In the bar scene where Mavis meets Matt Freehauf, Mavis tells him about her 'disturbingly popular teen book series', and he asks her if it's about vampires. This is a blatant reference to Twilight (2008), a film, in which Elizabeth Reaser (Beth Slade) appeared.
When they were casting the movie, Jason Reitman asked Diablo Cody what she thought about Patton Oswalt for the role of Matt, and if the writer knew the actor's work. Cody replied deadpan: "Are you serious?" This, of course, because Oswalt was a semi-regular actor on Cody's television show, United States of Tara (2009).
In the movie, Mavis is the ghostwriter of a popular YA book series. In real life, Diablo Cody, the writer of the film, is a big Sweet Valley High fan (another YA book series with a ghostwriter). The book covers in "Young Adult" resembles those of the "Sweet Valley High" books. Cody actually plans to make a "Sweet Valley High" movie.
During a scene where Mavis (Charlize Theron) browses in a clothing store, an assistant offers to help, and Mavis asks if they have anything by Marc Jacobs. Theron is, in reality, a big fan of the New York designer's line of fashion.
On October 18, 2011, George Stroumboulopoulos, along with Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, hosted the first public screening/sneak peek of the film at the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto. The screening was followed by a brief Q&A session for attendees, with Reitman and Cody. The screening was promoted as a secret, with nothing about the film revealed. Comedic trailers also played on The Hour (2004).