Saturday, December 31, 2011

Daniel Errico and his Journey to E-Publishing Success

Happy New Year! 

I'm looking forward to many more great author interviews in 2012 as we follow all the happenings in e-publishing for children and YA. So glad you're along for the ride!

And speaking of great author interviews, today we have Daniel Errico, author of The Journey of the Noble Gnarble, a B & N Kids top ten bestseller for the past NINE weeks. Today it's sitting solid in the number 3 spot. Daniel liked my interview questions so much, he answered them all so settle in for a good read.

First let's find out what your book is about.

The book centers around a small fish called a gnarble, living at the very bottom of the ocean. Against the advice of everyone around him, he decides to follow his dream of being the first gnarble to swim up to the surface and see the sun! Along the way he meets new fantastical creatures, some of which would love to have him for a snack. It's an aquatic tale of perseverance and believing in yourself when it matters most.

Tell us about how you got published.

The Journey of the Noble Gnarble is the first story that I ever wrote. It took two nights to write, and seven years to get edited and published. During the time in between, I wrote dozens and dozens of stories and offered them on my site, which ultimately helped land me the independent publisher that picked up the Gnarble.

Is your book available in print format? Which came first and why? How did your e-book come about?

Absolutely! The hardcover book was launched in October of 2011. It was released before the ebook because, at the time, the enhanced formatting for the ebook was not available to me. It was important to me that the ebook properly display Tiffany's wonderful illustrations, so it wasn't until Barnes & Noble offered me their awesome new formatting that I developed the ebook.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing?  Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?
Because of the path I've taken, I'm much more of a digital author than anything else. All told, 99% of my books are electronic only, and that's resulted in over 45,000 ebooks sold in the last year. That's a big part of why I published the ebook myself and didn't involve my traditional publisher in the process. 

Hesitant, excited, apprehensive, and optimistic would all describe my feelings toward this book going digital! In a lot of ways it is the nearest and dearest to my heart, and although you never know how a story will be received, there is an additional level of nervousness when there's more personal meaning involved. I consider myself incredibly lucky that it has done as well as it has so far, and now those apprehensive feelings have turned to gratitude, and the excitement has only grown!

As you got into e-publishing, has anything happened that you wouldn’t have predicted?

The most unpredictable element of e-publishing is finding out which stories have legs and which don't, and that's also the beauty of it. A more merit-based industry is being formed by e-authors finding opportunities that weren't there before, letting parents and kids decide what is worth reading from an easily accesible and vast range of choices.

In terms of what has surprised me, the way that Barnes & Noble has embraced and improved children's literature, and Amazon's much slower evolution are atop the list.

Do you think e-publishing will eventually take over print publishing? 

This is a difficult but pressing question. I would never want to forsake print publishing since it is such a large and incredibly important industry, and I have an undying affinity for the book reading experience. The feel of the pages, the smell of the materials, and the knowledge that you're holding something that was made for a single purpose, are things that ereaders and tablets can't replicate. But the visceral connection to books that many of us feel is something that was learned, and will fade more and more over generations. It's undeniable that ebooks are a more convenient, space and cost effective way of reading a book. So regardless of my feelings on the subject, literature is in a state of flux, and kids' lit has its own separate path at this point. It is hard to comment on whether e-publishing will take over, but I do I believe that five years from now, electronic versions of a children's book will be just as important if not more so than their print counterpart.

What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience and serves their needs?

The target audience is three to nine year-olds (but by all means, it is safe to read all the way up to 90!). 

Well, picture books are all about the pictures of course! This ebook is designed to immerse the readers in an underwater world, and the illustrations look even better in digital format because that's partly how they were created. It also includes a narration option and text zooming, hopefully making it a more helpful tool in learning to read.

What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now?

I credit a good deal of the ebook's success to Barnes & Noble for featuring it. The incredibly vibrant and engaging illustrations are what I believe really draws children and hopefully they are connecting to the story and its message of hope and determination.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How?

The goal of any children's writer is to reach more children. Whether you publish a book traditionally or digitally, read to them at a library, or put on a street corner puppet show, any chance to tell a child a story is valuable and worthwhile.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts your readers? How?

There's currently no research that suggest ebooks are hurting children, and if there were I would take it extremely seriously. It's my logical and heartfelt belief that anything that gets kids reading is wonderful and helpful, provided that the content is appropriate and developmentally sound. Apart from the pictures usually being smaller electronically, I don't differentiate much between a child reading a print book or e-book. There is sometimes a tendency for people to consider screens to be the evil counterpart of pages, and that the cold world of digital is ok for adults but shouldn't corrupt our children! When in reality, for the most part these ebooks are easier to buy, cheaper to own, and much more portable. Does it hurt kids to have more books available to them, and at a cost that more accurately portrays that the reader is more important than the publisher? Not to me!

For more info on Daniel Errico and his work, check out his sites for Pajama PublishingThe Journey of the Noble Gnarble, and Free Children Stories.

And don't forget to check this week's Kids' E-book Bestseller List for all the latest hot sellers. 

I have two New Year wishes for this blog. Perhaps one of my readers will know someone who knows someone who can make these happen. 

Wish #1 -- that the Google e-book store would start having a "sort by bestseller" option for children's books so I can include them in the Kids' E-Book Bestseller chart. I've e-mailed them about this several times, but no response. 

Wish #2 -- that Kobo Books would refresh their Kids and Teens top ten list which has been exactly the same for the past eight weeks. Seriously. I've e-mailed them too, but just got a vague Thanks-for-your-comment e-mail back. 

