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!