suggestions. Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough was the last recommendation I sought out. I therefore blame the bloggers for the series of nightmares that the book has given me. The end is sooooo scary!
  5. They probably don’t realise exactly how much they can help authors personally. They unwittingly spurred me on when I genuinely didn’t believe that I’d ever be taken seriously as an author. In recent months I’ve been tempted to jack it all in having lost pretty much all confidence in my writing ability (no violins please). But the boundless enthusiasm from YA bloggers has made me think twice. I’ve used them to lean on without them even knowing. Although they’ll obviously know now. Bugger.
  6. They’re all a bit mad. Just scroll down their Twitter timelines and see how fabulously bonkers they are.

So I was thrilled to hear about the UKYA Blogger Awards. A chance for authors, publishers, publicists and marketing execs to thank and acknowledge the awesome YA bloggers who give so much of their hearts, knowledge and time to the industry for FREE. They are the backbone of the genre. AND I SALUTE YOU. xxx

Natasha Desborough (Author of Weirdos vs Quimboids and Weirdos vs Bumskulls)

Bloggers are true champions by Hannah Love

Originally posted Sunday, December 28th, 2014 (source)

“Bloggers are true book champions. It’s always a pleasure to send out an email about a new book and receive enthusiastic and helpful replies – it’s lovely to have people so excited to talk loudly about books that you and your team have been quietly pouring your heart and soul into for months.
Bloggers can make such a difference to the online book conversation, and are a great and powerful force to have behind your author. Thank you!”

Hannah Love – Faber and Faber