All the best for 2012!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Since I’ve posted an interview or article every Saturday for over a year, I decided it’s time for a little break. So today and on Christmas Eve there will not be an official post. I will still compile the Kids’ E-Book Bestseller list each Saturday morning, as I have today. And I will still be contacting authors on the list in order to bring you some super interviews in the New Year.

I’ll be back with an “official” post on Saturday, December 31st. In the meantime, I hope you all enjoy your holiday season. I’m sure many more children will be getting e-readers as presents this year, making 2012 even more interesting for those of you who are following the progress of the e-format as it relates to children and young adults.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Wish Come True for D.D. Roy

D.D. Roy joins us this week to talk about her e-format experience with Jinnie Wishmaker, which hit the top ten in the "Youth and YA" section of Books On Board two weeks ago. 

First let's hear what the book is about. 
Eleven-year-old Jinnie has a dilemma--she can grant wishes, but she can't control the results. The school counselor tells Jinnie to join the Troubled Tweens, a group of kids with similar power problems. Maddy’s touch makes anyone explode in anger. Grace can make people like her--as long as they don’t let go of her arm.

But their loose use of magic attracts the attention of the Loki, a group of magic thieves and pranksters. They want to steal an open-ended wish from Jinnie, and it will take all the limited and messed-up magic she and her friends possess to make sure their powers don’t fall into the Loki’s greedy hands

D.D. Roy
What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?

I wasn't sure I ever wanted to self-publish. I didn't think I would be good at marketing. But this particular book had gotten so close to publication that I couldn't just let it go. When I had an opportunity to be one of five authors featured on, I decided to go for it with this novel.

After rising to the #2 place in Youth/Young Adult at BooksOnBoard, I knew I'd done the right thing. I went ahead and moved the book to the Kindle and Nook, and I'm having a great time with  my new blog geared toward middle school readers. Magical mood rings! Lava lamps that block out evil eavesdroppers! Who wouldn't love that? I've decided to just have fun with it.

Do you think e-publishing will eventually take over print publishing? 

I think paper books will become the candles of the future. We still use candles, and love them, but we don't use them as our primary source of light. [Great analogy!] There will always be a place for physical books in our lives, particularly board books with touch-and-feel elements, but eventually most of our reading will be digital. My kids have learned they can sample hundreds of books at home, and now holding a book feels clunky, particularly thick books.

What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now?

I was lucky that over twenty agents asked to read this book based on the summary and had input in how to improve it. I absolutely believe their guidance made Jinnie a better book. 

See more bestselling authors and their books at this week's Kids' E-book Bestseller list.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Jessica Park: Flat-Out Bestseller!

Today we get to hear from Jessica Park, whose book Flat-Out Love has been hovering between the number 4 and 5 spots in Amazon's Children's section since November 12th. That's a super accomplishment, and we get the inside scoop! 

Welcome, Jessica! First, let's open with a summary of Flat-Out Love.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

Flat-Out Love comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages.

Tell us about your path to publication.

I wrote five books in the Gourmet Girl mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime and then switched to self-publishing a few years ago. I've been so happy with self-publishing that I don't have plans to work with a traditional publisher anytime in the near future.

As you got into e-publishing, have you discovered any unexpected aspects? 

Because I self-publish and have control over my pricing, I've been amazed at the volume one can sell. A $3.99 or lower price garners much higher sales than a $7.99 or higher book. People are really willing to give you a chance at a reasonable price. The one downside to e-publishing is the inevitable fact that your book will end up plastered all over illegal file-sharing sites. It's incredibly aggravating. I do what I can to have some links removed, but it could be a full-time job, so I try to keep my irritation in check.

How are people finding out about your book?

I'm a big Facebook and Twitter fan, and both are great ways to get good exposure for Flat-Out Love. Bloggers have been incredible. A month before I released the book, I reached out to as many YA book bloggers as I could and got early e-copies out to the people who were gracious enough to give me a chance.

What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now?

My wonderful book bloggers posted reviews, author information, interviewed me, and more. It was really wonderful. Many also posted their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and those reviews have been key to enticing shoppers. Plus, the number of reviews plus my star-rating average gave me good visibility on Top-Rated lists, so Flat-Out Love moved to the top of Romance and Children's charts.


You can learn more about Jessica and her book at the Flat-Out Love blogFacebook page. and by following her on Twitter.

Don't forget to hop over to this week's Kids' E-Book Bestseller List. And if you're enjoying the blog, the interviews and the bestseller list, spread the word and tell a friend! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

E-Reader or Tablet? What's on Your Gift List?

With Black Friday now past, it’s the season to be thinking about gift lists and shopping, if you have not done so already. Last year the oh-so-hot gift was the e-reader. This year, both the Nook and the Kindle have been morphed into tablets. In fact, Squidoo's Top Ten Christmas Gifts list  calls this year “The Year of The Tablet.” The list puts tablets in the number 3 spot, comparing the Kindle Fire favorably to the iPad, and it puts “A Tablet for the Kids” in the number 9 spot, featuring the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet.

So what does this e-reader-to-tablet evolution mean for kids, and for people who write for kids?

First, I think it means more kids will be inheriting their parents’ hand-me-down e-readers as Mom and Dad upgrade to a tablet now that they are so affordable.

And second, as tablets thrive, the prices of e-readers dive. That’s making them very affordable presents for kids. The Nook Simple Touch is now available for just $99 , and a Limited Edition sold for $79 on Black Friday.  Over at Amazon, the Kindle Wi-Fi 6" is selling for $79. 

