Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Helen Ketteman: A Monster Success on Amazon

Goodnight, Little Monster by Helen Ketteman hit the number 5 spot in the "Children's & YA" section of the Amazon Kindle store on September 8th. Helen joins us today to tell us all about her book and her path to e-format success.

First let's find out what your book is about.

My book is about a little monster going through his bedtime routine, as most young children do. And, like many young children (myself included, when I was little), he is afraid there is something scary under his bed. The routine he goes through with Mama monster is soothing and reassuring, and eventually he settles in for a good night's sleep.

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

I have been writing for around 27 years, and got published the old-fashioned way - through form rejections, "good" rejections, until I finally emerged from the slush pile.

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

I think just getting the word out about the book, and good reviews from traditional review sources and readers who post on their own blogs and on Amazon.

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

My marketing skills are less than wonderful. I have a web page, at, which needs updating for my new books. The web page talks not only about my author visits and my books, but it also has a nice section on writing, which is geared for young writers and also for teachers who work on writing with young children. I have done marketing to librarians at library conventions, and through my author visits, teachers have spread the word about me and my books. I also have a page on facebook, and when a new book comes out, I do post a photo of the cover. That's about it.

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

Obviously, my main target audience is young children, my readers, and I think the Ebooks are good for that audience, since these youngsters are growing up with computers. However, since some of my target audiences don't read yet, and since they normally don't choose their own books, I need to target thir parents as well.

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

I grew up with "real" books, and am still quite a fan of those! I enjoy the feel of a book in my hand, of turning the pages, the smell of a book. So I was not sure about Ebooks when they first came out. I was afraid they would be too much like the videos children watch so much, and that children wouldn't come to love books as people of my generation did. BUT...I realize things are changing. Kids today grow up with smart phones and computers, so reading an Ebook (or having it read to them by an adult) probably feels pretty normal to them. Too, I know that books themselves are not going to disappear altogether - at least not for a VERY long time. (I HOPE!)

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

All of my books are - or have been (some are out of print) - available in print. I publish through well-known children's book publishers, and many of the contracts I signed early on didn't even make reference to Ebooks, because there was no such thing at that time. I have never published a book that is only available as an Ebook, though this could possibly be something that would happen in the future, as printed books get more and more expensive. I do believe that public libraries and school libraries will still buy printed books, even though they may also purchase some Ebooks.

Do you think e-publishing will eventually take over print publishing?  How do you see the world of e-publishing for children within the next 5 years?

I don't know. I personally hope not. I don't see a lot of change in the next 5 years in the world of E-publishing, except that probably more and more books will be available in this format. I hope the quality of children's books doesn't go down, because children deserve the best in books if we are to create a lifelong love of reading and learning.

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

It helps in a way, in that perhaps the author's book can get into more households, since Ebooks are less expensive. But I also think the royalty system will have to change for the authors. Authors make very little on Ebook purchases, even with lots of sales, and while it's not about the money for most of us, we do have to survive and make some kind of a living.

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

I think if an Ebook is read to a young child by an adult, Mom or Dad, Grandma, whoever, then the shared experience can be similar to sharing a printed book. However, I do worry about Ebooks where there's the option of having the books read by the computer, and adding lots of interactive stuff, because to me, then the "book" starts to become similar in feel to a video game, and then it seems to me that the wonderful experience of reading and sharing a story is lost.

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

I think more people can afford to buy books and so books may become more widely known because of this. And, if Ebooks get children excited about books, then that's a good thing.


Check back on Saturday for the latest and greatest Top Tens on the Kids' EBook Bestseller List.