Saturday, January 28, 2012

Readers are Enchanted with UnEnchanted!

Today we get to visit with Chanda Hahn, author of UnEnchanted. Her book hit the number 3 spot in the "Children and Teen" section of the Apple iBookstore on January 14th, then jumped to number 2 the following week where it still sits today. Enjoy her story of success!

Tell us the story of UnEnchanted.

Mina Grime is unlucky, unpopular and uncoordinated, that is until she saves her crush's life on a field trip, changing her High School status from loser to hero overnight. But with her new found fame brings misfortune in the form of an old family curse come to light. For Mina is descended from the Brothers Grimm and has inherited all of their unfinished fairy tale business. Which includes trying to outwit a powerful Story from making her its next fairytale victim.

To break the fairy tale curse on her family and make these deadly occurrences stop, Mina must finish the tales until the very Grimm end.

How did you get published: traditional or indie? 

I wrote UnEnchanted over a year ago and I tried the traditional route through agents. It gained attention and a few wanted the manuscript but they didn’t think it had the marketability. I believed in my book and refused to give up on it. I knew that I had a story worth telling, and my characters didn’t deserve to sit on a flash drive for the next ten years, so I published the book myself through Smashwords. It has only been available for about two weeks [when I contacted her on 1/14] and I was surprised that it hit the top 3 in Children and Teens on IBook’s and top 55 for paid authors.

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

Chanda Hahn - two
weeks to top ten!
I didn’t want to do epublishing initially. There is something quit romantic about having a print book in your hands and being able to smell the pages or put your bookmark in your favorite passage. I also love the idea of having a book and personally handing it to someone and telling them it is worth reading. I truly believe you lose something once the book is on a computer. It’s not as personal.

So when I decided to try to epub it myself, I was both hesitant and reluctant. It’s similar to putting your kid in a beauty pageant and waiting to get judged by a panel, who will tell me whether my book/kid is good enough. Beauty is subjective to the eye of the beholder and so is writing a book. Once I published my book, it would be available to be judged by the world. But I’m a strong enough person to stand behind my books. I’m not sure if I would have normally gone through this process and it is not for everyone, because if your book does not sell, it is almost impossible to get an Agent or Publisher to pick it up after you’ve tried to publish it yourself.

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

I would have never in a million years predicted that my book would have made the top ten list. I’m grateful, excited, and hesitant at the same time.

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

The market is hot right now for fairytales, young adult and fantasy. The cover of my book is appealing, and looking at it you can tell exactly what genre and age I’m aiming for. The price is reasonable. As a new author I couldn’t justify putting a high price on my book until I get my name out there. No one will pay eight bucks for a no name author without the backing of a publisher.


Want to learn more about Chanda and her book? Check out her blog, her Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter.

Find more top ten e-authors at today's Kids' E-book Bestseller List.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Lots of Sales for A Little Less Girl

Since the end of December, Tess Oliver's book, A Little Less Girl, has been holding steady in the top ten of the Teen section of Today it's in the number 6 spot.Tess joins us this week to talk about her book and its journey to the top!

Let's start with a synopsis of A Little Less Girl.

Jake West is a likable, popular guy who suddenly finds himself blamed for the suicidal death of a girl named Amy. While Jake is trying to absorb the possibility that a mean-spirited comment caused Amy, a girl obsessed with him, to kill herself, a new girl, Dani Spencer moves into his small town. Dani is Amy's cousin and she intends to find out if Amy truly killed herself and if Jake was the cause. Jake is prepared to accept the fact that Dani will blame him and despise him for it . . . until he discovers an obsession of his own - Dani.

How did you get published: Traditional or independent? 

I have a traditionally published kid's science book under a different pen name, but I really wanted to see my YA paranormal books in print. I had written several and queried agents but couldn't get noticed. 
In July 2010, I decided to give self-publishing a whirl. I self-published two books "Camille" and "Safe Landing". The first few months were lackluster then suddenly Camille started climbing the charts on both Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. By January 2011 it had reached the top 200 books at both sites and had sold 30,000 copies. Next thing I knew, agents were contacting me. Funny how that works. But the best thing to come out of Camille's success is all the great mail I get from readers. "Little Less Girl" had been on my computer for two years and my daughter kept telling me to publish it. I finally did. Moms should always listen to their kids!