With more kids getting e-readers one way or the other, the e-options for Children’s and YA authors look even more promising for the year ahead!

If you’re looking for a tablet, here's a review that compares the Kindle Fire to the iPad, and at the bottom there’s a video that compares the Kindle Fire to the Nook Tablet.
Whatever you buy, check this week’s Kids' E-Book Bestseller List  for all the latest reads to load up your new reader OR tablet, whichever you choose. (Or whichever Santa chooses to bring you.) 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Kids' E-Book Bestseller Blog

This week marks the one year anniversary of the Kids' E-Book Bestseller list and blog. Looking back on my first post on November 26th, 2010, "My Top Ten Reasons For Starting This Blog," you can see it's been an unusual year for the publishing industry, for the book business, and for authors. The landscape of publishing has changed dramatically, leaving many winners and many losers. Let's have a look. 
  • In November, 2010, there were no bestseller lists for e-books. Finally in February, the New York Times added two new lists to their arsenal -- one for fiction e-books and one for non-fiction e-books. They still don't have a list specifically for e-books for children and/or young adults. 
  • In September, 2011, the last of the Borders stores closed. Locally, I've discovered that our Waldenbooks closed as well as Books-a-Million. I live in one of the most densely populated counties in Florida, and my only bookstore within a half hour drive any direction is a Barnes and Noble. In the meantime, the internet gives me as a reader world-wide, 24/7 access to books for sale. It gives me as an author world-wide, 24/7 distribution of my book. And with Twitter, Facebook, forums and more, it gives me world-wide, 24/7 marketing opportunities. 
  • Over the past year, I've interviewed dozens of authors who've hit the top ten on the Kids' E-Book Bestseller list. Some are indies, some are traditionally published. Most have been pleasantly surprised by their e-format success. And most are excited by the new opportunities the e-format gives them as authors. 
  • And back when I started this blog, a local high school was one of the first to distribute Kindles to their students, in place of text books. They've deemed the experiment a success, and have continued to use Kindles for this school year. Many other schools have followed, and our governor has decided to make e-readers available in all public schools, kindergarten through high school, by 2015. 
Personally over the past year I've spoken with a variety of editors, agents, and traditionally published authors. It's my impression that the industry still had its head in the sand and its fingers crossed while more and more authors are exploring the new freedoms of the e-format and print on demand, and are enjoying a bigger cut of their profits. I've published my first e-book on Amazon and on Barnes and Noble. It was relatively easy. Many established authors are taking their mid-list books that are not longer in circulation, re-publishing them as e-books, and are finding even greater success than they ever had in bookstores. 

So join me as we delve into another year, with more breaking news as technology continues to advance, and with more interesting and informative interviews with successful authors for children and young adults. Keep coming back, and take a minute to tell a friend! 

As always, the Kids' E-Book Bestseller List has been updated (every Saturday, 8 AM). Have a look!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Annie Fox: Is E-Format Her Friend? YES!

On October 15th, Are You My Friend? by Annie Fox, illustrated by Eli Noyes, hit the number 3 spot in the iBookstore. Annie's here to tell us all about her e-experience with this book.

What's the story of Are You My Friend?

Raymond Alligator is a super smart, super shy 5-year-old who feels left out when big sister Sheila has a friend over. He and his teddy bear are tighter than tight, but lately Raymond’s wondering if he needs someone else to be his friend. Making a new friend sounds like a great idea but, well, it can also be kinda scary. Are You My Friend? is a story with heart and mind that helps 4-8 yr olds think about feelings and friendships in new ways that include standing up for yourself and stepping outside your comfort zone to make a new friend.

What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience and serves their needs?

Our target audience is 4-8 year olds. In our case, since our ebook includes Read-to-Me narration with synchronized text highlighting, it provides a language rich listening environment as well as helping kids build a sight vocabulary, both of which contribute to learning to read.

Is your book available in print format?

No, just in digital form. It is an original digital storybook, though we're exploring the possibility of bringing it into paper book form as well.

Here's a peek inside!
Tell us about your path to publication.

Because of our extensive backgrounds in writing for kids and in computer game design for kids and adults, we created the content and did the production ourselves. From there we published it directly in the iBookstore. Are You My Friend? is first in the Raymond and Sheila Stories series. For this one (and the others that follow) the plan is to create them first as Read-it-to-Me iBooks and then as other digital versions with additional interactivity, and some with less interactivity for those e-readers that can’t handle the ePub3 format yet.

How are people finding out about your book?

We’re using social media, including Twitter and Facebook, but the most successful way we’ve found of getting the word out is by having it reviewed on as many websites and blogs as possible. The challenge is that there just aren’t many (any?) websites dedicated to reviewing iBooks for kids. But since we’ve also published a graphic novel book app this year (Be Confident in Who You Are: A Middle School Confidential graphic novel) , we’re finding the relationships we created with many of the app reviewers is helping us open the door to their reviewing our iBooks as well. For most of these sites, our iBook is the first one they’ve looked at, so we’re breaking a lot of new ground here.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author?

Learn more about Annie and
 her books at 
her website.
Definitely helps. It gives us the freedom to create our books exactly as we've envisioned them. We're thrilled with the creative autonomy and don't for one minute miss having some acquisitions editor say “Gee, we really love this manuscript, but we already have a book similar to it in our catalog. Sorry.”

Do you think the e-format helps or hurts your readers? How?

It helps them in many ways. Because ebooks are generally much less expensive than paper books, a family can afford to buy many more of them. And because they’re in digital form, the child can have an entire library with her while going on long car trips...

