I found out last week that Writing from the Tub has been nominated for the UKYA Blogger Awards, which is such a huge honour that I still haven’t come down from cloud nine. The fact this award is voted for by industry professionals, including publicists and authors, has been such a massive confidence boost for me. To get that amazing recognition from the very people I admire so much is fantastic, and I’m so grateful to every single person who felt my blog was worthy of a nomination!
There are twenty nine other incredible bloggers on the long list, as well as hundreds of other just as incredible bloggers who aren’t on the list – between us we make up a massive community of people from all walks of life, all ages, genders, religious beliefs, sexualities etc etc. We’re all such different people but the one thing we all have in common is our love and support of UKYA.
So, I’ve been thinking, what is it about UKYA that makes so many people want to dedicate pretty much all of their free time to championing it? Whether it’s through a blog post, a tweet, a YouTube video or a forum post, UKYA reaches all corners of life and it’s popularity has grown and grown in recent years.
For me, there’s more than one reason why, the first of which is how welcoming and friendly the community is. Almost every single author I’ve come into contact with since I started blogging has been kind, generous and warm, whether I’ve met them at an event, interviewed them for my blog or chatted with them on Twitter. The publicists, librarians, editors, book buyers and the like are all just as friendly, which makes the UKYA community a great thing to be a part of. I haven’t even got started on my fellow bloggers, who are some of the most hilarious, talented, supportive people I have ever met. The lifelong friends I’ve made through blogging far extends the number I can count on two hands. Who ever thought such a solitary hobby would lead to making brilliant new friends?
Second of all, UKYA is just so darned good. I discovered UKYA (although it wasn’t called UKYA back then, just ‘teen fiction’) when I was a teenager, when I fell in love with Sarra Manning (Dylan + Edie forever) and the like. I never really looked back, checking out every title I could find in my local library and racing through them as quickly as possible. When I read UKYA now I have the same excitement as I did ten years ago when I was a seventeen year old looking for something to help me escape the stress of A-levels and university applications. And just look at the diverse range of titles coming out this year – everything from Sarah Benwell’s heartbreaking The Last Leaves Falling, to Catherine Doyle’s Vendetta, Lisa Williamson’s The Art of Being Normal, Tanya Byrne’s For Holly and so, so, so many more. UKYA contains some of the most diverse books that are being released, covering topics that a lot of authors wouldn’t dream of tackling.
UKYA is for everybody. Whatever your situation, your age, your race, whatever it is – UKYA is wholly inclusive and accepting and never judges. Whether you’re looking for an epic fantasy story, a heartwarming contemporary love story, a creepy horror, a dark thriller or absolutely anything in between, somebody in this wonderful community will have written something that you’re looking for.
Lastly, although this is harking back to my first reason, we are just one big community. Editors are tweeting their thoughts on books at the same time a blogger is posting a cover reveal, an author is getting cheered through their final edit and a reader is sharing recommendations of their favourite books. Nothing separates anybody in this community – and nowhere was this more apparent than at last year’s YALC. During that weekend I was part of plenty of conversations that included bloggers, readers, award-winning authors, debut authors and publicists. There is never a sense that anybody is unapproachable and difficult to talk to – you’re just as likely to become friends with your favourite author as you are to befriend another blogger.
I’ll wrap this up now because it’s getting a tad long (though, really I could rabbit all day about how much I love this community). I’ve been part of the UKYA community for five years and, sure, there might be the odd bit of drama (last year’s ghostwriting debacle certainly divided a few people!) but, as a community, we pull through and emerge closer and stronger than we did before. And what other community can say that? UKYA is broadening horizons all over the world, helping people through difficult times, making people laugh (and, really, what could be better than that?), inspiring people to follow their dreams, and helping people make the best friends in the world. I know that 2015 will be the year that UKYA absolutely kicks ass and I will always be grateful that I get to be a teeny little part of it.