Saturday, May 26, 2012

Epic Fail: An Epic Success in the iBookstore

Today we get to visit with Claire LeZebnik. Her e-book, Epic Fail, hit the number 10 spot in the Children and Teens section of the iBookstore last week. 

Let's hear what Epic Fail is about.

Four sisters move to the west side of LA and go to a new school where many of the other students are shockingly rich and spoiled. When the oldest sister falls in love, the second oldest one, Elise, is forced to spend time with the new beau's best friend, who instantly strikes her as stand-offish and even rude. When she finds out that Derek's parents are famous movie stars, she writes him off, assuming he's just a self-centered jerk, but eventually learns she may have judged him too hastily . . .

It's a light, fun, romantic read--and is very loosely based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice

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

Yes, Epic Fail is available in print. It was published in both print and electronically simultaneously--it's simply how HarperTeen chose to put it out there, which I'm thrilled about: I want to be available to as many readers as possible!

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

I have to admit, I've always been a little scared of what e-books mean to publishing in general. I grew up in awe of writers who had ACTUAL BOOKS PUBLISHED. And I still feel amazed and delighted when I see one of my books in a bookstore. I don't ever want to lose the beauty and tactile satisfaction of a bound book, and there's been a lot of talk about whether books in print will still be around in a few more decades. But as a reader, I appreciate the immediacy and simplicity of e-books. I own a Kindle, but don't use it very often--just for those times when I'm desperate to read a sequel or a book that I can't find nearby. I still mostly buy real books and so does my family.

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

It's interesting. I've published five novels for adults and one for teens (my second YA is due out in February of 2013). I see a huge difference in those two markets. My adult sales were all about the print books and hoping people would find them in stores. But EPIC FAIL has sold very well in e-book from the beginning--the sales were fairly even, I believe, in both print and electronic forms--and then when they temporarily lowered the price, it soared in the e-book format. I think the younger generation is much more comfortable reading online. My own kids still prefer real books, but I've noticed they watch TV and movies on computers, in a way I just don't, so I think the trend is definitely toward living your life online and that includes reading and watching. I think publishing electronically is important if you're targeting readers under thirty.

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

Epic Fail came out a while ago--back in August 2011--so it's pretty thrilling to see that it's still selling so well. It was holding pretty steady, but then got a nice big bump from the publisher's decision to reduce the e-book price for a limited time only (about four weeks). We only have a week left with the reduced price, but I'm hoping that the extra attention that the promotion brought will continue to bring readers to the book.

Get to know more about Claire LaZebnik and her books by visiting her website or by following her on Facebook.

See this week's Kids' Ebook Bestseller List for all the top ebooks for children and young adults!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Blue is For Bestseller!

Author Laurie Stolarz joins us today. Her e-book bestseller is Blue Is For Nightmares, which hit the number 5 spot in the Children's and Young Adult section of on April 28th. Blue Is For Nightmares was first published in 2003 and it's still going strong!

First let's hear about the story.


Stacey's junior year at boarding school isn't easy. She's not the most popular girl at school, or the smartest, or the prettiest. She's got a crush on her best friend's boyfriend, and an even darker secret that threatens to ruin her friendships for good. And now she's having nightmares again. Not just any nightmares – these dreams are too real to ignore, like she did three years ago. The last time she ignored them, a little girl died. This time they're about Drea, her best friend who's become the target of one seriously psycho stalker. It started with weird e-mails and freaky phone calls. Now someone's leaving Drea white lilies – the same death lilies that have been showing up in Stacey's dreams. Everybody thinks it's just a twisted game . . . until another girl at school is brutally murdered. There are no witnesses. Worst of all, no one has a perfect alibi. With everyone as a potential suspect, Stacey turns to the one secret weapon she can trust – the folk magic taught to her by her grandmother. Will Stacey's magic be strong enough to expose the true killer, or will the killer make her darkest nightmares come true?

Laurie, tell us how you got published.

My initial path to publication was a rough one. I approached editors and agents at the same time, trying to target those who worked with writers like me (namely, writers who wrote in the young adult supernatural/paranormal genre). It took me a long time to sell my first novel. I have a folder filled with rejection letters – over a hundred. My favorite one is from an editor who said: “While this is an interesting project, I do not feel it is strong enough to compete in today’s competitive young adult market.” That same young adult novel, BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES, has sold over 200,000 copies, has been translated into numerous different languages, and has appeared on many different award lists, not to mention it’s been optioned for film. When I speak to young people and aspiring writers, I always tell them this story, that if I had stopped persevering, after I received my first – or my 40th rejection letter – I may never have been able to enjoy the success of my series. After I sold my first novel, things got easier, so I’m always telling people to persevere.

BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES came out in 2003. I followed it up with WHITE IS FOR MAGIC, SILVER IS FOR SECRETS, RED IS FOR REMEMBRANCE, and BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS, all published by Llewellyn/Flux. I’ve also since published several books with Hyperion/Disney (BLEED and PROJECT 17, in addition to the TOUCH series books), as well as a book with HarperCollins (SHATTERED, the third book in the Amanda Project). I’m grateful to have been very busy with work after publishing my first novel.

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

My books first came out in print format, and they’re all still available in print format. They are now also available as e-books. Publishers want to meet the demand and so they’re adjusting contracts to include clauses about e-book sales and availability. When I get my sales statements, I see a consistent increase in the sale of e-books as the format is becoming more and more accessible, even for young audiences like mine. At first I was a little nervous about e-publishing. I love the physical book and hate the idea of actual books getting replaced. I also hate the idea that bookstores will be going out of business because of online purchases. But, on the other hand, the e-book online sale is so immediate. I don’t see it hurting the author as much as it can hurt brick and mortar stores.

As you got into e-publishing, have you discovered unexpected things? 

I think more adults are reading my books now. They want to read what their teens are reading and so they’re downloading my books in just a few quick strokes.

If your want to know more about Blue Is For Nightmares, watch the book trailer.

Laurie's most current book out is Deadly Little Voices, the fourth book in the TOUCH series, published by Hyperion/Disney. She has book trailers for the first three books: Deadly Little SecretDeadly Little Lies and Deadly Little Games.

And you can learn more about Laurie Stolarz and her books at her website, or by following her on Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Twin's Daughter: Victorian Suspense in the Top Ten

Lauren Baratz-Logsted joins us today. Her e-book, The Twin's Daughter, hit the number 9 spot in the Children's and Young Adult section of Amazon last Saturday, and it's still there today, sitting solid!

What's your book about, Lauren?

THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER is a Victorian suspense novel, set in England, about a girl who discovers that her gorgeous society mother has an identical twin who was raised in the workhouse. Mystery, murder and romance ensue.

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

It would take a book to answer this question! Short version: I left my day job as an independent bookseller in 1994 to take a chance on myself as a writer. Nearly 8 years, 7 novels, 4 simultaneous part-time jobs and a few agents later, I sold a dark comedy for adults called The Thin Pink Line on my own to Red Dress Ink as part of a two-book deal. It was published in 11 countries, optioned for a film and was the first book from any Harlequin imprint ever to receive a starred Kirkus review. I've since had over 20 more books published for adults (Vertigo), teens (The Education of Bet) and children (The Sisters 8 series, which I created with my husband and daughter). My publishers have included Random House, Simon & Schuster, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and Bloomsbury. Recently, I've also done some ebooks on my own, including the smash comedy for adults, The Bro-Magnet.

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

THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER is also available as a hardcover and was originally published that way. It is currently available in both formats. The publisher in this instance is Bloomsbury, so it's their decision how it's published.

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

Luck! Apparently, publishers submit titles to Amazon for their monthly 100 Ebooks Under $3.99 feature. I was lucky that THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER got selected and even luckier that Bloomsbury gave it such a terrific cover. Here's why I say the second part: THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER is the least visible of the 15 Children's/YA titles included in this promotion. It's not on the front page as some of the others are; you actually have to click through the Kids & Teens link and then it's the last title listed on that page...and yet it's done better than any of the other books in the promotion. Last week it displaced John Grisham as the #1 ebook for Children/Teens and is going gangbusters in the overall Children's/YA category with only major bestsellers ahead of it. The only thing I can think is that consumers - both teens and adults - are responding to that cover, then they see all the great reviews that are already there. I'm fortunate that if this was going to happen with one of my books, it just happens to be the best book I ever wrote.

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

I think the ebook revolution is a fabulous thing for both authors and readers - so many more choices for both! - but I'm not one of these authors who are declaring print dead. As far as I'm concerned, print and ebooks can coexist nicely and should.

Learn more about Lauren at her website or by following her on Twitter. Also note that her comedic romance for adults, THE BRO-MAGNET, is free on Kindle thru May 20!

Have a look at this week's updated Kids' EBook Bestseller List to see more top ten authors for children and young adults!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Killer Bestseller from Alyxandra Harvey

Earlier this month, author Alyxandra Harvey hit the number 8 spot in the Children's section of the Sony e-bookstore with her novella, A Killer First Date.

Her series, The Drake Chronicles, will consist of six books.  Four have been published so far, with the fifth due out in June. In the meantime, she's using the eNovella format to supplement her books. (Read about all three eNovellas here.)

Alyx, tell us what your series is about.