Many thanks to Annie for the interesting interview! As usual, I've included her links so you can learn more! 

This week's Kids' E-book Bestseller List shows Christopher Paolini taking the number one spots by storm with his book, Inheritance! He hit the TOP in Amazon Children's and YA, Barnes and Noble Teens, iBooks Children and Teens AND Sony Children's sections. Hmm...I wonder if there's any chance of an interview?  I'll see what I can do!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

C.C. Hunter's Awake At Dawn Launches with E-sales "Almost As Great" as Print Sales

C.C. Hunter is here to tell us about her e-book experience with  Awake At Dawn, which hit the number 8 spot in the "Children and Teens" section of the Apple iBookstore last month. C.C. is an award winning romance writer, and Awake at Dawn is the second book in her Shadow Falls series.

Read Chapter 1 at
C.C.'s Facebook page.
First, let's hear what your story is about.

Sixteen-years-old Kylie Galen struggles to figure out who she is, only to discover that she doesn’t know what she is. Imagine being told you aren’t human? Envision being sent to camp surrounded by witches, werewolves, vampires, faes, and shape-shifters. And why is it that she feels for the first time in her life, as if she fits in? Kylie’s journey is one of self-discovery, and includes love, friendships, family issues, and a yearning to find her destiny. It’s not your average identity crisis.

What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that group?

When I was asked to write a young adult series by St. Martin’s Griffin, I immediately knew I wanted to write a book with a premise that crossed the age and gender barriers as had many other wonderful young adult series. Being a writer of adult romances, I wanted my regular readers to follow me into this exciting genre. So my target audience has always been for teens and adults as well.

I’m told that the majority of people reading in e-format are adults, but it appears that this is changing. With my first book in the Shadow Falls series, published in March 2011 the e-sales were much lower than print sales, nevertheless, I was recently told that with Awake at Dawn, my second book in the series, that released this month, my e-sales were almost as great as my print sales.

It seems apparent that as the cost of the e-readers go down, more people will turn to them as a reading format, and more parents will be buying their children e-readers for their convenience.

Tell us about your path to publication: Traditional or independent? Recently or further in the past? 

I sold my first novel in 1994 to Silhouette Romance. Independent publishing was not nearly as popular back then. After having trouble selling a second book, I started a new career in freelance writing. I broke back into the novel publishing and sold my single titles books in 2006 to Dorchester. The e-format was really just beginning to grow in popularity. Yet, I still didn’t own an e-reader myself. However, last year, I got my rights back to my recent backlist and I made them available in e-format. When these books started hitting bestseller lists, my eyes were really opened at just how popular the e-format was growing. I knew then that I, too, had to join the crowd. I’ve since gotten myself an e-reader. While I still love my paperbacks, I can’t deny seeing all the advantages of e-format.

I started out publishing traditional, but now I’ve added some independent publishing, so I see a great value in doing both.

How are people finding out about your book? Tell us about your marketing and use of social media.

While I have self-published my backlist and even plan to publish another adult title soon, I’m still publishing the traditional route with St. Martin’s Griffin and Grand Central. And as an author, I see the value of continuing to do both, so my traditional books are also marketed through my publishers. Of course, I also do my share of marketing with the other social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and my Website.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How?

I can’t say it will hurt the author. However, I think the rise in e-format fame is changing the publishing industry and some of those changes will no doubt cause some growing pains both for the publishers, booksellers, and the authors. An author used to look to her print runs as a measuring stick of how well her career was doing. With the rise in popularity of the e-format, publishers are lowering print runs. However, some of the measures in which a book is recognized in today’s standards are still tied to the old way of viewing a book’s success. I think in time all these issues will smooth out and we’ll get used to a new norm.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts your readers, specifically children and/or young adults? How?

With our children being so technically gifted, I can really see how e-readers will be a big hit with young adults. As for helping these teens, I can see how e-readers being used in education could really be a benefit—if for no other reason than preventing them from carrying tons of books to school. Of course, as a parent who has also dealt with children and their loss of items such as phones, electronic games, and even lap tops, I know this transition will cause some parents a lot of headaches. LOL.


Thanks to C.C. for her insights. I've provided links within her interview so you can learn more about her. 

On this week's Kids' E-book Bestseller List I see the Twilight series making a comeback, plus several new authors to explore and learn about. Check back here often to learn the latest in e-format for kids. Better yet, become a follower and subscribe to the RSS feed. With the publishing world changing so fast, you don't want to miss out on the news and views!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Happy Halloween -- From Bestselling Mittens the Kitten!

Lola Schaefer is the award-winning author of over 250 books for children. This month, Happy Halloween, Mittens has been on the Kids' Ebook Bestseller List several times. Today it's in the number 7 spot in the Kids' section of Barnes and Noble. 

Lola, let's start with a summary of Happy Halloween, Mittens. 

Mittens, a kitten, wants to help Nick prepare for Halloween. His first efforts make messes. Finally, Mittens helps when his special touch makes a ghost SPOOKY.

What's  your target audience? How do you believe the e-format works serves their needs?

The My First I Can Read Books are written and illustrated to support emergent readers. The combination of the repetetive text and the match of text with illustration offers this particular audience several context and syntax cues so they can be successful, independent readers.

The e-format is another way to reach these readers. The convenience of having an "easy read" wherever you go is quite appealing. Children can entertain themselves with e-books in the backseat of the car, in a dentist or doctor's office, waiting in line, or sitting in a restaurant. I have to admit, though, several years ago when I began my writing career I never imagined this technology. It's immediate, engaging, and FUN!

