Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mary Hooper: The Great Plague + A Great Author = A Best Seller!

Earlier this month, At the Sign of the Sugared Plum, by UK author Mary Hooper hit the number 5 spot in the "Children's and Young Adult" section of the Amazon e-bookstore. 

Welcome, Mary! First let's hear what your book is about.

AT THE SIGN OF THE SUGARED PLUM is about the Great Plague in England, 1665, and is told from the point of view of a young girl coming to London for the first time to help her sister in their sweetmeats shop. It's also a love story. I found out loads of fascinating details about life back then and, as chapter headings, used quotes from Pepys Diary, I also found some genuine 17th century sweet recipes and put them at the back of the book.

How did you get published:Traditional or independent? Recently or further in the past?

I have been writing books for about 25 years now, and writing historical fiction for about the last ten. AT THE SIGN OF THE SUGARED PLUM was my first historical. I loved writing it so much I vowed never to write another modern book!

Is your book available in print format? Which came first and why?
See my note to you above!
[Mary is referring to her e-mail to me: "Gosh, you have really made me sit up! I hadn't even realised that AT THE SIGN OF THE SUGARED PLUM was out in electronic form. When I looked, it was No.1 in three categories on Amazon kindle .... Very exciting! Thank you for letting me know.]
It's been in print nearly ten years now and I didn't even know it was available electronically.

Do you think e-publishing will eventually take over print publishing? Why or why not?
I sincerely hope not. I think there's a place for both. I have a reading device on which I've downloaded all the classics - but I couldn't manage without a REAL book, with a cover picture and a blurb and a bit about the author and all those extra things.

How are people finding out about your book? Tell us about your marketing and use of social media.
We are encouraged to use social media, but I think you are either a natural tweeter and blogger or not. I am not! I would rather be writing a chapter of a book than composing a blog. Having said that, I am a member of The History Girls Blog and we blog once a month (which I find just about manageable).

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

I have no idea why it should suddenly spring forward! I had a new book out last year called FALLEN GRACE and this was very well reviewed in the New York Times, so maybe it's had a knock-on effect.

Learn more about Mary Hooper and her many books at her website.

See this week's Kids' E-Book Bestseller List for more fascinating books and authors for children and young adults!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Top Ten's a Cinch for One Inch at a Time

Today our featured book is One Inch at a Time, a picture book that hit the top ten in the "Children and Teens" section of the iBookstore for three weeks in a row, January 21st through February 4th. Both the author, Jean Alexander, AND the illustrator, Mike Gordon are sharing their insights and experience with us today. 

First, tell us what your best selling book is about.

One Inch at a Time is about Winchie, a fun-loving little inchworm who lives a pretty good life in a big elm tree in the meadow, but with his little inchworm body, finds it hard to keep up with his insect friends. Mommy Inchworm gives him good advice: Take it one inch at a time, and there’s nothing you can’t do. Winchie has an adventure that lands him in the world of humans, with all kinds of creatures and creations the likes of which he’s never seen before. It’s scary and he misses his mommy. But he remembers her advice, courageously sets off on his journey home, and has fun adventures along the way--one inch at a time.

Tell us about your path to publication: Traditional or independent? Recently or further in the past?

Mike: I've been illustrating books for publishers over the last twenty-five years--all traditional stuff--and I’ve completed over three hundred children's books that way. Whew!

My personal path to publication is a story in itself, which I’ve started telling on my blog at One Inch at a Time was my first foray into the world of the e-book; and we’ve since added another Winchie book, Perfectly Perfect.

Jean: This is the first book I’ve ever written! I’m an attorney and write 
wills and trusts by day. So creating and publishing One Inch at a Time has been an incredibly fun adventure! 

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

Mike: After so many years working in the traditional publishing industry, I was pretty excited to see what I could do on my own, with totally free creative license. The development of e-books was just the opening I’d been waiting for. My partner, Jean, wrote the book, I illustrated it, and my son, Carl Gordon, formatted it for e-publication—a real family affair. It was a lot of work and a steep learning curve to self-publication, but it was worth it!

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

Our target audience are younger kids and their parents who like to snuggle up together and share a good, wholesome story that’s not only fun, imaginative and heart-warming, but also gives a positive lesson about life. The e-format works great because these moments can happen anywhere, thanks to the mobility of the electronic reader!

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

Initially we didn’t use any marketing at all, other than developing the Breadcrumb Books website as a showcase. We’ve been pleasantly surprised that One Inch has done so well all on its own: It’s consistently been in the top 100 bestselling children’s iBooks, at one time reaching #2 on the list! We are just now exploring the possibilities of social media sites like Facebook, spearheaded by the fabulous Molly Hahn; and may experiment with other marketing strategies as well. We’re just getting started!

