Saturday, September 8, 2012

Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted To Be In a Best Seller

Last Saturday, Frank Was A Monster Who Wanted To Dance hit the number 10 spot in the "Children's and Young Adult" section of Amazon. Author and illustrator Keith Graves joins us to talk about the experience and success of having Frank in electronic format. He answered every one of my questions, so you're sure to learn quite a bit from him!

First, tell us what your book is about.

FRANK WAS A MONSTER WHO WANTED TO DANCE tells the story of Frank the monster, who, after watching an episode of Soul Train, is inspired to shake a leg himself. What better place to let it all hang out than the Royal Ballet? Frank's dance begins well, but, alas, monsters aren't exactly built for dancing. Despite some major problems involving his brain and several other body parts, Frank is unstoppable! Told in simple rhymes and illustrated in rich colors, it's a book that young readers scream for over and over.

How and when did this book first get published?

FRANK was published by Chronicle books in 1999. It was my first book as an author and illustrator.

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

Clearly the key to FRANK's success is that his brain falls out. I should have made that happen in all my books.

How are people finding out about your book?

One mom tells another mom, one kid tells another kid. Cool librarians read it at story time. Reviewers say nice things in newspapers, radio, tv, and blogs. Very old-school process.

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

My target audience is basically human beings. They seem to like my books best. And boy do those creatures love their e-thingies. Anything 'e' is fab with the humans.

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

These days all my books are published as regular books that you can pile up on your shelf as well as ebooks for those handy DEVICES. That's just how it works now. I am ok with ebooks, they're handy, as long as they still make the other kind as well. I really like books as actual objects.

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

I'm mostly into regular books as an author/illustrator. Ebooks have not led to amazing discoveries as of yet for me. I'm open to it, though.

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

Unfortunately I think ebooks will spell the end for actual BOOK books eventually. But not for a while yet. Yay!

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

It helps in some ways, hurts in others. Some people buy ebooks who don't like the other kind, but then, they're way cheaper, so it makes it harder for authors to make a living. Unless people buy both. A mixed bag.

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

I don't know, but I sure like the experience of a real book. I like ebooks, too, I admit it, but I worry about the future of illustration for books if all books are the e kind. The temptation to do the art quickly and electronically will be great, and the truth is that technique is rarely on a level with the best traditional illustration. I'm a dinosaur, so sue me.

What advantages of e-publishing do you think are most relevant to the children’s literature market?

Epublishing makes it easy for librarians and parents to get content for their various devices. It's easier for librarians to present the story to an audience on a large screen, than by holding the book up and flipping pages. 

You can learn more about Keith and his books at his website. And have a look at this week's Kids' E-Book Bestseller List where there's always something new in the top ten!