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Were you hesitant? Excited? Apprehensive? Optimistic? 

I had two options - let my stories languish on my hard drive or publish them. I was definitely all of the above - excited, apprehensive, hesitant and occasionally optimistic. I'm glad I decided to go for it!

Do you think e-publishing will eventually take over print publishing? Why or why not? 

I am an elementary school teacher and I can see how e-publishing would save costs, motivate students (the toughest part of teaching) and give wider access to material. Technology is already a huge part of the day in my classroom. Three of my students came back after winter break with Kindles. They are growing up in a purely technological world. I firmly believe that e-books will take over print publishing.

Learn more about Tess and her books at her website. And visit this week's Kids' E-Book Bestseller List for more new books and authors!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Underpants Thunderpants: Fifth Week In The Top Ten

Before we launch into today's interview with Peter Bently, let me update you on a couple changes to the blog. The Mobi Pocket store has closed, so I have removed them from the Kids' E-Book Bestseller List. I replaced Mobi with the Google E-book store, since I have now found an accurate way to pull their data on bestsellers for children and young adults.

I've also added a new page to the blog, called Author Index. This lists all of the authors I've featured on the blog since its beginning. I hope this is helpful when you want to look for a favorite author or want to reference back to a certain interview. 

And speaking of interviews....

Today we are hearing from Peter Bently, whose book Underpants Thunderpants has been in the top ten in the Kids' section of Barnes and Noble for the past 5 weeks. Today it's in the number 7 spot. 

Peter, the title alone, Underpants Thunderpants, makes me want to know more. What's your book about?

Dog is hanging out his huge collection of underpants when a storm blows them all away. They land all over the world – and even in space – with comical results.

How did you first get published?

My first children's book, A Lark in the Ark, was accepted by Egmont in 2005 and published in 2008.

Is your book also available in print format? Which came first? 
The print format came first – that is still usual with children's publishers, although increasingly I have e-book clauses negotiated in my contracts from the very start. This book was a commission – I was paid a fee for the text but receive no royalties or have any say in its subsequent life, so I wasn't involved in the decision to do it as an e-book. I am delighted it is doing well, of course – it is all good for my profile as an author.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? Was it your idea or your publisher’s?

It was the publisher's idea. I felt – and still feel – that any way of getting books out there is to be welcomed. If folks want to read my books on their Kindle or iPhone, then fine!

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

I don't think e-publishing will ever completely supersede print publishing. Physical books are too deeply ingrained in our culture – think of all the millions of books that already exist! But e-media of all kinds are here to stay and the two formats will surely coexist – I hope amicably! The only issue is how best to embrace both formats.

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

My audience is children, or rather parents and children. I can see the e-format being very useful for situations where parent and child are on the go and don't want to have to shlep physical books about.

Peter Bently, recent winner
ofthe Roald Dahl Funny
Prize for his book
Cats Ahoy!
What top factors do you believe put your e-book where it is now?

I hope it is is popular because people find it funny!

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

It helps, I am sure. There are folks and families out there who may not be 'book' people but may be 'screen' people, and this may be the way for books to reach them – not just mine. That has to be a good thing.

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

Personally, I think very young children should avoid sitting in front of screens as much as possible. That's not anti-technology, but anti-inactivity: children learn through direct interaction with the people and world about them, not by sitting alone gawping and motionless at a talking screen. So I think as parents we always have to remember that a picture book in e-format should be used just like a physical book: as an opportunity for sharing and interacting with a child. In fact, with its handy format and storage capacity – it is effectively a portable library – e-readers even have the potential to increase such opportunities, which would be great.

You can learn more about Peter and his other books by visiting his author page at this agent's website.