The Drake Chronicles follows a vampire family, focusing mostly on the only daughter Solange Drake and her human best friend Lucy. Book 1 "Hearts at Stake" is a vampire retelling of the Snow White story... but with 7 yummy vampires brothers instead of dwarves. There's a prophecy, vampire hunters, corsets, snark, cool weaponry, and long forbidden kisses.

(You can watch The Drake Chronicles trailer.)

Tell how you got published: Traditional or independent? Recently or further in the past?

I started sending out short stories when I was 15 just to get used to the process. I had some good feedback from Marion Zimmer Bradley for a few short stories, but in the end there wasn't space in that particular Sword and Sorceress anthology.

I kept writing and eventually took Creative Writing and English Literature at university. After that, I was published as a poet first, and I still love to write poetry. I never thought I’d write YA novels but I just adore them!

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

My books originally came out in traditional print format but they are now available in e-format as well.

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

I am hopeful that books will be available in as many forms as we can dream up. I love the feel of an actual book and the smell of the paper; it’s very soothing. I think it would be a crime to lose that. And books don’t malfunction or run out of batteries...

 But I also love the immediacy of downloading a favourite book at midnight on its release day...and my E-reader has made travelling much easier. I am notorious for packing 7 books for a weekend trip but forgetting an extra sweater.

I think there’s room in the world for all forms of stories. We don’t have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. In fact, throwing out babies is frowned upon.

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

I write YA novels, which means the target audience is in their teens...or in their 80s. You just never know!

I think e-books can be especially fun for teen readers since they already know their way around computers and cell phones. It’s not a new process for them. It’s natural in a way that isn’t natural to those of us who are still trying to find the “on” button or turn off auto-correct! That said, the cost of an e-reader can be prohibitive to some, but the cost of e-books can make up for it.

In the end the story should matter more than the medium.

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

It has been very helpful! Bloomsbury and I were able to release short stories set in the Drake Chronicles world which gives established readers something to fill the space between new book releases . And it gives new readers an inexpensive way to have a taste of the Drakes.

Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts your readers?

Reading shouldn’t hurt. The more books are available in the world, the better the world. :)
Learn more about Alyxandra Harvey and her books at her website, on Facebook and by following her on Twitter.

Stop back on Saturday for the latest Kids' EBook Bestseller list and the insights from another top author!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Who - Or What - is zuuka?

If you've been following the Kids' E-book Bestseller List from week to week, you've seen books by zuuka ever since December.  That's when The Smurfs Movie Storybook hit the top ten in the Kids' section of the Barnes and Noble online store. It was joined by the Puss in Boots Movie Storybook in January, and How to Train Your Dragon in February.  Look at today's list and you'll still see all three sitting steady in the top ten. 

Here's a bit of background from their website:  "zuuka was founded in 2009 and released its first children's app that year. 
It is now one of the largest and most prolific libraries of children's content. With offices in Frankfurt, Germany and Santa Barbara, California, zuuka creates quality children's content in partnership with publishing houses and film production companies such as Dreamworks, Nickelodeon, and Sony as well as HarperCollins, Random House, Thienemann, and the Carlsen."

I reached out to Greg Dawson, the press contact at zuuka and he connected me with Graham Farrar, the founder of zuuka, (also know as iStoryTime.)  Graham has kindly taken the time to share his insights and experience.

Tell us briefly how your company started in e-format. 

We initially started building our ebook apps for our own children. We were tired of carrying around bags full of books to restaurants and on trips; our kids were drawn to our iPhones like magnets but we didn't want to constantly put movies and video games in front of them... So we developed our ebook apps, which have the convenience of being digital and the ability to read themselves to our kids (all of our books are narrated) with the wholesome/educational aspects of books. Basically we built them to make our jobs as parents easier in a way that we didn't have to feel guilty about.

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

The market has changed a lot as it has grown... There is now an amazing amount of content out there... It used to be that any book could sell.. your books have to be really good to get noticed now.

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

I don't see how it can't. Lower distribution costs, more convenient, more functionality (particularly in the app space).. And kids love the devices. It a great thing i think, the more kids reading the better. There is nothing like an iPad to get a reluctant reader engaged.

What is your target audience, and how do you believe the e-format works for that audience and serves their needs?
Our target demographic is primarily from the time they can 'slide to unlock' until they are reading novel length books (and even then in the cases of the big Movie storybooks like the smurfs). One of the biggest advantages our books have for pre-readers, is that since they are narrated children can use the books independently even if their parents are busy and aren't able to read the stories to them.


Have a look at this week's Kids' E-Book Bestseller List -- we have some new authors this week! Of course, I'll be reaching out to them for their insights on their e-format experience! 

