"What's Your Platform" at the Texas Teen Book Festival

Author panel explains how multiple mediums can feed success

In a world where everyone has Twitter, Instagram, and their podcast, composing a well-written book might not be enough to earn readers' attention. This year’s Texas Teen Book Festival has assembled a panel of multi-tasking authors to discuss finding the right platforms to fit young writers’ unique voices and help them get noticed.

On top of writing celebrated works of YA lit, Akilah Hughes, Mary H.K. Choi, and Lauren Shippen have gained followings on YouTube, through podcasts, and from comic books, so they can provide firsthand knowledge of the ways that the right platform can help feed an author's success. In "What’s Your Platform: How to Find Your Voice and Make Your Mark," they'll share their in a discussion moderated by journalist Paula Mejia.

Paula Mejia

Mejia has her own experiences on the topic to draw from. She remembers the importance of having multiple creative outlets from her days as a freelance reporter. “I found it really helpful to diversify the platforms I was working on so that I wouldn’t get burnt out,” she says.

Mejia says that she's often approached by aspiring writers who ask what is the right next step for their careers. She doesn’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Everyone’s career trajectories are different, she says, though she sees value in sharing her own and the panelists' stories to those beginning their writing careers.

“Hopefully people can get something out of it they can bring home and be excited to work with,” adds Mejia.

YouTuber, social media influencer, and author of Obviously: Stories From My Timeline, Akilah Hughes also recognizes the importance of differentiating the platforms writers are creating their content. She has recently slowed down the production of YouTube videos because of grievances with the video site’s management. Luckily, she had the option to focus more on her Twitter following, which she had been growing alongside her YouTube channel.

However, whether she is writing a tweet, book, or video script, she explains that her voice is always apparent. “The comedy always shines through. People can clearly see what my political views are and what my personal beliefs are and where I stand on a lot of issues,” says Hughes.

Hughes has been on the internet much longer than she’s been an author, but she believes both identities can work harmoniously. “If you write a good book, people will find it,” she says. “But if you want to increase the chances and take control of your own marketing and the way you put your book out into the world, then I think you are going to find a lot more success.”

The panel "What’s Your Platform: How to Find Your Voice and Make Your Mark" will take place Sat., Oct. 12, 11:15am, in the Alma Thomas Theater, on the campus of Southwestern University, Georgetown. For more information on the he 2019 Texas Teen Book Festival, visit the TTBF website.

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Texas Teen Book Festival, Akilah Hughes, Paula Mejia, Mary H.K. Choi, Lauren Shippen, Southwestern University

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