Is your book available in print format?  How do your sales compare between the two formats?

Yes, all of the MITTENS titles are in print. The earlier books were first released in hardback and paper. Now, with the e-format, the earlier titles have been formatted and the later titles are debuting in all three forms simultaneously. As far as sales, I'm not quite sure yet. MITTENS sells well, especially when featured in the traveling book fairs and the school book clubs. HAPPY HALLOWEEN, MITTENS is a seasonal book and therefore doing quite well this month as an e-book. Ask me that question about sales in two years from now. Then we'll all have better records to review.

Lola Schaefer,
award-winning & prolific!
Tell us briefly about your path to publication: Traditional or independent? Recently or further in the past?

I started writing with my classroom students years ago and it was the first time that I ever tried to pen what was important to me. I quickly learned that I knew very little about structure, the craft of writing and the publishing industry. That was more than 30 years ago and each of those summers I attended a different writing conference and experimented more. You might say I grew alongside my students year after year.

I learned the discipline of writing by authoring more than 150 school library books. These were nonfiction titles and I became thoroughly engaged in the research. Something I still enjoy today! Greenwillow Books (HPC) published THIS IS THE SUNFLOWER in 2000 and after that 1-2 picture books debuted each year. So, for me the journey has been quite traditional. Of course, like any other author, every book proves to be an adventure and a test of my patience and perseverance.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?

I suppose I was little leery, as were many others, initially about e-publishing. My generation of readers and writers has had a long love affair with the bound book. I know I was worried that "real" books might disappear. But already we're seeing that there is plenty of room for both formats (and probably more to come). Almost all of my picture books are now available in the e-format. I watch children, as well as adults, read books on their electronic devices. It's reassuring that our current technology can make stories, poems, and nonfiction available almost anywhere and anytime. And I also see children and adults toting print books with them. When I work in schools, children are still excited to walk into the library and find good books and our local public library always has a line of patrons checking out their favorites. I'm hopeful now that all formats will sustain future generations as they become lifelong readers.

Learn more about Lola and her many books at her website.

And visit the Kids' Ebook Bestseller List for more great e-books -- for Halloween-time or any time!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

From Heather Killough-Walden: What's Not to Love About E-Books?

Today we have a guest post from  Heather Killough-Walden, bestselling author of The Big Bad Wolf series and The October Trilogy. We last heard from Heather in August when I interviewed her about her book, Forever Neverland. She has another book called Sam I Am that she's publishing in e-format only, and it's perfect for Halloween reading. Over to Heather....

I love eBooks. What’s not to love about eBooks? No murdered trees, no bulky weight, no need for a book mark. You can change the size of the font for those days when you just woke up way too early, and on some devices, there’s not even a need for a reading lamp. You can stay up late to enjoy your favorite book without bothering the loved one trying to sleep beside you because the chapter you’re on is back-lit by the device you’re reading it off of. All of these things are great reasons to love eBooks.

But I’ve got an even better one. The world of eBooks allows writers who were previously ignored by the publishing world to finally step out of the lonely cold of the shadows and into the sunlight. To someone like me, who has literally been writing for nearly the entire duration of her life, that’s nothing short of a miracle.

And that’s why most of my books are self-published eBooks, including Sam I Am. Self publishing was where I got my start. Before eBooks came along, the self publishing choices available to aspiring writers were sketchy, expensive, and disappointing. However, eBooks made their debut and stepped into the lime light with Amazon’s Kindle, and suddenly there were angels singing for writers everywhere.

EBooks have been good to me. I’ve hit the #1 slot in vampire romance on Amazon four times. I’ve hit similar slots on Barnes and Noble. I made the USA Today Bestseller’s List. I became a New York Times bestselling author… all with self published eBooks. If you really can write, if you really do have a gift, and you have the guts to not only reveal yourself to the world but throw yourself upon the mercy of readers everywhere, then eBook publishing can become your very best friend in the world. It’s why I continue to write and publish eBooks even now that I have a print publishing deal with major publishing houses around the world.

And it’s why I’ll probably continue to do so – until the day Sam Hain comes for me. Me. The bard, the storyteller. Because what kind of world would it be without books? Books, whether scribbled onto paper or created with keyboards and light, are magic. But don’t take my word for it. Join the lovely bard Logan Wright as she discovers for herself just how powerful the written word can be, in Sam I Am, the first book my young adult romance series, The October Trilogy.  Halloween is here. The door to Sam Hain’s realm has opened. Sit down with a cup of hot apple cider or steaming, marshmallow-topped cocoa and dare to find out just what it is that waits on the other side.

Heather has a special offer for you. She's giving away 5 Kindle copies of Sam I Am to the first 5 people who sign up on her Twitter account and send her a message referencing the Kids' E-book Bestseller blog. (twitter = @killoughwalden) Good luck!

This week I need to compile my bestseller list on Friday night instead of Saturday morning, since I will be at the Florida Writers Association annual conference. Check the list for the latest top tens in e-format for kids and YA!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Garfield: Purr-fect for E-books?

Earlier this month, Two Minute Garfield Stories by Jim Davis showed up on my Kids' E-book Bestseller list.  Between his cartooning, TV animation and his work for literacy, Jim took the time to share his thoughts on the e-format and its influence on him, and of course on Garfield! 

Jim, tell us what your book is about. Two-Minute Garfield Stories are just the right length for bedtime and the stories are a mashup of heartwarming classics and imaginative new tales.

What is your target audience?  How do you believe the e-format works for that audience?