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

We put a lot of tender loving care into One Inch at a Time, and it shows. In fact, this little book recently achieved a QED award (“Quality, Excellence, Design”) from Publishing Innovation Awards, their “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for ebooks! It’s a cute story, and the illustrations really bring our little inchworm and his friends to life. There’s a lot for kids to identify with—a strong attachment to mom, feeling small and overwhelmed, finding courage to take on life’s challenges, and achieving success with some good old fashioned hard work. And it’s fun!

We hope everyone else feels so too!

Our website is frequently updated and showcases Mike’s serialized blog titled, “The History of a Self-Made Illustrator”, plus book reviews, comics, tips, and news in the publishing industry.

You can also follow Mike Gordon, Jean Alexander and the Breadcrumb Books team, Molly Hahn, Carl Gordon and Ashley Golden on Twitter.

See this week's Kids' E-Book Bestseller List for more top ten books and authors, and check back on Wednesday when we hear from Mary Hooper, author of At the Sign of the Sugared Plum. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Elmo Loves You! Nook Readers Love Elmo!

For three weeks, Elmo Loves You! by Sarah Albee has been in the top ten in the Kids' section of Barnes and Noble's Nook store. Sarah's here to tell us all about her journey with Elmo into e-publishing. 

Tell us a bit about the book, Sarah.

ELMO LOVES YOU began as a Little Golden Book. I wrote it--cough--sixteen years ago, when I was an editor on staff at Sesame Street. I don't think anyone realized that it would go on to sell a gajillion copies, and now it has a new audience in its ebook format. It's a very gentle, rhyming story about love. "Bert loves pigeons, and pigeons love to coo./Can you guess who Elmo loves? Elmo loves you!" Because I wrote it while on staff, I do not make royalties on it, but that's OK. I loved working at Sesame Street, and I am a huge Elmo fan. He deserves his fame, and Sesame Street gave me the opportunity to publish my first books.

So how did you first get published? 

I began my writing career as a very junior editor on staff at Children's Television Workshop (Sesame Street). After I had our second child, our family moved from New York City to Connecticut, and I became a full-time freelance writer. I still love working with Sesame Street, but I also love writing other kinds of books--especially, these days, nonfiction books for 8 - 12 year olds. My latest book is called Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up.

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

Sarah Albee
I am a big fan of epublishing, which I think is a wonderful resource for certain books and certain times. I remember when I lived in Cairo, Egypt, just after college, I was desperate for English-language books and read anything I could get my hands on. It would have been so fantastic to have been able to download books to an ereader! My 16 year old daughter is spending the year in Spain, and she downloads books constantly. As a mother, I know I would have loved to have the option to give my kids ebooks when they were very young, for travelling, car rides, etc. 

I don't think epublishing will replace traditional children's books, however; the look and feel of an actual picture book is something quite wonderful that I don't think will go away. But I think the potential for using the technology for middle-grade books, particularly nonfiction, is very exciting. I cannot WAIT for ebooks to replace middle schoolers' textbooks. That can't happen soon enough. My son's backpack weighs a ton.

How are people finding out about your book?

I have a website ( that includes a blog, where I discuss fun/funky/disgusting/interesting-to-kids historical events. But Elmo doesn't need any marketing!

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

Definitely helps. Anything that gets kids to read is positive. I have always been proud to write books that are inexpensive; I know how strapped many young families are in this economy, and I'm proud that my books are affordable, and are good! And ebooks are wonderfully affordable.

You can learn more about Sarah and her books by following her on Twitter: @sarahalbee

Check this week's Kids' E-book Bestseller List for the latest Top Tens as of Saturday AM.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Debra Lee: Taking the Top Ten with Taken

Here's a quick announcement before we get to today's interview:

Since the Kids' E-book Bestseller blog and list has become more popular, I have authors lined up 6 weeks ahead. That's too long to wait for their exciting insights on the fast-changing world of e-format. So I'll now be posting interviews and news twice a week instead of just once. Check back every Wednesday AND Saturday morning. Or make it easy on yourself and subscribe to the RSS feed at the right.

The Kids' E-Book Bestseller List will still be updated weekly on Saturday as usual.


Who knew about e-books a decade ago? Author Debra Lee did, and she's been publishing in the e-format ever since. Her recent book, Taken, hit the number 7 spot in the "Childrens's and Young Adult" section of the Amazon e-bookstore for the last two weeks.

Debra, what's the story on Taken?

Welcome to the fictitious little town of Watery, Pennsylvania where the district attorney’s personal secretary, Mary Murray never planned to become a single mom or a suspect in her infant’s disappearance, but she plans to find Jena before she suffers the same fate Mary’s younger brother had when he was taken twelve years earlier.

Is your book available in print format?

Taken is available in print format and as an ebook. They became available at the same time.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing?

I was one of the ebook pioneers and had my first book published by an ebook publisher in the late 90s. This of course was before people knew too much about ebooks. When Amazon came out with the kindle, ebooks became a household name and I was already published in e-format. But I soon pulled my books from my epublisher and began publishing my books as an independent author.