Check back on Wednesday, when I'll post an interview with Alyxandra Harvey, author of A Killer First Date. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Children's Book Week: May 7th - 13th

Children's Book Week is the longest-running literacy initiative in the country. It was established in 1913, and every year, it promotes books for young people and the joy of reading. Author and illustrator appearances, storytelling, parties, and other book-related events are held at schools, libraries, bookstores, museums, and homes throughout the country. 

You can learn all about it at the official website, and find out if there are any special events going on in your area by visiting the official events page and the local events page.

And check back at the Book Week site on Tuesday, when the winners of the 2012 Children's Choice Book Awards will be announced. Voting is now closed, but you can see the list of finalists and keep your fingers crossed for your favs!  I spotted several of our Kids' E-Book Bestseller top ten authors and I'm rooting for each one of them! 

The captivating Children's Book Week poster was designed by three-time Caldecott medal winner David Wiesner. Like it? You can order copies (paying only the shipping) and learn more about it at the site.

Here at, we're celebrating books for young readers EVERY week. Check this week's bestseller list, updated every Saturday at 8 AM, for the latest and greatest books and authors in e-format!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

7 Weeks at Number 1: Infamous by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Since mid-March Infamous:Chronicles of Nick has been in the number one spot in the Children's section of the Sony e-bookstore. Author Sherrilyn Kenyon joins us today with unique insights on her e-format success. 

Sherrilyn, tell us what your book is about.

Go to school. Get good grades. Stay out of trouble. That’s the mandate for most kids. But Nick Gautier isn’t the average teenager. He’s a boy with a destiny not even he fully understands. And his first mandate is to stay alive while everyone, even his own father, tries to kill him.

He’s learned to annihilate zombies and raise the dead, divination and clairvoyance, so why is learning to drive such a difficulty? But that isn’t the primary skill he has to master. Survival is. And in order to survive, his next lesson makes all the others pale in comparison. He is on the brink of becoming either the greatest hero mankind has ever known. Or he’ll be the one who ends the world. With enemies new and old gathering forces, he will have to call on every part of himself to fight or he’ll lose everyone he cares about.

Even himself.

How did you first get published -- traditional or independent?

Unfortunately, there is no brief way to talk about my path to publication. It was a very long, hard road. I'm living proof of "if at first you don't succeed, keep trying no matter what."

Is your book available in print format? 

It's available in all formats. Print, electronic and audio.

What were your initial thoughts about e-publishing? 

I was the very first New York published author who pubbed an e-book back in the mid 1990's when no one had ever heard of them. As a major techno-junkie, I've always believed in them and have embraced them. I was also one of the first web designers in the country so the internet and I have a long history together.

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

There is a real disadvantage that is becoming evident now. As everyone is moving rapidly to the digital readers and bookstores are closing, publishers are no longer touring authors and readers are no longer able to meet authors the way they used to. Nor will there be midnight launch parties in the future for book releases as we've had in the past; at least not physical ones in a store.

It's very sad. I loved touring and meeting the readers and talking to them. But there are so few physical stores left and those left aren't as enthused about hosting authors like they used to as it's expensive for them to do so and they now lose a lot of money whenever they hold an event. Used to, people would always buy at least one copy of a new book whenever they came to the store for a signing. Now, readers are bringing ereaders to be signed and they're not buying any books at the store itself. They might browse the bookstore shelves, but once they find a book they like, they turn on the ereader and download it while in the store and a lot of times they're not downloading from the store company that is hosting the event. So the stores, which in many cases are barely making ends meet, lose too much money to host an event. One of the things that saddens me is when I was a young girl, we used to go to record stores and meet bands. Big name bands. Whenever they had a new album out and they were touring, they'd pop in to record stores and sign for fans. That stopped a long time ago when the last record store closed. That's the unfortunate thing about digital and that's where bookstores are headed.

Yes, fans can still talk to us online, but it's not the same as face to face. You can't shake a fan's hand on a computer, or physically hug them, and you can't have the same direct communication with them as you do in person. And especially with younger readers who want to be writers. Writers can tell a reader a lot more in person than they can writing online. It takes a lot more time to type it all out than it does to speak it. And when you have a lot of fans online, you don't always see their questions. We got upwards of 4000 questions in a day from FB, MySpace, Twitter, email, interviewers, publishers, etc. There's only so many hours in a day that we can even begin to answer them. And the questions and posts come so fast and furious that it's easy to miss a few, unfortunately.

That's the major drawback. But the upside is that now readers, especially if they're not in a major city, have access to a lot more books. So as with most things in life, you have the good and the bad.


Get to know more about Sherrilyn Kenyon at her website, her Facebook page and by following her on Twitter.