Check this week's Kids' E-Book Bestseller List for more interesting authors and their amazing books!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cynthia Leitich Smith: Back Again with Another Bestseller

Last June, I interviewed Cynthia Leitich Smith about her bestselling e-book, Cat Calls. That interview has been the one of the most popular of all the ones I've posted. Cynthia's new book, Haunted Love, has been a Books On Board bestseller since December 3rd, and I'm delighted to welcome her back to the blog.

First let's start with a description of Haunted Love.

Spirit, Texas, is a town of secrets, and as the new owner of the local haunted movie theater, Cody Stryker is juggling more than his fair share.

When a mysterious new girl comes to town and runs afoul of the ghost that lives in his theater, Cody’s caught in the middle and needs to figure out exactly who he can trust.

"Haunted Love" is a short story featuring new characters and set in the same Gothic universe as Cynthia Leitich Smith's novels Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, Diabolical (forthcoming), and Tantalize: Kieren's Story, illustrated by Ming Doyle.

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

I’m most surprised that there isn’t more mention in the kidlitosphere of e-editions of books that are also published in print. Then again, it’s not something I routinely cover myself at my own blog, Cynsations, though I regularly highlight works by other authors.

One of my 2012 goals as an author-blogger is to do a better job of pointing out books' electronic and audio editions in addition to their corresponding print versions.

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

For “Haunted Love,” my audience is young adults, ranging from age 12 to 102. Really, half of my reader mail comes from grown-ups! But arguably, the core audience is 15 to 25. Obviously, the younger the readers, the more likely it is that they’re tech savvy. There's a wonderfully active and enthusiastic YA literature community online.

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

The book offers a short story, originally published in an excellent anthology, Sideshow, edited by Deborah Noyes (Candlewick Press). That same publisher released the e-short. So, it’s a professionally edited and published piece with a cover created by the enormously talented Candlewick design team. As an author, that kind of support is priceless.

“Haunted Love” is a mystery and love story featuring paranormal characters, all of which are story elements popular with YA readers.

Beyond that, the story is set in the same fantastical universe as my Tantalize series, also published by Candlewick. So, there’s an already invested base audience but also an opportunity for prospective readers to get a sample of sorts.

More personally, I’ve made an effort to spread the word about the e-release through my own site, blogs, and networks. (I’m hugely heartened by all the bloggers, tweeters and facebookers who’ve helped the announcement go viral.) Beyond that, I'm currently running a facebook ad, promoting the e-book, with a link to more information.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts your readers, specifically children and/or young adults? And how do you see the world of e-publishing for children within the next 5 years?

Ideally, kids should be tech adept and well read, and yet so many today aren’t. Especially with youth, access and affordability are critical. Library funding is vulnerable in this age of ongoing budget cuts. It's tragic, but the reality is that millions of young readers around the world don’t own a book in any format.

Even if some e-books can be sold at a lower price point, right now, for too many families, the cost of an e-reader or computer is more of a wall than a gateway.

Will that disparity remain in five years? If the world economy were better, I would be more optimistic, but I suspect we’ll see an even greater gap. Some kids will miss out entirely while those from privileged backgrounds will have opportunities to embrace e-books only or at least for a substantial percentage of their reading.

What about ten years? The future there may be brighter, I think. Experience teaches us that tech becomes more affordable over time. If that’s the case, the lower book production costs (materials, shipping) may make it possible for every child and teen to personally own and explore a first-rate collection of books.

It would be even better if they could have print books, too, though from what I understand, there is technology in the pipeline that will allow us to e-publish in a way that's more satisfying on a tactile level and for sharing.

So long as we maintain the community aspect—the related conversation in the public/school libraries and brick-and-mortar bookstores and classrooms—that would be the best imaginable result.


See this week's bestsellers in e-books for children and young adults, where Cynthia's Haunted Love has jumped to the number one spot on Books on Board.  And stop back next week when we'll talk with Peter Bently, author of the Barnes and Noble bestseller, Underpants Thunderpants.