With the topic nailed down, I embarked on an eight-month journey into the world of visual and rhetorical analysis as it pertains to young adult novels. I wanted to know what visual and rhetorical elements marketers were using to draw in the young adult crowd. Rhetorically, I used the concepts of logos, ethos, pathos, and kairos. Visually, I utilized the principles outlined by Dr. Frank Serafini in his novel Reading the Visual. I applied these criteria to the Big Five publishing houses’ (Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, Macmillan, and HarperCollins) young adult web platforms. For example, Epic Reads is the interactive web platform created by HarperCollins to push out it’s YA titles. I also applied the visual and rhetorical analysis strategies to the respective web platform’s Facebook and Twitter pages.
Pertaining to the visual analysis, there was never an actual person depicted on the cover of my chosen novels. Instead, cover designs included objects and stick figures. My rationale for this: Using objects instead of human cover models allows a larger portion of the YA audience to relate and picture his or herself as the main character.
Even more interesting, phrases playing up on feelings of female empowerment were used quite frequently in social media posts, as well as website and jacket copy or text. There was a lot of emphasis on the female protagonist within each novel and her conquest to survive, protect her family, etc. This observation caused me to wonder: Why is the emphasis on female readers? To the best of my knowledge, there are males who read YA, but they are obviously not the targets on these platforms. Since they are not the targets here, where are publishers connecting with this male audience?
Now here I am, eight months later with a lot of new revelations, but even more questions spinning in my mind. I find myself confused but more eager than ever to enter the publishing industry and begin my search for answers. It is an exciting field that I know will teach me something new about young adult novels and marketing strategies everyday. So while I am officially a college graduate, I don’t think it is time for me to give up my title of student quite yet…