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!