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.