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

My target audience was for adults who enjoy reading suspense and mystery books with a little romance. Taken is more a young adult book that adults enjoy as well. The book I'm working on now, Entrance will be targeted to the same audience.

How are people finding out about your book? 

I've belonged to many yahoo groups over the years. But now I mostly use facebook and twitter to get the word out about my books. I've also had a website since the late 90s. If you visit my website there are links to my facebook and twitter page.  [I included the links in the text.]

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

I think making my book free for a week, which resulted in close to 100,000 downloads in this country alone helped move the book to Bestseller list when the price returned to ninety-nine cents. Some good reviews and word of mouth from those readers I suspect helped as well.

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

The e-format helps and will continue to do so for all authors. The how is easy, broader exposure with readers and social networking getting authors noticed.

Check this week's  Kids' E-Book Bestseller List updated today with all the latest top sellers for kids and YA. And don't forget to stop by later in the week to see Wednesday's interview with Sarah Albee, author of Elmo Loves You!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Skippyjon Jones Skipped to the Top -- Twice!

Judy Schachner's picture book, Skippyjon Jones hit the top ten in Barnes and Noble's Kids section once in October, and again in November. She contacted me a few weeks ago with her e-format insights. 

First, let's hear what your book is about.

It's about a Siamese kittyboy who thinks he is a chihuahua.

What's your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for them?

I don't even write for a target audience however the e-format works nicely for those little one who don't read yet.

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

I have been an author/illustrator for over 20 years so print came first and will always come first for me. I don't really know how to use a computer. I just started using an ipad but can't download my own app!

Tell us about your path to publication.

I graduated from Mass. College of Art with a BFA in Illustration in 1973 but it wasn't until I was 40 with children that I decided to try Children's Books. I've been doing it ever since.

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

E-publishing never entered my Luddite brain. It was all my publisher's idea. I was pretty ambivalent until I saw what they did. It think it's adorable!

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

This question makes me chuckle because I have no marketing skills except for the school and library visits that I did for most of my career. Word of mouth made the Skippyjon Jones books a success. Everything else followed...and that's the truth.

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

I love making books. Everything is done by hand, even my writing because I don't type and I don't
believe that anything takes the place of a real book.

You can learn more about Judy at her website.  And Skippy has his own website, his own online store, and his own Facebook page!

Check this week's Kids' E-book Bestseller List for more fun top-ten books.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Delirium: Lauren Oliver's Bestseller at B & N

Lauren Oliver is here this week to tell us about her e-book, Delirium, The Special Edition. For two weeks in late December, it hit the number 5 spot in the Teen section of

Lauren, tell us what your book is about.

Delirium is about a world in which love has been declared a contagious disease; scientists have developed a mandatory cure for it. Lena, the protagonist, is looking forward to being cured, until she does the unthinkable and falls in love.

How did you get published --traditional or independent?

My path to publication was very traditional. My first book, Before I Fall, was sold to HarperCollins as part of a two-book deal by my agent in 2008, and Delirium was its follow-up book.

Is your book available in print format?  How did your e-book come about?

I was always enthused about the idea of having an ebook. In a single year—from 2010 to 2011—the proportion of my books sold electronically jumped from 7 percent to over 30 percent. I believe that reflects a tremendous jump in popularity of ebook devices like Nooks and Kindles. I have three ebook reading devices, and I still also buy books in hardcover! I think it’s great for the industry.

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

I hope not. In my opinion, ebooks and “regular” books simply fulfill different needs. Ebooks are incredibly convenient and also cheaper, so if you want to buy a book you’re just going to read on an airplane, it’s easier to buy in ebook format. But if it’s a book you want to treasure, share with your kid, reread, or look at for inspiration, you should buy it in hardcover and keep it on your shelves and look at it often. Books like that are not just words—they’re objects, artwork, collector’s items.

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

I use twitter and facebook, and I think the blogging community has a lot to do with it. People tend to find my book because of word-of-mouth recommendations, and a lot of that happens online now.

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

I certainly think special and discounted pricing helps—hard covers are expensive!

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

Helps, definitely. I believe that people read more, pure and simple. People who might have gone into a bookstore a couple times a year now scroll through a virtual bookstore every night, and download a few things that look interesting.

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

I think that anything that contributes to the ease and availability of literature is helpful. Of course, it’s important that “real” books still be available as many people can’t yet afford e-readers; libraries and independent bookstores also serve as tremendously important gathering-spaces for communities, and can’t possible be replaced by online forums such as goodreads. I think there’s space in the industry for both formats—just as audiobooks don’t negate, but only augment, print book sales.

Learn more about Lauren at her website, her blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Look for more bestselling e-format authors at this week's Kids' E-book Bestseller List.