This book is aimed at the younger audience -- the stories are simple and short! Perfect for bedtime, a car trip, an airplane ride. I was just on an airplane where a 2-year old was totally mesmerized by the e-reader his mom had -- the little boy didn't make a peep during the 2-hour trip!

Is your book available in print format? How do your sales compare between the two formats?

Too early to compare sales, but Garfield Two-Minute Stories was first published by Golden Books in 1991.

Tell us about your path to e-publication.

This is the first-ever digital Garfield book. I’m excited by the potential – publishing has always been a mainstay for Garfield . It’s fun to have the publishing world reinvent itself!

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing?

My first thought was, oh boy, now we have to digitize all the books we’ve done since 1978. But I’m already a fan. Anything that gets kids to read is good by me.


Every week I'm contacting authors who show up on the Kids' E-Book Bestseller List, to congratulate them and ask for their opinions on the e-format. I hope you enjoy the variety of perspectives these authors bring to the blog. Don't forget to check this week's bestseller list for the latest in e-books for kids!

(Note to authors: If you've been on my list and haven't heard from me, that means I can't find your contact information online. If you'd like to share your thoughts on your e-publishing experience, get in touch with me at

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kindle: Easier Said Than Done?

I told you about my quest to make my book Maximum Magic: The Save Our School Summer available on Amazon in the Kindle format.. I said, "They say it's easy -- I'll tell you if that's true."  Well, my book is live, available for sale, and it's true -- it was easy. Time consuming but easy.

It took me two weeks in the evenings after work to get this project done. The first week was mostly spent on one more revision-read, then re-formatting my manuscript to the Kindle specs . The Kindle instructions  are clear and easy to follow. I needed to change my font, re-space my lines from manuscript double spaced, and format my chapters and page breaks. It was tedious work, but not difficult.

The 2nd week I followed the step by step instructions to change the whole thing into an e-book. Again, the instructions were clear, and they also provide a video that shows you what to expect. Amazon provides the MobiPocket software which is free and easy to download onto your computer. Once you've run your book through Mobi, you upload it into a Kindle preview reader to see how it will look on an actual Kindle. And in this new format, voila! You see typos you never noticed before! So back to the original documents, make the changes, upload again to MobiPocket, then to the Kindle previewer. I needed to do this cycle three times, but it was easier each time and not very time consuming.

Once you're happy, you upload it to Kindle which is also easy. It takes about 24 hours for the book to be live, ready for sale. When it was live,  my book was not showing up when I searched in the age bracket I wanted. The Kindle forum answers most questions, and customer service was just an e-mail away, with thorough, helpful answers given within 24 hours.

For ages 8-12
available for Kindle
There are plenty of blogs and YouTube videos to give you more step by step details, but honestly, I found the Kindle instructions to be easy to follow. I just worked on a few steps each evening and by the end of the week I had an e-book for sale.

With 20/20 hindsight, here's what I did right: I didn't promote ahead of time that the book would be available by a certain date. That took the pressure off, and allowed me to take any hiccups in stride, able to wait for the great responses from customer service. Besides, what's the hurry? Once the book is done, it's out there forever.

And here's what I learned: I figured that middle grade readers who were interested in magic would find my book by its keywords, and I would have at least some sales on a fairly consistent basis. Well, the book has been live for one week, with no promotion. Total sales so far? Zero.  

Gotta go -- time to promote!

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins has been #1 on Amazon's "Children's and Young Adult" bestseller list for 30 weeks....until TODAY!  See which author and book broke through to the top. It's on this week's Kids' E-book Bestsellers list.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

L.J. Smith: From Vampires...To Witches...To E-Books!

L.J. Smith is the best-
selling author of many
books and series. Her
writing has spawned two
TV series, and has been
translated into thirty-five
Last Saturday The Initiation and The Captive by L.J. Smith hit the #8 spot in the Teen section of the Barnes and Noble e-bookstore, and the #3 spot in the Children and Teens section of Apple's iBookstore. This is a compilation of two books from her series, The Secret Circle. Lisa (the initials stand for Lisa Jane) was excited to hear about her e-book success and she very kindly answered ALL of my interview questions.

Lisa, let’s start with a summary of The Initiation and The Captive.

I’d like to focus on the two original SECRET CIRCLE books, which just premiered as a hit show on the CW. They tell the story of Cassie, slight and shy, who is uprooted from her home and brought to live in New Salem, Massachusetts. There Cassie discovers that she is a tremendously powerful hereditary witch, and the final member needed to complete the Crowhaven Road coven, which is split between good and bad magic-workers. The entire Circle, though, is in the greatest of danger from Black John, a restless spirit of pure evil looking for a new body and determined to make the Crowhaven coven his own. If Cassie is to face him, she’ll need a united coven behind her, and it doesn’t help that her best friend’s boyfriend—also a witch—and she are hopelessly in love. 

What is your target audience, and how do you think the e-format work for that audience?

My target audience is anyone interested in forbidden romantic urban fantasy/horror (try saying that three times fast). I have in the last week gotten emails from a nine-year-old in Israel, a thirty-three year old American woman, a twenties-something Brazilian reporter, a Dutch high school student, and an Arabic gentleman. However, of course, my biggest audience is teenagers and readers in their early twenties. No matter who is reading my works, I support the format wholeheartedly. It’s satisfying to download an e-book and have it immediately ready to read, and, of course, wherever you keep your e-books, you’ll have plenty of room for my something over two dozen titles!

How do your sales compare between the print and electronic formats?

