Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ashfall: A Kindle Bestseller for Award-Winning Author Mike Mullin

Back in October, Ashfall by Mike Mullin hit the number 5 spot in the "Children and Teen" section of the Amazon Kindle store. Mike's been a busy guy since then, but he took some time to tell us about his e-pub success. Thanks, Mike!

Let's start with some info on your story.

My debut novel, ASHFALL, is about a teen struggling to survive and find his family after the Yellowstone supervolcano erupts, plunging the U.S. into a cataclysmic natural disaster. The sequel, ASHEN WINTER, is available now and the final volume, SUNRISE, is scheduled for Spring 2014 release.

How did you get published: Traditionally or independently? Recently or further in the past? 

I started querying ASHFALL in the spring of 2010. It was rejected at some stage—query, partial, or full—by 24 literary agents. (If you’re struggling with getting published, take heart from this. Yes, your work might not be ready. But it might also be great work that simply hasn’t found a champion. Take a look at the list of awards and blurbs at, including a starred review from Kirkus and a listing among NPR’s top 5 YA novels of 2011. I’m pretty confident that ASHFALL wasn’t garnering rejections due to its quality.)

Two editors requested ASHFALL after hearing about it from my mother. (She owns Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis) I haven’t heard back from one of them yet. The other was Peggy Tierney of Tanglewood Press.

If I hadn’t landed a traditional publishing deal, I probably would have self-published ASHFALL as an e-book. But I’m thankful to be published with Tanglewood—they’ve done a far better job of editing, cover art, and marketing than I could have managed on my own.

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

Somehow my publisher got ASHFALL on the Kindle Daily Deal for $1.99. (Normally it runs close to $10—Amazon has it priced at $8.32 right now.) The sale vaulted ASHFALL to #27 (in all books, not a subcategory) and it’s been selling well ever since. Sales for the sequel, ASHEN WINTER, have been strong since then even at full price (it’s $9.99 today).

I also believe the quality of the story, editing, and cover art have played a crucial role in ASHFALL’s success. Books sell predominantly via word-of-mouth, and people don’t talk much about books they didn’t love.

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

I think print and e-publishing will co-exist for the foreseeable future. Media technologies tend not to supplant each other. Television didn’t kill radio, and the internet hasn’t killed radio or TV. Paperbacks didn’t kill hardcovers. Ebooks will continue to gain market share at the expense of printed books, particularly mass market paperbacks, but at a slower rate than in the past.
Do you believe the e-format helps or hurts you as an author? How?

It helps. Owners of e-readers buy more books overall than non-owners. They don’t quit buying print books, either.

My only concern about the e-book revolution is the rampant theft of e-books. The bulk of peer reviewed studies show that theft of digital media is cutting into sales—which takes money directly from authors’ pockets. I urge your readers to shun sites that enable e-book theft and to make it clear to friends and colleagues that stealing an e-book is no different than robbing a physical store (both forms of theft take money from creators and raise the price legitimate consumers have to pay). E-book thieves should be stigmatized in exactly the same way shoplifters are.
You can read the first two chapters of Ashfall here.  And Mike sent me quite a variety of links where you can learn more about him and his books:
WebsiteBlogGoogle+,   Twitter,  Facebook,   Goodreads and Pinterest.

Stop back on Saturday when we get to hear from Jeff Mack, author of Good Day, Bad Day.