Saturday, April 30, 2011

Irish Author Celine Kiernan Talks About Her Bestseller

On last week's Kids' Ebook Bestseller List, The Rebel Prince by Celine Kiernan was in the Top Ten in the MobiPocket store. I sent Celine a note of congrats, and she kindly answered my many questions.  Enjoy!

Tell us what your book is about.

'Atmsopheric, complex
and intense.' 
Publishers Weekly

The Rebel Prince is book three in The Moorehawke Trilogy. Set in a fantastical renaissance Europe, this is the final book in a compelling trilogy of court intrigue, adventure and romance. 

Wynter Moorehawke is overjoyed to be reunited with her great friend Rebel Prince Alberon. But it seems that the years of war have left their scars and it is not long before brothers Alberon and Razi, allow their differences come between them. Alberon is determined to protect the kingdom by strength rather than diplomacy. He proudly reveals his great hope - Lorcan Moorehawke's Bloody Machine. But Razi fears the machine will rot the kingdom's soul and undo all the good that their father has achieved in his short reign.

Despite her qualms about Alberon's choice of allies, Wynter finds herself siding with him against her friends. But when the last envoys to Alberon's camp arrive, Wynter's loyalty to the kingdom and its future is stretched to its limit. How can she stand by as Alberon negotiates with those who represent everything she despises?

Is your book available in print format? Which came first and why? 

It is available in print format in many territories and in many languages. The print format came first. Then the e-book format followed quickly behind. As far as I know there are e-book versions of the German and French translations too, but I've no idea if the same is true for any of the other translations. 
Tell us about your path to publication.

My path to publication was traditional every step of the way. Starting off with the usual shoe box full of rejection slips, I kept on writing and writing, trying hard to hone my work with each project. When it came to selling Moorehawke, I took the new step of pitching to agents. I was accepted by an agency and my agent very quickly secured me a deal with an Irish publishing house (I live in Ireland) and then to the rest of the territories. My first book was published in 2008 and I've had a book out every year since.

What were your initial thoughts about  e-publishing?  

I made no decision about it at all. It was simply another format through which my publishers made the books available.

As long as my books are distributed in such a way that the consumer knows they exist, have easy access to purchase them, and are asked a fair price for them; as long as my publishers get a big enough portion of the profits to continue paying the wages of my fantastic editors and the teams who designed my covers and layout my books; and as long as my right to fair remuneration for my work is respected;  then I have no problem what format the final product is in.

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

It depends very much which territory your discussing. Judging from fan mail, in Aus and Ireland (where the books are published as YA and have been award winners or long listed for awards in that market) the majority of my fans came to the books through recommendation of a bookseller, librarian or teacher, or, more and more now, through word of mouth in school or college. In the UK/US/Germany and France where the books are marketed as adult fantasy, the majority of fans say they read a review online (usually on an independent book blog like booksmugglers or bookchickcity or booksidoneread) I can't really speak for any of the other territories as the language barrier prevents me having much contact with those fans (unfortunately!)

I use social media to respond to a fan base which already exists to be honest. As a way of staying in touch with folks who have already read the books and have sought me out. I certainly haven't been out there pushing myself online, I don't have a twitter account, my personal facebook page is private (though I accept fans as friends without hesitation) my public FB pages are fan run without much input from me, and my blog is solely there to give news of the books - which no one would be interested in, if they weren't already interested in me, if you know what I mean Smile emoticon 

I've been lucky that my publishers have done a great job promoting the books so that my energy goes into responding to those fans I already have, and the rest goes into producing the next book.
Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How?

Anything that gets a legitimate copy of my book into the hands of a reader is a good thing for me and for the publishing industry that has helped make those books as good as they are.

For more info on Celine, The Rebel Thief, and the rest of the The Moorehawke Trilogy, visit Celine's website.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Children's Choice Book Awards -- Vote for your favorites!

It's time to cast votes for the Children's Choice Book Awards. So gather 'round your children and teens to vote for the Book of the Year, Author of the Year and Illustrator of the Year for their age category. Teachers, librarians and booksellers: click on the blue bar for your voting pages. You'll recognize many books and authors from my weekly bestseller list. Voting closes on Friday, April 29th and the winners will be announced on May 2nd. Check back at the Book Week website to see how your favorites did.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Classic Comeback?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte has always been one of my favorite books. So I've mentioned to friends and coworkers that I want to go see Jane Eyre currently in theaters, starring Mia Wasikowska aka Alice in Wonderland.  They give me this blank look. "Who's that?" they say. "Jane who?" I have not run into one person who has said, "Oh yeah, read the book, loved it," or any variation on that theme. Seriously -- this is Jane Eyre we're talking about.