When my books were released in print, every book made the New York Times Bestseller List, with the exception of THE SECRET CIRCLE, which was a book about witches competing with a lot of vampire books, and a number of books from movies. So I would say that the sales are about the same in print and e-format. Of course, since THE SECRET CIRCLE has come out on TV, there has been a run on print books, so I may just not have the information to answer this question.

Tell us briefly about your path to publication, and how you got into the e-format.

I’ve been writing books since I was in college, and have published around 25 or so. Naturally my approach was very traditional. I started out without an agent, and without any idea of how to get one. It was what is now Alloy Entertainment that contacted me (having read my first two acclaimed hardback books) to ask if I’d like to try to write something different—a trilogy about vampires. That was THE VAMPIRE DIARIES (now in its third season as a show on the CW). It was due to a sort of accident that I also published THE SECRET CIRCLE through them. But, given that they are a book packager, and that my initial contract transformed my creativity into “work for hire,” they are entirely responsible for putting my books into e-books.

Was e-publishing your idea or your publisher’s?

This was definitely my publisher’s idea, since this is the first I’ve heard about my works becoming e-books. I am always glad, however, to offer the reading audience worldwide another venue to my novels.

How are people finding out about your books?

Gosh, I have no idea. But I intend to feature the fact that SECRET CIRCLE is in e-format on my website, at

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How?

I don’t believe that it either helps or hurts me as an author. After all, my books came out in print first and did well. Now, they’re doing well as e-books. I’m happy! I will say one thing. I would not want to publish a book in e-format alone.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts your readers, specifically children and/or young adults? How?

I think I must be not qualified to explore this question. I’m not sure how having access to books on computer or a Kindle-like-device is going to hurt my readers. As I said, they can now take a whole library of books with them wherever they go. The one thing I do miss with reading an e-book is the actually feel of a book’s pages in my fingers.


See this week's Kids' E-Book Bestseller list for more great books and interesting authors!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

E-books vs. P-books: What's the Latest Score?

Last weekend I was walking through a local mall when I saw a Waldenbooks store -- empty. The lights were still on, but the shelves were cleared and it was obvious that the manager was taking care of final details before closing the store for good. Recently the last of the Borders stores throughout the country also closed. 

Last November when I began this blog, these closings were still rumors. Strong rumors, yes, but many people thought certainly someone will save the day and somehow the chains will survive. But no. It's been quite a year for publishing and bookstores -- a year where e-book sales continue to climb while p-book (print book) sales continue to fall. 

This week's newsletter from Dan Poynter of Para Publishing shares some interesting facts:  

--According to Association of American Publishers (AAP) sales figures for June 2011, net revenues from adult paperback sales plunged nearly 64 percent compared to the same period last year. At the same time, eBook sales were up 161 percent.

--Eight of the top 20 titles on the USA Today’s Bestselling Book List this week are ebooks.

--Ereader shipments will increase 167% this year compared to 2010.

Through this transition, traditional publishers have been amazingly slow to respond. I met editors and publishers at a conference as recent as this past summer who were still cautious and skeptical about e-books and spoke to writers about them with a very "doom and gloom" attitude. When I told them I wasn't interested in pursuing an agent or publisher for my middle grade books, but that I was going to e-publish on my own, I caused quite a bit of eyebrow raising and head shaking. 

We'll see. I expect to have my book on Amazon within two weeks. They say it's easy.... I'll put it to the test and tell you if that's true. That Waldenbooks store would have given me a market of the few hundred people that would enter it each day, between their business hours of 10 AM to 9PM. And that's only IF it was chosen by an agent, and then by a publisher, and if I was willing to wait a few years for it to hit the shelves. The internet makes my book available to the world, 24/7. Instantly. Readers, not agents, will decide if it's worthy of a good review and recommendation to friends.

It's an exciting time to be an author!

Check the updated Kids' E-Book Bestseller List where you'll see some new authors breaking into the top ten! 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

E-Books: A Grimm Reality?

Earlier this week I contacted author Michael Buckley about The Problem Child, from his Sisters Grimm series. The Problem Child was number 2 in the MobiPocket store last week and this week.  Unlike most of the authors I've featured, Michael told me, "My experience with e-books and social media is pretty limited."  For the most part, he said, his strategy is "get out and meet the people." Let's see what he has to add to the e-format conversation!

We'll get started with a synopsis of The Problem Child. 

The Problem Child is the 3rd book in the Sisters Grimm series and continues Sabrina and Daphne's efforts to find their parents in the mysterious town of Ferryport Landing where fairy tales still live. In this one they come face to face with a villain they never expected - Little Red Riding Hood, who along with her pet Jabberwocky, may be the last obstacle in recovering Mom and Dad. Unfortunately, Red's appearance also draws out a deep, dark family secret.

You can see Micheal explain more about the series on his book trailer.

Is your book also in print format? Which was first, and how do our sales compare between the two formats?

All my books are available in both paper and electronic versions. Paper was first but electronic wasn't far behind. My publisher isn't against electronic formats but they want to do it carefully so that it makes strong business sense. So far, a lot of electronic sales in this industry aren't what I'd call great business strategies. At this point, most of my sales come from traditional book stores but we are doing more interesting things. I just recorded tracks for an enhanced version of my other series, NERDS.

What were your initial thoughts on e-publishing? And have those thoughts changed now that you've done it? 

