Saturday, January 26, 2013

Old McDonald Had a ... Bestselling E-Book!

Earlier this month author Ken Baker was on the Kids' EBook Bestseller List with his book, Old McDonald Had a Dragon. It hit the number 2 spot in the Children's and Young Adult section of the Amazon Kindle store. Ken is here today to give us his insights on electronic publishing and his successful experience. 

First let's hear what your book is about. 

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As you can guess from the title, Old MacDonald had a Dragon is a picture book about Old MacDonald and a dragon. Even though farms and dragons don’t mix, Old MacDonald loves to sing about the new dragon on his farm until the animals start to complain and disappear.

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

I’ve followed the traditional path to publication. In 2001 HarperCollins published my book, BRAVE LITTLE MONSTER. About nine years later, Marshall Cavendish Children’s Books (MCCB) picked up both of my two latest books, OLD MACDONALD HAD A DRAGON and COW CAN’T SLEEP for publication in fall 2012. About 10 months before publication, Amazon.com bought MCCB to form its own traditional children’s imprint called Amazon Children’s Publishing.

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

To be honest, I believe a lot of it has to do with the fact that the imprint is under the Amazon umbrella. Amazon has a lot of experience and expertise with digital content, and they use that to help their authors’ books succeed. 

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

For any book to succeed, you have to get word out through multiple channels. Having Amazon to back me up helps, but there’s a lot I need to do. I’m not a social media expert, but I try. I have a blog that primarily targets librarians, teachers and parents who are interested in getting children to read. On my website I have put together a number of lesson plans that leverage children’s books that can be used to teach different subjects like Comparing & Contrasting, Narrative Writing, Phonemic Awareness & Alliteration, the Five Senses, and even a music oriented lesson plan. I also tweet a little bit, but I’m still trying to figure out that one.

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

My target audience is young children and the parents that buy books for them. I’m not certain yet how well the e-format works for that audience, but it’s definitely growing. I think it’s too early to tell how big of an impact it will have. 

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

The plan for both of my two latest books was always to have them simultaneously published in print format and digital. I looked at ebooks as just one more opportunity to sell the books, but I didn’t look at them as being a major play because I think there’s bigger growth for ebooks in the teen and adult markets. However, with the rise of tablets and more parents letting their children have access to tablets, I believe that is opening up the growth for digital picture books too.


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

It helps. It’s one more way to get books into children’s hands. I also think that sometimes in the children’s market, an ebook sale can lead to a printed book sale. I don’t know if that’s necessarily true for other markets. 

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

I don’t know that e-format hurts the readers, it’s simply another choice. I think it would hurt if they lost the choice to buy printed children’s books. Two years ago, based on readers’ input I ran a few articles on my blog on why people would choose ebooks over printed books, and vice versa. The findings were quite interesting. Even though it’s a little dated, I think for the most part the information in the articles is still relevant. You can find the articles in three parts:  Part 1
, Part 2, and Part 3.
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Find out more about Ken Baker and his books at his website and his blog.

Don't forget to see this week's Kids' EBook Bestseller List for the top ebooks in the top stores.