This led me to wonder if children now have more exposure to classics because of classic e-books available for free. Almost every week since I started my Kids' E-Book Bestseller List, classics have been showing up in the top ten, such as:
  • The Complete Wizard of Oz Collection by L. Baum
  • Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
  • Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Anderson
  • The Works of Beatrice Potter
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  • Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore
  • Aesop's Fables
  • Grimm's Fairy Tales
  • And most recently a compilation caled 25 Favorite Kids' Books for Middle and Young Adult Readers, which includes such greats as Black Beauty, Heidi, Treasure Island, Secret Garden, Jungle Book and many more. (actually 20 more to be exact.)
And these haven't been one-week wonders. Most of them have shown up as e-book bestsellers for several weeks in a row.

I've alway told my kids, "Classics are classics for a reason."  The reason is they are usually compelling stories with timeless themes. Looking at the list above, these are books that kids have loved for decades, or even centuries. Hopefully the e-book format is helping children to connect with these great stories, giving them a love of classics that will carry on into adulthood.  That way, if a friend invites them to see Jane Eyre, they'll know the story. After all, who would want to miss a movie about a crazy spare wife in the attic?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Suzanne Collins: Queen of My Top Ten Lists

Ever since I started this blog in November, Suzanne Collins has been a constant presence on my e-book bestseller list, taking top spots for her books The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. The Hunger Games is also being made into a movie to be released in March, 2012, so I expect the interest in her books to last until then and beyond.

Since she's such a successful author in the e-format, I went on a quest to learn more. Turns out she's rather media-shy. Her website is informative yet understated, not as flashy as I expected for such a big-name author. Scholastic, her publisher, has a few pages about her and her books, but they don't seem very up to date.

I couldn't find any quotes about Suzanne's thoughts on the e-format and the success of her e-books. I only found a blog post from March, 2010 where blogger "Ereader1" was wondering when Catching Fire would be in e-book format. She contacted Scholastic and asked them. Note that this was just one year ago. Ereader1 wrote, "This morning I received a disappointing email response [from Scholastic]: "At this time, we do not have any plans with ebooks or kindle." Less than 3 months later, on June 1st, the Kindle version of Catching Fire was released. I think it's amazing how fast the publishing industry has changed, and how long they insisted on ignoring/denying the e-book revolution.

If you're a fan of Suzanne Collins and want to learn more, The New York Times Magaine just did a lengthy article about her yesterday.  She also did a Borders Book Club interview which you can watch in full. And check out how her e-books are doing this week on my Kids E-book Bestsellers List.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Is E for Me?

Have I got a story for you! Pick a story, any story. Long stories, short stories. Stories for picture books, middle grade and even several chapters of a YA book. Stories that have been queried, pitched, submitted to contests, revised, critiqued, rejected. What’s a writer to do?

The e-book format, especially when combined with print-on-demand options like Amazon's CreateSpace, offers new options to people like me. Mark Coker, in his recent article for the Huffington Post, calls this “a revolution” that will “topple Big Publishing as we know it.” Although I don’t see myself as a revolutionary, I agree with Mark on several points:
  • Big Publishing is toppling, or at the very least, scrambling furiously.
  • “Readers, not publishers, have become the curators” of the online bookstore. Hurrah! What people read will have more impact on sales than what publishers think they will read.
  • “To survive and thrive, publishers big and small must do for authors what authors cannot or will not do for themselves.” The one thing publishers can offer is distribution to brick and mortar stores. With e-books plus the ability to order any p-book online, the power of that offer is dwindling fast. 
I’ve been asked, “If you publish an e-book instead of using a  traditional publisher, how will people find your book?” I have two answers:
First, the e-book pool is not yet nearly as large as the p-book pool. I want to jump in fast (before the Christmas season) to take advantage of these numbers. I did a quick search last week on Amazon and here’s what I found.

     For Age 0 to 3        Print books 70,195     E-books 1,402
     For Age 4 to 8        Print books 226,684   E-books 2,787
     For Age 9 to 12      Print books 199,710    E-books 4,203
     For Young Adult      Print books 83,977     E-books 1,605

Second, people will find my book by my own marketing attempts and by word of mouth referrals. When a book is bad, no one will refer it. When a book is good, people will tell people. Good ideas spread.

And that segues me to this short Seth Godin video my son sent me on this very topic. If offers a great summary to everything I’ve said here. SPOILER ALERT – if you still dream of being published traditionally, do not watch this video.  I don’t want to be a dream-dasher.