E-publishing was my publisher's idea. I think like a lot of writers I'm hesitant, even slightly terrified of e-publishing, especially when you look at how it affected the music industry. On one hand I'm very eager to get my work into as many hands as possible but on the other hand I want it all to be fair. Books don't come out of thin air. They take a lot of effort to write and if it's not something a person can make a living at then no one is going to do it. Right now, e-publishing is controlled by two major corporations who want to set prices and shove everyone around. I worry about a future when they begin to dictate what can be written and how much it can be sold for.

And finally, tell us how your readers are finding out about your books. 

To be totally honest, I'm not really finding my audience on-line. They're generally 8-12 yrs old and most don't have e-readers or spend much time on facebook. As with most things, the best marketing campaign you can have is to actually meet your fans face to face. I still do a tremendous number of book store events and school presentations. That personal contact with a reader goes a long, long way and they share those experiences with their friends and word spreads. I do have a Twitter page and a Facebook fan page where people can interact with me but again, nothing beats a smile from a real person.


You can also visit Michael's website and check his schedule to see if he's coming to a city near you. See this week's Kids' Ebook Bestseller List for more great authors and their popular books. 

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Brandon Alston Has His Eyes on E-Book Success!

This week we’re hearing from Brandon Alston, who together with Quinteria Ramey, has written the Forever Trilogy:  Grey Eyes, Brown Eyes and Angel Eyes. All three books have been on my Kids' E-Book Bestseller List. Grey Eyes hit the Amazon Children’s top ten on May 21st, and stayed there for 12 weeks. Brown Eyes made the top ten for 5 weeks starting on July 2nd, and Angel Eyes has been there for 4 weeks including today.

First, let’s hear from Brandon on what the series is about.

15 year old Anastasia Adams has spent her entire life on the run. She and her mother have never spent more than 18 months in any one location, often times leaving with just the clothes on their backs. Despite the havoc that this is wreaking on Ana's social and academic life, her mother offers no explanation as to why it is they're constantly moving, or even what it is they're running from. But that all changes one night in the woods of Pelion, SC--the night the terror catches up with them.

Fearing her mother dead, and having barely escaped with her own life, Ana is whisked away to world of privilege and tradition. It's a fairytale come to life. The poor girl used to living out of a suitcase is now a resident of one of the most exclusive addresses in the world. The people there adore her and she catches the eye of a young guardian who sees her as a refreshing change to the girls he's grown up with.

If only they could find her mother. If only she knew the consequences of being born a “conjurer” If only she knew who that green eyed stranger was, the stranger who'll tell her about a past too romantic, and too tragic to be real. In the end, she'll have to choose between the boy who has captured her heart and the stranger she can feel down in her soul, assuring at least one of them an almost certain death.

What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience?

Our book is a young adult paranormal romance so we went into this thinking that our target audience would be predominantly teenage girls. And while it’s true that teenage girls make up a large percentage of our buyers, we’ve found that adult women are our primary buyers. In many ways, writing in this genre allows you to reach everyone, and that’s probably why it’s so popular.

I think the e-format works because it’s just so convenient. You can literally have thousands of books at your fingertips at any given time. Paranormal romance fans really love paranormal romances and are voracious readers (we know because we’re fans of the genre too!). The e-format allows you instant access to that hot new book or that sequel you’re craving.

What were your initial thoughts about  e-publishing? Have those initial thoughts changed now that you’ve done it?

By the time I started this March, people like John Locke and Amanda Hocking and J. A. Konrath had already made big names for themselves in self-publishing. So when we finished Grey Eyes we were optimistic that we could do okay with sales. Maybe we could make enough to pay a couple of bills. We never imagined that we would be as successful as we have been blessed to be. It has literally been a life changing experience. We were both able to quit our jobs and focus completely on bringing out new stories that we feel passionate about.

Wow! So you believe the e-format helps you as an author?

I would recommend self-publishing to anyone interested in writing. With devices like tablets and e-readers becoming so popular, unknowns have the opportunity to reach millions of potential readers. There has never been a better time to be an author. If writing is your passion, then jump in with both feet and don’t look back.

Learn more about Brandon and the Forever Trilogy at his blog  and Twitter.  And see more successful authors and their books at this weeks' Kids' E-Book Bestseller List.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

E-Book News for your Labor Day Weekend

Every month or so I like to take a break from author interviews and feature some of the latest news in the e-book world. Since my last news update on July 30th, the big news has been the launch of J.K. Rowling's Pottermore website.  One million fans were given access to the site on August 15th, and the web is all abuzz with their reviews and comments, mostly good and some with suggestions for improvement. The site will be open to the public in October.  In the meantime, this Huffington Post article gives a details look at what's available on the site. 

The big impact of this site on publishing and the e-format is that J.K. Rowling kept the rights to the e-formats of all of her books. Now Harry Potter e-books will be available at last.....but only through the Pottermore website. All of her e-book sales will be independent of her traditional agent/publisher arrangement that she had for her print books. 

This is yet another case (actually Pottermore is a HUGE case)  that shows how the world of publishing has changed. Authors that have not had success with the traditional publishing world can now, thanks to the internet and social media, have the chance to sell our books directly to readers and actually do very well if they have a compelling story and an interested audience. We read many examples of this in my author interviews -- great authors with interesting stories and loads of rejections who tried the e-format and found themselves in the top ten of their e-bookstore. 

You can read more about the Pottermore launch at these links: USA Today articleShelf Life blog post, and the Pottermore Insider, the official Pottermore blog.

Time to update the Kids' E-book Bestseller List.  It's always fun to have a look at who's breaking into the Top Ten!  Happy Labor Day to all my American readers. Enjoy your long weekend. I hope you'll have time to read a great story.